Boston received a $3 million grant this week to further the city's efforts to link all Boston's schools, whether they are public, charter or private, to improve teaching and learning for all students in the city.
The grant, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, awards the city $3.25 million to expand and deepen the already in place "compact" program. The new funds are aimed at supporting that goal through deeper collaboration between schools and growing existing partnerships.
“I represent every student in Boston, no matter which school he or she attends,” Mayor Menino said in a statement. “This award will help all our schools work together to ensure every child gets a great education.”
Since its launch in 2011, all 128 Boston Public Schools such as the Lyndon or Kilmer schools in West Roxbury, all 16 charter operators, as well as 22 Catholic schools such as St. Theresa's and Holy Name schools, have formally joined the compact, which represents 88 percent of Boston students.
Sixteen cities were invited to compete for the award based upon prior compact work and Boston was one of just seven to receive funding in this round of awards. Boston's track record of collaboration and its shared focus on improving outcomes for English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and black and Latino boys made it a strong candidate for the funding, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The goal is to support these communities in significantly boosting the number of students enrolled in high-performing schools," said Vicki Phillips, director of education, College Ready, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "These cities understand that opening the lines of communication and sharing best practices across schools are an effective way to do that."
Where the money goes
The grant will allow the compact to train 250 teachers and administrators to improve instruction for English Language Learners, which is the fastest growing population of students in Boston.
It will also help launch three more school performance partnerships, and support efforts to identify and grow local initiatives aimed at accelerating performance for black and Latino boys.
The compact project has already led to several changes since its inception in 2011:
- Teachers and administrators from eight BPS schools, four charter schools and two Catholic schools regularly visit each other’s classrooms to share best practices and learn from each other
- Middle school principals and department heads from BPS and public charter schools have worked together to improve literacy instruction
- Schools are also moving toward a common enrollment calendar and have established shared school showcase events to make it easier for families to compare and select schools
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said the "compact" project is mostly about sharing best educational practices.
“We have watched our charter and Catholic school partners excel in many areas, and we know we can learn from them, too," she said. "This grant will help deepen a relationship that is going to help all our city’s children.”
“We believe it is essential for all students in the city of Boston to receive a rigorous education and collaboration among schools is crucial in this endeavor," said Mary Grassa O’Neill, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston. "This partnership helps ensure a bright future.”