Reinventing Boston's schools

By EDITORIAL  |  September 29, 2010

To realize these goals, a longer school day for students, and probably a longer school year for teachers, will be necessary.

Tyler pointed out that every one of these goals has been negotiated in other school districts throughout the nation. In other words, Boston would be breaking no new ground; rather, it would be playing catch-up.

Displaying his customary sense of political savvy and diplomatic timing, Paul Grogan, head of the Boston Foundation, pointed out that the timing for transforming Boston's schools via the contract that is now in the works could not come at a more auspicious moment.

Grogan observed that when Governor Deval Patrick signed a sweeping new education-reform act into law this past January, he gave municipalities the tools they need — including the ability to increase charter schools — to embrace change. As a result, the federal government awarded Massachusetts one-quarter of a billion dollars in Race to the Top funds to pay for school improvements. In effect, Grogan challenged the teachers' union to make it a hat trick by reforming their contract.

The teachers' contract is contained in a 255-page brick of a book that, if thrown at a school-room window, would smash it as surely as a rock. Connelly's hearing symbolically opened the window. Now it is time to throw that nasty little book right out and begin again.

In closing, it's worth noting that, for the first time in recent memory, a national consensus is emerging — not only about the need to improve schools but about the concrete steps to do so. The prospect of the Democrats losing either or both houses of Congress is dispiriting, since Republican control would almost certainly derail the Obama administration's admirable education-reform efforts. Obama and Governor Patrick have proven to be two of the best friends Boston students, parents, and teachers could hope for.

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