News of the Compact


BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang says he's "excited" about the new program.

A citywide partnership launched Tuesday will bring together educators from Boston’s public, charter, and Catholic schools to share effective classroom practices. Through the Boston Educators Collaborative, Boston teachers can attend free classes on a variety of 

topics, ranging from mathematical thinking to the impact of culture in classrooms, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and other city education leaders say.

“This is one of a number of efforts underway to ensure that all students in the city have access to high-quality schools,” said Rachel Weinstein, chief collaboration officer of the Boston Compact, one of the groups organizing the collaborative. [Read more]

By Jennifer Smith, Reporter Staff
April 6, 2017

Boston educators are welcoming a new program to help teachers share best practices across public, charter, and Catholic schools, officials announced Tuesday.

The Boston Educators Collaborative, established in partnership with the Boston Compact and Teach Plus, will use a peer-to-peer model of professional development. Selected teachers will lead free 5-week, 15-hour courses through UMass Boston, and the participants will then return to their home schools to shared what they have learned with their colleagues. [Read more]


DENVER — A few years ago, parents here faced a bewildering array of options when selecting their children’s schools. There were more than 60 enrollment systems within Denver Public Schools alone, and another set for the city’s charter schools, each with distinct timelines and applications.

The confusion discouraged many low-income families from choosing at all, while parents with greater resources took advantage of the complexity to “game the system” in their favor, residents said.

“It did not promote equity with families,” said Karen Mortimer, a Denver public education advocate. “If you were in the know, you got the better schools.”

But four years after the Mile-High City adopted a common enrollment system that provides one-stop shopping for traditional, charter, magnet, and innovation schools, parents praise the ease and convenience of finding the right match. [Read more]

November 20, 2015


Boston Compact held a Nov. 12 community meeting on unified enrollment for Boston Public Schools (BPS) where many attendees expressed outrage over possible BPS school closings and raised concerns over the unified enrollment proposal. Some attendees did support the proposal.

About 100 people attended the meeting at First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist (UU). Before the meeting, people outside were handing out bumper stickers with “no” over a photo of Mayor Martin Walsh and the words “Boston Compact: The Boston 2024 of Education.” [Read more]

There will be no school closings. Charter schools will not supplant public schools.

Boston's Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey and Boston Compact Chief Collaborator Rachel Weinstein made those two statements clear at the sixth in a series of neighborhood meetings this fall to test out the idea of uniform enrollment and receive feedback from parents.

The meeting drew more attention than previous ones due to an article published in Esquire magazine earlier in the week that accused Boston Mayor Marty Walsh of wanting to close Boston Public Schools and move charter schools into the buildings. Walsh quickly disputed the Esquire magazine piece, calling it "...untrue and unsourced, and references meetings that the Mayor has never had."

That rumor still hung over Thursday's meeting, held at the First Church of Jamaica Plain. According to several participants, the JP meeting was attended by more people  than any previous meeting, with some parents coming from other neighborhoods. [Read more]


Sholonda Antrum of Coleman Street in Dorchester spoke about her experience with enrolling her children in school at last Thursday’s meeting at the Kroc Center. Of the proposed unified enrollment plan, Antrum says: “This will work for us.” Maddie Kilgannon photoThe first of six community meetings to discuss a proposed unified enrollment plan for public and charter schools in Boston was held last Thursday, October 8 at the Kroc Center on Dudley Street. Roughly thirty parents,

 educators, administrators, and community members attended the event, which was moderated by Mo Barbosa from Health Resources in Action. Rahn Dorsey, the city of Boston’s Chief of Education, also spoke at the meeting, which took place just hours after Governor Charlie Baker announced a new plan to raise the

 charter school cap in Massachusetts.

The topic of the Kroc Center meeting was an emerging plan to simplify the process for applying to charter and public schools by streamlining the process into one application with one deadline. After ab introduction and a review of the purpose for the meeting, the large group broke up into a few smaller groups to listen to parents’ experiences with the enrollment process. [Read more]


During the elementary school years, Valerie Davis’ son did well in the district school where he was assigned. But when it came time for her daughters to go to school, Davis says, none of their assignments were good enough.

“Of course they didn’t get into any of the schools I picked,” she said. “I didn’t like the school they were assigned to. I called my friends who were teachers and they 

said, ‘No, don’t put them there.’”

In the end, all three of her children ended up in charters and Catholic schools.nFor Nicol Riley, a charter school worked well for her daughter, but for her son, who has learning disabilities, they weren’t an option.

“It hurt me so bad to see how they treated children with learning disabilities at my daughter’s charter school,” she said. In the end, her son ended up in a district school that was able to cater to his learning style. [Read more]

A proposal to combine the lotteries for seats in Boston’s district and charter schools could hurt students’ chances of getting into their preferred schools, some parents said as new details of the proposal emerged this week.

Currently, each charter school has its own lottery, and families can win spots in several and then choose. Under the system proposed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh last month, parents would apply for charter and district schools through a single application and be assigned to one school.

“If I’m interested in getting my child into a charter, I want to have as many bites of the apple as possible,” said Odette Williamson, whose daughter attended a charter school but is now at Boston Latin Academy. “I would want to submit applications for several charters and see what I get.” [Read more]


A PROPOSAL TO centralize the school assignment system in Boston, recently unveiled by Mayor Walsh, is a sensible approach that promises to level the playing field for parents by providing more information, more options, and, in the end, more equity. The city’s plan, which would offer a single application process for both charter and district schools, is garnering some skepticism in community meetings. But it should ultimately empower both students and parents, and deserves to be implemented on schedule for the 2017 school year.

Now, families are forced to manage varying timelines and separate forms if they wish to apply to charter schools, which admit students based on a lottery. [Read more]

The Boston Compact today shared further details outlining Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s unified school enrollment proposal to create an easier path to school enrollment for Boston families with one application and one deadline.

The Compact leadership from district, charter and Catholic schools as well as the Mayor’s education chief, urged community members to review the broad principles in the document and attend one of several citywide community meetings designed to guide further development of details of the proposal.

The two-page document outlines the foundation of the mayor’s unified enrollment proposal, describes the current enrollment process and the vision for a unified process, touches on the benefits to families and schools and calls for the community to participate in a series of upcoming discussions. [Read more]

Posted by Jacob Murray on 

Imagine going to a local playground with your child.  Your child is free to play in the open play structure with any other child.  But then you notice a second playground nearby. There is a fence around this one and only some children are playing there.  When you ask the families in this area if your child can come in, they say: “ No, you have to complete a special application to play in this area.”  “Where do I find this application?”, you ask. “It comes out once a year, you have to know where to look, and even so, you have to be selected by lottery to play here,”  they reply.

Sound a bit crazy and convoluted? Exclusionary?

This is often what the process is like for Boston families to learn about and apply to Boston schools –traditional public schools and charter schools. [Read more]


It is criminal how hard Cassandra Cumberlander had to work to get her kids into a school they love.

Figuring out how to gain entry to the Boston public school of your choice is hard enough, even when you have the time to do the research. Applying to charter schools as well means signing on for another level of pain: separate applications for each school, different deadlines from the district’s, gut-wrenching lottery nights where parents hold their breath as kids’ names are pulled from a box.

“I was making charts and tables and trying to figure out what the heck was going on,” said Cumberlander, a realtor and IT consultant who lives in Mattapan. “I thought the hard part was going to be figuring out what was the right school, but it turned out to be managing [the application] process.” [Read more]

March 18, 2015

“As a community we agree that every child, regardless of race, income, ability or home language deserves to have the very best public education possible. We are not there yet.”

Those are the words of Interim Boston Public Schools Superintendent John McDonough in his introduction to the 2014 report “Opportunity and Equity: Enrollment and Outcomes for Black and Latino Males in Boston Public Schools.” Though he was speaking of the school district, we would say the same about the charter and Catholic schools. For decades, schools and community organizations have worked to address the achievement gaps that persist across this nation. Throughout the city, we are expanding opportunities for pre-K and extended learning time. These are necessary – but insufficient – strategies in a larger coordinated effort to address inequities. We also must hire and retain effective teachers of color. Each of our sectors has explored tactics to significantly increase the number of high quality teachers of color in our schools. Now we are joining forces to advance this critical work. [Read more]


By Diana Lam | February 2014

It is Wednesday afternoon, a professional development day. Students have gone home early, leaving a classroom full of teachers to their monthly ritual of pedagogical discussions. Today, the conversation is unusually animated. At one table, three teachers are discussing a math lesson they have just seen on video:“I have never seen those manipulatives used this way to teach fractions.”
“It takes practice for them to get the hang of it, but, over the long run, it pays off.”
“I can see how this could be helpful to English language learners when illustrating story
What makes today such an exciting session? The format is nothing out of the ordinary, but today is a meeting of the minds that rarely takes place in urban education. For the first time, teachers from the neighborhood charter, public, and Catholic schools have come together to share ideas and practices. Three groups of teachers, with very different experiences teaching very similar students, are tearing through artificial boundaries of school politics to ask the question, “how can we better serve our students?” [Read more]

About 100 students from three schools in Brighton – the Edison K-8, Conservatory Lab Charter, and St. Columbkille – performed a series of instrumental and vocal pieces for classmates, teachers, parents, and local leaders Wednesday morning.

The concert not only showcased the young musicians’ talent but also illustrated results of a historic, year-old partnership of Boston’s public school system, charter schools, and Catholic schools.

The gathering celebrated a major financial boost for the inno­vative collaboration: On Wednesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will give a $3.25 million grant to foster the partnership, which is called the Boston Compact. Only seven US cities ­received the competitive grants in this round, officials said. [Read more]


By James Vaznis | September 20, 2011

The Boston School Committee approved a historic agreement last night to establish greater cooperation between the city and independent charter schools, in an effort to provide more students across the city with a stronger education.

A key component of the agreement calls for the city’s school system and the more than dozen charter schools - autonomous public schools overseen by the state - to share innovative educational practices that are getting results in boosting student achievement.

The measure passed on a 5-to-2 vote.

But the agreement also has sparked controversy, in particular a clause that encourages the city to lease vacant school buildings to charter schools, a move that could allow charter schools to more easily expand in a city with a tight real estate market.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who brought the two sides together in a meeting earlier this spring to hash out the agreement, is planning to sign it today at a ceremony in Roxbury. [Read more]


THE WAR IS over.

Sure, there had never been an all-out declaration. But for years public education in Boston was characterized by deep tensions, which not infrequently spilled over into public skirmishes and verbal jousting between the city’s district school system and the expanding portfolio of charter schools – public institutions that operate independently of the district system. It was an ugly, often petty war, and one that relegated Boston in recent years to an also-ran in comparison to US cities that were comprehensively tackling school reform with real gusto and a sense of urgency.

All of which made the scene yesterday afternoon of Mayor Tom Menino and Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson standing shoulder to shoulder with charter school leader Kevin Andrews all the more remarkable. This week’s announcement of a compact between the city’s district school system and charter schools truly is “historic,” as all the principals have characterized it. [Read more]