Opposition to Receivership in Boston


Opposition to Receivership of Boston Public Schools

Stakeholder Collaboration, Not State Takeover, Is the Path Forward for Boston Public Schools

Lawyers for Civil Rights issued a letter to Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), voicing opposition to any effort by DESE to place Boston Public Schools (BPS) into receivership. 

No realistic projection for BPS can justify the risk of harm that state control poses to Boston’s communities of color. Massachusetts’ longstanding receivership programs in Lawrence, Holyoke, and Southbridge – which are all majority-minority – have struggled with academics amid a host of other problems. The state’s track record in these districts bodes poorly for a BPS receivership. State control of BPS would also harm communities of color by further marginalizing them in the school governance process. At a time when Boston is pushing for an elected school committee, which would increase minority groups’ say in committee membership, receivership would eliminate community control of the committee altogether. 

Receivership is not the answer for BPS. To address the district’s struggles, DESE should seek to collaborate with Mayor Michelle Wu and the school committee to implement systemic change, particularly to support students of color. Stakeholders should work together to reduce leadership turnover, increase teacher diversity, expand acceleration academies, close the digital divide, and improve evidence-based literacy instruction. Such steps would advance equal educational opportunity in the district while preserving community control. Collaboration, not takeover, is the best path forward for BPS. 

The letter to DESE is available here