Consalvo: Let’s Revive the Boston Compact

Boston City Council District 5 City Councilor Rob Consalvo

The following is an op-ed piece from City Councilor Rob Consalvo. 

Last Thursday, when I officially announced my candidacy for Mayor of Boston, I called for reviving the Boston Compact to bring back businesses, colleges and universities, unions and non-profit organizations as partners in our efforts to improve the Boston Public Schools.

The first Boston Compact was signed in 1982, back when the Boston public schools were facing a clear-cut crisis of confidence. Today, the schools are stronger and enrollment is growing. But the last Compact was signed in 2000 – 13 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then in Boston and in the world. Thirteen years ago, the city’s labor force was 20% smaller, jobs required less technical skills, and Mark Zuckerberg who invented Facebook was still in high school. 

The parties to the Compact were convened by the Boston Private Industry Council. The Compact partnered the city’s universities, businesses, unions, and other institutions and organizations with the school system. Compacts were signed in 1982, 1987, 1994, and 2000 and each set system-wide goals for improving test scores, college attendance rates, and other measures of educational progress. 

The Private Industry Council has continued to implement specific initiatives under the last Compact’s umbrella. But we’ve got to take a look at how all those initiatives fit together – and bring in new partners to join in a coordinated effort. In the past, we needed partners to keep the Boston public schools from falling behind. Now, we need them to make sure the schools are preparing our young people for their future. 

I expect this new Compact to set specific goals for each school with a specific school partner. The private sector and higher education and health care institutions are supposed to be all about results. Well, let’s take a new look at how those partners can show the kind of results we can achieve when we all work together to help individual Boston public schools. 

The Private Industry Council’s description of the Compact states, “Periodically… the Mayor and the Superintendent of Schools call for a new Boston Compact when circumstances change, new leadership is in place, and the time is right for a renewed collaboration focused on shared goals.“  With a new Mayor and new Superintendent on the horizon, the time is right to reconstitute the Compact with new goals, new structures, and new measures of success. 

When I officially announced my candidacy for Mayor of Boston, I invited people to give me ideas to make Boston better. I said that I didn’t care whether they were old ideas or new ideas, just as long as they were good ideas.

Well I credit John Hailer, who grew up in Roslindale and is now C.E.O. of Netaxis Global Asset Management Inc. for inspiring this good idea to revive the Boston Compact. John’s company is partnered with the John Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester, where his employees are mentoring the students. If John and companies his size can do it, think what we can do when all of the city’s major businesses, institutions, and organizations are involved with the schools.

In my kick off speech last week, I said I think people want to be involved in the civic life of the city. The schools are one of the most important areas of our civic life. Working together, we can make sure that every school is preparing every student today for the world they will face tomorrow.

South End Patch