Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Motivation, self-esteem, achievement and the development of tolerance and acceptance of others -- these are the goals that most, like Crain, et al., have come to accept as legitimate objectives of public schooling. Yet, there is substantial opinion that the public schools of Boston have been unable to achieve standards in these areas that are acceptable to the public, the students who occupy the schools, and the professionals who run them. For example, a recent survey of Boston residents' attitudes toward the schools indicates that approximately 3/4 of all respondents -- irrespective of race, or whether there were any school age children in the house -- believed the quality of the schools to be fair or poor. In addition, a substantial majority of both black and white parents believe that the schools are getting worse, rather than better. In this paper, a brief review of the past and present status of the Boston schools, based on existing, accessible empirical evidence, will be presented, to determine the degree to which the overwhelmingly negative opinions about the schools are supported. In addition, studies and research that bear upon strategies for improving the educational system will be discussed.

A few words should be said about the assumptions under which this review is organized. First, this paper is limited to a discussion of public elementary and secondary education. Second, the review of both the current status of the schools and potential strategies for improving them will be limited to: (1) areas in which there is some reason to expect that involving concerned public interest groups such as the Boston Committee would be useful, and (2) where there is some potential for implementing relatively short-term programs or activities. In sum, the definition of problems and remedies will focus on improving the current system, rather than designing a substantially new one.



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