Catholic schools partner with Boston Plan for Excellence

BOSTON -- At its 25th anniversary celebration Dec. 1 the Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools (BPE) announced the formation of the Boston Schoolchildren’s Consortium. Members include superintendents and directors of Boston charter, parochial, private, traditional, and pilot schools and METCO. It is believed to be the first cross-sector collaboration intended to improve education for all schoolchildren in a major American city.

The goal of the consortium is to explore how, in each sector, the strongest schools achieve a culture of high achievement among students and staff and what lessons from successful schools can be spread to all schools.

The BPE was established in 1984 by Bank of America (then the First National Bank of Boston), who was joined at the outset by The Boston Foundation and later by corporate leaders including John Hancock Financial Services, New England Life, and Goodwin Proctor and Hoar.

For 25 years, BPE has worked toward building excellence in the Boston Public Schools. Looking ahead at the next 25 years, BPE is extending its commitment to all Boston schoolchildren, many of whom attend more than one type of school over their educational careers.

Mary Grassa O’Neill, a former Boston Public Schools principal and administrator and currently Secretary of Education and Superintendent of Schools of the Archdiocese of Boston, is enthusiastic about the new collaborative effort.

“The Boston Plan for Excellence is well known for its many great contributions to education over the past 25 years. I applaud BPE for this new, historic initiative, and look forward, as we all do, to working together,” she said.

BPE first convened the leaders in April, and the group of leaders has met four times since. Last month, they “got on the bus” and visited two schools: Roxbury Preparatory Charter School and Boston College High School. In January, Consortium members will follow up with visits to a traditional and a pilot Boston school. Out of these common experiences, members will choose a focus to explore together even further and begin undertaking common work.

Kevin Andrews, founding principal of Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester and President of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, described the potential: “There has been much talk about sharing best practices and bringing people together but that is all it has been: talk. The Boston Schoolchildren’s Consortium has taken action by convening educational leaders from the city of Boston in sharing best practices to ensure that all of our students receive a quality education.”