Who We Are
All Children Thrive (ACT Boston) is a non-partisan collaborative of 17 organizations and individuals that collectively interact with tens of thousands of children and families, and thousands of educators, principals, school-based staff, and school partners. Our vision is simple: for Boston to become a city where all children thrive. Our work in the education sector strives to ensure that starting at birth through post-secondary completion, policies and practices are centered on improving educational outcomes for the children who have been historically marginalized: our Black and Latinx students, Economically Disadvantaged students, English Learners, and Students with Disabilities.
What We Believe
In this historic moment of opportunity, where bold change is needed across our city, we look forward to partnering with Boston’s next mayoral administration in heeding the call from Boston voters to make education a priority for Boston’s future. With decades of deep engagement with Boston’s communities, ACT Boston believes:
- Boston, rich in resources, has incredible potential to ensure that all students are given a world-class education that prepares them to thrive in life.
- We have fallen far short of our potential. Our current education system, like so many other systems in the city, creates winners and losers. Far too many students and families, disproportionately BIPOC students and families, bear the burden of a broken system, year after year.
- Transformation is possible. Boston’s mayor is the most important player in improving this system for children and families. She will have the power to change course immediately through her actions, to move away from stagnation and toward progress that will be visible within her tenure. She will have the opportunity to re-prioritize education to truly serve the students and families in our city, establishing her legacy of bold action and courage.
A Call for Courageous Leadership for All Boston Children
Making decisions in the face of conflicting requests and priorities is challenging, especially in the field of education. As the city’s leader, we will look to you to set a public, comprehensive vision for the welfare of the children in Boston.
While we are supportive of schools being connectors to needed supports, today, our schools are not able to focus primarily as institutions of learning. We urge you to treat this challenge holistically, strengthening partnerships and aspects of the city’s infrastructure complementary and adjacent to education to meet basic needs, while also supporting schools to prioritize teaching the academic and additional essential skills required for children to thrive.
Recommendations for the First 100 Days
We seek to support you and your teams, realizing the need to balance authentic stakeholder engagement and quickly move the system forward to benefit as many students as possible. In this historic moment, we recommend the following actions in your First 100 Days:
- Publicly publish the Mayor’s Education Vision, aligned objectives, and outcomes. Identify key indicators, and who will be tracking them, as well as timelines of expected checks on progress. We respectfully provide recommended areas of education focus in the section below.
- Appoint a cabinet-level education lead in City Hall. Empower this leader to oversee implementation of the Mayor’s Education Vision—inside and outside Boston Public Schools—-and drive towards the outcomes our students, families, and educators need.
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities for key education appointees. This will include the Boston School Committee, Superintendent, City Hall Education Staff, and City Council, and should be published alongside the Mayor’s Education Vision and aligned objectives.
- Align the BPS budget. Ensure that the Boston Public Schools’ budget is aligned with the outcomes required to realize the Mayor’s Education Vision. In the First 100 Days, this should also address the remaining ESSER/ARPA funds.
- Commit to and follow through on a process to ensure a high-quality, representative School Committee. All members of the Boston School Committee, including the four positions that will need to be refilled or terms that will expire by the end of the year, should be reflective of the community, highly-qualified with technical and/or lived experience in public education, and committed to building a system of high-quality, equitable, and accountable schools.
Critical Areas of Focus for the Mayor’s Education Vision
As practitioners and partners with experience spanning decades, and close ties to our city’s most vulnerable students and families, we urge the following as critical areas of focus for you and our city’s education leaders over the next five years:
- Return the focus to high-quality instruction and successful outcomes for all students, especially our most vulnerable groups. Each new round of data reminds us that collectively, our city continually fails many of our students. While we recognize and support the bright spots of exceptional work, Boston’s leaders have allowed Black and Latinx students, Economically Disadvantaged students, English Learners, and Students with Disabilities to experience vastly different and uneven learning opportunities for generations. In a city where spending per pupil is at an all-time high—over $24,000 per pupil in School Year 2020-21—this kind of inequity is unacceptable. We will look to you, as our new mayor, to refocus our entire system on providing successful education outcomes for every child in Boston.
- Hold our city and district education leaders accountable, including our Superintendent and School Committee Members, to implement policies and practices aligned to your education vision, and monitor progress against expected outcomes. Just as we expect the mayor to set a clear vision in areas of city life like housing and public safety, it is the role of the mayor to establish a vision for public education in our city, and hold both appointed and elected leaders accountable for progress and outcomes, not just inputs. The response from city and system leaders has failed to match the severity and urgency of the many issues before us.
- Increase and retain the number of educators of color. In a school district where 85% of students are students of color, fewer than 50% of our teachers and guidance counselors identify as people of color. Our students and families deserve qualified school staff who mirror their own backgrounds and experiences; it is critical to their success. Efforts to retain current educators of color must be monitored and improved.
- Invest in creating school environments that allow educators to succeed and thrive. The people within a system have always been the key to transformation and long-lasting change. Lack of stability and failure to retain school-based staff causes additional turmoil and uncertainty. In order to sustain our system, there must be a commitment to establishing healthy, diverse, and inclusive school cultures, opportunities for collaboration with and feedback from school-based professionals and partners, and high-quality professional development, support, and materials to implement your vision.
- Establish safe and healthy educational facilities for all children. Our current school facilities cannot provide Boston children with a world-class education, and BuildBPS has not filled the void. Families need to trust their child attends a school that does more than meet their most basic needs, but also provides an inspiring and joyful place to learn. Our leaders must ensure that every single Boston child will have access to a healthy, safe and supportive school facility designed to promote learning, with top priority given to schools in greatest states of disrepair in communities with the greatest lack of options.
- Commit to improving school enrollment, transitions, and access to family and student supports. Boston’s current education system is extremely difficult to navigate. Improving the quality of service and ease of navigation for a multi-lingual, diverse community is critical to success for the education system. All students should be able to enroll in school, transition between grades, and access resources, regardless of where they live or the language they speak.
- Engage and activate community partners to improve student outcomes. Transformative, long-lasting change in our education system cannot be accomplished via only City Hall or the Bolling Building. Boston’s community organizations have deep community and family ties that are built on trust and shared experience, and focused on improving outcomes for children. Recognizing these assets as proactive partners will create a better system for all children.
We look forward to working with you as you make a public pledge for courageous leadership on education in our city. This will require bold and swift action to ensure that education remains a top priority for your administration. It will also mean spending political will on behalf of progress and in service to tangible results for Boston’s children and families.
ACT Boston will follow up with more concrete and detailed recommendations around each priority. We are committed to supporting you, as Boston’s next mayor, to act courageously on the recommendations in this memo, and other efforts that will ensure that all children thrive in our city.
To Boston citizens:
We have asked our mayoral candidates to commit publicly to making educational equity, especially for our most underserved children, a priority during their administration.
Learn more: If you are interested in hearing our candidates discuss their educational priorities, you can find a list of mayoral forums here, with instructions for how to submit your questions. You can subscribe to a Google Calendar with all forum dates here.
Get social: Share these graphics on social media, tagging @AnnissaForBos and @wutrain on Twitter and Instagram to ask them your education questions.
Respectfully, the member organizations of ACT Boston:
Boston Opportunity Agenda, Boston Plan for Excellence, Boston Schools Fund, East Boston Social Centers, Edith Bazile (Consultant), EdNavigator, EdVestors, Elysa Severinghaus (Consultant), Latinos for Education, OneGoal, Propel America, SchoolFacts Boston, The Education Trust, The Steppingstone Foundation, The Teacher Collaborative, The Teachers’ Lounge, Union Capital Boston