Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Boston Public Comes Out On Top

Here's some very good news for Boston's public schools:
After five years as a finalist, the Boston Public Schools today won the largest education prize in the country, the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which comes with $500,000 in scholarships.

The award honors urban school systems that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing the achievement gap among poor and minority students.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino cheered the news, shortly after the winner was announced in dramatic, Academy-Award fashion, with the opening of an envelope at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "It's a great day for the Boston Public Schools," he said. "This really is a recognition of the progress we've made."

Menino said Boston still has to tackle issues such as improving test scores and finding a new superintendent to replace longtime leader Thomas W. Payzant, who retired in June to teach at Harvard. But Menino said the fact that Boston has been nominated several times for the top urban education prize shows the city's schools have been "constant and consistent."

"We’re not perfect, that’s for sure," he said. "We’ve made steady progress."

The mood was light and heady, as Boston officials awaited the announcement. School committee chairwoman Elizabeth Reilinger said she joked that Boston was the "Susan Lucci" of public school systems, referring to the soap opera star who took years to win an Emmy, despite multiple nominations.

"I think it's wonderful," she said. "We've exemplified perseverance. We're very excited."

The prize brings Boston's five-year haul from the foundation to $1 million. The other four finalists this year -- Bridgeport Public Schools, Jersey City Public Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the New York City Department of Education -- will each receive $125,000 in scholarships.

"Boston Public Schools is leading the way to keep America the most innovative country in the world by preparing today's urban children with the skills to succeed in tomorrow's jobs," said Roderick Paige, a former US education secretary and member of The Broad Prize Selection Jury. "Through winning The Broad Prize, truly the Nobel Prize in education, Boston Public Schools has proven that all students can succeed, regardless of their race, background, or zip code."
Good for them.

It's one thing to be honored, but it's an even better thing when someone throws-in a little cold hard cash.
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