50th Edition, Education

Reactions of the South community

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Abby Posner, Volume 28
June 8, 1988

How does one explain the recent attacks upon METCO? According to history teacher Dr. Ed Jackson, the bottom line is “what it always is…money.”
According to Jackson, “METCO attacks can’t be explained by the relative weakness of white liberals.” Jackson feels “education, any education, just costs too much for many people, even if it isn’t getting near enough the support it needs to be effective. They jump on METCO because they won’t face up to paying for adequate education for all, white and black.”
Jackson is a strong supporter of METCO. “It’s a good idea…it meant doing something when nobody was doing anything.” METCO has become even more important, according to Dr Jackson, because the Boston situation has worsened. “You can’t find a parent in Boston, white or black who isn’t concerned for the safety of their child in the Boston schools,” Jackson said.
What METCO offers for white students is real contact with “the black experience.” For blacks, it’s “a clear opportunity,” according to Jackson. “Look what they’re offered in Boston: outdated texts or no texts, understocked laboratories and library shortages, staff shuffled around from one school to another every year, sometimes during the year.”
“METCO kids vote with their feet,” Jackson said. “If the program didn’t offer clear gain, who would get on the bus so early every day, get home so late, endure the difficulty and disruption in their lives, being away from homes and neighborhoods for so long.” METCO critics are thoughtless, in Jackson’s view. “They either don’t have kids or don’t listen to them,” asserts Jackson. “METCO kids don’t have to come, there’s no law making them; it’s an insult to common sense to assume they don’t gain plenty from all those years in suburban schools.” The majority of Boston students at Newton South support METCO, and strongly oppose any limitation or threat of elimination.
“I feel that inner-city kids really need METCO and benefit from the program – It has defmitely helped me. It gives students a basis for education, increases intelligence, and takes away from drugs and violence. The Boston Public Schools don’t give a feeling of wanting to learn. The METCO system has brought students from a lower level up to a higher one,” sophomore METCO student Jamar Green said.
“METCO has done a lot for [its participants’] educations. There are a lot of things that schools in the suburbs have to offer that we would miss out on if they go rid of METCO,” METCO junior Tyra Jackson said.
Although other students at South, those who are not part of the METCO program, think that schools in the suburbs have nothing to offer, we would miss out if they go rid of METCO,” METCO junior Tyra Jackson said.
The majority still support the continuation of METCO and realize the difficulties that could arise as a result of its elimination.
“I didn’t know that METCO might be phased out, but I still think that it’s a really bad idea. If that happened, kids in the city would not have the opportunity to go to good schools like ours and I do not think that that would be very fair,” freshman Ruth Tsesaye said.
Not only would terminating METCO eliminate the opportunities for inner-city kids to get a better education, it would also destroy the education of those who currently participate in the program.
“I hope METCO continues – it helps with education, finding summer jobs and gives scholarships. If the program ends a lot of opportunities for a good future would be ruined,” METCO junior Danielle Sutton said.
METCO students asked about Boston schools were often strongly negative.
“I spent some time in Boston,” said one student. “It was a waste of time, too much violence, and so few materials. I remember we didn’t have books one year, just xeroxes because they couldn’t order the books or couldn’t afford them.”
“The teachers push you here,” said one METCO student. “In Boston, they’d let you drift, wouldn’t care if you showed up for class or didn’t. Here’s it’s a pain sometimes, but you know they want you. In my neighborhood school, it’s just the opposite.”
Like the students who participate in METCO, parents oppose the termination of the program. “I wouldn’t want it phased out. I think the kids do really well with the program. If the Boston schools were corrected, than maybe METCO would not be necessary, but until that happens, METCO should continue. How would placing my child into Boston schools help the schools? It’s up to the legislature to improve the schools- the burden should not be placed on the shoulders of the kids. And even if Boston schools were up to par, METCO would still be important for diversity in suburb schools,” METCO parent Richard Still said.
Sometimes the situation can seem bleak. “Some students are giving up, but others are trying to succeed. A lot of kids are being kicked out, but it’s not the kids that are giving up – it’s the coordinators that are giving up on us. There’s too little support from families in the city, there’s too little funds, and greater support from people at Newton South is necessary too,” METCO junior Saran Still said.

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