Jon's Vision

Equitable Education for All

Every student in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) deserves a world-class education. That is not the case today and we must do better. We spend one-third of our City’s budget on BPS, yet the achievement gap persists and was exacerbated by COVID-19. Our schools represent the future of our city and economy. Each school must provide our kids with a quality education and opportunities to grow and achieve their potential.

Education is personal for Jon because for him, it was his lifeline. Through educational opportunities, Jon’s family was able to succeed after coming to Boston. It was a STEM educational opportunity that put Jon on his path to public service, leading him to a career as an ER physician and state representative.

That’s why Jon has led on this issue on Beacon Hill. He fought for and voted to pass the Student Opportunity Act, a once-in-a-generation education reform bill that addresses the achievement gap across the Commonwealth. As a result, BPS will be receiving millions more in funding. He has also led on early education by securing hundreds of thousands of dollars for early education programs in Boston and voted to provide a $20 million rate increase for early education providers. Lastly, Jon voted to ensure that more kids start school with a healthy breakfast and advocated for a $40 million enrollment reserve fund to help school districts whose enrollment was impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jon believes that every BPS student deserves the opportunity to succeed. He is running for mayor to improve our neighborhood schools, address the achievement gap by eliminating the opportunity gap, increase family engagement in the BPS decision making process, and ensure a responsive central office.  As mayor, Jon will:

  1. Address the achievement gap by focusing on the opportunity gap. For far too long, BPS has been defined by its achievement gap. Jon believes that students aren’t the problem. They’re smart, they’re resourceful, and they’re capable. They simply don’t have the opportunity. Jon will be the mayor that puts Boston on the path to closing the achievement gap by focusing on the opportunity gap. He believes that addressing the opportunity gap is the key to academic achievement and success. 
    • Make universal preschool a reality. We must recognize that universal pre-k is a public good and we should treat it as such. As mayor, Jon wants Boston to move forward in this direction that will underscore the importance of early childhood education. Jon will make sure that free, equitable, universal preschool is available to every BPS family. Our families and our youngest residents should be afforded the opportunity to learn at an early age, we need universal, accessible, and affordable high-quality early education for our younger than five Bostonians. Jon is currently a cosponsor of a bill that would fully fund public early education statewide and as mayor, he will continue to advocate for universal pre-k on the state level. Click here to read Jon’s early education policy platform.
    • Early college for BPS students – an optional 13th year. A quarter of Boston high school valedictorians from 2005 to 2007 did not finish college within six years of graduation. Jon will address this issue by offering an optional 13th year to focus on college prep, opportunities to obtain college credit, and explore career pathways. He will ensure that every high school student will have the opportunity to start college while in high school and graduate BPS college ready. 
    • Identify, retain, and reward strong, innovative, and successful leadership. Jon knows that strong leadership and staff retention can turn around a struggling school. He will actively recruit and train the best and brightest, establishing mentoring programs for BPS leaders, including principals, administrators, and all tiers of school staff. Jon will create a pipeline within the central office to partner with local higher education institutions to create a homegrown class of education leaders, predominantly from communities of color. Jon will also explore offering school principles renewable three year contracts to increase continuity of school leadership.
    • Leverage Boston’s world-class institutions and culture. Boston is home to some of the best universities, hospitals, biotech, and cultural institutions in the world. Jon will create opportunities by doubling down on public-private partnerships to create pathways for careers and expand enrichment opportunities. He will do this by formalizing and fully integrating PartnerBPS into the BPS curriculum, connecting more students and schools to our thriving public and private sector. 
    • Guarantee equitable and effective staffing ratios. Within his first 100 days in office, Jon will order a staffing needs assessment to provide data-driven criteria for establishing appropriate staffing ratios. Jon is committed to ensuring that every school in BPS has adequate staffing to provide the opportunities that students and families deserve. That means appropriate student-to-teacher ratios, a school psychologist and mental health professional in every school, access to nurses, library services, English Language Learner (ELL) translation services, and paraprofessional support for students with disabilities. Lastly, Jon will set clear standards for maximum class sizes to ensure our teachers are able to provide quality instruction to every student.
    • Partner with nonprofits and the Boston Public Health Commission to end BPS student homelessness. Right now, the district has over 4,000 homeless students. Jon believes that housing is a human right and knows that unhoused students do not have the same opportunity to succeed in school. That’s why Jon is committed to expanding partnerships with our nonprofit sector and the Boston Public Health Commission to end homelessness amongst BPS students. 
    • An equitable approach to building new schools. BPS must build more schools and replace every building that is 50+ years old. During this process, Jon will focus on building new, quality, and high capacity schools in our most underserved neighborhoods. Jon will work with our citywide parent council to make decisions about size, location, and education focus of the schools. 
  1. Prioritize BPS family engagement. Our schools exist to educate and serve students and families. However, Jon’s conversations with parents have made clear that some families feel they are not always heard. We should be fostering more engagement, understanding, and trust between families and BPS. And we must do so in a culturally competent and language accessible manner. 
    • Create a Parent Leadership Academy. Jon will convene and incentivize parents all across Boston to get involved with their local schools. He will do so in a culturally competent manner because parent engagement is key to academic success. Establishing a Parent Leadership Academy to cultivate parent leaders will improve their ability to advocate, engage, and play a direct role in the decision making process. Jon believes in the power of our families to improve BPS and as mayor, he will make sure that our parents have the tools and resources to amplify their impact.
    • Bring the Citywide Parent Council to the decision making table. Jon will meet parents where they are. He will empower parents to have greater involvement in the decision making process. Jon will invest in and work to ensure that every school has an active school parent council. He will mandate that BPS officials are actively meeting and engaging with the Citywide Parent Council. He is also committed to requiring biannual meetings between the parent council, mayor, and superintendent. Lastly, Jon will ensure that the Citywide Parent Councils reflect Boston’s diversity.
    • Build trust between diverse Boston families and BPS. Jon knows that trust between parents and teachers is paramount to student success. He believes that we must build trust and that starts with communication that is culturally competent and language accessible each time families interface with BPS (e.g., school committee meetings, parent-teacher conferences, etc.). Leveraging these relationships will result in better parent advocacy and allow for parents to play an active role in shaping instruction, after-school programming, safety planning, cultural activities, and school budget decisions.
    • Incentivize parent engagement. Jon knows that students are more likely to succeed when their parents are engaged. He believes in finding creative ways to bring more parents into the process by meeting parents where they are at. That means exploring stipends for parents, providing meals at parent/teacher conferences, sending BPS staff to visit families, and encouraging more virtual meetings between families and staff.
  1. Build a transparent, responsive, and accountable BPS. In all of Jon’s conversations with parents, it is clear that many parents feel ignored or not heard by BPS. Jon is committed to reversing that paradigm by instilling new measures of transparency, accountability, and responsiveness into the BPS system. As mayor, Jon will:
    • Transition to a fully-elected School Committee with a voting student representative. Our current fully appointed school committee does not provide accountability to Boston families. Jon will fully revamp our school committee to ensure that every member of the school committee is elected by Boston voters. This system will ensure equity and accountability by utilizing a district seat approach and adding four new at-large seats. The exact districts will be determined through a community process to create fair, equitable, and effective school committee districts. Jon also supports a student representative with voting power and a stipend.
    • Accelerate deferred maintenance in our most underserved schools. When Jon talks to teachers, parents, and administrators, the number one thing he hears is ‘deferred maintenance’. For too long, we have neglected to invest in the infrastructure that our schools need. Jon will prioritize rebuilding and renovating education infrastructure using incoming COVID federal relief, investing in our most underserved communities first.
    • Audit the central office. Over $64 million dollars per year is dedicated to the central office. We need to know exactly what those funds are being used for and how we can better use those dollars. As mayor, Jon will order a full public audit of the central office budget to identify where we can create efficiencies. Any additional funds will be reallocated to the classrooms. 
    • Cut down on transportation costs. Right now, transportation costs account for 10% of the BPS budget. That money should be sent to our classrooms,  extracurricular activities, and supporting families. Jon believes that we can lower transportation costs by improving our neighborhood schools and keeping students closer to home. He is also committed to reevaluating the current transportation contract to make sure buses are taking efficient routes. Jon is also committed to expanding public transportation options for our students. 
  1. Create employment pipelines for our future economy. As mayor, Jon will:
    • Strengthen partnerships with organized labor. Union jobs are one of the best pathways into the middle class and creating wealth. As mayor, Jon will invest in our vocational programming, create union-sponsored credentialing opportunities, and invite union recruitment into our underserved communities. He will do so creating partnerships between BPS and organized labor.
    • Create credentialing opportunities. As mayor, Jon will expand career and credentialing pathways within every school to provide options for students who seek alternatives to college. These credentialing pathways will be crafted in partnership with organized labor, biotech, healthcare, and other leading industries throughout Massachusetts, ensuring that our students get credentialed to become future leaders of our homegrown industries.
    • Make Madison Park Technical Vocational High School a model of education and economic opportunity. We must ensure that Madison Park is educating the workforce of the future. Jon will create a new curriculum focused on training and developing our future leaders in the green economy and our burgeoning biotech sector. Jon will do this by revamping the Madison Park curriculum to provide enhanced STEM education and will create new vocational tracks for emerging opportunities. He recently advocated for and voted to create an Offshore Wind Initiative, providing $10 million for workforce development and training. This funding and programs like these should be used to build out the curriculum and infrastructure at Madison Park.
    • Creating a new life sciences and healthcare vocational school. Boston is home to some of the best healthcare and pharmaceutical institutions in the entire world. Jon believes that this industry’s next generation workforce should be trained here, starting with BPS. As mayor, Jon will establish a new vocational school that has specific educational tracks for biotech and healthcare-related industries. The school will be established in collaboration with academic hospitals and the local biotech community. The school will utilize a curriculum designed in partnership with industry leaders to ensure students learn the necessary skills to drive Boston’s future. Students will have options to graduate with professional credentials toward careers in emergency services, lab management, pharmacy technicians, drug manufacturing, and life science business leadership. 
  1. Ensure excellent exam schools. Jon believes that every BPS student has the academic potential to gain admission and succeed at one of our exam schools. While the temporary one-year plan was mandated to weather the pandemic, the new system creates unintended consequences. The new zip-code based system begins to address equity but it may harm specific communities of color and residents living in public housing within more affluent neighborhoods, including Charlestown, the South End, and South Boston. As mayor, Jon will create an admission process that utilizes grades and a new entrance exam more closely aligned with the BPS curriculum.
    • Use an entrance exam that reflects the BPS curriculum. We need to use an exam that ensures every Boston student has the same chance at success. Jon will facilitate the adoption of the MAP assessment that better reflects the BPS curriculum. 
    • Increase entrance exam accessibility. Jon will designate specific school days that allow students to take this exam during class, making the exam more accessible to more students. 
    • Establish partnerships with universities to provide free or affordable tutoring. Boston is home to some of the highest achieving and renown education institutions in the world. As mayor, Jon will forge partnerships with educational institutions to create an ‘exam school tutoring corps’ that provides free or affordable tutoring to students with free or reduced lunch. This includes providing college credit for tutoring semesters or exploring student loan forgiveness programs. 
  1. Address Learning Loss in COVID-19. There is no question that remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic led to drastic learning loss and a significant increase in absenteeism. Remote learning was hard on everyone – our teachers, our families, and our students. We must focus on getting our students back into the classroom and ensuring we can make up for that lost time. As mayor, Jon will:
    • Allow students to retake a grade. Jon will explore allowing students the option to retake the current grade level they missed as a result of remote learning. 
    • Expand summer enrichment opportunities. Jon is also committed to expanding summer enrichment opportunities for students to continue supplementing their education. 
    • Learning loss tutoring. Jon will explore implementing specialized tutoring for BPS students, including one-on-one sessions, small group tutoring, or specialized subject by subject tutoring. Jon believes in paying our teachers overtime to instruct our students and in addition to offering stipends to students at our nearby universities to supplement learning.
    • Increase access to mental health services. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the mental health crisis in our students. To address the trauma and help students reorient themselves into the classroom, Jon will invest in culturally competent mental health providers to support our students. He is committed to using this opportunity to hire Black and Latino providers to achieve the goal of cultural competency and advance goals of economic justice.
  1. Provide our ELLs with the resources they need. The Department of Justice mandate instituted in 2010 has created a situation where BPS staff are more focused on compliance rather than using best practices. As a result, our ELLs are only meeting minimum standards set by state and federal agencies. We need to think beyond compliance and implement higher standards that are supported across the educational spectrum. As mayor, Jon will:
    • Promote cultural competency and language access. We must ensure cultural competency and language access for every BPS student and their family. That means focusing on hiring teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school staff from our communities and who speak the languages our students speak. Jon believes in providing more appropriate education for our students while advancing goals of economic and racial justice. 
    • Implement the Seal of Biliteracy. Our bilingual students should be encouraged to be fluent in several languages. As mayor, Jon will ensure students graduate with a Seal of Biliteracy, earning college credit. He will also establish bilingual programs in order to use a student’s native language to reinforce both English acquisition and content subject learning. 
    • Expand Dual Language Schools. Jon will continue successful models of dual language schools similar to the Hurley and the Hernandez Schools. 
    • Design new programs for ELLs with disabilities. We need to make sure we do not let students fall through the cracks, especially our most vulnerable. Jon believes we need to specifically look at how to meet the needs of our ELLs with disabilities.
    • Expand Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) . Jon will improve SEI programs for students who are not able or do not want to participate in bilingual programs. He will focus and expand the capacity for teaching and learning for our students with interrupted formal education (SIFE).
  1. Expand, redesign, and enrich special education. BPS has one of the highest percentages of special education students in the nation. We need to make sure that our classrooms are accessible to our special education students and support their diverse needs. 
    • Create a vision of inclusivity for all. A persistent issue in BPS special education is the lack of inclusion. We must integrate our special education students into classrooms so they are treated equitably and receive the same opportunities as their peers. But we must streamline the process while providing adequate support to families. Because when inclusion is done right, it benefits every student in that classroom. 
    • Support our students with IEPs (Individualized Education Plans). Jon will explore new data systems that focus on measuring progress across a spectrum of service delivery, including our ELLs. Jon is also committed to developing tools and resources to empower students and parents to have more influence over their educational needs.
    • Address COVID-19 loss of services. Our students with disabilities were hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a massive backlog of evaluations and hundreds of hours of missed services. Our special education students lost access to speech services, occupational therapy, and other developmental services. As mayor, Jon will make sure that every student gets the services their IEP’s require, including compensatory services for missed opportunities during the pandemic.