A Metco take-down
The headline on the Sunday Globe front-page story suggested the 50-year-old school integration program known as Metco was a mixed bag, but the story painted an almost uniformly dismal picture of students’ experience with the initiative.
“As Metco turns 50, students find promise, but also pain, in their suburban schools,” read the balanced headline atop Sunday’s print issue of the paper. But the story was almost all about the pain.
From the three students posing last year at Lincoln-Sudbury High School with a Confederate flag to the “white pride” sticker in the boys’ locker room there, the story suggested suburban schools taking part in the program are havens of intolerance — and sometimes worse. It highlighted the almost all-white teaching staff at suburban schools that are part of the program, and it said the examples of racial harassment or insensitivity experienced by minority students “are hardly unique.”
Metco, which stands for Metropolitan Council for Education Opportunity, is a voluntary program launched 50 years to provide better educational alternatives for students from Boston and Springfield and to increase the diversity of suburban schools that take part. Some 3,300 Boston and Springfield residents are bused to suburban district schools through the program.
The racial environment at the participating schools is made out to be so grim one wonders why students would endure the hours on school buses each day that many Metco students have to put up with. The story offers the uplifting tale of just one Metco student, who credits the resources at LIncoln-Sudbury High School with helping her chart a course she hopes will lead to medical school.
The story has a single sentence offering evidence of the positive impacts of Metco, saying students in the program score higher on MCAS and are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and attend college than their counterparts in Boston. But it’s not clear whether this comparison involved any effort to match Metco students to peers. A longstanding criticism of Metco is that it tends to draw a self-selected population of more middle-class minority students from Boston.
In the end, the story seemed to suffer from an identity crisis and was as much about the overwhelmingly white profile of well-off, isolated suburbs as it was about the Metco program itself. At one point, it quotes Quincee Day, a June graduate of Lincoln-Sudbury High School, who called the school environment there “extremely toxic” and had the line “I do not feel safe at this school” appear as the caption under his yearbook picture. But Day lives in Lincoln and has nothing to do with Metco.
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A Globe editorial calls for fairness — and thorough scrutiny — in the investigation of Jane Sanders, the wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who arranged a $6.7 million loan as president of now-defunct Burlington College for the Vermont school to acquire a 33-acre parcel of lakefront land a year before she resigned under pressure.
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Dr. Paul Hattis of Tufts University Medical School is having some jitters about the proposed merger of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health. (CommonWealth)
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