By Andrew Flamang, DFER New England Director
A few weeks ago the Pioneer Institute and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute at Harvard Law released a study on the METCO program, Massachusetts’ fifty-year-old school choice mechanism, and the study – like the program itself – didn’t receive the attention it deserves.
To be fair, the Boston Globe picked up the report but it merits a little more exposure.
METCO is one of only eight voluntary school desegregation programs in the country. Every day, 3,300 students from Boston and Springfield board early morning buses to attend district schools in the suburbs. Their home districts are more than 75% black and Latino, with even higher percentages of low-income students. Their suburban host districts are all majority white; 13 of the 37 districts remain more than 90% white, even when factoring in METCO.
Statewide, METCO is widely acknowledged to be valuable. The program is popular among urban parents, running a substantial waiting list. And, because METCO adds some valuable diversity to majority-white districts, many suburban legislators love it too.