Meier Submits Proposal To Run Boston Pilot School

By Cheryl Gamble — October 16, 1996 2 min read

Deborah Meier, whose long-running experiment with a small high school in New York City made her one of the nation’s best-known education reformers, has submitted a proposal to the Boston school district that would allow her to open a school there.

Ms. Meier is nationally known as a teacher, author, and champion of public education through her work in the nation’s largest school district.

In 1974, she was a co-founder of Central Park East Secondary School, an experimental high school for at-risk minority students, where she served as principal until 1994.

Her proposal in Boston, submitted last month, would allow her to open one of the city’s pilot schools, which operate free from many local and union regulations, much like charter schools.

But while charter schools in Massachusetts can be open to students from outside the schools’ districts, Boston’s pilot schools must take students only from within the 61,000-student system.

Ms. Meier could not be reached last week for comment on her proposal. She told The New York Times in an Oct. 5 story, however, that the pace of reform in the massive New York City district was too slow.

“It’s a leap of faith to change the way we think about governing schools and holding people accountable,” Ms. Meier told the newspaper. “It wasn’t happening fast enough for my impatience,” she said.

‘A Pioneer’

Ms. Meier is the author of The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem.

She is currently a co-chairwoman of the Networks for School Reform, a New York City-based partnership of public and private organizations committed to school reform, and is also involved in an effort to redesign several failing high schools in the city.

Chancellor Rudy F. Crew called Ms. Meier a “pioneer in education,” and said that if she left New York it would be a loss for the 1.1-million-student system, according to a district spokes- woman, Chiara Colleti.

Ms. Colleti added that the city was lucky to have many other educators who favor the innovations fostered by Ms. Meier and who could continue much of the work she began. “The schools will go forward,” the spokeswoman said.

Ms. Meier told the Times that if her proposal in Boston is accepted, she expects to teach at Harvard University and at Wheelock College in Boston.

She said she would remain a senior fellow at the Annenberg Foundation, working with small-school projects across the country.

Jane Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Boston public schools, said last week that no decisions would be made on the proposals for pilot schools until next month.

A version of this article appeared in the October 16, 1996 edition of Education Week as Meier Submits Proposal To Run Boston Pilot School