Flynn Urges Boston Board To Shift Power to Schools

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Mayor Raymond L. Flynn of Boston, successful in his bid to abolish the city's elected school committee, has proposed a sweeping education-reform plan to guide the new committee members he will appoint--if he gets the chance.

Mr. Flynn first must get re-elected, however, and his school-reform proposals already are becoming an issue in the city's fall mayoral race.

A draft proposal of the Mayor's plan released last month calls for much of the responsibility for city schools to be shifted from the central administration to the leadership of individual schools. Principals for the first time would be given responsibility for choosing, with the advice of parents, the best qualified teachers.

The plan gives them significantly more power than the current system, which requires that they select teachers from a list of the three most veteran applicants provided by the central administration.

Other Key Provisions

In other key provisions of the Mayor's plan:

  • The district's budgeting process would be decentralized, with schools developing budgets based on their individual needs in attempting to meet district goals.

The district would seek to provide principals and teachers with help in planning and locating resources.

  • The district's central bureaucracy would be reduced, and its role would shift from monitoring to offering support.

Four "zone centers for teaching and learning" would be established to give schools easier access to training programs.

  • A comprehensive strategy would be developed for training good teachers and principals and removing ineffective ones.
  • Teachers would work an additional hour each day to allow time for planning, staff development, and conferences with parents.
  • More compacts with businesses, universities, unions, and hospitals would be developed to provide students with a wider array of services.
  • Boston's professional sports teams would be urged to take on a greater role in supporting interscholastic athletics.

Challenger Dismisses Plan

Ellen C. Guiney, Mr. Flynn's education adviser, said the Mayor's proposal to give principals more control in hiring is likely to meet resistance from the Boston Teachers Union.

Edward J. Doherty, the president of the B.T.U. and Mr. Flynn's leading challenger in the mayoral contest, last week dismissed the Mayor's education plan as "sheer hypocrisy and campaign rhetoric," and asserted that many of the Mayor's proposals were taken from reform tenets negotiated into the B.T.u. contract two years ago.

"His issue for the last two years has been the issue of school governance," Mr. Doherty said, alleging that Mayor Flynn "stood on the sidelines" and "never lifted a finger to help" while the reform-oriented contract was being negotiated.

Ms. Guiney countered that the Mayor had been "very supportive" of the B.T.U. contract and denied that Mr. Flynn's reform proposals were part of his campaign, arguing that "most of this probably won't be taken up until after the election."

The Mayor gained the power to appoint a new school committee next year as a result of a bill signed into law this summer by Gov. William F. Weld. (See Education Week, July 31, 1991.)

Vol. 11, Issue 01, Page 13

Published in Print: September 4, 1991, as Flynn Urges Boston Board To Shift Power to Schools
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