It all began with 28 people. Twenty-eight members of the Boston community who wanted their schools to be better. To have a school system made up of extraordinary students who were making the strides needed to be competitive. In those days it was to get ahead of the Soviet Union and the launch of Sputnik and for schools to be “more open to new ideas and movements.” Do these ideas sound familiar? They were written about Boston Partners in Education* in 1985 to celebrate the organization’s 20th Anniversary.
This year, I am proud to celebrate 45 years of Boston Partners in Education making a difference in the lives of thousands of students in the Boston Public Schools and thousands of volunteer academic mentors who have thoughtfully given their time over the years. Our work is far from being over and in fact, in many ways after reading how we got our start, as relevant today as it was in 1966. Everything looks different, but as was mentioned by President Barack Obama in his January 2011 State of the Union address, now is our Sputnik moment. For our nation to continue to be as competitive in global society, our youth need to receive stellar educations and be prepared for a changing future, involving working across cultures, the use of technology, and the ability to interact with others.
The saying that it takes a village to raise a child is so true, and in the coming years will be even more so. I’m hearing that budget cuts in the schools mean fewer teachers and larger numbers of students in classrooms throughout Boston. By engaging community members to go into our schools and tutor and mentor students in reading, writing and math, Boston Partners in Education supports teachers in providing the best for their students. And I know, from experience, that there is help to be had in our community. Every year, hundreds of caring adults go into the Boston Public Schools with one goal in mind – to support kids in their educations – the same goal that this organization has had for 45 years. All of us in Boston who are volunteering know the satisfaction of supporting youth in our city. And, getting into a classroom and school has personally given me a great way to get to the pulse of our city and our neighborhoods – a perspective that I wouldn’t have if I just walked by the school door.
Forty-five years ago, Boston Partners in Education came into existence on a wave of urgency to support public education, particularly urban education in the U.S. Today that urgency still exists. Our work continues to be relevant and we are up to the challenge of ensuring all students in Boston stay in school, graduate and succeed in life! Our challenge to you is to join us and volunteer in one of our city’s classrooms.
– Pamela Civins, Executive Director
*Boston Partners in Education was formerly known as School Volunteers for Boston and at the time part of a national school volunteer movement