John Barros’s mayoral campaign plans to release an online endorsement video Wednesday from the leader of a prominent education group in what Barros promises will be the first of many such videos to come.
“This is a tricky time for education in the city. It’s a tricky time for public schools. It’s a tricky time to be a teacher. You see a lot of folks attacking our school system, attacking our teachers, so that’s not going to get us anywhere,” Jesse Solomon, executive director of the nonprofit organization Boston Plan for Excellence, says in the two-minute, nine-second video.
Standing in front of a colorful jungle gym and identified only as the executive director of an education nonprofit, Solomon said Barros’s approach to improving Boston’s schools is student-focused. Adults, he said, organize around the child.
“At the heart of this,” he says in the video, “has been a notion of an expanded day, and that means more time, but it also means more people and more partners.”
Extending school days was a part of former Schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson’s agenda to overhaul the district, but the district and teachers’ union could not agree upon how much teachers would be paid for the extra time.
Barros, who was a school committee member when those tense contract negotiations were under way, said Wednesday his extended-day proposal is twofold—schedule flexibility for teachers and increased community partnerships.
“You are asking a group of teachers to come in early and leave early, and asking a group of teachers to come in later and leave later,” he said during an interview. That way, he said, “your school day is anchored by teachers.”
And the partnerships are centered on the needs of students under the guidance of teachers. “You just don’t bring in partners for the sake of bringing in partners,” he said. “You have teacher guidance.”
For example: Ensuring that homeless students or those whose housing situation is fragile receive help from existing city services. And, he said, it’s imperative for teachers to have a voice in determining which organizations partner with the school.
He said there’s support for his proposal, though he admits: “I haven’t floated it to the teachers’ union. I have floated it to groups of teachers.”
As Solomon said in the video: “John doesn’t pretend that it’s going to be simple. It’s not going to be overnight. But it’s going to take that kind of consistent and inclusive approach to make the kind of change we want to see.”