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OUR PRIORITIES   |  DEVELOPING A CITY COLLEGE SYSTEM FOR BOSTON

DEVELOPING A CITY COLLEGE SYSTEM FOR BOSTON

Greater Boston is one of the global meccas for post-secondary education, boasting 35 colleges and universities in the city limits and about 75 in the metropolitan area. This fact alone makes Boston a hub for opportunity. Unfortunately, it continues to be opportunity for some, often leaving the city’s “home grown talent” - the young women and men (most of color) who grow up in Boston neighborhoods and graduate from our public schools.

 

In recent years, Boston has made some progress toward establishing a social contract with Boston’s young people as it pertains to affordable access to post-secondary options. Notable initiatives include:

 

  • Success Boston which, since its inception, has helped increase college attendance rates among BPS graduates to nearly 75% and has raised the 6-year college completion rate among BPS graduates to just over 51% for the Class of 2014 up from 35% for the Class of 2000;

 

  • Tuition Free Community College and Boston Bridge which combine to give students a path to a free four-year education, first by attending a select set of two-year colleges and, then, seamlessly transferring to state colleges through the state’s Commonwealth Commitment program;

 

  • The redesign of the City’s scholarship program, which has increased support for college goers from Boston and the  launch of the GRAD Last Mile Fund, an innovative scholarship program designed to help students facing financial hardship in their final college semesters complete their degrees; and, lastly

 

  • City Academy, the City of Boston’s short-term career training program for professions like emergency medical services and commercial drivers that extend the range of post-secondary and career options for city residents. 

 

While these initiatives represent catalysts for larger education pipeline reform and structural change, they do not yet add up to the guarantee of affordable (if not free) post-secondary training that is widely accessible to Boston's young people and that they can easily navigate.   They do not yet put the colleges and universities that best serve Boston’s high school graduates on economically stable footing. They do not necessarily help put our colleges and universities ahead of the curve in an industry where disruption has been coming for  more than a decade because the century-old business models are fragile. Moreover, employers have been reporting increasing dissatisfaction with student readiness in dynamic and emerging industries and young people are being saddled with debilitating debt and a sea of credentials that have decreasing market value.  And, prior to the pandemic, these lights of hope were already in tension with declining public investment in community colleges and state schools in Massachusetts.

 

Boston needs to move further, and faster, to reimagine post-secondary education.  We have the means to take control of our own destiny and to guarantee the city’s limitlessly talented young people paths to the prosperous futures that they deserve.  I propose to do this by creating a City College System that networks and knits together Boston’s designated Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to provide open doors to free post-secondary education and industry-informed programming that will help them build the skills they need for jobs of the future.  Through the investment in this system, I also want to create sustaining resources for a set of colleges in the city that have already proven their commitments to Black and Brown youth and have demonstrated their abilities to connect them to career opportunities and prepare them for civic leadership.

 

Specifically, I propose to partner colleges participating in the City College system to:

 

  • Create a multi-institutional program portfolio that aligns their offerings to create a broad suite  of experiences and industry recognized credentials aligned with cutting edge information and research about the  future of work.  The program portfolio will be designed to distribute general and developmental education capacity as needed, facilitate program cost sharing, and create specialized training programming as appropriate to diminish direct competition among these schools and allow them to work efficiently and to their strengths.

 

  • Develop comprehensive articulation agreements and curriculum alignment across participating schools that make all credits transferable between them, thus making every doorway at a participating college an entry point to Boston’s City College.  Articulation agreements will connect industry certification, two-year, four-year and, hopefully, graduate courses and credentials to allow students to go as far as they desire in their chosen fields.  We will also work to incentivize the active use of these articulation pathways and develop accelerated degree programs along with career pathway maps that make it clear how one can can earn bachelors certifications in three years or less.  

 

  • Integrate administrative and back office functions with the support of city services - including admissions, financial aid, payroll, accounts receivable/payable, procurement (incl. Worker Benefits), IT networking and platform management, compliance management, development and strategic capital improvements - to create economic efficiencies across the colleges to improve their financial sustainability and convert savings into student benefits.

 

  • Create shared faculty appointments, adjunct faculty pools and cost sharing on faculty supports including professional development.  Treating faculty and staff as members of the City College structure will help  create a streamlined human resources system for the City College System and effectively deploy qualified instructor talent and lessen the competition for faculty while advancing the City College mission.

 

  • Work with Boston Public Schools to build  the pipeline of college goers by expanding early college and dual enrollment options in BPS schools with a goal of having at least 40% of high school students graduate high school with some college credits in hand. Additional resources will be added to the BPS budget to cover the full per pupil cost of early college and dual enrollment to reach this goal.  Additionally, we will design an early admission system for the City College to extend the guarantee of admission to BPS students, as early as the junior year of high school, to make college attendance more certain and allow time for the City College to plan its resource use from year to year.  This on-ramp to college and the partnerships surrounding it will help to accelerate the acquisition of college credits and even Associate degree attainment  before high school graduation, further ensuring students’ readiness for and completion of post-secondary education.

Through the creation of a system Boston has never seen before, public/private investment, improved economic efficiencies across participating colleges and collaborative fundraising, Boston can establish and deliver on a new social contract for “home-grown talent” that guarantees free, high-quality, career-connected post-secondary education and training,  especially Black and Brown and low-income youth who are too often locked out of educational opportunity with today's fragmented post-secondary system.
 

A MESSAGE FROM JOHN

Just as this campaign is a community effort, this policy plan has been informed by a diverse group of residents, policy makers, and community organizations who reflect Boston's ingenuity, passion, and future. In this policy you will see your voice reflected and your neighborhood priorities front and center. I am incredibly grateful for the hours, data, and guidance leant to support this effort. I welcome continued feedback and suggestions from all corners of the city, because I know that policies are most successful when led by the community.
 
Now, more than ever, I have the opportunity to bring all voices to the table to create a Boston that brings prosperity and justice for everyone.Together we can create a Boston where nobody is left behind.
 
Thank you for reading and helping to shape Boston's future, I look forward to working with you.