Program ‘eliminates racial imbalance’ in schools

The Newtonite

by Julia Oran
Through the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO), which is state-funded through the Department of Education, students of color from Boston are brought to “predominantly white schools,” said METCO counselor Paula Diggs.
According to the METCO website, this program was started in 1966 to “eliminate racial imbalance.” Diggs said, METCO achieves this goal by bringing 415 students from Boston to the Newton Public Schools annually. Of these 415 students, 56 now go to this school, said Diggs.
To apply to participate in METCO, parents of students must go to the METCO office in Roxbury and register their child, according to the METCO website.
The waiting list is very long, the website said. As a result, Newton METCO Director Lisa Reed said that some parents even “register their child as early as the day they leave the hospital.”
The only requirements to participate in this program, said the website, are that the child must be of African American, Latino, Asian or Native American descent and live in the City of Boston or Springfield.
There are no income guidelines in the application and participation in METCO is free, said the website.
Depending on space in schools, students are placed by the Reed, Newton elementary principals and the assistant superintendent for elementary education, said Reed.
In addition, Reed said that some parents sign up their child, but “decide that the program is not for their child or them” because “their child is too young to handle the bus experience and being so far away from home.”
According to Reed, students in the Newton METCO program “exercise all of the rights, privileges and services of the Newton resident students.”
For an individual student, Diggs said this opportunity “provides the student with an excellent education in an atmosphere that encourages student achievement.”
According to Diggs, most of the graduating seniors who participate in METCO attend college.
In addition, Diggs said most METCO students pass the MCAS, which she said is different from many students attending schools in Boston.
Diggs also emphasized that METCO students are not the only ones benefiting from METCO. They are also giving something back to participating communities by sharing “different perspectives and adding cultural diversity.”