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The unkindest cut

The unkindest cut

The unkindest cut

“I don’t get it: Why are they cutting a winner?”

METCO is an enormous success. Of course those who have long supported the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) have always known that, but a new study has established that fact beyond question.

The Pioneer Institute and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School have collaborated to produce the most exhaustive study on METCO in a decade. The only negative conclusion is the failure of the state to finance an effective program adequately.

METCO currently enables 3,336 minority students from Boston and Springfield to attend quality suburban schools. Within the Boston Metropolitan Area 33 school districts participate in the program and there are four in the Springfield area. The popular program has a waiting list of 2,100 students for grades K through 2. It takes about five years to be placed as openings become available.

METCO students perform substantially better on MCAS tests than their minority peers in Boston and Springfield schools. And the acid test is that METCO students have a higher graduation rate than students statewide. In 2009, 93.3 percent of METCO students graduated from high school compared with 81.5 percent in the state. This is substantially higher than the rate of only 61.4 percent for all Boston seniors.

Parents have to be ambitious for the educational opportunities for their children to register them in METCO, and to see to it that they get on the early morning bus rides for better education in suburban schools.

Despite the program’s success, the METCO budget has dropped from $20.2 million in 2008 to $16.5 million in 2011. While there has been considerable public attention to charter schools, pilot schools and Horace Mann charter schools, it would be unwise to permit a proven program like METCO to deteriorate because of insufficient funding.

An absurd comparison

A number of journalists reporting on the resignation from Congress of Anthony Weiner of New York have drawn a comparison with the expulsion from Congress of Adam Clayton Powell and his subsequent re-election. However, these historical vignettes fail to distinguish between the provocations that aroused the ire of Congress.

Weiner was guilty of sexting numerous women and then publicly lying about his actions. Understandably, political leaders and other citizens were highly offended by his conduct and he was forced to step down.

Adam Powell, also of New York, was first elected to Congress in 1944 where he first served with only one other black representative, William L. Dawson of Chicago. Powell became an outspoken opponent of the segregationists; however, in 1961 he became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee because of seniority. Then he had real power.

Powell led federal action on minimum wage increases, Medicaid, aid for elementary and secondary education, vocational training, nursing education and other matters of importance to the working class. He was so successful that his enemies charged him with mishandling the committee budget, and in January 1967 the House Democratic Caucus stripped Powell of his committee chairmanship. On March 1, the House voted to exclude him from office.

Powell’s constituents knew that he was merely a victim of the civil rights war. So they re-elected him in the special election and voted for him again in the November 1968 election. In June 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the House had unconstitutionally rejected Powell, who had been duly elected.

Who knows how his constituents will vote if Weiner runs again. However, there is no justification to compare Weiner’s problems with the profound difficulties and racial hostilities confronted by Powell. Powell is a hero. Weiner is little more than a serial cyber exhibitionist.

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