Education Group Asks Revision of Boston's Schools
A 37-man team of Harvard educator's recently recommended a thorough revision of Boston's public school system.
The group, drawn from the Center for Field Studies of the Graduate School of Education advised closing 63 of Boston's schools and building 29 new ones by 1960. It also found that present school facilities are far below standard, and called them antiquated, unsafe, and unhealthy, with inadequate sites for physical education programs.
Of the 37 specialists who made the $10,000, 100-page illustrated report, only one voted against accepting the survey's findings. Now that the survey is completed, the committee will confer with Cyril G. Sargent, director of the Center, and his assistants, on May 6.
Recommendations included abandonment of 58 public elementary and five high school buildings, and construction of 25 new elementary, three junior high, and one high school for 2500 students.
According to the report, "The governing policy in this study has been to stay on a firm foundation of facts during a period when Boston is experiencing its greatest changes in a century as a result of rapid changes in highway transportation, housing, industrial relocation, and other impacts on older patterns of land-use and city living.
Among the members of the Central Committee directing the study are Donald P. Mitchell, assistant director of the Center, Dean K. Whitla, formerly a United States Air Force Research Psychologist, and A. L. Threlkeld, lecturer at the Graduate School of Education.
Special consultants to the study were Alfred D. Simpson, professor of Education, Eugene L. Belisle, research associate at the School, and Peter Rossi, assistant professor of Sociology.
For four months, the group visited every one of the 221 Boston school buildings now in use. As a committee member said, they "inventoried each building from cellar to roof."
Many of the city's oldest schools, they found, are still in use: Hawes Hall, South Boston, built in 1823; Lyceum Hall, Dorchester, 1839; Hobart School, Brighton, 1844; Alcott School, South End, 1847; Old Agassiz School, Jamaica Plain, 1834; and the Dwight and Franklin Schools, both South End, and Prescott School, Charlestown, all constructed in 1857.
The report recommends retaining only the Quincy and Old Agassiz Schools. It also asks that the time-honored tradition of Boston Latin School be broken and that it be made co-educational.
The Committee found no reasons for children being segregated because of difference of sex, of economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, or of vocational aspirations. It emphasised the importance of early schooling in understanding between people of different backgrounds.
The elementary and junior high school analysis and reports are contained in a series of 15 area reports, each area corresponding to a cluster of census tracts. The high school information and analysis form another section.