College students and young professionals, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, should help educate Boston's large population of illiterate and unskilled youth, Laval Wilson, superintendent of Boston Public Schools, told a group of 35 students at the Currier Fishbowl last night.
"You have an opportunity to be helpful to friends and relatives," Wilson told the audience. "Take part in public service programs, contribute time to young people in Boston. You can provide excellent role models and help."
"Adults are supposed to tell teenagers, `This is what you have to do," Wilson said. "High school students will relate three times better to a student who is only three years older than them."
Wilson, who has been superintendent since 1985, told the audience that the main problem facing Boston today is that the healthy job market provides more jobs than can be filled by the number of qualified students in the area.
Area businesses have offered jobs to public school students who can fulfill the basic requirements for a post, Wilson said.
"Mr. Superintendent, we have jobs for your young people. If they can read or write, we'll hire them," Wilson said businesses have told him. He said businesses will recruit in suburban school districts or Boston private schools if no qualified students are found in the public school system.
Citing the fact that Boston buses 23,000 students into segregated areas, Wilson questioned the extent to which busing solves the educational problems within the Boston school systems.
"Must there be white students in the majority of a school for the Black students to learn?" he asked.
Wilson, who is currently a candidate for chancellorship of the New York City Public School System, said he will interview for the position this week.
"New York City is the largest school system in the country with the most problems," Wilson said. "It is the biggest educational challenge."
While Wilson said he was excited about the prospect of the job, he added, "I'm troubled by the thought of leaving. I've put so much planning into the Boston area."
The lecture, sponsored by Boston's Theta Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and the Black Students Association, is the first in the "Achievement Through Excellence" Lecture Series.
Brian J. Stevens '88, president of the Theta Iota Chapter, said, "We're trying to get people to realize that these issues do concern them and do something about them whenever possible."