History and Purpose
The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) is a state-funded educational program designed to eliminate racial imbalance through the busing of children from Boston and Springfield to public school systems in surrounding suburban metropolitan communities.
METCO began over 50 years ago. Driven by the efforts of the Boston Chapter of the NAACP and a concern for quality education in the Black community, state legislation was passed that made racial imbalance illegal. School systems were penalized by having state appropriations withdrawn until suitable plans to alleviate racial isolation were approved by the state Department of Education. The Boston Public Schools were among the school districts penalized. During this time, suburban residents realized that their children were also inadequately educated because of racial isolation.
Many groups within the Newton community, including the citywide P.T.A. Council, Newton Fair Housing Committee, League of Women Voters, Roxbury-Newton Freedom School, the historically black Myrtle Baptist Church, and many individuals officially supported the unanimous vote of the Newton School Committee to participate in METCO in 1966. The Newton METCO Program began with 50 African American students in grades three through six, attending seven different schools in Newton.
The METCO Program Today
The METCO Program is open to all children of African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American descent, who reside in the City of Boston and volunteer to participate. There are over 3,100 Boston students who attend 32 suburban school districts through the METCO Program.
The Newton METCO Program is comprised of a diverse group of students from broad ethnic, cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds with a range of educational strengths and needs. Newton, the largest METCO Program maintains a targeted enrollment of 415 students (within five percent). Students are enrolled in all 21 schools from Kindergarten through grade 12.
The METCO Program is funded by the State of Massachusetts through the Department of Education under the Racial Imbalance Law. Funding includes the cost of student transportation, anti-racist materials and training, program initiatives which enhance academic achievement and cross-cultural presentations, and salaries for the Newton METCO Program staff. The City of Newton also receives funds calculated to cover the cost of teachers. Each year the Newton METCO Director prepares the budget proposal. This proposal is presented to the Newton Public Schools Superintendent and School Committee and approved by the State Department of Education.
The placement process begins with parents registering their child at METCO, Inc. in Boston. Since the METCO, Inc. waiting list is very long, many parents register their children before their first birthday and update their information on a yearly basis. When seats become available in a participating school district, METCO, Inc. refers students on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date the child was registered.
The Newton METCO Program primarily places students in Kindergarten through grade two based on space availability, class sizes and the total amount of Boston students already enrolled in that grade. The Director of the Newton METCO Program works with the Newton Public School administration to determine the number of seats available for Boston students in each of the elementary schools. Although there are no income guidelines for participation in the METCO Program, parents and students go through an extensive placement process, including residency verification, students being assessed academically to plan the best placement, parent interviews, and attendance at mandatory workshops and orientations. Siblings of students already in the Newton METCO Program will be considered for placement provided their parents have continued to demonstrate support for the Newton Public Schools, the Newton METCO Program and for their child presently in the Program. However, placement in the same elementary school for a sibling can not be guaranteed.