METCO'S HISTORY

  • 1964

    Boston’s School Committee has refused to improve the decrepit schools available in black neighborhoods demanded by the NAACP, or to acknowledge the unconstitutional segregation exposed by the Kiernan Commission, or to comply with the Racial Imbalance Act that required a plan from cities with demonstrable racial segregation. 

    Fed up, a group of parents boycott their assigned schools and attend “Freedom Schools” set up by churches and community centers. Many white students from the suburbs join them in solidarity.

    Still, white activist parents and officials reject all city proposals to improve schools or bus students.

  • 1965

    Taking matters into their own hands, two African-American parents, Ellen Jackson and Elizabeth Johnson, lead “Operation Exodus as the school year begins. Four hundred Roxbury students enroll in mostly white schools in Boston neighborhoods with surplus capacity.

    School leaders in Brookline and Newton begin to ask how they can participate. With the NAACP's Ruth Batson, they develop the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity. They advocate for a state funding stream for any town that wishes to enroll Boston students in its public schools in order to address racial isolation.

  • 1966

    The first 220 students, aged 5 to 16, ride buses from Boston neighborhoods to schools in seven suburbs: Arlington, Braintree, Brookline, Lexington, Lincoln, Newton, and Wellesley. The U.S. Department of Education and the Carnegie Corporation foot the bill.

  • 1968

    The state legislature passes Massachusetts General Law Chapter 76, Section 12A, which grants school committees the right to adopt a plan for attendance at its schools by any child who resides in another city, town, or regional school district in which racial imbalance...exists in a public school [in order to] eliminate such racial imbalance. It makes the Commonwealth of Massachusetts financially responsible for any town that wishes to enroll students from outside the district for the purpose of racial integration (subject to legislative budget decisions). METCO, Inc., has executed this program ever since.

    Amid the intensifying tensions of the Civil Rights Movement, METCO is asked to lead a conference called "The Voice of the Student" at Wellesley College. Roxbury and suburban youth gather to discuss what they would change about the communities they live in. Boston students say "the buildings," and suburban students say "the people."

  • 1973

    Jean McGuire becomes the fourth executive director of METCO. She leads the organization for the next 43 years. 

  • 1975

    METCO Directors in participating districts form the METCO Directors' Association (MDA) to provide support and resource-sharing across towns. It has evolved to be a leading convener of trainings and knowledge on multicultural education, parent empowerment, and advocacy for sustaining and improving the METCO program.

  • 1976

    Ten years after its start, a total of 37 receiving districts had signed on to host METCO students.

  • 1986

    A drop in state funding prompts heated debate and organizing among METCO staff and supporters. In an effort to set standards for what districts are obliged to provide in exchange for receiving part of the grant, METCO Directors form a Needs Assessment Task Force to assess disparities and define expectations. 

  • 1993

    METCO Directors from seven suburban districts create a training program called Empowering Multicultural Initiatives (EMI) to help teachers and administrators grow their anti-racism practices, advocate for multicultural curricula, and foster truly inclusive equitable classroom environments.

  • 1996

    Demographic changes prompt the Massachusetts Department of Education to order METCO to accept Asian and Hispanic students proportionately to their populations in the city. The percentage of African-American METCO families  begins to decline as the full range of communities of color are invited to participate.

  • 2011

    The Pioneer Institute and Harvard Law School release a comprehensive research paper on METCO, called METCO Merits More, concluding that it is important to preserve METCO and put energy and resources into improving it because it effectively provides thousands of students access to well-functioning, opportunity-rich schools and creates racial and ethnic diversity, which is linked to numerous educational benefits for students of all racial backgrounds.

  • 2016

    METCO celebrates its 50th anniversary, serving over 3,300 students in over 190 public schools across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It has become a Boston-area institution, helping thousands of students learn and grow up with diverse classmates and excellent educational opportunities, and go on to be civic leaders and accomplished community members. If you're one of them, join the METCO Alumni Network!

  • 2018

    The Board of Directors appoints community activist and METCO parent Milly Arbaje-Thomas to be the first CEO of METCO.