Redesigning School for the 21st Century

Students in computer science class

Jesse Solomon

Executive Director, BPE

Welcome to our new website!

We at the Boston Plan for Excellence have launched a new website to reflect the culmination of an organizational shift we have been navigating for the past few years.  In September of 2016, we achieved our goal of creating a full PreK-12 pathway of Boston public schools in the Dudley neighborhood of Roxbury, and preparing all of our Teacher Residents within our schools.  These schools, which we call “Teaching Academies,” are modeled after teaching hospitals.  We hope that this pathway will become a model of how schools can use adults creatively and effectively to support student learning while training new teachers each year.

The deeper we engage in this work, the greater the complexity we encounter.  In some ways, schools haven’t changed much at all in the past hundred years.  Schools were designed to prepare students for work in the industrial era, when most high school graduates could find work in factories or on farms.  Jobs have changed—and continue to change—more rapidly than we could have ever imagined.  But even though today’s workplace bears no resemblance to what existed a century ago, public schools remain remarkably the same.

Think about a student entering kindergarten today, in 2017.  When that student graduates from high school in 2030, and earns a Bachelor’s degree in 2034, what jobs will be available?  What are the essential content, skills, and experiences that students will need in order to be prepared to compete in the economy of the future?  More importantly, how do we prepare students today for jobs that may not exist yet, and that we may not even be able to imagine?  And how do we prepare and support our teachers to do this very different work?  These are some of the questions that we wrestle with each day.

We are fortunate to have incredibly talented educators in our city, as well as forward-thinking, innovative district leaders.  We are in good company in Boston, surrounded by some of the best higher education institutions, hospitals, and STEM companies in the nation.  There is innovation happening in our rich nonprofit sector, as well as in the public and charter schools in and around Boston.

The exponential pace of change happening in the world around us might actually serve to widen the already significant achievement and opportunity gaps that so many of us seek to close.  And while we all work to design schools for the future, that process could take many years. The students we serve only have one chance, right now.

We can no longer be limited by our own school experiences—expecting school to look and feel the way it did when we were in school.

We say at BPE that we need to “reimagine education.”  The imagination, as our students teach us every day, is powerful and creative and unencumbered by experience.  We invite you to stay in touch with us as we reimagine learning for students and teachers.


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