March 4, 2015
To the Editor:
Joshua Norman wrote in a recent opinion piece about Newton’s high cost of educating out-of-district students that it is “wrong to keep forcing Newton taxpayers to pay to educate these children”. We disagree. The cost to Newton taxpayers for continuing to educate out-of-district students must be viewed in the context of the benefits to Newton’s children and to our entire community.
The vast majority of Newton’s out-of-district students participate in METCO, arguably our school system’s best tool for counteracting pervasive prejudices and misunderstandings about race that continue to plague our society 150 years after the abolition of slavery. Our participation in the METCO program shows Newton children from a young age that it is important to our community to learn, work and play with people of all races.
METCO has, for decades, been providing opportunities for children in suburban Newton, which is not racially diverse, to learn alongside–and create lifelong bonds with– inner city children, especially African American children.
METCO enjoys broad support from Newton’s citizens because of our community’s strong commitment to equality and diversity, especially the goal of racial diversity in our schools. In addition, parents and educators understand that diversity in the classroom promotes critical thinking and enhances problem solving skills.
The League of Women Voters of Newton, along with the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts and local Leagues in other communities in the Boston area, have supported METCO from its inception and support it today. Newton’s continued funding of this proven program is money well spent.
For the Steering Committee