Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino today joined Secretary of Education Matthew Malone to visit Dorchester's Harbor Pilot School, which serves students in grades 6-10 using a full-inclusion model that allows students with disabilities to learn side-by-side with their typically developing peers.
"Harbor's inclusion model demonstrates how we are closing the achievement gap and giving even our most vulnerable children the opportunity to succeed," said Governor Patrick. "Education is Massachusetts' calling card around the world and central to our competitiveness in the global economy. We invest in our students because we believe that it is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future."
"What makes our schools so strong is that we accept all kids, no matter their background," said Mayor Menino. "I'm proud the Governor came to see this example of how we can serve all students in a classroom that celebrates diversity."
Last year, Harbor School expanded to serve students in 9th grade and this year expanded to 10th grade. An 11th and 12th grade will be added in the next two years. The Boston School Committee will soon consider a proposal to create the city's first inclusive K-12 pathway, linking the Harbor School with the successful Henderson K-5 Inclusion school, also located in Dorchester.
"As someone who personally struggled with a learning disability from a young age, I see enormous value in the full inclusion model," said Secretary Malone. "Harbor School students will leave here better prepared for the world because of the relationships they have built with peers of all levels of ability."
"The proposal to create the city's first K-12 Inclusive pathway is the direct result of a great partnership with our families," said Boston Public Schools Interim Superintendent John P. McDonough. "For our students to succeed we must work in conjunction with their families and caregivers. Together we can all be proud of what is being created here."
In 2010, Harbor School was designated as a level 4, turnaround school. The designation gave the school the ability to use new tools made available by "An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap," signed by Governor Patrick in 2010. Those tools include the flexibility to change staffing and work conditions to better suit the needs of the school and its students. Since that time, Harbor School has met most of its goals in narrowing achievement gaps among most populations.