Consalvo would seek more K-8 schools, bolster vocational education

City Councilor Robert Consalvo released a more detailed education plan Thursday, promising to create more kindergarten-through-8th grade schools, ramp up vocational studies, and expand early education programs so more children can enroll in pre-kindergarten.

“This is a comprehensive plan,” Consalvo said by phone, describing it as a set of priorities he hopes to achieve over a 10-year period “assuming I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected after I win [the race].”

Education has been one of the hottest topics in the mayoral race. Most of the 12 candidates are trying to stand out as the most qualified to overhaul the school system and deal with a powerful teachers union opposed to creating more charter schools. While many of the candidates support expanding the number of charter schools, Consalvo supports capping the number of them allowed in Boston.

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The father of three children who are 3, 9, and 10, Consalvo said he has the most credibility of the candidates on education and with the Boston Teachers Union. The union has 5,000 members living in the city. (Charter schools dominated the BTU forum Wednesday night.)

“I think the union is just dying for a mayor like myself who has children in the system, who is pro-public schools, who is pro-teacher,” Consalvo said. “I think I’d be able to hit the ground running on day one and be the guy [the union] wants to negotiate with.”

Consalvo, of Hyde Park, said he wants to “revolutionize” Madison Park High School, the city’s vocational school, so that it would become a career learning center, open on nights and weekends.

He said the city needs more vocational technical programs that emphasize science, math, and environmental technology.

“We want to train the students who will invent the next windmill and solar panel, and we want to train the next students who can repair the next solar panel and windmill,” he said.

Consalvo did not have a specific plan for how he would pay for extending the hours at Madison Park, but said one way could be by recruiting private businesses to support the venture, like they now fund after-school programs.

Consalvo said he also supports extending school hours – a position also embraced by many of the other candidates.

The teachers union has said it supports extending the school day, but insists that teachers be paid an hourly rate that former Superintendent Carol Johnson has said the district cannot afford.

Consalvo, who said his top priority would be finding a new superintendent, said as mayor he would work to break the impasse.

“I have yet to meet a single teacher who is against extended learning time,” he said. “I think it’s ripe for the picking, and I think my administration is the best to do it.”


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