Boston schools upgrade goals

The Boston public schools, pummeled in the past by busing battles, political intrigue, and bribery scandals, may be turning a corner, Monitor writer Rushworth M. Kidder reports.

School officials and business leaders here have struck a precedent-setting bargain - saying, in effect, that if the schools improve the quality of their ''products,'' businesses will make special efforts to hire them.

The plan, announced at a press conference Sept. 22 attended by an impressive array of educational, civic, and business leaders, is known as the Boston Compact. It calls for:

* A 5 percent increase in the number of high school students who graduate each year.

* The achievement by 1986 of ''minimum competency standards'' in reading and math skills for all graduates.

* A 5-percent-a-year increase in ''the number of graduates who are placed in jobs or in further education.''

Boston's business leaders hope to sign up 200 companies to participate in a priority hiring effort to give Boston students ''the first crack at the jobs that we have available,'' says John LaWare, chairman of the Shawmut Bank of Boston. Businesses also aim to hire 400 seniors upon graduation and to expand the ongoing summer jobs program.

In return, the schools agreed to a sweeping and explicit agenda for reform. They are to allocate staff and resources to such areas as counseling, basic skills training, alternative education, and career education. And they must publish annual reports covering attendance, retention, scholastic achievement, and placement of their students in jobs or further education.

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