A vision for preparing students in Massachusetts' Gateway Cities

A report developed collaboratively by mayors, city managers and education leaders in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities highlights effective new means of preparing students for the changing economy and ensuring an adequate supply of skilled workers for growing regional economies.

The report, “Gateway Cities Vision for Dynamic Community-Wide Learning Systems,” calls for strategies that leverage the educational assets of urban centers so they can create high-quality learning experiences aimed at drawing middle-class families back to their neighborhoods.Gateway Cities Vision

The project was spearheaded by MassINC and sponsored by the MTA, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation and the Parker Foundation.

Gateway Cities are midsize urban centers that often serve as immigrant families’ gateway into Massachusetts. Many of these communities, including Holyoke, Springfield, Lawrence and Lowell, are former manufacturing centers that have faced significant social and economic challenges since manufacturing has declined in the United States.

Education is often seen as the best means of building stronger economies in these communities, yet student performance and graduation rates are significantly lower in Gateway Cities than they are in the rest of the state.

The MTA has been at the forefront of efforts to improve education for students in Gateway Cities. Last year, the MTA and the nonprofit New Voice Strategies spearheaded a collaborative project that involved more than 300 teachers in 24 Massachusetts Gateway Cities, plus Cambridge and Somerville, who shared their views in an online discussion. Active participants were then asked to join a writing collaborative to craft teacher recommendations for narrowing student achievement gaps in low-income urban districts. These recommendations are contained in “Addressing Educational Inequities: Proposals for Narrowing the Achievement Gaps in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities,” a report by the members of the VIVA MTA Teachers Idea Exchange.