The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program is a voluntary grant program funded by the commonwealth Massachusetts with intention of expanding educational opportunities, reduce racial isolation, and increase diversity by permitting students in particular cities to attend the public schools located in ore communities but have agreed to participate. Founded in 1966, the program was established with seven district schools accepting the first 200 METCO students (ST, 2010). According to White-McLaughlin & Lesley College (1996), there are about 3300 students currently participating in 33 district schools in metropolitan Boston in addition to other four district schools outside the Springfield. According to Spergel (2007), the METCO mission is twofold; to give Boston students from underperforming school districts an opportunity of attending a school that is higher performing and to increase their opportunities I education. The second mission is to increase diversity, and to decrease racial isolation in the suburban schools. Given that many desegregation plans in many cities are being terminated and Boston is regarded as the worst failure in its effort of integrating American public schools. METCO requires large sacrifices and long waits from families. Several 3300 suburban children who have been enrolled in the city schools endure long wait and the long bus trips so as to attend the schools losing their old friend at home (Metco Program, 2014). The most interesting thing to this study is why the suburban students and parents take on the programs burden and face the difficulties of attending school districts in very different locations or even different districts that are far from friend and home. The questions the study wish to find answers is whether the families find from METCO program what they had hoped for.
Since its formation, METCO program is still operational and its demand is so intense that only a small percentage of the families interested can be served. At the moment when the elements remaining of the Boston desegregation plans are being attacked in courts, METCO, a positive experience has received minimal serious attention. According to Eaton et al (2011), many African Americans have favoured integrated education consistently over the past four decades. However, the critics of the desegregation are always given more attention and publicity compared to the supporters. Batson et al (2007) stated that the views of the critics are taken as a sign that opinion of the public is shifting even though different polls indicate that pro-integration sentiments now are stronger, and black criticism of bussing of students peaked also most a quarter century ago. The definite effects of the selective publicity is make the racial problem in Boston appear as a far more intractable than they really are. This study will help to redress the public information imbalance by providing a voice to the experiences of minority families in Boston whose children are enrolled and attend suburban white schools. That experience will provide a different perception of the desegrargion possibilities in the Boston areas and offer an opportunity of replacing stereotypes and families about the families that participate in the city-urban desegregation wit their own motivation and experiences reports.
The research question
What are the perceptions of METCO students by parents of suburban students?
In a study conducted by Orfield et al (1997), the findings indicated that many students and parents see METCO as a small but a significant opportunity for them and their children to obtain the kind of rarely available educational opportunity to the suburban children. Despite the fact that the sacrifices of the family are high, the benefits are much greater. The gains in education quality to METCO Parents and the students seem to be unambiguous. Although the enrolled students from Suburban School may not be academically good, they reported slid grounding in the competitive schools they attended, comfort in learning across racial lines and unanimous intentions of virtually completing college. Similarly, Orfield et al (1997) pointed out that families reported success on their goal of learning to work and live in a wide interracial setting. Many families often confront discrimination in certain aspects, in addition to limitations within the interracial friendships. However, In general serious discrimination experience in most programs aspects is very uncommon, and many parents repot no discrimination in some parts of the experience of METCO at all. The Reponses of the parents in the study of Orfield et al (1997) undercuts the frequent long-distance desegregation criticism, that their home communities los talents and that the parents of the children bussed cannot get involved in the new school an. In fact, Orfield et al (1997) indicated that the parents reported their tendency of being more slightly involved I the suburban schools compared to the city schools where their children attend. Moreover, majority also reported that they would not enrol their children or even participate in their Boston’s local public schools if METCO was ended
Amor conducted a study “The Evidence on Bussing” in 1972 with controversial findings which claimed that the Busing program was a failed policy (Jeffrey, 2012). In the study, the researcher studied the students for two years and compared them with the students that were being left behind in Boston. The study concluded that there were no clear gains in test scores from the transfers. Moreover, Amor summarised that the students tended to favour attending the black schools in addition to be more identified with ideologies that are conscious of race while in METCO (Jeffrey, 2012). Furthermore, I stated that the relations of race did not improve and the black students under METCO became less confident about their academic standings relative in the suburban school. However, the conclusions of the study was not entirely negative. The researcher noted that he white and black students were favouring strongly the program at that time and almost no student at all dropped out. The study was conducted at the height of Black Power Movement and also in a mid-Boston tension over school desegregation. Furthermore, the study reported that the suburban schools tended to channel the black students into better colleges. However, Amor argued that the opinions of the blacks was shifting against the integration and that the courts of law were being assumed and mistaken t that I would give verdicts that favour the blacks (Jeffrey, 2012).
This is also reflected in a study done by Lassiter et al (2011) on METCO program which found out that for over 25 years, majority of parents overwhelmingly showed that the teachers of their children were good or excellent the y fully participated in school parents meetings. Moreover, a significant percentage, 20% indicated that they would relocate out of Boston if the program was terminated (Lassiter et al, 2011).
DePina et al (2014) also conducted study where they reviewed the program of METCO, provided summary and recommendations using a case of Needham School. Their study findings indicated that since 2010 to 2011, the enrolments proportion in course of NGH upper level has increased. According to DePina et al (2014) all METCO students in all levels reported challenges, success and pride of being among the METCO students. On the parents’ satisfaction with the METCO program, the parents believed that for the district, METCO is a priority. Parents are also satisfied with the support level given to their children. Similarly, the K-8 parents felt their children received good academic support. Moreover, DePina et al (2014) also indicated that the parents reported being engaged positively when their children are receiving special education. Neetham, also one of the school district with METCO program, was regarded as a school with diversity and respect
The study will measure the perceptions of the suburban parents on the METCO students. In measuring the perceptions, the study will use questionnaire with both closed and open ended questions regarding their perception on the program. The results obtained will be analysed and findings presented.in measuring the perceptions, the questions will be structured towards the following constructs; the sub urban parents interest on the METCO program, the academic of their children from the program, their participation in the community and the METCO district schools, their children’s experiences on racial attitudes, and their suggestions for further improvement.
The study will use survey methodology in collecting data. Questionnaires with close ended questions will be used to get structured Reponses for systematic analysis. To get high response rate of the parent surveys, something always hard to get and is critical to valid generalisation, the study will use Simple Random Technique in sampling. Survey will be used as the primary method where 100 adults will be sampled and surveyed through a questionnaire. Simple Random Technique sampling will be used where any adult sub urban parent or guardian who will be willing to participate will fill the questionnaire.
The study hypothesizes that suburban parents value the METCO program and the racial diversity it brings to the children and the entire community.
This chapter explains all the procedures that were taken in completing the research. It explains the method that will be used, the mode of selecting the sample, and the approach of the research. It explains the phases, specific tasks, tools and techniques used in the research project.
Participants and Design
The technique to be used shall be Simple Random Technique in which the researcher will select 100 sub urban parents who will inform the survey. Probability sampling of simple random technique will be applied to choose the sub urban parents who will participate. Sample size will be drawn purely from the sub urban parents whose assessment of knowledge on the METCO will be critically required in order to attain the goals and objectives of the study. The researcher will use fisher et al. method of 1998 to determine sample size. The research will use qualitative research method design. The design will be fairly necessary for the description of the perceptions of the suburban parents on METCO students.
The data collection procedures and tools, and the research design intended to be used in this study if appropriately applied can be responsible for effective and hypothetically significant information that can be the basis for the description of the perceptions of the suburban parents on METCO students.
Methods for collecting data will be centered on the general objective and specific objectives (i.e. procedure will be based on research questions). The procedures will take place in pre-empirical stage in which further research on the research questions will be conducted and the generation of hypothesis done. Following will be the empirical stage that will take account of the decision on the research design. The researcher will collect data in the progression of the research through:-
- Primary data collectiong. Questionnaires, In-depth interviews, Focus group discussion, Surveys.
- Secondary data collection will include journals, documents and other records.
The study will use as hitherto specified Qualitative Data Collection instrument. The tool will take into consideration the significance of locating the study within explicit chronological, cultural, societal, and economic frameworks. The tool will further recognize the hypotheses within these frameworks. This investigation will be assessed qualitatively considering subjective instruments such as questionnaires, in-depth interviews, surveys and Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) used to collect significant and up to date information.
These will include sex, race, and income status. The parent respondents will be asked questions in the questionnaires about their perception of the METCO program. The questions will be structured to include different sex (perception of male/female parents), race (perception of black/white/Hispanic parents), and the income status (low/middle/high income status)
These will include perception of parents, attitude and knowledge. The depended variables will be measured using item-scales. The items in the constructs wil be measured on a scale of 1 to 5 with  showing high level agreement implying satisfied, or positive attitude or high knowledge about METCO program, and  indicating the highest disagreement level, implying that no satisfaction, negative attitude, and lack of knowledge about METCO program. Where the questions wording was reversed, the item’s scoring was reversed equally to correlate with the positive or negative perception of METCO program
If the hypothesis of the study is supported, the pattern of the data will look like as follows. The results will be presented in graphs, tables, and pie charts. First, the results will be presented according to the structured research questions in the questionnaires. The findings will be presented in response to the parents perceptions on;
- to the demand/interest of the METCO program
- academic gains, desire for interracial experience, safety
- distance and parent participation
- General parent satisfaction based on a scale of 1 o 5 where  is strongly satisfied,  is very satisfied,  is satisfied,  is not satisfied, and  is totally not satisfied.
- Racial attitudes. This will be examined from based on choices ranging from 1 to 6 where  is serious problems,  some problems,  is good,  is excellent,  is don’t know, and  is Not Applicable.
- Desired improvements
Discussion and conclusions
The discussion of the findings of the study will be significant in advancing the psychological theory. Moreover, it would be important to be applied in suburban Boston settings by relevant agencies, policy makers and stakeholders
- Increased interest or demand to the program from the findings will be indicated by the minimum age the parents enrol their children. Younger age will indicate higher demand or interest. Moreover, given that METCO never advertise or publicise its programs, the manner in which the parents knew about the program will also show higher demand.
- If the fundamental reason why the parents enrolled children to the program will be assessed also on the Reponses on academic gain, desire for interracial experience, and safety. Just like the study conducted by Amor (1972) which found out that the basic motivation of parents from minority families in supporting METCO was the belief that it will provide an avenue of accessing better education.
- The study will find out the extent to which the suburban parent are involved in other community aspects of life. Moreover, their involvement in the METCO schools will also be assessed to find out the rate of their improvement
- Based on the scale of 1 to 5, the study will find out the general parent satisfaction and their suggestions or criticisms. Slot for suggestions will be open for the parents to give out their suggestions if they are not satisfied for areas that need improvement, and for the satisfied parents to give their comments on areas the program is running on well such as academic opportunities, teachers’ quality teaching. Satisfaction also will be examined on the parents’ experiences with the METCO director in the school where their child learns.
- Perceptions of the parents from their satisfaction of the program working along racial dimensions will also be analysed. Experiences of their children along racial lines will be specifically looked at.
- On the improvements, the questionnaire will be open ended for the parent participants to give their opinions on the areas their wish to be improved such as the curriculum, hiring of more minority administrators and teachers, need of multicultural education among others
However, the limitations of the study included the following:
- Limiting resources because the research is extensive and need resources for training of staff, buying of materials, and travel expenses to the field among others.
- Research error may be associated with the survey research especially where assumptions on a sample are made that are inaccurate.
- Qualitative research method only collects data on selected group of participants. This data cannot be used in making general assumptions.
- The method does not allow conveniently for statistical data collection
- The Qualitative research method that will be used is prone to rigidity when questionnaires are developed. The survey questionnaire applied and the method of administering at the beginning by a researcher cannot be changed in the data gathering process.
- The survey research is not also ideal for issues that attract controversies, or cannot be answered precisely by the participants.
- Possibility of inappropriateness of the questions. This is because of the standardization of the questions to accommodate large populations.
- Future research is needed on the benefits for the suburban communities and the whites through studies of teachers, white students and the community parents
- a study on the METCO alumni after many years after the program and their ability to relate across racial lines effortlessly is also needed
- more research are also needed the METCO programs nits and bolts
In conclusion, this study conclusions is that everyone expects perceptions and the judgement of the families that has heavily invested in this program, then it will offer an invaluable opportunities. Despite the fat that the METCO program is far from perfect, this proposal will be a policy that will live out in the lives of black Bostonians. The proposal deserves to be understood fully and the needed resources provided to realise its outcome and potential.
Batson, R. M., Hayden, R. C., & Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (Boston, Mass.). (2007). A history of METCO: The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity : a surburban education for Boston’s urban students. Boston, Mass: Select Publications.
DePina, M., DePina, Z., Kozu, M., Allen-Willoughby, J., & Brumbach, C. (2014, April 29). METCO Program Review Summary and Recommendations. Retrieved December 9, 2014, from http://rwd1.needham.k12.ma.us/student_development/documents/FOV1-00113A09/METCO Review.pdf
Eaton, S. E., Chirichigno, G., Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research., & Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. (2011). METCO merits more: The history and status of METCO. Boston, Mass: Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research.
Jeffrey, R. (2012). “The Evidence on Busing” (Article, 1972).
Lassiter, Matthew D., History, & Chanoux, Laura. (2011). From the City to the Suburbs: School Integration and Reactions to Boston’s METCO Program. Retrieved from http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/85252/chanoux.pdf
Metco Program. (2014, July 3). Retrieved December 9, 2014, from http://www.doe.mass.edu/metco/
Orfield, G., John F. Kennedy School of Government., Harvard University., & Civil Rights Project (Harvard University). (1997). City-suburban desegregation: Parent and student perspectives in Metropolitan Boston. Cambridge, Mass.: John F. Kennedy School of Government. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED414391.pdf
Spergel, H. (2007). Boston’s METCO program provides answers, and questions, about the value of busing kids to the suburbs. Washington, D.C: U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education.
ST, J. N. H. (January 01, 2010). 6: Desegregation and Minority Group Performance.Review of Educational Research, 40, 1, 111-133.
White-McLaughlin, K. D., & Lesley College. (1996). A qualitative examination of desegregated education through the METCO program: Dissertation. Cambridge, Mass.: Author.
Questionnaire for the suburban parents on their perception of the METCO program
I will be conducting a short survey on the perception of the suburban parents on the METCO program. I would appreciate if you answer all the below questions. Thank you for your corporation and time
- At what age did you register your child for the METCO program?
- 1 to 5 years
- 6 to 10 years
- 11 to 15 years
- Above 15 years
- How did you find out about METCO program?
- You have always known
- Experiences of the friends already in the program
- Are you willing to transfer your child to any suburban METCO district available?
- What is your level of education?
- Grade school
- Some High school
- High school graduate
- Technical/business school training
- Some college
- College graduate
- What is the level of your household income?
- $10,000 -$19,999
- $20,000 – $29,999
- $30,000 – $39,999
- $40,000 – $49,999
- $50,000 – $59,999
- $60,000 – $69,999
- What is your gender?
- What is your child’s race/ethnicity
- Cape Verdean
- Central south American
- East Indian
- Native American
- Puerto Rican
- West Indian
- In a scale of 1 to 5, rate the importance of academic program in your decision to enrol your child in METCO
-  Not Important
-  Somewhat Important
-  Very Important
- Most Important
-  Not Applicable
- What would you do if METCO was no available?
- Enrol your child in a local Boston School
- Seek an exam or magnet school
- Send the child to a private school
- PARENT PARTICIPATION
- Do you attend METCO parent meetings?
- Do you participate in fund raising at the suburban schools?
- Do you attend PTA Meetings in Suburban school?
- Do your work with student activities/teams?
- PARENT SATISFACTION
- Any suggestion for program improvement?
- In a scale of 1-5, are you satisfied with the suburban school teachers?
-  Serious problems
-  Some problems
-  Good
-  Excellent
-  don’t know
- RACIAL ATTITUDES
- In a sale of 1- 6, what is your level of satisfaction with how well your child has learnt to get along with other people from different racial backgrounds?
-  Serious Problems
-  Some Problems
-  Don’t Know
-  Not Applicable
- In a scale of 1- 6, what is your level of satisfaction with how well the culture of your child has been respected in suburban school?
-  Serious problems
-  Some problems
-  Good
-  Excellent
-  Don’t know
-  Not applicable
- In a scale of 1-5, what is your view of the discrimination faced by students in suburban school/ community from teachers, other students, and from staff and administrators?
-  None
-  some
-  serious
-  don’t know
-  not applicable
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