Should Boston go back to an elected school committee?

December 12, 2018

There is a debate about whether the mayor, who appoints the seven-member school committee, exerts too much power over the 56,000-student system. Is it time for Boston to give control of the school committee back to the voters? And if the city maintains an appointed board, are there ways to improve it?

It is arguably the most important job of any school committee anywhere: the power to hire and fire the superintendent.

Yet in Boston last summer, it was not the School Committee that decided the fate of then-Superintendent Tommy Chang. It was Mayor Martin J. Walsh. He was the one who had a tough conversation with Chang about his future, prompting Chang to resign and catching the School Committee off guard.

The episode is fueling a debate about whether the mayor, who appoints the seven-member School Committee, exerts too much power over the 56,000-student system and whether it’s time for Boston to give control of the School Committee back to the voters.