7: Mayoral influence – the history of the Boston Compact

The Boston PIC is the convener of the Boston Compact, the city’s historic collaborative school improvement agreement between the Mayor, the leaders of Boston’s business and higher education communities, the Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Teachers Union.111 The Compact bought together the resources of public schools, universities, trade unions and the Mayor’s Office to improve student academic achievement and work preparation. The long-running success of the Compact has required strong leadership to attract significant corporate investment and sustained engagement.

The Boston Compact was established in 1982 as a partnership between the business community and the public schools, and run out of the Mayor’s Office. The essence of the Compact was an agreement whereby the school system would work to improve education and learning outcomes, and in return, businesses, colleges, and labour organisations would provide jobs and postsecondary educational opportunities for graduates.

The Boston PIC has run a summer job programmes as well as job-counselling services at several high schools for the last 25 years. It acts as an independent umbrella for the development of business-school programmes and is a ‘safe and reliable avenue for businesses to engage’. Businesses were also attracted by the clear improvements in educational and employment outcomes that resulted from the Compact.

The Compact’s goals are designed to be durable, resilient and measurable. Periodically, however, the Mayor and the Superintendent of Schools call for a new Boston Compact when circumstances change, new leadership is in place and it is viewed an appropriate time for a renewed collaboration focused on shared goals. The most recent Compact was signed in 2000 and incorporated new state accountability measures (goals), SATs, and other indicators of academic achievement, alongside data on success in college.


  • 111 Interviews; Portz, J. (unknown) ‘External Actors and the Boston Public Schools: The Courts, the Business Community, and the Mayor’, Comparative Urban Studies Project Occasional Paper No,12, Wilson Centre