Somerville Selected to Join Harvard By All Means Consortium

The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) announced today the selection of six cities, including Somerville, for a new multi-year initiative — By All Means: Redesigning Education to Restore Opportunity — aimed at developing comprehensive child wellbeing and education systems that help eliminate the link between children’s socioeconomic status and achievement. By All Means will be operated by HGSE’s Education Redesign Lab. In addition to Somerville, other participating cities in the initiative include Oakland, CA; Louisville, KY; Providence, RI; Salem, MA; and Newton, MA.


“While our recent efforts at education reform have yielded some great successes in certain places, overall, we have failed to achieve equity, we have failed to eliminate persistent achievement and success gaps,” said Paul Reville, founding director of the Education Redesign Lab and former Massachusetts Secretary of Education. “Schools alone, as currently conceived, can’t do the job of educating all children for success. We can do better. By All Means will help light the way.” He explained that “Education reformers across the country set out decades ago to eliminate the correlation between zip code and educational success. We’ve failed at that so far. These courageous mayors and superintendents are now re-embracing the challenge and are willing to re-think their child wellbeing and education systems to achieve the goal of equity.”


The cities chosen to be part of the By All Means consortium demonstrate a distinguished record and a broad conception of their roles in ensuring children’s success. Working with the Education Redesign Lab, mayors of each city will create and lead “Children’s Cabinets” composed of superintendents, heads of health and social services, recreation, cultural and arts activists, and other key community leaders. Working together, these cabinet members will brainstorm and design new, effective strategies – aimed at closing persistent achievement and opportunity gaps — for meeting all children’s needs in their communities.


Throughout the course of this multiyear initiative, a series of high-profile national meetings will connect entrepreneurial and committed city mayors, superintendents, and public officials directly with the expertise of Harvard faculty, design leaders, and influential policy, research and practice leaders in the movement to re-conceptualize 21st century education. The meetings will invigorate a national public dialogue about how to take the most promising school and community innovations to scale, and address potential challenges that arise.  


“By All Means is a bold, ambitious design project,” said HGSE Dean Jim Ryan, “that I believe will have a profound effect on the way we think about and provide education in the coming century. Addressing the persistent inequality in educational access and opportunity will take a comprehensive, strategic, and evidence-based approach, and I’m thrilled that Paul Reville is taking a leadership role in this work.”


“We are extremely excited about this new partnership with the Education Redesign Lab and for the incredible opportunities and strategies for success this will leverage for our students,” said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “In Somerville, we take a community-wide approach to student achievement and education, and we look forward to working with our partner communities through By All Means to strengthen our own approach, and collaborate on innovative new ideas for future success.”


“This is a truly innovative initiative, one that takes a holistic approach to the needs of the student and to the community supports and resources we must bring to bear in order to best help our students succeed,” stated Superintendent of Schools, Mary Skipper. “Somerville has long recognized the incredible value of teamwork in education. We are thrilled to be a founding member of this consortium, and look forward to building on our collaborative work in support of youth, and to learning from other communities equally dedicated to this transformational work.”


Launched in 2015, HGSE’s Education Redesign Lab’s mission is to design an integrated, comprehensive set of systems for education and child development that will ensure all students, especially economically disadvantaged, have a fair chance of mastering the skills and knowledge necessary for success. To achieve this, the Education Redesign Lab engages in research, field work, convening, and advocacy, and a national design process to support the development of this vision.


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