History of Laval Wilson's tenure

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Description: Hope Kelly reviews the major events and key issues during the tenure of Boston superintendent of schools Laval Wilson. The Boston School Committee has voted to remove him from his post. Kelly adds that there are racial overtones in the vote to dismiss Wilson. Kelly notes that Wilson's opponents are all white. Kelly reviews Wilson's interview and selection, his record and the school bus drivers' strike. Kelly also discusses the school consolidation controversy and his contract renewal in 1989. The Boston Public Schools experienced a rise in achievement test scores and a decrease in the dropout rate under Wilson. Kelly's report is accompanied by footage illustrating these events during Wilson's tenure. This edition of the Ten O'Clock News also included the following items: Controversy surrounds the Boston School Committee's decision to fire Laval Wilson and Meg Vaillancourt interviews Nthabiseng Mabuza about the release of Nelson Mandela
1:00:04: Visual: Footage of Dr. Laval Wilson (Superintendent, Boston Public Schools) being interviewed by Eileen Jones (WGBH reporter) on July 19, 1985. Wilson says that he wants to convince the Boston Public School community that he is the best person for the job of superintendent. Shots of posters prepared by Wilson for his presentation to the Boston School Committee; of Wilson adjusting the position of the charts. Hope Kelly reports that Wilson interviewed for the position of superintendent in July of 1985. Kelly notes that Wilson showed little charisma; that he was well prepared for the interview. V: Footage of Wilson being interviewed by the Boston School Committee in the School Committee chambers on July 19, 1985. Wilson says that his planning skills are excellent. Shots of Wilson and the members of the School Committee. Kelly reports that Wilson stressed his planning skills; that Wilson was self-confident and stubborn. Kelly notes that Wilson did not mention his people skills or his passion. V: Footage of Wilson being interviewed by Jones on July 19, 1985. Wilson repeats that he classified himself "as a school superintendent." Shot of Wilson during his interview with the School Committee. Kelly reports that Wilson never made any reflections on race. V: Footage of Wilson being interviewed by the School Committee on July 19, 1985. Wilson says that he is an educator who happens to be African American. Footage of the members of the School Committee as they cast their votes for the position of superintendent on July 31, 1985. Jean McGuire (Boston School Committee) votes for Dr. Peter Negroni (candidate for superintendent of schools). School Committee members John O'Bryant and Thomas O'Reilly vote for Wilson. Kelly notes that Wilson had held the position of superintendent of schools in Rochester, New York, and Berkeley, California. Kelly reports that the Boston School Committee voted nine-to-four in favor of hiring Wilson. Kelly reports that Wilson became Boston's first African American superintendent of schools. Kelly adds that the Boston Public School System was rife with poverty and patronage in 1985. V: Footage from August 21, 1985. Wilson walks on Devonshire Street with a group of school officials, including John Nucci (President, Boston School Committee), Ellen Guiney (Citywide Education Coalition), John Grady (Boston School Committee), and Julio Henriquez (aide to School Committee member Daniel Burke). Footage of Wilson at a press conference of May 12, 1987. Wilson says that 20% of first-graders did not pass first grade last year. Kelly reports that a bus strike paralyzed the school system in Wilson's fourth month on the job. Kelly notes that students and parents became enraged at Wilson's plan to consolidate schools. V: Shot of buses parked outside of South Boston High School. African American students walk among the buses. Shot of a group of angry protesters. Shots of students and parents protesting outside of the Boston School Committee headquarters on Court Street. The students and parents hold signs. Shot of a jacket being held up in the air. Writing on the jacket reads, "Save our school." Kelly reports that Wilson threatened to resign over the school consolidation issue; that Wilson pursued a job offer from the New York City Public School System in 1987. Kelly notes that Wilson receives a salary of nearly $100,000 per year. Kelly adds that there were questions about his performance. V: Shot of Wilson at a press conference. Footage from a Boston School Committee meeting on October 11, 1988. Shot of Daniel Burke (Boston School Committee). Shot of Wilson saying that progress is being made. Shot of the audience at the meeting. Kelly reports that progress is being made in the school system; that achievement scores are rising. Kelly notes that the drop-out rate has declined to its lowest level in eleven years. V: Shots of Wilson in an elementary school classroom; of Wilson and school officials walking through a high school corridor. Footage from a Boston School Committee on April 11, 1989. Don Muhammad (Muhammad's Mosque) addressing the members of the School Committee. Muhammad says that Wilson's contract should be renewed; that Wilson has begun to turn the school system around. Shots of audience members crowded into the School Committee chambers; of the School Commitee members in the School Committee chambers. Kelly reports that Wilson's contract was renewed in 1989; that Wilson survived by one vote. Kelly reports that Wilson did not receive a ringing endorsement from the Boston School Committee; that Wilson had wanted a four-year contract in 1989; that he did not receive one. Kelly notes that Ray Flynn (Mayor of Boston) suggested abolishing the Boston School Committee during the summer of 1989. V: Footage of Flynn at a press conference in May of 1989. Flynn says that the present system fails the schoolchildren and parents of Boston. Shot of the members of the School Committee seated at the front of the School Committee chambers. Kelly reports that Flynn wanted to replace the elected school committee with an appointed school committee. V: Footage from July of 1985. Wilson sits at a press conference with Flynn, Edward Doherty (President, Boston Teachers Union), Peggy Davis-Mullen (Boston School Committee), Rita Walsh-Tomasini (Boston School Committee) and other school officials. The officials stand up and raise their linked hands. Kelly reports that the debate over the schools has become divisive and political. Kelly reports that Flynn took no questions about Wilson today; that Flynn released a short statement. V: Footage of Wilson being interviewed by the School Committee on July 19, 1985. Wilson says that issues are more important than skin color. Kelly stands outside of the headquarters of the Boston School Committee. Kelly notes that the situation has racial overtones. Kelly reports that an all-white majority on the School Committee has voted to remove an African American superintendent from a school system with a 75% non-white student population.