About IDEAS: History

A Brief History of IDEAS

For more than 30 years, IDEAS has supported educators across Massachusetts in developing schools and classrooms that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

The concept of an IDEAS program began in 1985 as the METCO Directors Association and Dr. Jeff Howard of the Efficacy Institute held initial meetings to discuss ways to improve the academic achievement of African-American students enrolled in the METCO Program

By 1987, the Eastern Massachusetts Initiative (EMI) – which would later become IDEAS – was formed to address the achievement gaps of Boston resident students in suburban schools. It began as a collaborative among seven Superintendents from Newton, Concord, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland, Needham and Wellesley, as well as METCO Coordinators, Dr. Jeff Howard, and soon after, Jon Saphier. As EMI continued to grow and assess progress, it quickly recognized the importance of fully acknowledging and addressing how race and racism shape student achievement and incorporated the work of Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum around racial identity development. Dr. Tatum’s book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? continues to be a core text in the IDEAS program today.

In 1993, EMI offered its first graduate course. The organization expanded rapidly, developed several more 1- and 2-credit graduate courses, student conferences and professional development workshops. It became part of the EDCO Collaborative in 2004, and later merged with the Greater Boston Students of Color Achievement Network (GBSOCAN) in 2014 to become the IDEAS Program we know today. In 2021, with the dissolution of the EDCO Collaborative, IDEAS became a program of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.).

From our first graduate course in 1993, IDEAS has grown to now offer many graduate courses in conjunction with Framingham State University, professional development workshops and seminars, student and educator conferences, affinity and book groups for educators, strategic planning, coaching and a DEI Anti-Racist Certificate Program. Our unique model of providing anti-racist education though inter-racial teams empowers educators to dismantle systems of oppression and ensure that students receive the support and resources to succeed academically and thrive socially and emotionally.

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