As the founder of Harbor Connections, the experiential education program adopted by Thompson Island in 2008, I was pleased to see your Nov. 12 editorial “Thompson Island: A new way to excel on MCAS.” Whereas the educational value of the Boston Harbor cannot be overstated, some clarification and context are necessary.
Standards-based education has been happening on various Boston Harbor Islands since 1998 — on Georges, Gallops (closed in 2001), Lovells, Peddocks, Bumpkin, Grape, Little Brewster, Spectacle, Great Brewster, Rainsford, and Thompson. More than 17,000 Boston Public Schools students from more than 30 schools have extended their classrooms to these islands.
Hundreds of dedicated, creative Boston teachers and several forward-thinking administrators were essential to the success of the program. Other key allies were the National Park Service and the Metropolitan District Commission and Division of Environmental Management, which later merged into the state Division of Conservation and Recreation. Like Thompson Island, these government institutions are among the managing partners of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.
As a public space, the Harbor Islands can also teach an overarching theme that aligns with one of our social studies standards: the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. This lesson will still be relevant when MCAS is a memory.
The writer is a US Coast Guard-licensed captain.