This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Milly Arbaje-Thomas, President & CEO of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc. (METCO) and Roger Hatch, co-author of Pioneer’s report, METCO Funding: Understanding Massachusetts’ Voluntary School Desegregation Program. Milly shares her background as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and deep involvement with anti-poverty and neighborhood-based organizations in Boston. She describes METCO’s history, the challenges METCO participants face, and the program’s proven track record of achieving excellent results for minority students from Boston and Springfield. The discussion turns to METCO’s complex funding model, and Roger Hatch summarizes the main findings of his recent report. They explore institutional barriers to expansion, despite the program’s contribution to diversifying greater Boston’s suburban districts (METCO students constitute very high percentages of those districts’ minority student population). They talk about the fiscal implications of METCO in suburban districts, including state and district funding and transportation costs; and possible financial reforms.

Stories of the Week: Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauds President Biden’s reversal of a proposal to curb charter school expansion. Basketball legend and civil rights trailblazer Bill Russell passed away this week; Cara and Gerard pay tribute to him.