I think METCO IS a great idea - but after the first 15 years, I thought it should be based on income, rather than race. What does it say to Brazilian kids? Korean kids? Poor Irish kids not as ruthless/lucky as the Bulger clan?
A METCO-esque program gave Deval his start in life. That's how far it can take you. And I agree, the towns do volunteer to host the kids, and advocate for them quite selflessly.
It's just been the transportation money that sticks in my craw - I would see earnest suburban moms extolling the program at the State House, and I would wonder if they REALIZED how much it cost. And with insurance and fuel costs escalating the way they have, it has only exacerbated the situation. ...
METCO will be a volunteer program when the state stops paying 100% of the transportation costs of ferrying the students back and forth, while leaving transportation reimbursement for regional school systems - cut to zero in 2002 - languishing at 50%. (Hint - Barnstable County's 15 towns have 8 of their towns in regional districts, and no public transportation that can be used by students - just one more way the Boston-based school funding formula screws us over.) When the participating communities pay 50% of the cost of transport, THEN we can talk about how 'volunteer' it is.