In the face of massive parent and teacher and student opposition, the state board of education in Massachusetts deferred a decision about a takeover of the school district.

Parents and teachers gathered outside the Massachusetts State House before walking the short distance a Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to show opposition to a state takeover of Boston Public Schools. The state on Monday released a scathing review of the district.
Parents and teachers gathered outside the Massachusetts State House before walking the short distance a Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to show opposition to a state takeover of Boston Public Schools. The state on Monday released a scathing review of the district.JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF

State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley hammered Boston Public Schools for its “bloated” central office and “unconscionable” transportation failures in his first public comments Tuesday on a new state review of the district, but held off on recommending any takeover of city schools, saying he remains “hopeful and optimistic” that the state and city can reach agreement on a plan for urgent improvement.

Addressing the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at its monthly meeting, as dozens of people protested outside and dozens more were turned away from the packed meeting room, Riley said he will give Mayor Michelle Wu a chance to respond to his initial proposal for next steps. Details of that plan have not been released to the public...

For now at least, the state’s approach appears to be gentler than some had feared. Board members — who would need to vote to approve a state receivership — appeared in no hurry to call the question. Several acknowledged the passionate opposition to receivership voiced by students, parents, teachers and elected officials who testified at the meeting, and some expressed doubt that a full state takeover could work in the face of such aversion...

Josiehanna Colon, a student at New Mission High School who testified Tuesday, said she has felt the impact of state oversight. Too much of her education has been centered around standardized testing, she said; further intervention would likely bring more emphasis on tests and less diverse curriculum. “I’m angry that our voices may be ignored,” she said, “and that again and again we care about a test score instead of a child.”

The meeting, which lasted more than four hours and included a detailed presentation on the contents of the report as well as lengthy public testimony, was originally scheduled to take place in the auditorium at Wellesley High School, which seats 700 people. Leaders in the suburban district asked state officials to move the gathering elsewhere after learning that attendance would be high and protests could be held, potentially disrupting their school day.

Relocated to a government building in Boston, the much smaller meeting room could not accommodate all attendees, dozens of whom sat on the floor in a hallway outside the room, watching the livestreamed meeting on their cellphones. Several parents in attendance said they were denied the opportunity to speak at the meeting after submitting formal requests; two speakers chose to split their time with others who were shut out.

The fact that state takeovers have a dismal record of failure was apparently never considered. If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again.