Professor Omari Simmons gives METCO Director’s Association 31st Annual Conference keynote address

Photo of Professor Omari Simmons

Professor Omari Simmons

Professor Omari Simmons gave the keynote address at the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) Director’s 31st Annual Association Conference on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Norwood, Massachusetts. (See announcement here). 

The METCO Directors’ Association, founded in 1975, provides educational leadership in the areas of school desegregation, academic achievement for students of color, multicultural education and parent empowerment. The MDA membership is comprised of concerned professionals who serve as METCO directors or coordinators in more than 30 suburban communities in the metropolitan Boston area.

The METCO program enables students who live in Boston and Springfield to attend opportunity-rich suburban schools. METCO is one of eight voluntary interdistrict school desegregation programs in the United States and the second longest-running program of its kind. The METCO program has been in existence since 1966 and was originally funded through a grant by the Carnegie Foundation. Currently, there are about 3,300 students and 37 school districts participating in the program.
In addition to the giving the keynote address that focused on the importance of the K-16 bridge between secondary school and higher education for a conference audience of approximately 400 attendees, Professor Simmons facilitated a breakout session titled, “From Rhetoric to Reality: Fostering Multicultural Excellence in Public School Settings.” Professor Simmons conducted the breakout session for two groups: one with 18 superintendents and assistant superintendents; and the another with approximately 50-60 teachers, counselors and administrators.

“The interactive sessions involved deep and honest discussions of the challenges fostering multicultural excellence in public school settings,” he explained. “The sessions addressed key demographic trends that make educating students of color a national priority.  Educating students of color in today’s environment requires looking beyond K-12 and toward preparing students for higher education. Most importantly, the sessions identified concrete practices that contribute to educational success for students of color as well as the creation of inclusive and welcoming learning communities.”

Professor Simmons adds, “METCO is one of the great success stories in American education initially growing out of the grassroots efforts of women of color like its founder, Ruth Batson, a Boston community and civil rights activist.” 

Batson’s papers can be found at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe College.  

Professor Simmons is the director of the Business Law Program and a recognized expert on education policy and corporate governance. He frequently lectures on these topics to academic and nonacademic audiences across the country. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of the forthcoming book, “Narratives Transformed: College Access from the Bottom-up” (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Professor Simmons also is co-founder and executive director of the Simmons Memorial Foundation (SMF), a grassroots nonprofit organization that promotes higher education access for vulnerable students. SMF provides a range of services including mentoring, college advising, college visitations, standardized test preparation and scholarships. Over nearly two decades, Professor Simmons, on a volunteer basis, has helped hundreds of talented students attain their higher education goals.

Before entering academia, Professor Simmons practiced law in Washington, D.C. He received his undergraduate education at Wake Forest University; his Juris Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School; and a Master of Laws from the University of Cambridge. At the University of Pennsylvania, he received the Thouron Award and the Fontaine Fellowship. Professor Simmons has received multiple honors in recognition of his efforts promoting higher education opportunity.