New study: Current school-assignment zones failing, but new zones might not be much better

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council weighs in on the Boston school-zone process, basically says there are just not enough decent schools in Boston no matter how you slice up assignment zones. Their report has copious maps and charts.

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Change for change's sake

is not progress. BPS has not done any capital planning for those proposed zone changes. This is all seat of the pants planning and every parent meeting has different information.

Not enough decent schools

Ah, WishIWereWhitey, don't you ever get tired of having nothing to offer but lazy empty cynicism?

I've been a member on the school parent council of every school my (now 7th grade) child has been in (was co-chair twice), a member of the school site council for her first K-5, and an active and substantial volunteer in many other ways. I've also been a real skeptic about many BPS policies during that time - so...not a Court Street fanboi.

In my experience, there are very very few school children who are not basically "decent" kids - especially up to about ten years old or so. Generally speaking, the ones that do not reach their potential, or end up going way off the rails, are being let down - occasionally by the school staff, more substantially (but anonymously) by the BPS administration, and most profoundly (and tragically) by their own parents and community.

As a city we need more quality schools - everywhere. It's just not acceptable to assume that some kids will have to settle for crummy schools. We also need more solid jobs for the city's grownups so they can actually give their families a decent stable life, and as a society we need to raise expectations for all parents to be engaged in the lives and education of their children. The school system can do some things about the first (and should be doing them better), but it can't really do much about the second two.

The kids are decent? Then the

The kids are decent? Then the city administration is at fault. or the teachers are at fault. This is 2012. It's forty years since you could blame bad schools on the evil racist school committee. If there are bad schools - and that's what we're told over and over - why are they bad? It's not an act of God, and they don't have fumes coming out of the basement clouding the children's minds.

In the Dreaded Private Sector, when something is wrong, it gets fixed or the company is shut down. In the City of Boston, the very people who run the city tell us we can't have neighborhood schools because there are bad schools some children would be stuck in. So tell me exactly whose fault that is. If it's not the kids, and its not the school administrating, and it's not the city administration, whose fault is it? The French? The Freemasons?

It's not cynicism to point out facts. Bad schools - which the City of Boston has taken to boasting of - are not inevitable. Yet people like you accept them, as long as your kid isn't in one.

It's both a floor wax AND a dessert topping

In schools where there are involved parents, there are more resources. Parents do fundraising, write grants, and bug the powers-that-be to pay attention to their school. They volunteer in the classrooms and at extracurricular events. They battle through the red tape to get things done.

And those schools get better and draw more involved parents. The kids at schools with crappy or absent or too-busy-working-three-jobs parents do not get those benefits.

We need the BPS Administration, Teachers Union, and the City of Boston to help those schools. We need them to put together city-wide fundraising. Interested volunteers can help, but the barriers are just too high for individuals outside the system to do these things in a vacuum.

Zero Sum Analysis Produces... Zero

Sad to see how these analyses of potential school assignment policy changes undertaken by smart people at MAPC or Harvard School of Ed (or wherever) all look at Boston through a racial zero sum prism: if one race gains, another race loses.

Boston (and its public schools) are not so white and black in the 21st century.

Time to move on.

How about some fresh perspective from some smart sociogists on how residential proximity to a school can lead to higher parental involvement rates... and better school quality. There are schools in Boston that demonstrate this reality -- with a student population drawn primarily from low income households, and with few white or Asian students attending at all.

And the flip side of that: how parents who live beyond 1.5 miles of a school rarely get involved in that school... which leads to weak community support for that school and lower school quality.

It takes a village to produce schools worth choosing. Busing splinters Boston's villages.

Every student should have an

Every student should have an equal opportunity of attending a quality school. Until there are more good schools, the current lottery system should be replaced with a system that assigns all students to schools completely randomly. That way all students would have an equal chance of being sent to a quality school. The current lottery system favors parents who have the time to figure out how to work the system in their favor.

Transportation nightmare

So kids from all over the city would get busing all over the city? Sounds like a good plan for the bus companies.

You can spend months trying to figure the best school, but it's still a random process. If you get the Kilmer, it simply means you were lucky (or had sibling advantage), that's it. For any school, involved parents are crucial- let's not try to dissuade parents from caring about where their kid goes to school.