After 25 years, School Committee votes to end school-assignment zones

The School Committee tonight voted to approval an overhaul of student assignment for elementary schools that will give parents a choice of six schools - at least two of which have to have among the highest standardized test scores in the city.

The new system, which will go into effect in the 2014-2015 school year, will end the city's current three-zone system - and walk zones.

Students already in the system will be grandfathered in their current schools.



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walk zone

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Are they keeping the walk zone?


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Just read Carol Johnson's letter. Walk zone schools are included in the choices, but priority goes away.

John Connolly not happy

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The city councilor and mayoral candidate issued a statement:

This was our opportunity to bring quality to every single school and offer every child a guaranteed seat at a school close to home. Instead, BPS replaced the current convoluted school lottery with a different convoluted school lottery, and, to make matters worse, they removed walk-zone priority. It is cruel to call this bold reform when too many children will be left on waitlists, without quality choices, and without a seat at a school close to their home.


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Good grief.

not just the BMing

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It's not just the bitch and moaning that's annoying (after all if you live in Boston and haven't gotten used to that, or even yourself become a freestyle bitch and moaning maestro, you haven't acclimated), it's the idea that if elected his bitching and moaning would suddenly switch to exactly the same verbiage that spews out from the current administration. "We're making substantial strides to a better and more equitable educational system for our children given the severe financial limitations under which we must operate...blahblahblah.."

It's very hard to have every school be excellent and typically poor n'hoods get the shaft. We definitely have long running challenges in Boston that we should be able to overcome given that we're a fraction the size of say NYC's school system, but if anyone thinks they're going to just propose "hey let's invest money in this wisely and fix it" and that this will just happen...and no one will be bitching and moaning about their fix....they just don't know Boston.

I don't see

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How John Connolly can run for Mayor and cling to this idea of inequitable neighborhood schools. That would take us back in time. He works hard for the city, but this stance makes him appear very parochial.


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Building a strong community around neighborhood schools is sooo backwards. Talk a walk back to the burbs you originated from.


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like every other idiot against this, you claim change will lead to "inequitable neighborhood schools". Please, how is "inequitable neighborhood schools" any different from inequitable citywide schools. Somebodies kid will get screwed one way or the other.

What this change will create that the past couldn't is a stronger sense of community, reduced busing, more money for educational purposes, less congestion, healthier kids, and i don't know... maybe kids developing childhood friends that the can go to school with, play in their neighborhood with and have healthy competition with.

But maybe your right playing musicale chairs twice a day with Bostons youth is a sure way to promise everyone a bright future.

Don't blame a yellow vehicle for shitty schools, blame our beloved 5 term mayor, or maybe if you have the guts the Union.

Schools are inequitable

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now. Restricting kids to neighborhood schools just adds to the lack of access for kids in poor areas. We live in a city. Do you really sleep well at night knowing your kid is all set, and screw everybody else?


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But Currently i would NEVER subject my kid to the horror that is BPS.

Your loss, then

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BPS is far from perfect, but it's not 1980 anymore - there are good schools.

-- Parent of a BPS student


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I went to both BPS and Private, so from experience i'm TELLING YOU there i HUGE difference.

To give you a point of reference when i say Private i talking about the Jackson and Montessori Educare, and when i say BPS i talking specifically about Latin. Also i graduated in 2000 not 1980!


It sucks also

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When you call people idiots and describe BP S as hell.

You sound very

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closed off and closed minded, wherever you live.

Closed Minded????????

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Your the one who is opposing change, talk about "Closed Minded"!

Where did you read

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that I was opposing change? The current assignment process is not working. But going back to assigned neighborhood schools just resegregates the schools and will send us back in time. If you happened to attend any of the community meetings, External Advisory Committee meetings, or Boston School Committee meetings, then you would know that parents all over the city have said, "We want quality schools and we don't care how far we have to travel to get there."

Resegregate how?

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Can you clarify this oft repeated assertion? Right now almost all schools are majority minority, in excess of the 35/65 split which the census data shows there should be. By allowing kids in say Roslindale, a very evenly 50/50 split community, to go to their local schools- that's segregation? I don't see the outrage if a school like the Bates were to go from 20/80 to 40/60 or something. Is all this fuss just because there might be 3-4 schools in West Roxbury, JP or Rosi which might have more than 50% white students? It seems to be missing the huge issue of school quality to refight the racial political battles of the 60s and 70s around school racial mix. As long as there is weighted funding where no schools are getting extra funding, then we're not going back to the systemic inequity of the past.

I went to a few meetings in West Roxbury and Roslindale and parents there were saying they cared very much about how far their kids had to go to get to a good school. Lots of people don't want to have their kids spend 45+ minutes on a bus twice a day.


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No, the segregation issue is when you have schools that are almost entirely Black and/or Latino. So that our kids can get the message that their school is the school where they stick all the kids of color. And our kids can learn about how the racial dynamic in Boston is such that a huge percentage of white families are going to do whatever it takes to send their kid to private school if they get assigned to a mostly minority school. So yeah, I have a problem with how segregated the schools are, and with my child possibly being in a school where she eventually realizes that even though it might be a great school, virtually no white parents are comfortable with their child going there, because my child's dark skin is scary or contagious or something.

(And before anyone who doesn't understand systemic racism jumps in, no, this doesn't mean that the city should use a quota system or some similar bullshit. It's a societal problem, and each family that perpetuates the segregation is, well, perpetuating the segregation.)

So that's where we are now...

So you've described where we are right now in BPS, eeka.

Was the current busing scheme doing more to end that situation or to create it? I'd say it did more to create it.

Has anybody proposed a system that would change the problems you identify?

You say you'd like to see more white parents putting their kids in BPS. Do you have a suggestion as to what changes might lead white parent to want to put their kids in BPS? (Hint: involuntary busing has not worked to this effect)

Busing hasn't been involuntary for 25 years

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The system that's being replaced is hardly perfect, but neither was it the busing of 1974. You may recall the original stated reason for the past year+ of discussions was to figure out how to cut the costs of busing under an assignment system in which parents could try for any school anywhere in their assignment zones.

The new system is still going to have lots of busing - and it eliminates the walk-zone preference, which was as close as Boston's gotten since 1974 to neighborhood schools.

two ways to look at it

1. Busing has never been involuntary because parents have always had the option of removing their children from BPS.

2. Busing continues to be involuntary because parents aren't able to choose to send their kids to the nearest school, but instead must put them on the bus to go to the school chosen by The Lottery.

Either way, busing was neither more nor less voluntary 25 years ago than it is now.

I would be more interested in hearing eeka's response than another dollop of sophism.

Yes and no.

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I see your point about what someone's perspective might be about why someone else isn't sending their kids to their school, but I think you are too easily dismissing how many parents prefer to not have their younger kids, especially k1-1 kids, on a long bus ride across town with basically no supervision.

Personally, my kid initially went to a school which was pretty much all black and Latino which was on the far end of the West Zone from our house. We hated having a K2 kid on a long bus ride with older kids. Now my kid goes to a pretty much all black and Latino school which is much closer to my house, which is a huge improvement.

Not how it pans out though

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BPS has plenty of schools that are like 1% white if that, but the surrounding neighborhood is more like 20-30% white or more.


You're saying the segregation in such cases is not accomplished by the white kids going to their neighborhood schools? And that if the white kids went to their neighborhood schools it would reduce segregation?

Your argument has me confused now.

Kathode--read the proposal

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Every kid gets a list with quality schools AND neighborhood schools. If the neighborhood schools ARE quality schools, you get a shorter list. At any rate, everyone gets at least 6 schools on their list.

KellyJMF, I am well aware of the

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proposal. I am glad they dropped the walk zone preference and hope that there are more opportunities for kids who don't have high quality schools in their neighborhoods with this assignment plan.

This hasn't been about busing costs for a long time

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Pretty early on in the current round of re- and de-zoning, officials acknowledged there would be no savings in busing - in fact, busing could wind up costing more because for awhile the city would basically have two busing systems - one for the new plan, one for the kids grandfathered into their current schools.

If school quality increases across the board, we might see a reduction in busing costs as quality schools get closer to the homes of kids in the "circle of opportunity" that had always defeated past re-zoning efforts (because they always resulted in zones where all the schools were below adequate).

But even with that, the busing budget won't budge all that much, because it includes fixed costs that zoning (or unzoning) won't touch: Kids with special needs and kids with language issues, who will continue to need to be bused since not all schools have programs for them, and kids in private and parochial schools, for whom BPS is legally required to provide busing.

Thank you Adam.

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Last "Kathode" post about money saved on busing not from me.


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Tom Menino happy

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His statement:

Tonight's historic vote marks a new day for every child in the City of Boston. A more predictable and equitable student assignment system that emphasizes quality and keeps our children close to home has been a long time coming for our city. Boston Public Schools have never been stronger - and now is the time to ensure our student assignment process reflects the great progress we've made. Graduation rates have never been higher, students are outperforming their peers in other urban districts, and more parents are choosing Boston Public Schools for their children each year. There will always be more work to be done to push all of our schools to be better, and tonight's vote sets a path forward to make all our schools quality schools of choice.

It's a great school

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if you're male, have 20K, maybe a connection and meet their admissions qualifications, whatever they are.

Am I crazy to think that good

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Am I crazy to think that good schools are as much about good parenting (i.e, getting your kid to school on time, teaching them to be respectful, etc) as they are about the schools and teachers?

Not crazy

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However, parental responsibility and involvement in their kids education can't be addressed through school assignment reform. I think a fundamental disagreement between anti-neighborhood school people and local school people is whether proximity of a family to their school matters.

I've been involved in parent councils at various schools and it is by and large the local families who are able to go to the meetings, work the events, etc... If you are from a different part of town, you are less likely to drive 15 minutes across town to get involved. I don't think there's anything to it more than logistics, but it puts more of a burden on the active people. The dispersed school assignment approach makes everyone even more mercenary about figuring out what is best for their kids and acting accordingly.

Yes, exactly. Changing

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Yes, exactly. Changing assignment policy doesn't make people better parents.

Why is this so difficult...

End the way they're running the schools now. Who is benefiting? No one. There has been no benefit shown, at all, to the 'disadvantaged' students bused into 'privileged' schools. All we have is a city which middle class families with children are afraid to stay in/come back to. The city will never see it's potential until they do some REAL changes.


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Home-based A reduces distance traveled by 40%. Although as Adam pointed out, the savings won't be seen for a few years due to grandfathering and sibling preference.