Something missing from city video that decries effects of busing on one poor Dorchester neighborhood

The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics produced this video to support its proposals to rejigger school-assignment zones for elementary and middle-school students: If you totaled up all the miles students in the Bowdoin/Geneva area travel to school each morning, it would be the equivalent of a trip from Boston to Cheyenne, WY (the city has used Bowdoin/Geneva as its poster child for its proposals throughout the current evaluation process).

What the brief video doesn't mention, however, is that the city plans to turn one of the neighborhood's schools, the Marshall Elementary, into a privately run charter school, open to students from across the city, which means the city will have to bus many of its students, and which means one less local option for Bowdoin/Geneva parents.

Teresa Harvey, retiring Marshall principal, tears into school officials at a School Committee meeting over the conversion to a charter school:

Boston School Choice - Background on proposals to change school-assignment zones.

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Comments

Not sure if the Cheyenne thing works for me

I am not condoning the current system, nor am I supporting any of the proposed changes, I just don't think that little analogy works for me. If all these kids traveled one mile to school (which I think is the current walk zone preference) that combined distance would be a trip past Minneapolis. If it was half a mile it would be Detroit. If you lined them all up end to end (assuming an average height of 5 feet per student)it would be over a mile.

Take any large group like that and it makes for big distances. How about you focus on one kid (anonymous of course) and show the impact--5 miles each way, has to get up before 6am to catch a bus at 6:15 am. 45 minute to 1 hour bus ride. Can't really do things with friends after school as they are so far away. Parents have difficulty being involved with school as there are no easy public transportation routes that would get you there in a timely fashion.

video is effective

The absolute numbers may or many not be relevant, but you can see from the graphic in the video how neighborhoods are literally exploded as kids are sent all over the city under the current approach. I'm less concerned about the distances however than in how this dispersal of kids undermines community and reduces accountability between schools and parents.

They should

juxtapose this with the article from a few days ago saying that Brookline's had an explosion of kindergarteners such that they have to build a new school.

Everyone who can leave the BPS is doing so.

Seems like the point of this UHub item

is being missed by previous commenters, though I really enjoy 02120's excellent analysis of the silly Cheyenne fable. If you find the video effective, okay. You endorse the considerable skills of these minimalist propagandists. But take a look again at Adam's commentary, and consider that no matter what your feelings are about busing, if you believe the video's message about ending busing, you are being very seriously misinformed. For informed comments on the video, visit it at the source: http://vimeo.com/54494320

But where to begin, really

Agree the charter school conversion completely undercuts any impact reforming the assignment process...but what else is new? Lets reform that assignment process too so there is a single lottery. In fact, not a bad solution would be to do that while eliminating choice in the non-charters. You get assigned to the nearest school, apply to the charter lottery and some percentage get a charter school option.

But that is far too radical. If we are going down the path of serious reform, why can't all schools operate like charter schools--if their model is so effective; why can't it be copied immediately?

The video clip of the principal is equally instructive. When will bps admin and the general public learn that in many cases, the "worst performing schools" are "bad" DESPITE the best efforts of committed educators. I'm sure once Marshall can randomize the student population, well see test scores rise to the mean and everyone will get awards and bonuses despite the fact that quality of school had nothing to do with it.

I'm not fleeing BPS. If these bureaucrats will keep their hands off our school we'll be fine.