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Judge hopes to decide exam-school lawsuit by April 15

A federal judge said today he hopes to rule by April 15 on a lawsuit against the Boston School Committee's system for examless selection of exam-school students either in time for students to get notified of their selection this spring - or to order officials to quickly come up with a new way of selecting students for the schools before the fall.

At a hearing this morning, US District Court Judge William Young told lawyers for the three sides in the case - White and Asian-American parents, who claim the system now in place discriminates against them, BPS and a coalition of groups led by the local NAACP branch, who mostly support BPS - that Boston school kids deserve to know where they'll be going to school next fall.

The White and Asian-American parents sued BPS.

Due to Covid-19, the School Committee last fall approved a system for 2021-2022, in which the first 20% of seats at Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the John D. O'Bryant School would be offered to students with the highest pre-Covid grades in BPS, charter, private and religious schools. The remaining 80% would be offered in rounds based on grades in individual Zip codes, starting with those Zip codes with the lowest median incomes for families with at least one child under 18 - an effort to help low-income students whose families have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19.

Young today gave all three sides in the case until April 2 to file their written arguments in the case. Young said he would then schedule oral arguments for the following week, which would give him time to consider and then write an order in the case.

Attorneys for BPS and the NAACP said that depending on what the lawyers for the White and Asian-American parents filed, they might want to file statements by experts on the reasons to use the Zip-code-based plan this year.

Young said he would first read the briefs and hear the arguments - and reminded the attorneys he's not hearing the case in a vacuum, because school racial issues are not new in Boston and he's already begun research on the case - and said that if he felt he needed more evidence to make his ruling, he would allow such statements.

But he cautioned that that would mean he'd need to extend the date for his deadline past April 15 to consider them, and said he will be reluctant to do that, because the students have a right to know what school they'll be attending in the fall, as do their parents. He added that he is also mindful of the potential stress on BPS officials who might have to draw up completely new assignment plans on short notice, officials, he said, who already have "the very difficult job of serving Boston's school children."

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Comments

Maybe they’ll give them all a surprise test none of them have studied for. Equitable?

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The remedy, if any, is likely to be a metric based on gpa that is applied equitably in a citywide fashion.

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Nope. Grades can be gamed and are subjective. Depends on your teacher and your school. You need an objective test for every kid of every gender, race, income level and ethnicity. You need to help the kids who have the potential but don't have help or financial means to be competitive with those who do. Saturday exam study sessions at BHA community centers, free tutoring based on income, test administering in Rox, Dorch, Mattapan, etc. These low income kids in high income zip codes will suffer the most if they change to this proposed policy. Keep the exam!

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You do realize gpa is completely meaningless in today's "everybody is equal, everybody gets an A" BPS environment, right?

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How is that equitable if private/parochial schools are perpetuating a grade inflation scam?

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This whole situation is a complete disaster, and has resulted in an incredibly stressful situation for kids and families after what has been a very difficult year. No one is talking about the fact that private schools require contracts and deposits by April 9, leaving many of us in a real jam.

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Regular working families in Boston are supposed to feel bad for because the private-school quality public school delaying their acceptance of your precious Chauncy/Brittany MAY cause you to miss out on the opportunity to attend private school? Tell us more.

Seems like you should just use your wealth to send your kids to private school and leave the BLS/BLA/O'Brien spot for a family who needs it.

I also hear that the suburban high schools don't have entrance exams and waitlists.

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plan its schedule or decisions around what private schools are doing? If you can't wait, feel free to drop out of the running - there's clearly plenty of demand for the exam schools.

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It's not about what private schools are doing - it's about the families in this city who have very limited choices for middle/high school. Families have been reluctantly choosing private (or the suburbs) for years when BPS does not work out, and BPS historically has announced admissions at the end of March so the timetable worked out, but not this year.

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I've heard it suggested that part of the equity piece be that the decision/acceptance be well after that of private schools, so that it stops being an option for people who'd be opting out otherwise.

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And making lives easier for citizens? The class warfare is not helpful.

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A public school failing to prioritize the needs of people who can easily pay for private school is not any type of oppression.

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We had that issue. We spoke to the private school, which we ended up not attending, and explained the situation and they were quite accommodating.

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A family's neighborhood does not necessarily correspond to income whatsoever, much less ZIP codes that can cross multiple neighborhoods. For example, children in Washington-Beech should not be lumped with Roslindale single-family residents, children in Villa Victoria should not be lumped with South End brownstone dwellers, and children in McCormack should not be lumped with the rest of South Boston. The same goes for Section 8 voucher recipients living outside the poorer parts of the city; none of these children should be put at an additional disadvantage, which is what the current system does.

If BPS were truly dedicated to helping low-income students/families due to the impacts of Covid-19, they would use family-level income indicators, such as receipt of government benefits (SNAP, public housing, Section 8, SSI) or homeless/undocumented status, instead of building a system that only benefits rich people in poor neighborhoods (literally the definition of gentrification).

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I mean other than the constant outreach over the last 12 months to make sure families were aware of food resources and other programs. And weighted funding where BLS gets less money per student than any other school in district.

There are big equity of access issues with the exam schools but you're telling on yourself if you think BPS is some institution focused on rich people. GTFO

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How about actually teaching instead of being food delivery business?

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We know that improved nutrition is a huge help to education. Kids can't learn if they're not getting enough to eat. Perhaps taking that responsibility away from schools and handling it another way would be good, but it'd be a net loss for everyone if we were to stop schools from feeding kids without some way of replacing that.

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What can you say to the students living in BHA housing who are being passed over in favor of the wealthier residents in their neighborhood? Do you say GTFO to them too?

Equity requires that no one gets left behind. "No one" includes the minority of low-income people who live in higher-income neighborhoods.

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Don't forget Charlestown - 4th highest income in the City, yet also has the largest public housing development AND one of the largest affordable housing complexes. But they're all lumped together (and down at the bottom of the list) with the lawyers and finance folks living in Charlestown.

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Yeah, the ZIP code system is stupid, because ZIP codes are big.

They could have done any number of things to better achieve the goal of opening up the exam schools to the best students from poor backgrounds. Like family income, or census tract income for example.

Is mind-numbing stupidity that causes the scheme to fail at its intended aim a reason for a judge to toss the system? Or is there no law against that?

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One of the stated goals of the task force and several members of the school committee was racial balancing. This is reflected in texts between members, the task force documents, slides presented at public meetings, and statements by school committee members in public hearings.

The intent to engage in racial balancing is something Judge Young indicated he would focus on (assuming the plaintiffs raise the issue).

Thanks for reporting on this.

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This policy of zip code based admission is not designed with white parents or children in mind, it is specifically designed to reduce the enrollment of asian students. The woke white parent supports this policy as the woke white parent knows that they are not being targeted. White children don't have to do that well in school to be employed, there are plenty of employment schemes already in place for them. There is the police department where they can make overtime money without working overtime. There is the fire department where you have to turn up to work 7 days a month. And of course there is everyones favorite place of woke-work, the non-profit sector where you don't need any specific skills, feelings and empathy will suffice.

This policy is specifically designed to reduce the number of asian students in Boston's exam schools.

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Next, the USPS will get sued for its racist zip codes. USPS will have to redraw zip codes to make them more racially diverse.

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No, BPS just needs to recognize, as much of the sociology world has, that ZIP codes were designed for delivering mail, not for looking at communities based on demographics.

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Worldclass

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Ah, a federal judge determining what’s best for BPS, deja vu. What cold possibly go wrong?

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Oh this will end well, remeber the last time a federral judge delivered rulings to BPS.

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Saying our youngest was chosen because of her grades, we had to to choose 3 schools and were told there will still be a lottery.
She never took the test and we dont think she could handle the workload but they chose her anyway.

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