At each citywide community meeting, we are working to inform and engage the community in a unique way. We’ve created an interactive community meeting with the goal of informing the public while getting their feedback on the proposal and engaging with them to improve it.
After each meeting, we will publish notes from our team on key areas of discussion. They will not have the context of the speaker or subject, but will, we think help inform the online discussion while being transparent about the feedback we are getting– positive, negative, and beyond.
Our meeting at the Condon Community Center began with families sharing their experiences with enrollment. Families shared that:
- Fiancé wanted charter school while I wanted BPS
- Went around to speak with principals
- Satisfied with high school choice
- Wanted a school that was close in proximity
- Able to get their first choice school
- People get information in different ways
Participants were then given an overview of the current enrollment systems and the proposed unified enrollment system.
Comments/Questions & Answers
C. One application is a no-brainer. I am concerned that if charters go into the algorithm, BPS will cede responsibility for high quality education. And charters may cede responsibility for educating students with disabilities.
A. Unified enrollment is predicated on the ability to build capacity to serve all students. Every family will have two Tier I BPS schools and two Tier I charter schools. Charter schools want to and do serve SPED/ELL students.
C. I would not consider putting my child with Down Syndrome in a charter school. I have seen what BPS can do for students.
Q. What about homeless families? Are they currently served by charter schools?
A. Charter schools definitely serve homeless families– including those in scattered site housing. Some charters target foster and homeless students in their school’s mission. Unified enrollment would make schools more accountable to this. No matter where they go, homeless families will continue to have original right while they are in the school.
C. Two BPS and two charter schools is not proportional to the number of schools in the city. Having just one offer takes away choice.
A. One offer addresses an issues of equity. Currently, families that have the resources to visit each charter school has more choice than families who cannot. This makes the system more equitable for all families. It does not take away choice, but it requires you to make your choice at the beginning of the process rather than at the end. Unified enrollment also increases the odds of getting into the school you want.
C. I don’t understand the urgency for this process. It doesn’t address discipline practices. Why don’t we focus on equity and discipline first?
A. Work is being done to address these issues at the state level and within the Compact’s other subcommittees. We want to process to begin now because it could take 18-24 months.
Q. One lottery gives parents the impression that the two systems (district and charter) are the same. Do parents understand the difference?
A. This is the kind of information we want to present up front so that families are informed about their options. We want to make sure parents know the process and the chain of authority for all schools.
Q. How much conversation has the Compact had about this issue?
A. Historically, there has been a large communication gap between district and charter schools. The Compact is allowing us to have conversations. BPS has taken best practices for children from charters and vice versa.
Q. Who will have responsibility for placing students who enroll in the middle of the year? In the past this has been 100% BPS.
A. We want there to be shared responsibility for educating students who are new to the city, but we haven’t figured out how to do this yet. There should be a shared mechanism for newly arriving families. We are working on how we can work together to serve these students.
Q. How are we measuring success? What has happened in other cities?
A. Denver is most similar to other cities, but Boston is unique. We have created a table to try and work collectively, and there is a high level of trust in Boston. There are things that other cities have done that we do not want to do.
Q. How can we trust other sectors if inequities exist?
A. We need equity in our system and unified enrollment can address one part of equity, but not all of it. We do not have charter problem, we have a school finance problem and we need to fix the financing law.
Group A: Family Communication
What information would be most helpful to families in selecting schools? In what formats?
- West Zone (with JP moms) hosts parents forum – learn about school from other parents
- Only reaches certain demographic
- Currently learn through family and friends
- When the system changes the community institutional knowledge is lost
- Gaps in knowledge about how parents what to get information
- Where to send? What languages?
- Does the city have a mechanism for identifying/reaching students?
- Reaching parents of current students vs. parents of upcoming students
- The system still really looks as if it still has zones
- The most disenfranchised are frequently unreached
- If can’t reach them, what we communicate is secondary
Group B: SPED/ELL
How would you want to be informed of school choices for children with specialized needs? What information would you want about particular services available at schools?
- How to access schools families really want (e.g. Henderson)?
- Access to support resources
- OT/PT, speech, etc.
- Inclusion vs. segregated
- Transportation – particularly for students with disabilities
Group C: System Administrator
If you had a question or issue with unified enrollment, who would you want to help you resolve it?
- Non profit
- BPS should run it, it is what districts do
- It should be clear – descriptive
- Non BPS Domain name
- Have capacity – don’t staff up a nonprofit – expensive
- Public accountability – FOIA requests
- Non profit internal work not a FOIA-able
- What if at city of Boston – Chief of Education’s office
- A public/private partnership
- BPS has system/history and most students already going to BPS
- Need a board of BPS district and Charters
- Oversight and advisory – feedback
- System of feedback from school, families and system
- Someone available
- Appeal process – no process now at BPS
- Charters have state appeal process
- What is state’s role?
- Believes that proposed legislation could allow opt in clause for charters, might need other legislation