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 Mattapan Public Library began with families sharing their experiences with enrollment. Family members shared that:
- Charter school applications easier to fill out, with a one-page application that is available online
- Boston Public Schools application require more documentation up front, creating difficulty for some parents
- Family resources centers better staffed 25 years ago, though process was more complicated
- School visits were helpful
- Current waitlist system difficult for some families to navigate
- Faced issues transferring between sectors (charter schools and district schools)
- Schools in both sectors failed to address one student’s SPED needs
- Lack of communication between sectors during enrollment
- Difficult to arrange visits at charter schools
- Re-assignment process unclear and slow once a parent gave up student’s seat at a school
- Process for holding a seat different at charters and district schools
- A unified system would need to address regional charter schools’ intake of students who live outside of Boston
Questions from concerned community members, families and advocates guided the conversation Wednesday night, carrying our session through the evening in more of a question and answer format than previous meetings. We steered away from the agenda to discuss major concerns like whether unified enrollment would increase the number of charter seats in the city, to hear and learn from families’ experiences with identifying English language programs and special education services for their children, and to identify the ways that unified enrollment would make the city’s schools more equitable.
A parent urged others to look past sector divisions and work as a community to create better schools and easier access to those schools. Others in the room took offense at the suggestion that collaboration would benefit all sectors. We look forward to continuing such spirited conversations at upcoming meetings and invite people to continue to spark conversations in their homes and communities, at our meetings and online through our survey.