Wednesday, October 3, 2012

0 BPS Proposals: Thoughts on Grandfathering and Answers about the Roslindale Pathway

The process that we are going through with Boston Public Schools regarding school choice options has led to many questions and quite a bit of discussion both online and at community meetings. We have received concrete answers to a couple of questions:

1) Regarding what would happen to the Roslindale Pathway under the new proposals, I now have it in writing from Superintendent Carol Johnson that the Roslindale K-8 Pathway will remain in effect under any proposed student assignment system. This only makes sense since our Roslindale Pathway is the model for the middle school feeder proposal and was the "test" of whether BPS could get something like this passed. 

2) Regarding the question of whether current students would be "grandfathered" in to their current assignments, unfortunately so far it is not looking good. Many of us have heard from many sources, City Councilors, email and facebook groups, that there is no current plan to "grandfather" current student placements once a new proposal is accepted and passed. 

The concerning thing about the grandfathering issue (aside from the obvious one), is that on page 4 of BPS' Phase 3: Framework for School Choice OptionsUpdate to the External Advisory Committee presentation on August 20, 2012 BPS stated that this issue and others would already be addressed as part of the September 24, 2012 roll-out of proposed models:

"What will be presented on September 24?:
  • 3 – 5 school choice options
  • An explanation of each option 
    • Describing the pros and cons of each
    • Maps of the proposed models  (were provided)
    • Policy considerations (for example grandfathering of current students, priorities, how administrative assignments might occur)
    • Cost and transportation implications
    • All plans will be paired with academic improvement strategies to continue the transformation of lower performing schools
  • The community will then begin its evaluation of options and the underlying components of the models"
***I will have a separate post looking at the rest of the above list in the next few days.

As of today, we are told that a plan is not in place to "grandfather" students into their current assignments. Obviously, this is extremely concerning for everyone involved and has led to a lot of concern, angst and even anger by families who feel their child(ren) have a seat at a school they approve of. 

I know the issue of "grandfathering" the students has come up at every community meeting held so far and am sure it will continue to be brought up until we are given a concrete answer by the Superintendent or School Committee.

My prediction right now (could change as I get more info) is that BPS will grandfather students who currently attend a certain school as to do otherwise would create turmoil on the level of 1974 proportions as parents react. However, even if your current student attends the "old zone" school, your younger child(ren) may be unable to attend the same school even with sibling preference as that school may not be in your new "zone" and ONLY the child with a current seat as of whatever date BPS sets as the deadline will be "grandfathered". This could also lead to extreme turmoil for BPS. 

Thought for the day: 
Prior to the desegregation of BPS schools, we had 87,000 students in our schools. When I first became Chair of the Boston Special Needs Parent Advisory Council (SNPAC) in 1997, we had 64,000 students in BPS. Now, according to the Department of Education district profile we currently have 55,027 students in our district. 

How many students will be left after this school choice process is done? I fear only those who do not have a choice whether due to income level or services needed that Boston Public Schools, unlike other districts, can and does provide fairly well for students with disabilities OR have parents who are die-hard Bostonians like myself. 


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