Wednesday, February 27, 2013

0 EAC Recommends New Boston School Assignment Plan, But Is It Good Enough?

Though somewhat old news by now, after a year of numerous community meetings, several assignment proposals and an extension to the timeline, the External Advisory Committee on School Assignment (EAC) voted Monday night to recommend the "Home Based A" school assignment plan for Boston Public Schools. In addition to the assignment model, the proposed overlay maps for English Language Learners (ELL), Students with Disabilities (SWD), and the Middle School Feeder(MSF) were also approved as part of the EAC's recommendation. Be sure to click the link "For additional information on (ELL or SWD or MSF), click here." included on each of the overlay pages as that information will tell you about the proposed K-8 conversions and possible program sites for ELL and SWD!

According to the explanation of how the Home-Based A assignment plan works, BPS states:
This model creates choices for each address using schools that are nearby, taking school quality into account. 
Using MCAS test scores, Home-Based A designates schools as Tier 1 (highest quality), Tier 2, Tier 3 or Tier 4 (lowest quality.)*   Based on a home address, families receive a list of at least six prospective schools. Everyone’s list includes a range of options in Tiers 1, 2 & 3. 
Students could choose from:
  • Six schools that are close to home that are in the top three tiers of all schools for academic growth and performance.  Of those six, at least four will be in the top two tiers of all schools.  And, of those four at least two will be in the top tier.
In addition, they can also choose from:
  • Any other school within 1 mile of their house not already on the list above.
  • All three citywide elementary schools; and,
  • Any additional schools, close to home, that usually have available capacity.
All of a family’s walk-zone schools are included in the list. Sometimes, the walk zone schools meet all the Tier 1, 2, and 3 criteria. Other times, more schools that are outside the walk zone are added to ensure a mix of quality schools.
All elementary schools that stop at Grade 5 feed into a designated middle school. Students can automatically transition into that new school for Grade 6.
* For help understanding the BPS "Tiers", please see my earlier article "With 40 Low Performing Schools, Is There Really Quality Choice for Boston Families?"

PLEASE do not confuse the MADESE school "LEVEL" designation, which is based on MCAS data, as being the same as the BPS' "TIER" system as the BPS Tier system uses BPS choice popularity data and MCAS Student Growth Percentile (SGP) data. BPS has been told repeatedly by several reputable sources that SGP should NOT be used to assess schools or teachers as there is no way to know how much of the student's "growth" is based on school education and how much is actually attributable to outside influences (parents, tutoring, after-school programs, etc).

To find out what your school choices will be under the Home-Based A plan, please use this interactive mapping tool created by BPS. Simply type in your address and select "Home-Based A Model" on the left and hit enter, this will produce a list of the schools you will be allowed to choose from along with which BPS "Tier" the school is designated as, whether it is walk-zone or citywide and the grade span. 

Unfortunately, at this time the mapping tool does not list the middle schools which each K-5 elementary school will feed into, so you will need to check out the Middle School Feeder overlay map for that information (link provided at bottom of plan explanation). Hopefully, in the future, they will tweak the interactive tool to include the middle schools on one map if the model is approved by the Boston School Committee (BSC). And of course, if the child is in need of substantial special education or ELL services your choices may be dictated by those specific needs, so then you will need to check out the overlay map for ELL or SWD (or both) also. 

The EAC's choice of the Home-Based A plan over the other plans is because Home-Based A narrows the competitive field for seats at the schools in your "choice-set" which, in theory, means a higher chance of getting an assignment to a seat at one of the top tier schools listed in your choice set. However, as I pointed out in my previous article regarding whether there is really quality choice for Boston families, "equity access" or having a school in your "choice-set", does NOT equal assignment to a specific school. Many families may be surprised to learn that "Home-Based" does not mean you will get a seat at that great school right across (or down) the street, but could still end up with your child bused to a school over a mile away!

Under the new plan, the amount of schools available to your family will actually decrease for most families, with no guarantee that your child will receive placement at one of the top tier schools. For families where their "home-based schools" are almost all Tier 3 & 4, this is extremely concerning to advocates like myself. 

Assignment choice examples: 

If you live at 132 Seaver Street, Boston, 02121,(which is a multi-unit apartment building) under the Home-Based A proposal, you will have a total of eighteen schools in your choice-set: fifteen "home-based" and the three "citywide" elementary schools.  Of the fifteen home-based schools, eight are within the one-mile walk-zone and the other seven are listed as "Zone/Other" as they are anywhere from 1.05 - 1.53 miles away (which will surely mean busing of some sort). Under the current BPS assignment policies, city-wide and charter* schools do NOT have a walk-zone priority. 
  • Of the eight walk-zone schools, seven of the schools are designated as BPS Tier 4 (lowest 25% of schools) (according to MADESE designations two are "insufficient data"; three are Level 3; and, two are Level 4), with the single un-tiered school, which is an Early Education Center (EEC), listed as "Insufficient Data" according to the MADESE Accountability Data because EEC/ELCs grade span is usually K-0 through 1st grade, which means there is no MCAS data to use for assessment.
  • Of the seven Zone/Other schools, two of the schools are designated as BPS Tier 1 (according to MADESE they are both Level 2); four are BPS Tier 2 (according to MADESE one is Level 2, two are Level 3, and one is Level 4); and, the last one is BPS Tier 3 (according to MADESE this is Level 3). 
  • Of the three city-wide schools, all of which are un-tiered under the BPS Tier model, I reviewed the MADESE Accountability Data which lists the schools as follows: one is designated as a Level 2 and that school is "Not meeting gap narrowing goals", so it's MCAS Level may change within the next year to a Level 3; one of the schools is a charter school which only opened in September 2012, so there is no MCAS data or even "insufficient data" designation yet; and, the last school is a current MADESE Level 3 school which was on the brink of becoming Level 4 according to the 8 years of NCLB AYP data available, so it is being "transformed" into a charter school in an attempt to improve the school.
*Charter schools are city-wide based upon current Massachusetts Charter School Laws and transportation to all charter schools located within Boston must be paid for by BPS.

Choices for 132 Seaver Street, under the current three-zone BPS assignment model, include twenty-eight schools and at least thirty-one seats (as the integrated classroom choice is listed separately from the regular ed choice this gives you two opportunities to choose the same school). After a quick review, I can tell you that there are four Level 1 schools (none in walk-zone) and seven Level 2 schools (again, please do not confuse the BPS "Tier" designation with the MADESE "Level" designation)

Of course, under the current model, your competitive field is also much large, which is part of the issue we currently face, but at least you tend to have more quality choices under the current plan than the proposed plan, which I would think would give you a statistically higher chance of getting a seat at a higher level school. Also, as the current interactive mapping tool for the proposed new assignment plan does not give the same choices regarding the types of seats available, there is no way to compare how many seats are available under the new proposal without more information to do an in-depth comparison between the lists, though it will definitely be less than are available under the current three-zone model.

Another example: 

I live in Roslindale and based on my address I will have a total of 10 schools in my choice-set: seven "home-based" and three "city-wide". Of the seven "home-based" schools, six are within the one-mile walk-zone and the last one is "Zone/Other" as it is 1.00 mile away. 
  • Of the six walk-zone schools: three are designated as BPS Tier 1 (according to MADESE they are all Level 1), two are BPS Tier 2 (according to MADESE one has insufficient data and the other is Level 2), and one is a BPS Tier 3 (according to MADESE this is a Level 3).
  • The "Zone/Other" school is designated as a BPS Tier 4 (according to MADESE this is a Level 4)
  • My three city-wide schools are the same three as those for 132 Seaver Street, which I already listed the MADESE data for.
Another factor for me personally is that the school *I* selected as the best for my daughters (which was chosen prior to NCLB and they both graduated from) is no longer in my choice-set at all, though it is in my current walk-zone, so if I were to have another child (not happening lol), I would be unable to send that child to the school I spent ten years helping to improve and which I feel has the best elementary teachers for any type of child. For me, this would be an issue and though I love all of our Roslindale schools I would rank four of the schools in my choice-set as lower choices the same as I did for us under the current assignment plan as I don't think their school climate would work as well for my child. So, if I based my decision solely on whether a school was ranked as a Tier 1 or 2 school, we would only have a single school choice left for my child and who knows how many others will be competing for the same seat? 

My fear is that the proposed plan will create the exact issues above that are of concern to me for a lot of families. I also worry that the new plan may lead to further inequalities across the system because this assignment plan by itself, will not increase the quality of our schools. If the BSC votes to pass this plan, I urge them to also incorporate concrete recommendations for quality improvement at all of our schools by the EAC as well as those offered by community members, because without those caveats in place, I am not sure we will see the improvements needed! 

Along with the proposed plan and overlay maps, several recommendations are being made by the EAC regarding the new assignment process. I received a copy of the "Working DRAFT" Recommendation Memo from Rebecca Frisch, Sr. Policy Advisor to Mayor Menino, so please keep in mind that some of this information is still in the process of being updated (i.e.: *Walk-Zone info is from my notes from the EAC meeting on Saturday, February 20, 2013, so I am sure it will be more detailed in the memo!)

Some of the recommendations being made by the EAC are as follows:
  1. *Walk-Zone: Keeping the walk-zone priority and process as it is now: 50% of seats at each school currently are assigned to students within the "walk-zone". For elementary students this is a 1 mile radius, for middle school it is a 1.5 mile radius (more to come on this);

  2. Grandfathering: We recommend that all current students assigned to BPS schools as of September 2013 retain their school assignments (i.e., be “grand-fathered” into existing school) with transportation provided as needed.  Their families will have the option of choosing to enter the new student assignment lottery and request a new assignment, but they will retain their current assignment unless they accept a new one.  This “grandfathering” with transportation will continue through the 2019-2020 school year.

    In response to feedback from families, we also recommend that “grand-fathering” extend to younger siblings of BPS students and that the year 2019-2020 will be the final year in which younger brothers and sisters who have not yet entered the system will receive sibling priority to an out-of-zone school. Sibling priority will still apply for in-zone students.  Others in the system can remain, but may lose transportation after that time.; 

  3. Transparency and Data-driven Approach:  The district should continue to assemble, analyze and make public the large quantity of data requested by the EAC through the student assignment redesign process.  This availability of data will provide ongoing accountability and progress related to the recommendations in this memo.  More importantly, this data will provide accountability and transparency to the families, partners and many stakeholders concerned with ongoing improvements in our schools.;

  4. Comprehensive Quality Measure:  The district should speed the development of capacity to track and analyze a more comprehensive set of quality measures and that BPS school improvement and strategic plans more explicitly focus on improving overall school quality and not just performance.  We recommend that the district, by December 2014, develop and publish additional valid data-driven measures corresponding to additional indicators of quality articulated by the EAC (listed earlier in this document).  The EAC recognizes that all eight elements of its quality definition may not be perfectly measurable, but some additional number of them should be included in a more comprehensive quality measure.  This more robust quality metric should be inclusive of but not limited to academic performance.  Finally, the new metric once developed should be incorporated into the tiered ranking system used to organize and analyze the student assignment system.; and,

  5. Accountability and Oversight:  The district should prepare an annual report to the School Committee, City Council, and the community.  The report should be available to the public on or before October 1 each year.  The report should include data and analysis outlining the impact of the new student assignment system on all student populations (including students eligible for free/reduced meals, students with disabilities, and English Language Learners, and also by race/ethnicity and geography).  The report should measure changes in equitable access to quality seats for all students, as well as changes to school academic performance and overall quality. The School Committee will be responsible for reviewing and endorsing the plan in writing.  We further recommend that the School Committee consider appointing a Task Force (similar to the English Language Learners Task Force) to assist with monitoring and evaluating the district’s efforts to increase equitable access to a quality education for all students in Boston.
There are many more pieces to the proposal being made, which I will delve into in detail as soon as possible as there is a lot to understand. 

The next steps in this school assignment odyssey start Wednesday, February 27th, when the EAC Recommendations will be presented by the Superintendent to the BSC at the 6:00 p.m. School Committee meeting (26 Court Street, Boston). 

The BSC members will most likely ask many questions and we should expect some in-depth discussions regarding the proposal and recommendations. The BSC can decide to make changes to the proposal in whole or part, and if they decide to do so, some of those changes will come about due to feedback from the community. 

The BSC will most likely schedule meetings for public feedback on the proposal and recommendations very quickly as they will also need to establish a deadline for voting on the proposal and recommendations. In fact, there is already a rumor that BSC Chairman Michael O'Neill is going to propose an aggressive two-week timeline for the BSC to hold meetings and even schedule the vote on this assignment proposal at their March 13th BSC meeting, inclusive of suggesting changing the previously scheduled "Budget Hearing" dates to hearings on the school assignment proposal instead! We will find out at the February 27th meeting for sure, which I will be tweeting from!

The time is NOW folks, if you care at all about this issue, even if you think there are other issues that should actually take higher priority than changing the school assignment model, you need to speak up quickly! I urge all families and community members to get involved, because whether for or against the proposal, the BSC meetings (both regular meetings and community forums) will be your last chance to weigh-in on the BPS school assignment proposals and recommendations prior to anything becoming a "done deal". 

You can follow me on Twitter @bpsnightmare for important updates and information!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

0 Without Quality, Is there Really Choice for Boston Families?

At the most recent community meetings regarding the school assignment proposals Boston Public Schools (BPS) presented to the External Advisory Committee on School Assignment (EAC), the most common question or comment from the public is still regarding the lack of quality schools in Boston. Though long, it is informative to watch the video from the February 4, 2013 Community Forum.

From the beginning of this process on March 10, 2012, the consistent feedback from the public has revolved around the lack of quality schools in BPS, not whether a school is close to home, which was the original focus of the new assignment proposals by BPS. Of course, schools close to home are also popular, but since many families do not have a high-performing school, or in some cases any schools at all, close to home the public has continued to focus on the lack of "quality" schools in Boston. Because of the push-back by individuals and groups, BPS and the EAC turned their focus to "equity access to quality seats." 

Equity access does not mean equity assignment which is a distinction that needs to be made. Just because a new model may bump your chances up by 2.9 - 6.0% does not mean your child will actually get assigned a seat at that quality school, only that you have a statistically better chance of it happening, in theory. Unfortunately, equity access to seats in quality schools will not fix the underlying issue which is that there are few quality schools overall, therefor the number of seats available stay the same whether we re-draw or eliminate the lines on our maps. 

In addition to the lack of seats available, is the issue that we also lack the ability to add seats at many of our schools, high-performing or not. This became more evident to me at the community forum held at the Trotter school when one woman said that no matter which proposal the EAC picked, students in Dorchester and Roxbury would continue to be bused out of their "home district" due to the lack of capacity to add seats at any of the schools. 

BPS is proposing to expand capacity at schools, but having gone through the exploration process at the Mozart without success I am well aware of how much red-tape is involved along with what could potentially be lost to accommodate such additions: children placed into "modular classrooms" (trailers) and playgrounds eliminated just as an example. And after a year of exploring the options to merge the Mozart and Bates or add seats at either of them we found out it could not be done primarily due to push-back from neighbors, so I tend to be skeptical that BPS would have better success in the more highly-populated areas of the city.

In a district which has 79 elementary, K-8 and middle schools, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Accountability data our BPS elementary and K-8 schools fall into the following designations:

13 schools have "insufficient data"*

9 schools are "Level 1"
17 schools are "Level 2"
32 schools are "Level 3"
8 schools are "Level 4"

Boston Public Schools District overall is designated as "Level 4" and determined as "Needs Intervention" for special education technical assistance or intervention. 

Understanding DESE designations is important to understanding how BPS is now classifying schools into a "Tier" system under their new proposals. Below is the explanation of what each level represents:

Accountability and Assistance Level: Massachusetts' Framework for District Accountability and Assistance classifies schools and districts on a five-level scale, classifying the highest performing in Level 1 and lowest performing in Level 5. Eighty percent of schools are classified into Level 1 or 2 based on the cumulative PPI for the "all students" and high needs groups. 
For a school to be classified into Level 1, the cumulative PPI for both the "all students" group and high needs students must be 75 or higher. If not, the school is classified into Level 2. A school may also be classified into Level 2 if it has low MCAS participation rates for any group (between 90 and 94%).
Schools are classified into Level 3 if they are among the lowest 20 percent relative to other schools in their grade span statewide, if one or more subgroups in the school are among the lowest performing 20% of subgroups relative to all subgroups statewide, if they have persistently low graduation rates (less than 60% for any subgroup over a four-year period), or if they have very low MCAS participation rates for any group (less than 90%). 
The lowest achieving, least improving Level 3 schools are candidates for classification into Levels 4 and 5, the most serious designations in Massachusetts' accountability system. 
*A small number of schools each year will not be classified into a level: small schools, schools ending in grades 1 or 2, new schools, or schools that were substantially reconfigured.
In general, a district is classified into the level of its lowest performing school, unless the district was independently classified into Level 4 or 5 as a result of action by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
For more information regarding the data used by the DESE to classify schools and districts, please read the DESE Accountability Report.

According to the DESE data above and explanation of the levels, this means that of the 79 elementary, K-8 and middle schools over 50% (50.632911% or 40 schools) are in "the lowest 20 percent relative to other schools in their grade span statewide" or are "the lowest achieving, least improving Level 3 schools". BPS has 57,000 students, of which there are 6,366 students in Level 4 schools (11.2%) and 23,763 students in Level 3 schools (41.8%) for a total of 30,129 BPS students in the lowest performing schools (53%). 

For the purpose of the new BPS assignment proposals, a colorful rating system  (green being best and red being worst) has been added on the maps which indicates three "quality indicators":

MCAS Tier Level

DESE MCAS Level (Spring 2012 data)
Popularity (Choice data)

According to this new BPS Tier system, the following is a list of the schools and which Tier they fall into. This table does NOT include the middle schools, even those designated as part of a "feeder" pattern already (i.e. Irving or McCormack).

Please keep in mind that all of the BPS data used to predict school choice patterns and the quality levels of schools for their proposals is based only on school years' 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 MCAS results and information regarding new students (no siblings) during Round 1 Kindergarten registration data. This means there is no current analysis which takes into account how the information would change when impacted by choices made for children over the age of 5, new students who have sibling preference, families who do not take part during round 1, transfers, students who are English Language Learners (ELL) or students with disabilities (SWD) whose school choice is designated primarily via their Individual Education Plan (IEP) pursuant to special education laws or other pertinent data I have not outlined here. 

I am providing all of the above in an attempt to help create a better understanding of how BPS currently designates schools as "quality" schools and is predicting choice patterns for incoming students. 

Myself included, many families do not choose a school based on the MCAS designation or because other people choose a school; we pick a school based on what our individual child needs and how the schools in our choice set match up with what we quantify as being important for our family and child. One of my daughters' is in a Level 3 school because despite it's designation as such, I know from 3.5 years experience that the school is actually a quality school which is only now starting to show the progress that can be made with a dynamic principal and dedicated staff. Of course, since each family chooses schools based on individual need and assessment, this means there is no concrete manner to evaluate exactly how families will choose a school, but I give credit to BPS and the MIT partners who have used what they  have available to make generalized predictions for this process.

Many people made similar observations as I do above at the community meetings held March - June, 2012 so the EAC came up with a definition of a quality school:

Acknowledging that quality varies for each individual, the EAC Defining Quality and Equitable Access Subcommittee – with its members’ expertise, community feedback, and BPS research on quality – has drafted the following preliminary definition of a quality school to include: 
•Academic excellence and student academic growth in all grades, across all subgroups of race, ethnicity, English Language Learners and students with disabilities; 
•Principal effectiveness and teacher excellence with caring teachers and school staff;
•Parent engagement and a sense of community within and outside of the school;
•Effective community partnerships; 
•Focus on the development of the whole child and the needs of all learners, through arts, music, athletics, and program and course offerings;
•Safe and positive school climate including social and emotional support; 
•Adequate and appropriate facilities; and,
•As close to home as possible.

BPS acknowledged that not all of the components listed above can be measured by current data and that they will work toward creating a way to measure quality using the above definition. As all of the above are in line with my recent article regarding school climate and I have submitted my proposal for increasing the number of quality schools in Boston to Dr. Johnson, my hope is they incorporate some of my suggestions.

Unfortunately, whether the EAC picks one of the Home-based models or the modified 10 zone aka the new "11 zone" assignment model, we still have a serious problem in BPS regarding the lack of quality schools within the district. As it is unlikely that any of the 40 schools that fall into the lowest performing levels is miraculously going to become a level 1 or 2 in time for the registration process to begin in January 2014, the choices families may have under the new proposals could be even more limited and lead to further inequities across the city. 

I understand and agree that we need a new assignment model for a number of reasons, but as an advocate for students and public education I want to be sure that we are not only simplifying the process for families, but are also ensuring that every child receives a superior educational experience no matter which school in Boston they may attend. I truly believe that Boston can provide every student with an exceptional education in all our schools if they are given the funding and resources necessary to improve, not measured by MCAS testing alone.

Before a school assignment proposal is chosen, I urge you as current and potential families and community members, to get involved now. Attend an EAC meeting (listed on right side of site) if possible. We should all be calling and writing/emailing the EAC members, BPS Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson, the Boston School Committee (BSC) members, Mayor Menino and our elected officials to insist that detailed, concrete plans to increase the quality at each of our schools be produced by BPS prior to the Boston School Committee voting to pass any proposal recommended by the EAC and Dr. Johnson. A complete list of email addresses for the people listed above is available here.

The only way to provide true equity for all students is to ensure that all of our schools are high-performing, quality schools. Unless we have detailed plans to improve quality for every school and the guarantee of funding (in writing by BPS and Boston city officials) to put those plans in motion as well as benchmarks to assess their effectiveness for each school, our students are at risk of simply being guinea pigs for a new assignment model. 

If you would like to contact me with questions/comments or send me a copy of your emails to any of those I listed above, please email me at

0 Email Addresses for EAC, BSC, BPS & City Officials

If you are planning on emailing Boston, BPS or EAC members, below is a list of email addresses to make it easier. 

Special thanks to Bob Goodman for the complete list!





As always, please feel free to copy me on any emails sent to the above members at!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

0 Speak Now Or Accept What Boston Public Schools & the External Advisory Committee Give You: Community Forums Monday & Tuesday!

The attached flier was sent out by Boston Public Schools along with the following invitation on January 31st:
The External Advisory Committee on School Choice (EAC) invites you to a community meeting Monday, February 4 at 6pm at Orchard Gardens K-8 School, 906 Albany St., Roxbury, or Tuesday, February 5 at 6pm at Suffolk University, 73 Tremont St., 9th Floor. BPS will present the latest options and the EAC will invite public comment.
Please help us spread the word about these meetings with flyers in Cape Verdean CreoleChineseEnglishHaitian CreolePortugueseSomaliSpanish and Vietnamese. To learn more and to get involved, please visit
  • We have posted a neighborhood-by-neighborhood analysis of the three proposals now under consideration, which you can read here. To read the full report from the MIT School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative, click here.
  • The BPS graduation rate has increased to the highest level ever! You can read the full report and view school-by-school data here.
For more information on the proposals, please check out this presentation from the January 23rd EAC meeting.

If you have not seen it yet, BPS now has an interactive mapping tool to predict your school options under each of the three proposals, the 10-zone, Home-Based A and B along with the Students with Disabilities (SWD) and English Language Learners (ELL) overlay maps:

Please take a moment, type in your address and find out which schools will be available to you under each option, what "Tier" they are and where they are located! Also, please check out the middle school feeder overlay map to see which middle school your predicted elementary schools will feed into if they are not traditional K-8 models! Even if you do not have a Student With Disabilities (SWD) or an English Language Learner student, please check out those overlay options also via the interactive tool above.

As there will most likely be time-limits imposed for feedback by each person who speaks, here are some tips to prepare for the community meetings:
  • Read the materials produced by BPS and other partners;
  • Check out what non-BPS/EAC parties who have followed this process closely have shared regarding their thoughts, questions, analysis and important info to help you think about each of the proposals and their impact:
"Big changes ahead in the student-assignment process? Here is a list of parent-recommended sources to illuminate the issues of, and context for, the conversation. Please "Like", join, or follow them all!"

Thanks to the Advocates for Mission Hill School for compiling the list! AMHS can be found on Twitter @AdvocatesForMHS and Facebook Please follow them! 
  • Write down all of your thoughts, questions, concerns, suggestions and what you want to share about the proposals and bring it with you (if possible, multiple copies to share with EAC, BPS and other groups who may request a copy);
  • Bring along a small notebook to jot down more thoughts, concerns, questions, and suggestions as you listen to what is presented; 
  • If you believe that the EAC and BPS should hold more community forums prior to the EAC voting to recommend one of the proposals to BPS, make sure to say that too;
  • Share all of the info above with everyone you know and ask that they also attend one of the community meetings!
QUEST (Quality for Every Student), a group of BPS parents who have come together to fight for quality and equity in the Boston Public School system, has also produced a flier, see attached, for the Monday, February 4, 2013 EAC community meeting (created prior to the Tuesday meeting being scheduled) which includes some suggested questions - but even if you do not ASK these questions, please keep them in mind while hearing the proposals and other info you will be presented with!
The above community forums are extremely important for anyone who is or may in the future send their child to a BPS school as whatever new assignment plan is finally adopted will most likely be with us for at least a couple of decades.

It is disappointing that only two community forums are scheduled and that they will be on a Monday and Tuesday night, as historically it is difficult for many families to attend meetings at the beginning of the week. During the public comment period of the January 23rd EAC meeting, I encouraged the EAC to schedule more community forums and requested that one be held on a Saturday so more of the community could attend. After all, if we can have a huge "kick-off" to this process as we did on March 10, 2012 on a Saturday for several hours, why not do the same now, when it is even more vitally important to gather feedback from the public? I appreciate that the EAC heard my plea as the Tuesday community forum was added after the meeting ended. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that any further community forums are likely to occur unless more community members also request more meetings.

Please, find a way to attend one of these community meetings because this may be your last opportunity to be heard prior to the EAC voting! At the EAC meeting on Thursday, January 31st the EAC discussed various topics, including future meeting dates which led to two additional full EAC meetings being scheduled on Tuesday, February 5th (following the community forum) and Thursday, February 7th at Suffolk University, with a tentative plan for the EAC to vote on which of the proposals to recommend to BPS, if any*, on Saturday, February 9th (time & place still TBA). *There is a chance that after all of the hard work by the EAC, BPS, community members,city officials and community partners the EAC could end up without the needed votes to recommend any of the proposals to BPS!  

At the same meeting, myself and other advocates were pleased that several of the EAC members  stated that the suggested time-line above does not allow enough time for the public to understand the proposals and give feedback (especially since even after the presentations by BPS that evening, many of the EAC members still do not fully comprehend the proposals either).

Two of the EAC members asked about the possibility of broadcasting Monday's community forum live on Boston City Television through the Mayor's Office of Cable CommunicationsRebecca Frisch, the Mayor's liaison to the EAC, stated that she would look into the possibility. If they are able to arrange for this broadcast, you should be able to view the meetings live on Comcast Channel 24 and RCN Channel 13. Hopefully they will also arrange for the community to watch via a livestream of the meeting by clicking here. Though I hope Ron Gittens' and Carolyn Kain's suggestion is put in place, broadcasting via both of the above methods does not allow for transparent community feedback from the viewing audience. 

A suggestion for those who are unable to attend the meetings, please consider sharing your questions, comments, and suggestions not only through emails to (feel free to copy me on those emails at if you are willing), but also through:

BPS' Twitter accounts:
Use hashtags: #bostonchoice #BPS #EAC

I hope to see many of you at one of the community forums Monday and Tuesday! 


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