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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