Since our last update, we've hosted two community meetings and covered a range of topics, interests and concerns around the Mayor's unified enrollment proposal, with much remaining on the table for discussion.
We first gathered at Grove Hall, where we saw many familiar faces and heard from parents who were deeply concerned about equity and access to quality schools. The room grew tense, but we were grateful to hear from everyone who took the time to attend and who shared common concerns about the future of Boston's education system and all our children.
This past Thursday, nearly 75 families and community members joined us at the First Church of Jamaica Plain. Attendees asked great questions about the direction of the proposal, its potential impacts and the impetus of unified enrollment. We did our best to address each question, but we urge anyone who may feel uncomfortable speaking in a large group or who has remaining questions to please write us with your questions or fill out our online survey to provide input.
From the community meetings and our survey we've already learned a lot, including that parents want access to apples-to-apples information on academic achievement, special populations served and specific services on-site, suspension and attrition rates, demographics, and details like recess times for all of their school options. We have heard that parents would like to see charter schools become additive to their current BPS lists. We also have heard that an equity analysis of the current home-based assignment system needs to be completed as soon as possible. We are recognizing themes in both the survey and the oral feedback.
We encourage everyone, and especially those who have not yet had a chance to attend one of our citywide community meetings, to join us tomorrow, Tuesday in Allston at the West End House Boys & Girls Club at 5:30 p.m. to continue the conversation. This is an ongoing dialogue that certainly will continue well after our final citywide community meeting, but we remain eager to hear more voices.
In the meantime, we'll continue to answer questions as they are submitted. Here's one question we've heard that we'd like to address:
Q. Would unified enrollment limit a family's chance of securing a charter school seat?
A. Because charter schools would go from enrolling citywide to home-based in a unified enrollment system, families actually would have a better chance of getting into those charter schools closest to their homes. Families also may have a slightly better chance of getting into their preferred BPS schools, as all public school seats would be coordinated in one place.
Currently, only a small percentage of families with the knowledge, time and patience to navigate multiple enrollment systems applies to multiple charter schools (and often BPS and Catholic schools as well) across the city. For those families, it is possible that their chances of securing a charter school seat would go down. However, even for them, their chances of getting into the charter schools closest to their homes would go up.
In short, a unified enrollment system would make today's inherently inequitable enrollment processes both simpler and more fair for all families.
As always thank you for your dedication to the education of Boston's children.
All the best,