BPS Student Assignment (in a nutshell)
So, as you probably already know, the Boston Public Schools is soon to revisit the issue of student assignment and is likely to propose a new student assignment plan sometime in the Spring. Naturally, we suspect it might be a good time to reflect on the topic ourselves. TAG Boston folks are likely to “weigh in” on student assignment in the coming months, so we want you to be informed!! Below you’ll find a rough summary of student assignment issues, in “timeline” format:
Information about BPS’s initial public engagement process, as well as detailed information about the student assignment plan proposed in 2009 (known as the “Five Zone Plan”) can be found here.
2/27/2009 – The Boston Globe editorial staff weighs in on the student assignment issue, arguing that Boston is “Beyond the busing era.”
5/29/2009 – Three local civil rights organizations submit their recommendations about the proposed student assignment plan.
6/3/2009 – Superintendent Johnson proposes that the five zone proposal be tabled, pending further exploration of the concerns raised. Her memo to the school committee can be found here. Related Boston Globe stories include Boston superintendent requests delay in changing school assignment zones (6/3) Vote on school assigning delayed (6/4) and Boston shelves 5-zone proposal (8/29).
8/2009 – Boston applies for a federal grant for technical assistance in redesigning its student assignment policy. The money is to be spent to “prepare, adopt, or modify, and implement student assignment plans that successfully avoid racial isolation and/or resegregation and lawfully facilitate racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity.” More info here.
11/01/2009 – Boston’s student assignment story draws national attention.
12/2009 – Boston is one of eleven districts to win federal funding for student assignment.
9/2010 – Diversitydata.org releases two reports – one about segregation rates and another on equity/student assignment in Boston. The first report attracts significant attention in the news, including a front-page story Area school segregation called rife (9/20) and a Globe editorial Reforms, not desegregation, will bring school advances (9/26). Opinion articles explored various aspects of the issue, including one by Derrick J. Jackson arguing that as a society, we have become “arrogantly comfortable with a system hurtling backward toward a modern apartheid” and that “[c]hildren of color continue to be exposed to disproportionate disadvantages that make the gap almost impossible to close.” Letters to the editor expressed concerns about how “racial disparit[ies] in schools [feed] the racial disparity in our juvenile justice system” and reminded readers that “Ed reform [and] integration [are] not an either-or proposition.” Diversitydata.org’s second report, while not attracting as much media attention, offers concrete recommendations about how to advance equity through student assignment. The report notes that, “[a]s the Boston Public School District strives to improve student achievement and provide access to a high‐quality education for every student, it should carefully consider the trade‐offs between reducing transportation costs and exacerbating inequality by concentrating certain students in high‐poverty schools.”