As parents, students and teachers confront the very real possibility that their elementary schools may change start times next fall by as much as two hours, forcing many more children as young as 4 years old to start school as early as 7:15 a.m., BPS has tried to justify the changes using equity and costs savings as excuses.
The parents and students working with the Boston Education Justice Alliance suggest BPS start with a different value to guide this discussion: respect for Boston’s students and families. We are appalled at the lack of transparency in this process, in which BPS officials resorted to an MIT algorithm to sort out changes that will have very real impacts on Boston families. For some parents, this would be an inconvenience. For others, this would be a severe hardship.
Superintendent Tommy Chang is correct in pointing out that a majority of parents supported later start times for high school students during meetings held earlier this year. But parents were not asked whether they would support earlier start times for elementary school students. The majority of parents favored start times after 8 a.m.
None of the parents who participated in the BPS meetings knew this process would result in an overall increase in the number of BPS schools starting at 7:30 or earlier. The rush from the Dec. 6 School Committee vote to change start times to the Dec. 7 announcement that nearly half all elementary students would be in schools with early start times demonstrates that BPS had no intention of listening to the concerns of parents, students or teachers. None of these stakeholders, whose lives are directly impacted by the changes, were ever given the opportunity to weigh in on what data went into the soul-less algorithm that has produced this calamity.