Globe: Student Assignments Convoluted and Unwieldy
The Globe on Monday had an interesting piece about the intricacies of the student assignment plan, the waiting lists, and so on:
“Angela Mayes thought she was ahead of the game. Months before moving from North Carolina, she preregistered her son online for the Boston public schools, choosing the school closest to the South End apartment where they’d be living.
“But early in September, she received a swift and unsettling education in the school district’s Byzantine school assignment process. He wasn’t yet registered – he couldn’t be until she brought in proof of her new address – and he was never guaranteed a spot in the neighborhood school, anyway.
“Two days before school started, she found her son on a wait list to get into a public elementary school, a completely foreign concept she struggled to accept. And no one could assure her where he’d be assigned – or when.
” ‘Oh, my God,’ Mayes said. ‘I’m freaking out.’
“Long after they should have been settled in school, Boston public school students are still engaged in a prolonged game of musical chairs.
” We looked at each other and said, we can’t do this anymore.’
“School opened with almost 10,000 students – nearly 18 percent of the student body – still on waiting lists, trying to get into different schools than they were assigned. Some, like Mayes’s son, were held up because they came late to the process. Others applied on time but were disappointed by their assignments and hoping for better placements.
“Most would never get called. Those who did might wait days or weeks for an opening. Some might not be notified of vacancies until November, forcing families to make agonizing decisions about pulling children out of classrooms they have grown used to…”
The point here is not to go over the ins and outs of the student assignment process. That’s far too complicated for this space. The point is, however, to urge the Department to take immediate steps to fix what’s wrong. When students arrive to a school after the start of the school year, it’s disruptive, and sets back the continuity of classroom instruction. New students have to be tested, appropriately placed, acclimated, and so on. All of this takes away instructional time from the rest of the class.
What’s more, the Department should take a closer look at bus schedules. Tardy bus drop offs have always been a bit problematic. But this year, from reports we have received from around the city, late bus drop offs in the AM have reached a new height–and a new sense of urgency is needed to address that. Delayed pick ups at the end of the day are, too, a problem, but not as troublesome as late drop offs. The BTU has reached out to the bus drivers union in an attempt to get a handle on this problem. Making matters worse, late drop offs lead to shortened instructional time at the the start of the day, arguably the best time for teaching and learning.
Long story short…
Globe Editorial Endorses More Physical Education/Movement
Also in yesterday’s Globe was an editorial we can agree with, entitled “Classes come first, but schools must add more physical activity.” The editorial essentially says keeping students active will not only help in the fight against obesity but will also help students better focus on academics. In negotiations with the BPS on Turnaround Schools, the BTU proposed that “all students in these schools shall receive not less than three physical education/movement periods per week.” The BPS rejected our proposal.
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