Q: I like my child’s current school. Under the Quality Choice Plan, can I keep her in her current school or do I need to go through the assignment process all over again?
A: Under the Quality Choice Plan, all students and their siblings are “grandfathered” into their current schools, so no parent will be forced to send their children to a new school.
Q: Will my child be guaranteed a kindergarten seat close-to-home under the Quality Choice Plan?
A: Yes, the Quality Choice Plan is the only assignment plan currently on the table that guarantees every child a K-2 seat close-to-home. Every student will be guaranteed a seat at one of the four closest schools to his/her home, and given an equal opportunity to attend one of sixteen citywide schools.
Q: I don’t think the schools close to my home will offer my children a good education. How does the Quality Choice Plan help me send my children to a high quality school?
A: First, it’s important to understand that the current assignment zones do not give every child equal access to a quality education. Instead, the lottery puts our children in a win/lose situation. The Quality Choice Plan is the only assignment plan to address quality head-on.
The Quality Choice Plan helps parents send their children to higher quality schools in multiple ways. Above all else, the Quality Choice Plan is a quality schools plan – it grants each high-need school (i) Innovation Status, Pilot Status or In-District Charter Status, (ii) fully-staffed student support services, (iii) guaranteed after-school programming, and (iv) academic coaches for literacy and math support. The Quality Choice Plan also requires mandatory teacher and principal evaluation in every school.
Second, the Quality Choice Plan gives every parent the right to enter a lottery for seats in a network of 16 city-wide schools, which will offer innovative programming like dual-language instruction, STEM, Arts, or Montessori.
Finally, the Quality Choice Plan establishes a quality baseline aimed at elevating quality at every BPS school.
Q: What does the Quality Choice Plan do to help under-performing schools?
A: The Quality Choice Plan directs all transportation costs savings to high-need schools and it also calls for a re-allocation of the BPS funding formula to send more money to those schools. Additionally, the Quality Choice Plan grants each high-need school (i) Innovation Status, Pilot Status or In-District Charter Status, (ii) fully-staffed student support services, (iii) guaranteed after-school programming, and (iv) academic coaches for literacy and math support.
Q: By allowing more parents to send their children to schools close to home, won’t this plan decrease diversity in our schools?
A: Here’s a snapshot of BPS today:
• 87% students of color;
• 78% students living in poverty; and
• 30% of students are designated as Limited English Proficient.
Sadly, the one demographic truth about BPS is that most students face the challenges of living in poverty. BPS is a system that has hemorrhaged middle class families of all walks of life from its enrollment due to the unpredictability of the current assignment lottery and quality disparities that cause families to opt for METCO, charters, parochial schools, and For Sale signs.
The Quality Choice Plan is the only plan focused on a strategy for enrollment growth that will increase diversity in BPS because it is the only plan that offers close-to-home options while directly addressing quality by establishing a quality baseline and quality supports for schools who serve large numbers of students living in poverty.
Q: Can you really guarantee seats at schools close to home? What if there are more children than seats available?
A: First, we should be so lucky – giving more parents access to good schools should be the goal of every school district. Increasing enrollment, which brings more funding to BPS, should be welcomed. If demand exceeds supply, seats must still be guaranteed under the close-to-home option. BPS must provide the guaranteed seats via temporary modular classrooms in the short-term and use enrollment projection data to develop a facilities plan to build or acquire new schools as necessary in the long term.
Finally, it is important to realize that, outside of Boston, most school districts don’t turn parents away when too many students enroll in a good school – they find a way to make it work. We can’t keep saying “no” to parents who want to raise a family in Boston and send their children to a good public school.
Q: How will the Quality Choice Plan help English Language Learners?
A: The Quality Choice Plan commits to having nine new dual-language schools by September 2014, and has identified five citywide schools that would be a good fit for this model. This is the number recommended by the BPS ELL Task Force in 2011. In addition, fifty percent of seats at all citywide, dual-language schools will be reserved for ELL students.
Q: How will the Quality Choice Plan help students with disabilities?
A: The Quality Choice Plan commits to having eight new fully inclusive schools by September 2014. The Quality Choice Plan requires BPS to implement the recommendations of the BPS Inclusive Schools Network partners.
Q: How will the City pay for the Quality Choice Plan?
A: The current BPS annual budget exceeds $1 billion for approximately 56,000 students, and there are opportunities for significant costs savings just through better budgeting. However, the Quality Choice Plan also projects to save the City millions of dollars through reduced transportation costs, re-weighting the current student funding formula, and bringing in additional state funds through increased student enrollment.
Q: How does parent compacting work and why is it in the plan?
A. Parent Compacting allows 2-11 families to choose a designated “under-selected” school anywhere in the city and apply to that school as one group. This will allow families who have established relationships via their neighborhood, pre-school, daycare, or faith community to bring new energy to schools that are struggling, and maintain those connections, even if they don’t live in the same neighborhood.
Q: I want my child to go to school close to home, but I live downtown where there is no elementary school. How does the Quality Choice Plan help me?
A: The Quality Choice Plan calls for BPS to commit to opening an elementary school in downtown Boston in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, or the West End.
Q: My daughter had to enter the lottery in K-1, re-apply to another school for advanced work in fourth grade, then re-apply again in sixth grade because our new school was only a K-5. She’s planning to apply to an exam school for seventh grade. Can’t we make this simpler?
A. Yes, we absolutely can, and the Quality Choice Plan makes addressing this issue a priority. Under the Quality Choice Plan, every child is guaranteed either a K-8 School or a K-8 pathway, and every BPS school will be required to offer an advanced curriculum option.