Navigating the Boston Public Schools System


“On the surface, we’d be the last two people sending our kid to private school,” says Amy Branger. “It’s all these things you think you’re not going to do — you’re not going to become that parent. And then all of a sudden you are.”

Amy is a longtime Democratic politico, now a manager with the state’s Department of Transportation. Her husband, Andrew Klein, is an engineer and a former Boston Latin teacher. They live in a small condo in Charlestown. But when it came time for the couple to choose a pre-K for their daughter, Georgia, they picked the Advent School on Beacon Hill.

A big reason was Boston’s roughly 2,400 prekindergarten, or K1, slots, for which demand consistently outstrips supply. Rather than roll the dice on the lottery, Amy and Andrew decided to do preschool at the Advent. By the next year, “we’d just drunk the Kool-Aid,” Amy says. “Georgia’s class has 15 kids in it, with two full-time teachers. Her school has a full-time art teacher, a full-time music teacher, a full-time Spanish teacher, a science and math specialist. You just don’t get that elsewhere.”

All those resources come at a steep price, though: about $20,000 per year. Georgia’s monthly tuition is as much as the family’s mortgage payment. “She may have to pay for her own college,” Amy says. “But the thing is, you can’t pay for your own kindergarten. And these are the years that determine whether you like school.” Plus, the couple’s daughter is artsy and quirky — the sort of kid who sings and dances and does community theater. “We didn’t think she’d be happy in a building that wasn’t going to have that stuff in it.”

Another tradeoff has been deciding to have just one child. “It’s not the entire reason we stopped at one — we also love to travel,” says Amy. “But it’s definitely a factor. We’d need a bigger house if we had another kid, and we’d never be able to do private school for both.”

The Advent goes through only sixth grade, and Amy and Andrew are eyeing the Latin school or the Boston Arts Academy for high school. “She’s only in second grade, so who knows,” Amy says. “At this point we’re totally committed to the Advent until sixth grade. We’re here.”

  • Julie

    Thanks for this article. I just wanted to clarify a couple of points. Massachusetts parents have the right to educate their children outside of the school system. Cities and towns do not “allow” us to do so. Although this family consults the state curriculum guidelines, parents are not required to follow any curriculum. Another good resource for current or potential home educators is Advocates for Home Education in
    Massachusatts (AHEM).

  • justin

    When all of your children are 5 and under, you are not homeschooling, you are being a parent.

  • Kerry

    I think the point of the article was to demonstrate the options city parents have as their kids reach kindergarten age. That is, stay in the city or leave, and if they want to stay how they can make it work.

  • Dima Bilan

    I’m so frustrated at this stupid system I’m (we)
    are ready to move out of the state, maybe out of the USA. There is nothing fun about the way we live, racing from one activity to another, put on wait lists and then filling out a
    folder of forms and dishing out loads of money when my job is always in jeopardy.
    You can have it.