Navigating the Boston Public Schools System
IN THE END, THE BIGGEST PROBLEM with the whole city-versus-suburbs debate is that you can’t always predict where your child will flourish. Maybe your kid really will excel in one of those idyllic suburbs. But it happens to be true that not every child does. Of course, it’s also true that the lottery system in Boston and Cambridge takes the already overwhelming process of handing your kid off to the public school system and heaps on extra servings of stress and anxiety. “I don’t think there’s any way around that,” says Denise Snyder, senior director of enrollment and welcome services for BPS. “The reality is that [understanding Boston’s enrollment system] requires homework. Yes, you’re going to have to do the lottery, and you may not get your first choice. But if you are willing to put down five or more schools, about 90 percent of parents will get one of their top five.” Snyder raises another good point: Let’s say you go ahead and move out of town. What happens if your child doesn’t thrive at his or her neighborhood school? Where are you going to go then?
It’s something Stefan Lanfer thinks about as he looks to next year’s lottery. For now, there’s no talk of the suburbs, and he’s trusting in the power of being an involved parent. “So many parents are so focused on trying to get [their kids] into a great school. Not to diminish the importance of a quality school, but most of these kids are going to be fine. Kids with parents who are this committed, they’re going to be fine. They’re resilient.”