Boston School Assignment Reform Attracts Some Opportunists

A simple mailer shows what the city has been up against all along.

The Boston School Assignment saga has reached a resolution: the ‘Home-Based Plan’ will be implemented with the 2014-15 school year. The External Advisory Board deserves credit for relentlessly meeting and tweaking the plans. A tremendous amount of credit should also be given to Peng Shi, Parag Pathak, and MIT’s School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative for their work on developing a plan, refining it, and stress-testing alternatives. It’s hard to imagine this process coming to a resolution without their contribution.

Revising the School Assignment process was not ever going to result in making everyone happy, but I think the resolution is about as good as could be hoped for. I’m hopeful that it starts a new, invigorated conversation on issues like quality and how we measure them.

As a backdrop for the final stages of the decision-making process, parents were selecting schools in the lottery. Round 1 assignments went out last week and early this week. For lottery participants, this is a time of great anxiety and, for some, great disappointment. Those circumstances, apparently, have attracted some opportunists. Coinciding with the timing of lottery results, I found the following mailer from a Westwood real estate agent in my mailbox:

westwood realtor card

The front of the postcard has a photo of a big house and says “Location, Location, Location, Education, Education, Education.”

One of the (several) goals of the campaign to improve the schools and assignment process has been to retain families in the city.  A mailer like this, hitting mailboxes at a time when some parents are going to be most susceptible, shows what the City of Boston has been up against all along.

  • Ian

    You may not like the opportunism, but the sentiment of this mailer is exactly correct. If you have the choice of weather to live in Boston or not why would you stick around if the lotto does not work out for you when you can move not all that far away and be guaranteed access to a good school right near your house. This is a fallacy with all the thinking that you can improve the lotto to make things more fair.

    You can’t make people stay in Boston if you make it unpleasant and impractical for them to do so. You can assign people with the means to move to under-performing schools far from home, but you can’t make them go there. If you have any belief that not driving families out of the city would improve BPS then you also must believe that the lotto version 2.0 is going to be a failure. That is why this whole lotto revamp process was such a disappointment.