Letter to the Editor: Parent troubled by assignment maps

To the Editor:

The new school assignment proposals by BPS dodge the most pressing issue for parents: not proximity but quality. Quality will not follow the chopping up of maps. It’ll result only from diligent, equitable investment in schools, a responsible allocation of funds favoring student and educator needs rather than those of outside interests.

Without investment in all schools — focused on true support of students and teachers, rather than closure threats and standardization projects — the new proposals will afford quality school access only to some, in defined locations. Real estate values will immediately reflect this shift and radical economic segregation will follow.

Deeply troubling also, BPS has left the grandfathering question unanswered, in effect legitimizing a scenario in which every school community across the city is torn apart. It is shameful to treat this question as secondary. Based on current busing numbers, more than 30,000 children will be uprooted from their school communities if they are not grandfathered into their existing schools. Imagine 30,000 young lives upended all at once, across the city. Surely BPS, with its declared Focus on Children, cannot expect to leave the issue of these children on the margins of their proposal and still earn a passing score.

The question of grandfathering should have been addressed immediately and the very basic promise must be made, now, that no current students will be uprooted from their school community. Considering that so many of these students have already endured destabilization due to a spate of closure, relocation, and “restructuring” campaigns, the city is obligated to inflict no more harm on our children’s educational careers.

Despite pressure by school and city officials to push a plan through by November, the only sane and intelligent plan for Boston schools requires a long-term transformation of all schools, on a case-by-case basis addressing localized challenges. Disturbingly, the groundwork for sweeping and shortsighted changes is already being laid out. The BPS axe is hanging over 20-odd schools, and the push to lift the cap on charters continues. But the quality deficiency will not be addressed by crowding the system with new charter schools, while divesting it of more and more traditional public schools with deep local roots. .

Boston’s children deserve a smarter, more compassionate plan to support their future, and to ensure a thriving, economically integrated city whose school system does not send families packing for the suburbs. And we need a plan that draws in, rather then repels, entire communities of professional parents who relocate to our area only to settle in nearby school districts, where investment and stability are the rule, rather than forsaken values.

 Naama Goldstein, Allston