HGSE Researchers: BPS Plans Will Increase InequityBy newseditor
According to researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Boston Public Schools’ proposed student assignment plans do not address inequitable access to high quality schools and, in fact, make the situation worse.
The research group, led by Associate Professor Meira Levinson in cooperation with a team of HGSE doctoral students and Assistant Professor Jal Mehta, note that their analysis indicates that currently only 20 percent of BPS primary school students are enrolled in high quality zoned schools. Access to these schools is unequally distributed with twice as many students in the West Zone having access to high quality schools compared with students in the East Zone. Additionally, more than one-third of white and Asian children are enrolled in high quality primary schools while barely 1 in 10 black children and 1 in 5 Hispanic children are enrolled in such schools.
“The five school assignment proposals put forward by BPS last Monday night make access to high quality schools even more inequitable. Under the six-zone plan, 35 percent of the seats in Zone 6 are high quality, whereas only 5 percent of the seats in Zone 3 are high quality,” notes Levinson. “This means students in Zone 6 have seven times the access to high quality seats as students in Zone 3. Disparities get even worse under the other plans: a full third of the zones in the nine-zone plan have under 10 percent high quality seats, and over half the zones in the 23-zone plan have no high quality seats whatsoever.”
“All children in Boston deserve—and need—a high quality education. No one disputes this,” says Levinson. “The important challenge is therefore to increase the absolute number of high quality schools in Boston Public Schools, while also ensuring that children have equitable access to these schools. I am concerned that the proposals put forward by BPS fail to do either. I hope that our report enables families and stakeholders throughout Boston to have an informed, constructive dialogue about how we can do better.”
On September 24, 2012, the Boston Public Schools released five proposals to replace the city’s current student assignment plan. These proposals will be vetted at public hearings and by the appointed External Advisory Committee, which will present a recommendation to the Boston School Committee in December. As part of this process, the Boston Public Schools has made available a tremendous amount of data for analysis.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education researchers have conducted an initial analysis of the four zoned proposals, as well as the current 3-zone assignment plan. Their report is intended to help all stakeholders deliberate about children’s equitable access to quality schools across the city.
Additional resources: Data and supplemental files
Press inquiries may be directed to Meira Levinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.