In the process to address the complicated Boston Public School assignment process, a new parent group called QUEST has emerged.
Standing for “Quality Education for Every Student,” the group formed in late summer at an informal meeting of concerned parents at the home of Roslindale resident and parent Sara Barcan.
“Many of us had participated in the community meetings last spring and were really dismayed at the lack of opportunity to voice concerns in those meetings,” said Barcan.
Kevin Murray, a Roslindale resident and a parent of two kids in Boston public schools, was at the original meeting and describes QUEST as a “group of parents who have come together to fight for quality and equity” in the Boston Public School system.
“No one is against kids going to school close to home, but what happens to the students that don't have good schools in their neighborhoods?” Murray asks. “A new assignment plan can't improve poor schools, but it can limit the ability of children in some neighborhoods to access good schools. We want to make sure that doesn't happen.”
Murray says the group feels the city is moving too fast without considering the consequences. “The School Department is rushing to have a plan in place so that the Mayor can announce it in his January speech on the State of the City,” he said. “We’re insisting that the BPS slow down to make sure that needed changes to the assignment policy are made in a way that makes access to education more, rather than less equitable.”
QUEST is currently circulating a petition asking Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Superintendent Carol R Johnson to slow down the redesign of the school student assignment process and focus the school department’s energy on providing equal access to quality schools for every student in every neighborhood.
Matthew Wilder, director of media relations for Boston Public Schools, says that the city is not rushing into anything.
“We’ve been working on this for more than a year and have involved thousands of parents along the way,” he said. “It’s been a very public process.” He added, “We have made it very clear there is no room for politics in this discussion, only what is best for students. The State of the City address has nothing to do with our timeline as some have suggested.”
Instead, he says the timeline was chosen to help parents researching options for the 2013-2014 school year.
“Parents are about to start looking for schools for next year,” Wilder said. “[They] will want to have some sense of where things are headed as they make their choices.”
Editor's note: This article was updated on October, 24, 2012.