Tonight’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment was angrier than earlier meetings– I think because many of the members of the public who attended are reeling from the results of the Round I lottery. There were many comments from people who feel they were given unworkable or inappropriate school assignments for next year and who want the Board to put into place a system that is simpler and more predictable than what we have now.
I really do sympathize with families who are facing the uncertainty of Round II, and those who had their hearts set on schools they did not receive in the lottery. I understand their anger and frustration and I agree that the current system is not working for enough people. I would also venture to say that all or most of my colleagues feel the same way. But trust me: Being disruptive and refusing to abide by the ground rules of public comment does your cause more harm than good.
A group of families from New Traditions Elementary also attended the meeting, speaking in favor of their school’s alternative status and voicing their support of school choice.
So what did we accomplish? The Board voiced support for plans to run eight simulations that will test various policy objectives, like attendance area boundaries, assignment clusters, and limited choice. In addition, we will simulate “baseline” conditions — testing what would happen if every student were assigned to the school closest to their homes– and a “proximity” model proposed by Commissioner Yee. This model would examine the effect of assigning students to one of the schools within a certain radius of their address.
The Board conducted a discussion on whether there should be schools with citywide attendance areas, and of so, how many. We did not come to any hard and fast conclusions, but seemed to come to a consensus that we need to develop a clearer strategic objective for schools with citywide attendance areas.