It seems strangely anti-climactic that years of work by several different Boards will finally bring a new student assignment policy to a vote tomorrow night. There’s a lot of interest, and trepidation about the implementation phase (the devil, as always, is in the details), but mostly there seems to be acceptance that the process has been thorough and the resulting compromise about the best the Board could do.
I still have a few questions about details of the policy, and plan to offer at least one amendment during tomorrow night’s discussion, but on the whole I think what is being proposed is workable. It’s not perfect, and it might not solve the problems we’re hoping to solve, but perfect solutions don’t exist here. We’ll have to monitor the implementation of the plan closely, and continue to monitor the outcomes of the new process; we’ll also have to be willing to tinker with the various “dials” like the definition and weight of the Census Tract Integration Preferences (CTIP) — currently derived by taking the average score on the California Standards Test in each census tract across the City, and then dividing those census tracts into two groups. The 20% of students residing in the lowest-scoring tracts are one group (called CTIP 1), and the 80% of students residing in the highest-scoring tracts are the other group (called CTIP 2).
As a parent of a child who will enter middle school in Fall 2011, I’m glad that elementary school, not residence, will carry the highest preference for 6th grade enrollment. I don’t know yet what middle school our elementary school will feed into, but I think my daughter will be happy to go to a middle school where she knows friends from elementary school. And I like that we will be able to offer parents entering Kindergarten some certainty about middle school.
I’m sure there will be unpopular and unintended consequences of this plan, just like there have been with previous plans, and we’ll have to deal with those issues as they arise. But I do feel glad that we’ve engaged in a thorough and detailed process. It will feel good to move this work along to the implementation phase, and turn our attention to other pressing issues of achievement and funding for our schools.