"We need to meet parents where they are."

Latoya Gayle Boston Globe Magazine November 2019 Upfront Article


In Sunday's Boston Globe Magazine, Boston School Finder Executive Director Latoya Gayle penned a powerful op-ed about the inequity of school access in Boston. You can read an excerpt below:


Less than a year ago, my husband and I enrolled our youngest child in the Boston public schools. This time around even though we knew what to expect we still felt the same acute uncertainty and anxiety we experienced the first time — the enrollment process has not improved over the last decade.

The same disjointed, complex enrollment processes that initially drove us to choose an alternative to the Boston public schools for our oldest remain in place.


School enrollment shouldn’t demand “insider” knowledge, but with multiple deadlines, differing processes, and so many choices (there are 125 Boston public schools, including in-district charters) it’s hard for parents to know what school might be best for their children. Registration deadlines and processes are just part of the confusion. Officially, registration for Boston Public Schools — for the following school year — begins in early January for pre-kindergarten and grades 6, 7, and 9. Kindergarten (and any other grades) starts in February. There’s also pre-registration, which starts in mid-December. However, to get into one of the city’s highly-competitive exam schools, it’s already too late. The required Independent School Entrance Exam for the 2020-2021 school year has already been administered. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in charter schools, the lottery opened in October and doesn’t close until the end of February. If you want to get your child into the METCO program, its lottery closes January 3.

This is inherently inequitable. Every family in Boston should be able to make an informed decision about the school that’s best for their child. My frustrating, time-consuming experience with my middle child led me to become a parent advocate, and then the executive director of Boston School Finder, the online resource I wish I’d had to facilitate the enrollment process for my older children. As a parent-led, parent-informed organization, Boston School Finder offers an online database, searchable in eight languages, of more than 200 Boston schools, including public, charter, religious, and private institutions.


Investing in equitable access to schools sends a powerful message: Our children’s success matters. Handicapping their entry into that very education system with unnecessary bureaucracy undermines their success. Worse still, needlessly complicated enrollment only furthers decades-old racial divides in Boston’s education system.


Read the rest of Latoya's op-ed—"Frustrated by Boston’s public school registration process? You’re not alone"—at Boston Globe Magazine online.

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