In running lottery, School Committee loses a player
Tech writer Scott Kirsner, whose “Innovation Economy” column in the Sunday Boston Globe and accompanying daily blog is filled with reports of Cambridge companies and their innovations, has moved out of Cambridge.
The culprit speaks to a matter of unique pain for the city:
“I am not a fan of the lottery system for school assignment in Cambridge,” said Kirsner, who has a 3-year-old son. “There are plenty of places near Cambridge with comparable or lower real estate prices where you can be assured of the school that your kids will go to, and I guess I wanted some assurance about that.”
Weighing his resistance to private schools and the importance of having his son’s school within walking distance, Kirsner said he moved his family to Brookline at the end of July — well before the start of the school year.
“I had good friends who left Cambridge abruptly when they didn’t get their son into any of their top choices for schools,” he said, “and I didn’t want to have to pull up roots all of a sudden.”
“I miss the red line, and being close to Harvard Square (we were near Porter), but overall it’s been nice so far,” he said.
The lottery system in Cambridge is called controlled choice, and the city’s School Committee — whose six members and leader, Mayor David Maher, are in the throes of an election season — knows it is deeply flawed. A team was put in place a year ago to look at controlled choice and its effect on the district restructuring known as the Innovation Agenda, but it was dissolved abruptly in June in a 5-2 vote that ignored the agenda’s ongoing, legislated need for its input; the vote to dissolve the team was held over the protests of leaders Richard Harding and Patty Nolan, who tried to warn the others they’d inadvertently reversed part of the agenda. Maher overrode their protests.
The committee meeting scheduled for Oct. 18 will bring recommendations on controlled choice from Superintendent Jeffrey Young and renew a conversation left unaddressed for more than four months, member Alice Turkel said Thursday before a candidates forum.
The topic was reinforced at that forum, held at the Central Square YMCA and attended by nine candidates or their representatives.
“I know a number of people who don’t get their first choice [of school] and leave the city,” said challenger Bill Forster during an answer about the best format for the district. For him, it’s the key issue of his campaign; asked to boil down his run to a bumper sticker, he told the crowd of some 25 people that it would be “parent choice.”