Opinion: Don’t blame the algorithm for doing what Boston school officials asked

The BPS has pulled back on start time changes, which was announced today. But let’s keep asking the hard questions, like which city departments get funded and which get cuts? Was the city sacrificing families’ needs to save public dollars? Why have algorithms been blamed for political decisions?


BPS Parent: The algorithm method is a problem

You can’t get to a good place in a bad way…Many parents testified about feeling blind-sided; others spoke of having their trust in the system breached. This would not have happened if BPS has utilized a planning process that respectfully engaged parents instead of relying so heavily on a computer algorithm. We can get to good place, but we have to get there in a good way.”


Civil rights groups hit school start plan

Statement by the Boston NAACP, EBECC and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice on start times.

“The decision made by the administration and School Committee is not racially equitable, and is likely to bring significant harm to children and families of color across the City of Boston. Equity demands that this decision be reconsidered.”


School committee members call for board to ‘revisit’ bell times

“Hundreds of angry parents packed the meeting last night, blasting the city for forcing elementary school kids to start class earlier next year — with some saying it may force them to move out.

“Parents are already stating, ‘I’m going to have to leave,’ ” said Erin Birmingham, a Manning School parent. “Your algorithm does not value our kids. Your algorithm doesn’t work. I am hereby refusing your initial offer. … Fix it!”


Parents protest new school start times

“The meeting was emotionally charged from the start. Superintendent Tommy Chang repeatedly riled parents in his opening remarks as he defended the new bell times, prompting them to yell ‘No,’ ‘Unacceptable,’ and ‘Stop the change.

‘We are deeply committed to working with families to make sure all transitions are as smooth as possible,’ Chang said, eliciting jeers from parents who want him to abandon the plan.


Changing School Start Times Has Ripple Effects

Great piece by BPS parent Johannah Haney on start times. “New start times will disproportionately harm low-income families, single parents and women who work… After-school care is for financially advantaged families. Costs vary, but for two children at the YMCA in West Roxbury, after-school care from 3:25 p.m. until 6 p.m. is more than $700 per month (the cost would naturally go up with the extension of hours needed), plus the yearly membership cost of the YMCA (currently $90 per family). For the 30 percent of kids under 18 living at or below the poverty line in Boston, that’s one-third of the $2,100 monthly income for a family of four.”


BPS’s Office of Equity statement on start times

BPS’s Office of Equity released this analysis of the new start times. QUESTion: does a plan that equitably distributes hardship = a good plan?  Black, Latino, White and Asian families ALL lose coveted 8 to 9am start times. And the numbers of schools in the generally un-coveted “before 8am” category increases for ALL Black, Latino, White and Asian families.