Week 10: Equity in Education

Friday, June 26, 3:30 pm


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Expanding Student Opportunity in Massachusetts through Equitable Education Aid
Presenter: Ryan Flynn, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education

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James Sutherland, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce


Massachusetts’ Student Opportunity Act (SOA), passed into law in November 2019, changed the state’s Chapter 70 formula for distributing education aid in an effort to shrink socio-economic and racial achievement gaps by providing additional funding to school districts, especially those with limited resources and high needs. The Chapter 70 formula contains a calculation that determines how much schools must spend to provide an adequate education, the focus of the SOA, and a calculation that determines how spending is shared between municipalities and the state, which was not substantially changed.

Building upon a model created by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we show how the state/local cost sharing calculation alters the amount and distribution of state aid to school districts. We demonstrate that this calculation adds hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid, over half of which goes to the wealthiest 20 percent of school districts. We also model formula changes that could provide fiscal space to more rapidly increase spending in high-needs districts or to meet commitments to high-need districts in the event of lower-than-expected state revenue during the ongoing public health crisis.

Finding Your Child a Great-Fit School
Presenter: Latoya Gayle, Boston School Finder

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Rana S. Kannan, Boston School Finder


Boston School Finder was originally launched in 2017 as a simple tool for families who were looking for easy-to-understand data on all of Boston’s schools. Boston is home to 77,000 school-aged children. With over 200 school options available, there has historically been no centraLiz Hessed data access point or single enrollment options for the plethora of school choice, resulting in lasting inequities across the city as families struggle to access and engage in the many deadlines and processes available.

Boston School Finder meets this need by providing information about district, charter, and private schools across the city, as well as other options for parents including METCO, the School Choice program, and vocational schools. Because this data on school exists in a single location, families can start their search at Boston School Finder on all of their school options.

Boston School Finder provides essential information and resources to families and community partners about school registration, admissions, and enrollment. Three key tenets inform our work to support all Boston families:
-Accessibility: Our content is available in eight different languages.
-Sector-Agnostic: As an independent, sector-agnostic organization, we have cultivated key relationships with Boston Public Schools (BPS), the Massachusetts Public Charter School Association, the Archdiocese of Boston, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) to collect, organize, and present their school data to families in a timely manner
-Collaboration: We help community organizations in Boston to build capacity around and amplify key school registration, enrollment, and admissions deadlines

Boston School Finder will discuss the following in their 10-minute talk, focused on the website and its construction, content, and quality:
-Data that shows why a tool like this in Boston is necessary
-Inequities propagated by current enrollment and admission systems and how Boston School Finder’s work advocates for a more equitable system
-The development of the site, collection of data from multiple sources, and the data translation focused on what families need
-Focused marketing and communications strategies with an emphasis on driving engagement among historically underserved communities

Kids Today: Boston’s Declining Child Population and Its Effect on School Enrollment
Presenter: Peter Ciurczak, Boston Indicators, The Boston Foundation

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Luc Schuster, Boston Indicators

Antoniya Marinova, Boston Foundation


This presentation is based on Kids Today, a report to be published in late January by Boston Indicators and the Boston Foundation’s Education to Career team detailing the decades-long decline of families with kids living in Boston and its implications on enrollment across Boston’s public schools.

Within this report, we show that while Boston’s total population rebounded in recent decades, Boston’s school-aged population largely declined. This is in part due to a sharp drop in middle-income households with kids, even as the number of households at all income levels without kids have grown. Likewise, the city has seen large declines in Black and white kids, which have had a significant impact on the racial and ethnic composition of Boston’s public schools. This presentation will show that as a result of these changes, Boston’s public school students are distinct from Boston’s overall population along racial and ethnic lines, as well as by socio-economic status. Finally, this presentation will explore how students of color have become increasingly isolated from each other, frequently attending schools where they make up the majority of the student body.

We hope to leave the audience with an understanding as to why increasing isolation and segregation of students of color has occurred, and in particular, why it is troubling. We will refer to a large and growing body of evidence that suggests students who attend diverse schools have better academic, social, behavioral and economic outcomes – an ideal that Boston’s schools have yet to meet.

Moderator: Ross Wilson, Executive Director, Shah Family Foundation.