I’ve never heard of this idea before. I’d like to see it tried out.
Context is this. I blogged earlier this week that BPS is considering new ways of assigning kids to schools. A group of city councilors came up with an alternative plan. One aspect of their plan is called “Parent Compacting.”
Q: How does parent compacting work and why is it in the plan?
A. Parent Compacting allows 2-11 families to choose a designated “under-selected” school anywhere in the city and apply to that school as one group. This will allow families who have established relationships via their neighborhood, pre-school, daycare, or faith community to bring new energy to schools that are struggling, and maintain those connections, even if they don’t live in the same neighborhood.
Has anyone ever heard of this idea happening elsewhere?
I can imagine concerns.
For example, I’d hate to be one parent with some ideas on how a classroom should work if those ideas competed against a posse of 11 other parents working together. And to be specific: the most likely Gang of 11 is a well-intentioned, professional, highly-educated, high-social-capital, self-described “progressive” parents from Jamaica Plain….including many of my friends!
So the single, low-social capital mom living in poverty — the median BPS parent — would be at a power disadvantage. I observed some of this when I was on the board of a BPS pilot school.
And I can imagine a teacher feeling bullied by the “Gang of 11.”
However, I can also imagine common sense protections and preemptive moves to limit these concerns. You’d have to execute beautifully in this regard, but it could be done.
One key component, I believe, is explicit parent choice for all the “individuals” who aren’t in the Parent Compact, combined with absolute transparency. That is, nobody should assign your kid to a teacher and a Parent Compact. You should get to meet those specific parents, and decide if you want your kid in that classroom, with plausible alternatives.
And the upside seems big. REALLY big. In fact, this seems like the best new idea I’ve heard in years.
I can easily imagine many middle-class families who move to the ‘burbs when Junior has his 3rd birthday instead building a Parent Compact, staying, and getting heavily involved in helping all the kids in the classroom, not just theirs. And the racial integration opportunities to me seem to exceed the challenges.
Readers: feel free in the comments to describe how this idea has already been tried elsewhere and failed miserably! (I figure if it had been tried and succeeded, I would have heard of it…)