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The Boston Globe


June 12, 2011

A daily diaspora, a scattered street

very morning, children in Boston disperse to schools all over. Childhood chums, and neighborhood feeling, can be left behind

Every weekday on Montvale Street this fall, Abel and Aryana Saavedra will leave their second-floor apartment at 6:45 a.m. for Forest Hills Station, where they will board separate buses bound for schools in Wellesley. A half-hour later, their next-door neighbor, Seamus Folan, will emerge from his condo so his mother can drive him to his Hyde Park charter school. Soon, Sophie Rousell will be shooed into her mother’s Jeep for the 5-mile drive to a Chestnut Hill private school - followed by five other kindergartners who will appear on their porches and disperse to at least four other public schools.

In September, the 19 school-age children who live on this one city block in Roslindale will migrate to a dizzying array of 15 public, private, and charter schools, from West Roxbury to Wellesley, traveling a combined 182 miles each day. There was a time - some here remember it well - when all the kids on Montvale went to nearby Wolfgang Mozart Elementary School, making the short walk together in a familiar, noisy pack with neighborhood playmates who were almost like brothers and sisters. Now, the children on this and other streets across the city scatter every morning, due to a lottery system that allows them to travel beyond their neighborhood for a chance to attend a better school - or drives them out of the public schools altogether by assigning them to a disappointing choice.

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