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editorial

John Connolly’s ‘Quality Choice Plan’ belongs in front of the class

The best plan in town for improving the school assignment process for Boston students isn’t necessarily one of the five now under review by a special advisory committee. Those five came from the school system itself. But on Wednesday, a group led by City Councilor John Connolly unveiled its own proposal that offers new ways of guaranteeing students a place in a school near their home, while also providing them with other choices. It might well address flaws in the current approach better than the school system’s less adventurous options do, and it deserves a careful vetting.

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Connolly’s plan would offer each child placement at one of the four schools closest to his or her home, and create a lottery for 16 citywide K-8 schools for parents who are unhappy with their choices or desire special services, such as bilingual education. The most intriguing element of the plan is a provision that encourages groups of two to 11 families with shared educational goals and values to apply as a unit to undersubscribed schools anywhere in the city. The plan speaks loudly to the need to increase enrollment by attracting families who might otherwise opt for private or parochial schools — and directly addresses motivated parents who want to work together to improve less popular schools. (Read more at www.qualitychoiceplan.com.)

The plan’s supporters, who include a multiracial group of state legislators from Boston, are asking that it be considered along with the others before the mayor’s advisory committee. It should be. It’s a solid effort that eschews hard geographic lines and respects parents’ concern for quality schools. The Menino administration, to its credit, appears to be taking both the request and the plan seriously. The mayor has promised to put children first. And that requires adopting the best plan, regardless of its source.

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