Boston Overhauls Admissions to Exclusive Exam Schools

Boston Overhauls Admissions to Exclusive Exam Schools

“While the plan claims to level the playing field and create improved access, it has not,” she said. “It is unclear, untested and not informed by families across the city.”

City Councilor Andrea Campbell, a Boston Latin School graduate who is also running for mayor, said in a statement that she had “heard from hundreds of parents who are excited by the change and just as many who are worried about how this new policy will impact them because they don’t see another excellent option for their student in the B.P.S. system, which I think proves that this inequitable system is failing all of us.”

Many expect the new policy to face a court challenge. But others were in the mood to celebrate.

“There’s a historical debt owed to families and students of color in Boston public schools,” said Peter Piazza, an educational researcher, describing a litany of efforts to resist desegregation of city schools, including violent riots over busing that shook the city in the 1970s.

“The so-called exam schools are one tiny part of this history,” he said. “But the access is enormously important for the students, whose lives can be changed by the opportunity. We owe them a debt. Let’s pay it at 100 percent.”

Boston’s racial tensions have always spilled out into public view when the subject turns to schools. The tug of war over exam school admissions has led to the awkward and abrupt departure of three members of the school committee.

The committee chair, Michael Loconto, resigned last fall after he was caught, during a recorded Zoom meeting, mocking the surnames of Asian American parents making public comments on the issue.

That was followed by the publication of text messages exchanged between two other members, Alex Oliver-Dávila and Lorna Rivera, expressing frustration with parents from West Roxbury, whom one of them referred to as “Westie whites.”

Both Ms. Oliver-Dávila and Ms. Rivera resigned, too.

Sarah Mervosh contributed reporting.

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