"A daily diaspora, a scattered street
Every morning, children in Boston disperse to schools all over. Childhood chums, and neighborhood feeling, can be left behind
"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.
"The daily exodus costs the city dearly, both in sky-high transportation costs — almost $80 million a year — and, some sociologists and education specialists say, in weakened ties among families, which can strain the tenuous fabric of neighborhoods.
"Kitty-Rousell, 36, was among a group of Roslindale and West Roxbury parents who urged school officials last year to overhaul the lottery system and reconsider neighborhood schools. They soon learned how loaded a term “neighborhood schools’’ is, harkening back to the days when white Bostonians resisted the integration of schools across neighborhood lines.
"Even some parents disillusioned with the lottery system and the schools their children were assigned to still bristle at the notion of returning to neighborhood schools or revamping the lottery.