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April 25. 2013 12:13AM

School districts: Manchester maps and choices

Making more efficient use of Manchester's public school resources is a must, and one way to do that is through redistricting. The school board, though, keeps killing the idea. Something has to change.

Superintendent Thomas Brennan has proposed yet another redistricting plan. It would free up space in elementary schools by creating a central preschool, and it would feed elementary students to their closest middle school rather than have students spreading to all of the middle schools. Naturally, it is hitting the school board wall.

School board members have to answer to parents. Most parents don't want their children being forcibly moved to another school. They call their school board member, and the school board member opposes redistricting.

The parents' feelings are perfectly understandable. Who wants their children to be pawns of a massive bureaucracy? And yet redistricting of some sort needs to happen. The schools cannot afford to continue operating under the existing inefficiencies. At some point, school board members are going to have to put the interests of the students at large before their own electoral prospects.

There is another way. It will never happen, though. It would take even more courage from elected officials. It is school choice.

The obvious solution is to end this outdated district system and empower parents by letting them choose the school that best suits their children. Why should the quality and appropriateness of your children's education be dictated by lines drawn on a map?

If we want to dramatically improve city schools while making more efficient use of our scarce education dollars, the answer is to let schools compete for those dollars. We would see a transformation almost overnight. But that is a huge power to give up. Which is why parents will have to fight for it if they want it.


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