Monday, August 30, 2010

Neighborhood Schools for Me, Magnets for Thee

I don't understand all the local particulars of the DC public school's drive to "woo white parents," but I think there are subtle differences between real and bogus desegregation initiatives.

In the traditional model you:

  • Let some kids from poor neighborhoods go to schools in rich neighborhoods, which have inherent advantages due to being sited in rich neighborhoods.
  • Give schools in poor neighborhoods some other advantage as magnets to draw in rich students who would otherwise not want to leave their neighborhood.

But you can't really vary that much without achieving a completely different result. If you stop letting outside kids into the rich neighborhood school, but still let rich kids come into the poor neighborhood's magnet school, you're just doubly screwing the poor kids.

And some of the stories from DC seem to be more complicated variations, like an arts magnet in a gentrifying neighborhood that has traditionally served an African American student body being changed to be more appealing to the neighborhood.

Desegregation requires a comprehensive approach.

1 comment:

coach said...

On the one hand, DCPS needs to woo back white or wealthy parents--they need people with that sort of political pull advocating for great public schools in the city. But like you note, on the other hand, in a slowly recovering system, poor kids have to compete for limited spots in the improving schools. Or worse, stick it out in a crummy school that'll eventually / hopefully get made over when there's a critical mass of resources & political will. Nothing new.

It is interesting to counter Rhee at the beginning of her term, expressing not a lot of concern for adults in the system, with current Rhee--pulling aside parents & offering assurances.