Schools Reflect Our Values

directory-281476_1280Poverty, race, and educational opportunity are intertwined. In a report by the National Educational Policy Center, housing is added to the mix.  The authors explain the interaction between where we live and the opportunities available to us.

Divided communities have greater inequities in access to quality education and employment.  Perceptions of the quality of schools based on the neighborhood income level become the reality.  The more divided our communities, the greater the problems become.  What can be done to reduce the inequities?

NEPC suggests better policies and community planning by:

  • embracing the advantages of diverse communities and schools.  The demographics of our country are changing and our children need to learn how to live in a diverse world.  Those who do will have an advantage.
  • considering how current accountability measures exacerbate segregation and inequality.  School choice and school grading policies increase segregation and label schools.  A high income area school may earn an “A” grade.  If some lower income children enroll, the grade may drop but the instructional quality remains the same.
  • addressing implicit bias:  “be” not “flee” in both urban and suburban contexts.    It is no secret that some neighborhoods have better city support than others.  Community support services need to work with changing neighborhoods to ensure equity.

Realtors, developers, and local zoning boards need to work together to create balanced and relatively stable residential neighborhoods  in terms racial identities, cultural backgrounds, and income levels.  All of this may seem idealistic.  Overtime, however, residential patterns do change.  Flight from the cities to the suburbs, for example, is changing to urban gentrification.

Gainesville is experiencing these changes.  There is an article in today’s paper called:  Residents seek more safety measures as area becomes more attractive.  A low-income neighborhood is getting a face lift.  Better lighting, sidewalks, and traffic control are needed.  The proximity to the University of Florida is attracting more racial and economic diversity.  This is the type of community that NEPC envisions.  Will our community be up to the challenge?  Will the local leaders work with the local school to make it shine?  Planning for diversity is our future.

 

Posted in Public Education, Reform, Resegregation, State and Local government.

One Comment

  1. from KWest

    I’m so glad to hear of the improvements in Gainesville. I have some
    knowledge of the community because I have spent time there since
    the early 1990’s – both kids were UF students then, but I was also
    spent every other weekend helping a dear friend who was handicapped
    with severe RA complete her PhD in Speech-Language. She walked and
    talked – I typed and encouraged.

    Leesburg, where I taught middle school for 10 years, has lost its middle class
    doctors and lawyers and grove owners to white flight; the public schools
    are heavily re-segregated and have received failing grades. 65% of the housing is rental and the majority of the students qualify for free and reduced lunches.

    The glimmer of hope – in this morning’s Orlando Sentinel Darryl Owens, one of
    their lead columnists and editorial writers announced he is leaving the Sentinel.
    With sinking heart I read to the last paragraph then rejoiced: Darryl Owens is
    relocating to Leesburg to be publicist for Beacon College.

    It is my hope that his presence will be one of the movers and shakers who will help bring Leesburg back to life. Certainly the presence of Beacon College on Main Street in Leesburg has helped revitalize the downtown. My Methodist Church pastor has been on the board at Beacon and there is strong local support for this unique institution which helps educate students with a variety of disabilities.

    Because Darryl Owens is not only an excellent communicator, but also a member
    of the Black community, perhaps he can help bring people together.

    At this point, I’m hoping that he will do a lot of speaking – civic clubs, our
    Tri-County LWV, and churches. We’ll see if he is the leaven that will help
    Leesburg revive as a real community.

    Please keep dropping pebbles in the pond – the ripples go far and wide!

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