Dear Loudoun County,
I’m putting you in time out for not playing well with others.
Your latest plan to redistrict and undo economic integration in your school system is offensive. You will end up with a two-tier education system. Your top tier will be for high-earning residents, and the other tier will be for low-income families, many of whom are recent immigrants and also English-language learners (ELLs).
You claim this will help your school system meet the unique needs of these students, many of whom require English as a Second Language services and struggle on standardized tests. Families in favor of your plan have complained that their high-achieving students aren’t getting the attention they need because of the time teachers have to spend getting lower-achieving classmates up to speed.
Research shows that students of low socioeconomic status do better when they are in economically integrated schools. In a recent study, Heather Schwartz, a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, found that children in public housing who attended Montgomery County, Maryland’s most advantaged schools “far outperformed in math and reading those children in public housing who attended the district’s least-advantaged elementary schools.”
Economic integration closes the achievement gap. There is no research to support that economically segregated schools provide better services for students of low socioeconomic status or ELLs. In fact, research has continued to show that integrated schools benefit students not only in terms of academic performance but also socioemotional wellness.
Solo Moms, recent immigrants, and other families who earn far below your county’s six-figure average will suffer because of your plan. Solo Moms have a higher rate of falling into low socioeconomic levels and may have a harder time advocating for their children while being the sole provider for their families.
Furthermore, affluent students will suffer as well, learning to “other” others. You are sending a message that students of lower income and lower-achieving students aren’t worthy classmates and that affluent kids are better off in schools without them.
Danielle Bostick, a former Solo Mom and ESME’s Wellness–Mental Health Resource Guide, is a Latin teacher, an advocate, and a mom to six kids in Winchester, Virginia. When not working as an educator, Bostick writes about the National Football League for various sites and sexual assault and child sexual abuse for the Huffington Post. You can find her on Twitter: @danibostick, and on Facebook: Dani Bostick.
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