MCPS needs to redraw boundary lines

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Jane Fleischman

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Montgomery County recently announced they were going to look into redrawing school boundaries. They hired consultants to analyze the boundaries based off four factors demographics, geographic proximity, stability over time and school capacity. They held open town halls at schools and made an effort to be open.

As expected, people got mad. Especially parents who argued that it would lower property value. The tone of all the town halls suggested students seemed to be for it, but parents were against it. The real question is who’s right?

De facto segregation is rooted deep in our society. The effects from decades and decades of it still exist. Today WJ students enjoy the privilege this de facto segregation has given us.     

Walter Johnson is a nice school. We often are ranked highly for our academic performance. Actually, we are ranked 19th in the state of Maryland. We are in a nice area. When things are broken, they get fixed. We are also an up-county school and are 54% white. Another fun tidbit is we only have 7% of students who need free/discounted lunch. This is all very interesting. Let’s take a look at another up-county school. Walt Whitman High School is ranked at number three in MD. Whitman is also 68% white and only 2% of students need free or discounted lunches.   

Okay, let’s change it up and look at a down-county school. Paint Branch High School, for example. Paint Branch is 56% African american, has 36% of students who need free or discounted lunches and is ranked 62nd in MD (all figures above are from schooldigger.com).

Montgomery County has a reputation as both being fairly diverse and being a very good area academically. Based on the facts above, those things seem to vary from school to school. It looks like it’s one or the other. Something needs to change, soon.

Wealthier families can afford to live near good schools, pay for tutoring and support their children. Wealthier students don’t need to work so they can do more competitive classes and electives. This allows for these schools to get better and therefore the price to live there goes up. It’s an unbreakable cycle.

Something like changing school boundaries to make schools more diverse could help this. It wouldn’t solve all the problems, but it would be giving students a chance they wouldn’t have had to attend a better educational facility. It would be a step in the right direction to improve student life and society as a whole.

Parents in the richer schools tend to be against redistricting because the value of their houses would go down. These are valid concerns as they did pay to live there. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem ethical to keep promoting de facto segregation for the sake of money. Change always comes at a cost, and students are way more supportive than their parents. They believe that their education experience would be improved by diversity.  Diverse schools also better represent real life. Life is not all black and white.

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