In the span of a few weeks, all of DC seems to be abuzz with the prospect that our elected officials may actually try to ensure greater racial and socioeconomic equity in the city’s public schools — apple carts be damned.
First, there was the Op-Ed two colleagues and I published in the Washington Post, calling for the adoption of controlled-choice policies as part of the city’s current effort to reconsider neighborhood school boundary lines.
The next day, the Department of Education released new guidelines that would allow charter schools to employ weighted lotteries that gave preference to disadvantaged student populations.
Meanwhile, the latest edition of Washington City Paper features a cover story about Roosevelt High School that places the issue of integration and school boundaries squarely in context, by way of a crumbling beauty of a school building that is currently under renovation — and seriously under-enrolled. And listerves like this one are burning up with a mixture of interest, anxiety and vitriol at the idea of such a dramatic departure from the norm (does someone really think I should be tarred and feathered?).
What do you think? Is integration worthy of being prioritized as a policy goal in a city like Washington, DC? If cities have a responsibility to ensure greater equity in their public schools, are there other, better ways to do so? And, in the end, is there any way to strike the right balance between honoring people’s individual choices against a community’s shared sense of values and responsibilities?
Looking forward to hearing people’s ideas and concerns.