Monday, October 15, 2018

Who Gets to Go to Maple Elementary?

It's a topic that heating up over at Facebook.  It's worth discussing because of the central issue - historical patterns of enrollment or racial equity?

Should kids who have traditionally gone to a school always go there?

Where does the need for racial equity start for a school?

And, most of all, are district promises really just that - a promise and not a guarantee?

Here's the basic story (this from the Equity in Seattle Schools blog):

Seattle Public Schools is planning to change the boundary for Maple Elementary School, to take effect in either 2019 or 2020. On November 20, 2013, the district approved a vast set of boundary changes across the city (as described in this 88-page document), with most taking effect the following school year, and others planned for later years. In recognition that the future Maple Elementary School boundary change may not be racially equitable, the Board unanimously passed an amendment to the 11/20/13 resolution to "reassess all boundary and feeder pattern plans for District 7” (Southeast Seattle) with racial diversity in mind.

The Maple change was originally supposed to take effect in 2020, but due to capacity issues at the school, the district is considering moving that change up to 2019. 

Therefore, the district and community are now doing the work to reassess the boundary in terms of racial equity. As such, the district has created an Alternate Plan for Maple Elementary.
Maple, with a diverse population, is a fairly high-achieving school.  They have receiving several awards for distinction over the last decade.  Those stats make it a desirable school.

The school which would take in students affected by boundary changes is Van Asselt which is housed in the former African American Academy building which was built to be a K-8.  It is also a diverse school but it struggles academically.  Interestingly, they do better at math than ELA.

The biggest issue is who will this boundary change hurt more - Georgetown kids who have traditionally gone there and will likely be divided (some stay, some go) OR minority kids as the data shows Maple will lose percentages of them.

Let examine the Georgetown parent issue.  From parent, Matt Pearsall',  Change.org petition:
Seattle Public Schools is considering dividing Georgetown in two. Kids north of Corson would continue to go to Maple Elementary, our neighborhood school since Georgetown Elementary was torn down in 1970. Kids south of Georgetown would go to Van Asselt Elementary, which is over twice as far away and up on top of Beacon Hill.

Not only will this divide Georgetown kids from each other, deprive half of them of the ability to walk to school, and make it more difficult for Georgetown families to support each other, it will damage our neighborhood. by removing one of the few official institutions that bind this community together. Georgetown faces many issues, including industrial traffic, water, soil, and air pollution, and a crime rate that's growing faster than most everywhere else in the city. We should not have to shoulder this burden as well.

In 2013, Seattle Public Schools rejected this idea in favor of a plan to keep Georgetown families united at Maple Elementary. We ask that Seattle Public Schools honor their word and stick with this board-approved decision. To do otherwise is neither fair nor equitable to the residents of Georgetown.
Parent Julie Van Arken (whose children went to Maple and is still a resident of the area) writes about this issue using a lot of data.  Interestingly, over at Soup for Teachers, they call her efforts "weaponizing data." Using data in a thoughtful, expansive manner is "weaponizing?"  She doesn't appear to cherrypick the data to me.

 As well, someone at Facebook said,  "Unfortunately my historically-disenfranchised little girl's future has become threatened by a well-connected white woman of privilege who is not a parent at Maple."

Julie gently replies, "I believe he is speaking about me. I’m mixed-race and the daughter of working-class immigrants." 

 Julie also went to a Van Asselt meeting on the issue to present her data and got drowned out by boos.  Think what would happen if immigrant parents of color tried to say something on the issue.  It's not the way to get parents to come to meetings if that is allowed.

I'm not reprinting her lengthy chart but here's her take:
The below table compares the 2013 Plan with the Alternate Plan according to criteria of racial equity, English Language Learners equity, Special Education equity, the district's own guiding principles for boundaries, and other arguments raised by the community.

Neither community wants to be displaced from Maple Elementary. However, as shown below, the Alternate Plan is the better plan in terms of racial equity, equity for students requiring special services, keeping children in walk zones, cost savings, minimizing displaced students overall, and upholding the district's own boundary criteria. Please email schoolboard@seattleschools.org and growthboundaries@seattleschools.org and let them know you support the more racially equitable Alternate Plan for Maple Elementary.
What is striking is that data on how many more black, Asian and Latino children would be displaced if the district changes its plan.

This will be quite the test of the racial equity tool.


Equity Watcher said...

It's also a test of the equity warriors on Soup for Teachers and it turns out almost all of them seem to want the less equitable of the 2 plans! It's looking like so many of them only like to talk about equity, but when it actually comes to zoning diverse school communities and undoing de facto segregation, suddenly so many of our local equity warriors want to cling to a less equitable status quo and cling hard. Except the equity warriors at Van Asselt, who are, like, "our school is great! Please come and visit!"

I agree that this will be a good test of the racial equity tool. I hope the school board keeps its focus on doing the right thing for children regardless of all the parent noise.

Anonymous said...

The vitriol that someone who stands up for what's right, using data and evidence-based arguments, is very telling about Soup for Teachers as a forum and about what the "equity warriors" as Equity Watcher calls them really stand for.

The Georgetown parents' arguments really boil down to: We've gone to Maple since the 1970s. That is literally a conservative argument - one based solely on tradition and conservation of the status quo. Rescind their liberal ID cards immediately!

More broadly, Soup for Teachers has evolved from a teacher-supporting community to a bizarre equity-but-only-my-view-of-equity forum, one in which dissenting voices again and again are hammered down until they are silent or quit the forum entirely. Many good people who used to take part have long since gotten fed up and no longer take part. It's too bad, in part because allows crazy and nonsensical ideas to ferment in isolation without the wider consideration a better forum would allow.

There is a fascist-like tendency among some (but not all) there to terrorize and even doxx those who are not in line with their group-think, and moderators are slow to act to keep standards of conduct high. That's also too bad because it further suppresses participation by people rightly fearful of such tactics.

But mostly, those Equity Warriors should give some serious thought to what they stand for, because what they say they want and what actions they take do not match up. Not just in this case, but repeatedly over the last couple of years on many issues. In many ways, their actions undermine their stated causes, and that makes them dangerous to many of the most vulnerable children in Seattle Public Schools.

No Soup for You

Unknown said...

Time for the anti-racists to get a new word. "Equity" is just about dead. It's been co-opted by mainstream whites to bludgeon other mainstream whites into going along with their agenda.

Moe said...

When families fight not to be moved from a school that is 7.1% Black (Maple) to a school that is 40.6% Black (Van Asselt), that's not anti-racist. That's racist. This is exactly the kind of boundary issue I would expect Seattle's anti-racist voices to have something to say about.

Anonymous said...

@Moe That's overly simplistic claptrap. Maple is also racially diverse, and is 85% nonwhite.


50.8 % Asian, 16.5% Latino, 10.2% two or more races, 7% African American, 14.5% white.
(FRL 58%)

Van Asselt is 96% nonwhite.


40.6% AA, 35.2% Asian, 11.4% Latino, 8.6% two or more races, 3.3% white
(FRL 82%)

Funny how some people only count AA as a race and disregard all other students of color as not counting toward diversity. That’s racist in itself.

I don’t have a personal stake in this issue, but I can understand why a family of any race might not want their kid to be in a racial minority of 3.3% in their school.

That’s the reason some families of color say they don’t want to send their HCC kids to HCC schools. Does that make those families “racist”?

Or maybe families rather not send their kids to a high poverty school. Doesn't that instead make them "classist"?

Or maybe some families prefer a school with a more even racial mix.

Maybe some families prefer a school with a stronger academic history.

Families choose schools for their kids for any number of reasons. For anonymous strangers to claim to know what’s inside the hearts and minds of any other parent is arrogant, ignorant and bogus.

- Curly

Moe said...

Should the district be drawing boundaries so that every school stays the same way it was in the 1970s? Not possible. Should the district be drawing boundaries to maximize the poverty at Van Asselt and minimize the poverty at Maple? Immoral. Only white people can be racist? LOL!

What's alarming is that the district constantly allows the children with the quietest advocates to get the short end of the stick. Sure we have The Equity Tool and Policy 00300, but they only "work" if the district applies them.

joanna said...

All families want their children to go to schools with a good record. To those who scoff at the idea that those who resist boundary changes are somehow backward thinking, take a careful look at who and where the school communities are who seem to have power to continually be assigned to a specific school for decades. Boundary drawings and changes are often political with the groups that are moved from on area to another being disempowered or representing a less well-connected group. I am still burning about how the district ignored all their principles and standards as they drew boundaries in the Central District/Capitol Hill. Oh and when busing is not grandfathered with students, generally the most vulnerable families have their students education disrupted, not those who have the flexibility to drive or bike their children to school. Schools are often crucial to the neighborhood identity and connections. These connections enhance the livability and safety of any neighborhood. Walk areas of course should be considered. This means more accessibility for families and students. Beyond ethnic identities, income diversity is just as important. Schools with poverty rates greater than 40% are much more likely to struggle for many reasons. Yes, neighborhoods change, but solutions should lean toward not disrupting families or at least working with them for the solutions they want. Portables, for instance, can be a temporary solution. In the meantime, these changes impact the entire neighborhood and should not be taken lightly. Everyone will be feel the change and should care, not just parents. These constant disruptions only add to the frustrations that drive families to private and charter schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, as I said, in my opening - historical enrollment patterns or capacity needs?

Joanna, good input.

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