‘Educate Don’t Segregate’ Group Forms in Response to School Boundaries Debate

Parents who formed the group, “Educate Don’t Segregate,” are calling for a public discussion on what school assignments are best for Leesburg students.

The group is planning a community meeting from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Rust Library, 380 Old Waterford Road NW, in Leesburg.

The parents are protesting a proposal by the Loudoun County School Board to return hundreds of students to schools in their neighborhoods. It would reverse a 2012 board decision that distributes about 700 elementary students living in  apartments and townhouses near Edwards Ferry Road and Plaza Street to schools as far as three miles away. But it would also concentrate most of the town’s low-income and Hispanic students to two schools, Leesburg and Frederick Douglass elementary schools.

The group supports keeping the boundaries drawn so that low-income and non-English speakers are dispersed throughout the town’s schools, according to a letter its members wrote to the School Board.

The board is considering 12 proposed attendance zone boundary maps. The most recent proposal, Plan 12, seems to have gained the most favor from board members because it sends students to the school closest to their homes that has space. They are set to adopt a map Tuesday, March, 28.

[See related article, “School Leaders Eye Paradigm Shift for Leesburg Boundaries.”]

Sarah Bauer, a parent who’s involved in Educate Don’t Segregate, said, ironically, she is opposed to the plan that would benefit her family most (Plan 12) because it counters what research shows most benefits students. Plan 12 would keep her students in a Leesburg school, while other proposals would assign them to Kenneth Culbert Elementary in Hamilton.

“There is so much evidence of the benefits of socioeconomic integration, and that’s what we’re trying to keep in Leesburg,” she said.

Even if board members ultimately decide to reverse the board’s 2012 decision, Bauer’s hope is that it will come only after a meaningful community discussion on what results in best educational outcomes for students.

“Even if we go back to neighborhood schools, let’s look at the effects and invite everyone to weigh in,” she said.

School Board members who support revamping school assignments have cited their own set of research. They said that eastern Loudoun elementary schools with more than 70 percent of low-income and non-English speakers have made impressive test scores in recent years because the school system has provided them with additional staff.

It would do the same for Leesburg and Frederick Douglass elementary schools, Debbie Rose (Algonkian) said during a March 14 meeting. “We can take what they’ve done and apply it in these schools. … We have authority here to find a way to solve the problem.”

In an interview today, School Board member Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) said the Educate Don’t Segregate group is implying that the board is developing attendance zones based on students’ ethnicity or economic status.

“That’s completely untrue,” she said. “We’re basing boundaries based on proximity to where they live and taking into account the benefits of having a school within their neighborhood, a chance to be involved in school activities, summer school, giving parents easier access to attend parent-teacher conferences…all of the same criteria that we look at for every other LCPS student across the district.”

She added that under Plan 12, “The students who have been zoned based on ethnicity and economic status can now return to their neighborhood school just like every other student across Loudoun.”

[See more on the boundary process: “Debate Over Race and Class Surface in School Boardroom.”]



8 thoughts on “‘Educate Don’t Segregate’ Group Forms in Response to School Boundaries Debate

  • 2016-03-21 at 2:07 pm

    Let’s be clear about what Debbie Rose fails to say:

    1. Evergreen Mill (40% FRL; 30% ESL) and Frederick Douglass (~30% FRL/ESL) have among the best scores in all of Loudoun. Evergreen has the best overall. While Guilford (70%+ FRL/ESL) and Rolling Rock (70% FRL but only 20% ESL) have impressive results, the other Sterling schools with concentrated poverty (Sterling Elem and Forest Grove) have among the worse test scores and growth scores. Debbie can’t cite a few without citing them all.

    2. The federal Title 1 guidelines call for an additional 40% per pupil funding for FRL students. Loudoun distributes 2% additional funding in Title 1 schools. That’s a joke. When you add in the lowered class size (21 vs 23), it totals 9-10% in additional funding, a far cry from the 40% that research shows is needed. Why do we think Sterling Elem and Forest Grove have problems? At any time during the last 5 years, LCPS could have supplemented these funds to the high poverty schools. That’s how Title 1 is supposed to work. It allows districts to combine federal, state and local funds targeted to these schools. Debbie Rose and her partners (Hornberger, DeKenipp and Turgeon) have failed to ever allocate more. Now, they are discussing “differentiated staffing” but only if they extort more funds from the BOS and only small numbers of additional staff. If they were serious, they would fund the schools on a sliding scale based on FRL. They won’t.

    3. In the schools who have impressive scores (EMES, FDES, RRES, Guilford), they implemented best practices required by the state and feds. You know, things like aligning lesson plans with curricula/standards and having teachers observe each other and communicate in groups. These are “very sophisticated” things. The sad part is that many schools don’t follow these best practices and their results show. We should take this opportunity to revamp the entire approach at all schools, rich or poor.

    4. Rose, Hornberger, and Turgeon just don’t want to integrate the schools in their neighborhood. Let’s take Hornberger’s call for “community schools” for example. Seldens Landing is in Lansdowne, a part of the Ashburn district. When it became overcrowded, did Hornberger advocate for community schools for the split groups? Did he advocate Seldens be sent to Newton-Lee or Ashburn close to Lansdowne? Of course not. Hornberger directed the Lansdowne students to be bused 5 miles to Steuart Weller, in part to reduce Weller’s FRL percentage. That is what you call a bona fide hypocrite. He protected his favored neighborhoods and sold out another group of constituents. The same thing is happening now where poor neighborhoods close to Tolbert are routed toward inner Leesburg so the Potomac Station neighborhoods can reduce Tolbert’s FRL % from the 20’s to just 5%. And while Steuart Weller draws its students from north and south of Rt 7, Debbie Rose will have no part of that futher east. It would be easy to zone Algonkian and Sterling schools together due to proximity. But do you think Rose wants any part of the 70% FRL population in Sterling “infesting” her kids’ school which has a whopping 5% FRL population across the highway? Please.

    Since WaPo wrote a story yesterday, we’ve been allowed to have a full discussion on their boards. In contrast, Hornberger/Rose/Turgeon/DeKenipp all ban critics from their Facebook pages despite directing commenters from Loudoun Now’s posts to bring the discussion to these official school board member pages. Yet another violation of law. The reason why you can’t have a reasoned debate with these board members is that they are not reasonable. They are crooked and completely opaque about their true intentions. You must use the courts to get effective relief.

  • 2016-03-21 at 10:12 pm

    Once Plan 12 is approved, it will be the golden opportunity for Sarah (and I guess Virginia SGP) to put their affluent actions to work. I am not affluent, and will never, ever be, but for some reason Virginia seems to think merely be going to a certain school, or living in a County makes you rich, that is unless you live in the Plaza Street quadrant. They probably perceive many of us to be racists, but in reality, we will rally behind the Plaza Street quadrant and continue channel our energies into volunteering weekly with the Latino youth, providing backpack buddies, providing and volunteering for the clothing drive, giving charity through church, etc. This will be a good opportunity for Sarah to start an outreach program, and possibly create some unity with the Leesburg Diversity Commission, as maybe they can achieve some true common goals within the Latino community possibly to extend to Leesburg as a whole.

  • 2016-03-22 at 8:54 am

    The median household income in this nation is about $52K. While you may not like to think of yourself as affluent, that is what nearly all of you are.

    Let me guess. You would also be happy to volunteer in the projects if they just wouldn’t build all of that Section 8 housing mixed in to your neighborhoods, too?

    And it would be so nice if they could create a Catoctin sports region (just like Ashburn has its own) so your kids could play games against their friends. Of course, you would be nice and let the Leesburg league use the real grass fields since those are better for one’s health.

    Btw, what do you tell the 40% of the Leesburg schools in Plan 12 who would be left unnecessarily in a Title 1 school? Maybe “you drew the short straw”?

  • 2016-03-22 at 10:46 am

    Virginia – the one thing that I pegged about you at least a year ago is that nobody is entitled to their own opinion and yours is the only correct one. Your statistics will certainly prove everyone wrong , and as I learned in my 5 credit statistic classes, they are relatively useless as governments, police forces, etc. twist the data to express the desire of THEIR opinion….. My previous incorrect spelling of the word bate done on purpose to determineI was on the final stage 12 straight years for the spelling bee, but you probably weren’t in the same respect.

  • 2016-03-22 at 12:11 pm

    Finger foul… BTW… Due to an accident, as a result of someone else, I was forced into a situation over the past year, and we have been well under the poverty line and have been unfortunately experiencing conditions far worse than probably most of those in this country (I don’t know everyone’s situation so I can’t comment, but by the time you factor in medical bills we are probably at the bottom of the bucket).

    We will volunteer wherever it is needed in Loudoun. I have worked extensively in DC, Baltimore and Richmond and would never consider allowing my family to volunteer or travel anywhere unless it is deemed safe. It sounds like Sarah will need to be an advocate and garner support for volunteer and other supporters. She also needs to reach out to the Latino community, so that they understand that it is a 2-way street and that active participation is required in order for students to be successful, not only in school but in life. The one thing I learned working in inner cities is that success is measured in several different ways. Many just want their kids to get through middle or high school, some expect their kids to get great grades and go to college, some will deem it a success if their kids don’t die via MS13/Latin Kings/Mexican Mafia, while others just don’t care.

    I busted my behind my entire life, and I mean busted, to get to where I am at to live in a very modest home, go to a modest school, drive a modest car, etc. We aren’t like Sarah, you and many other in Loudoun County, although I commend every person for their position in life. I agree with some of your previous comments about affordable housing in Loudoun, but where I purchase a home, and relative proximity to section 8, and schools is a personal decision based on numerous variables. When I purchase a home, vehicle, etc. personal protection is always my Number 1 Priority as was always the case when I worked in the inner city. If I knew moving forward, regardless of how rich, poor or somewhere in the middle, race, religion, gender, etc. who would ultimately be the best friend to my daughter, I would rather my daughter stay friends with that person if she would stay out of trouble.

    I was hoping Ida Lee would open the door to more community based interactive programs. They offer what seems programs aimed directly at the “at-risk” neighborhoods, but no co-mingled programs. I am not the one for brain-storming as we have a commission, but if our government wants inroads there are simple approaches……

    In regards to your 40% statistic, many of the kids you are referring to continue to limit my and many other kids current and future education who will need to compete with the outside world one day. Realizing that many of the kids have major language issues, as do their parents or guardians, they do not belong in a classroom that teaches in ENGLISH as the teacher does not have the resources to deal with language barriers, which is why so many volunteers and other help are needed and this still isn’t enough. The problem needs to extend to the homes of the parents and guardians, which is half the battle and continue to manifest in every subject in school and slows every class and student. Realizing you are a statistical Guru, this means my daughter gets 25% of an education while the ESL get 75% of an education. In the grand Utopian education, which actually was similar to mine, we would love a classroom filled with a bright-eyed, conglomerate of multi-cultural smart kids. Good-Day.

  • Pingback: Integration or neighborhood schools? — Joanne Jacobs

  • 2016-03-22 at 1:49 pm

    We are discussing different issues. LCPS refuses to track by ability/skill level. They even refuse to have the discussion, at least in public. Within these schools, general education classrooms should not be overburdened by students without the skills to keep pace. There can be 2 classrooms for those needing to catch up and 3 classrooms for students ready to learn in English. Why can’t we have that solution?

    I will advocate just as hard for tracked classes as I do for opposing segregation. In fact, I discussed this very topic when I first had a conference with the Seldens principal back in 2014. During the 1980’s, many schools tracked certain classes. Math and English were grouped by ability level. Social studies and science were generally heterogeneous. Students got to know everybody in the school but were not held back in the core skills. Let’s have that debate at the same time. Let’s not leave it to be forgotten after these zonings are ended. It is part of the solution and part of the rezoning discussion. I’m completely with you there.

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