Under New Name, Educate Don’t Segregate Continues Mission to Help At-Risk Students

Educate Don’t Segregate, the activist group formed during the contentious Leesburg elementary school attendance boundary process, is continuing its efforts to support the town’s low-income students and those still learning English.

As the Loudoun County School Board redrew attendance boundaries earlier this year, the Educate Don’t Segregate group vocally opposed one idea floated that would have assigned a high percentage of students considered academically at risk to two schools closest to their neighborhoods. The group advocated assignments that would more evenly disperse those students throughout the central Loudoun schools.

Parents involved in the group say they want to do what they can to provide more resources for those families that were at the heart of the attendance debate.

Now under the name Community Advocates for Education, the group’s stated mission is to “advocate for the best outcomes for all students in Central Loudoun and to foster greater community involvement.”

Ahead of the new attendance map’s adoption in March, board members highlighted that some Leesburg schools’ test scores fell behind those at other Loudoun County elementary schools with even higher numbers of low-income and English language learner students.

Lydia Pellow, co-chairwoman of the group’s community outreach efforts, said that Community Advocates for Education wants to provide resources—as well as connect families to already available resources—to help the schools meet those students’ needs.

“So if there’s going to be another boundary process in a few years and there’s a chance that a lot of at-risk students would be assigned to just two schools, we want our schools to be prepared for that and make improvements so there’s no argument to be made for doing that,” said Pellow, whose children attend Leesburg Elementary School.

Gretchen Falter and Anna Peach hold up a sign opposing the school board’s “Plan 12” after the Educate Don't Segregate meeting. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Gretchen Falter and Anna Peach hold up a sign opposing the school board’s “Plan 12” after the Educate Don’t Segregate meeting. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

Their initial campaign will be to connect families whose primary language is something other than English to community services, such as language classes. “Because we feel like supporting those families helps their kids do better in school,” Pellow said.

The group also is putting together lesson plans and remedial materials that will be ready for parent volunteers to easily pick up at the school and use to tutor students.

They also will coordinate ways for parent-teacher organizations to share “institutional knowledge” about practices that are working to get families involved in their school communities. “What we learned was some schools are doing this better than others,” Pellow said.

Another priority is to push for public bus stops closer to schools so parents can more easily attend conferences and PTO meetings and connect with the school community. The lack of public transportation for families who live across town from where their children attend school was a point of contention during the boundary process.

Leesburg’s representative on the School Board, Tom Marshall, said good did come out of the boundaries process, including community members rallying to support the schools going forward. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “It really does take a village, and I’ll support them as best I can.”

The elementary schools with higher percentages of low-income and English Language Learner students also will receive more help from the school system, he added. Evergreen Mill Elementary will get funding to hire additional staff members, and Leesburg and Frederick Douglass elementary schools will receive some additional support from an instructional facilitator, who will provide ongoing professional development to teachers.

The School Board will not be able to provide as many new staff members as it had planned in its initially adopted budget, but those schools will get a bit more help, Marshall said. “I think it’s really going to be a good thing.”


7 thoughts on “Under New Name, Educate Don’t Segregate Continues Mission to Help At-Risk Students

  • 2016-05-10 at 1:42 pm

    I have no issue with what the group Community Advocates for Education is doing. However, it doesn’t address the core issues at play in the rezoning debate.

    1. Tracking: the reason why so many native residents were upset with the influx of ELL students or even FRL students is because when classes are heterogeneous, you can only advance at the pace of the slowest learner. Nobody in their right mind would put the slowest runners in front at the beginning of a marathon so why do we do it in our schools? We need to track by ability level in the core classes of reading, writing and math.

    2. Best practices: the federal guidelines of NCLB forced schools that were considering low achievers to install best practices. But ALL schools need the best practices used by Rolling Ridge, Frederick Douglass, Guilford and others. It’s not just for failing schools.. that’s why they are called “best” practices. When will principals be forced to implement these? They should go observe FDES and see how they are accomplishing student growth.

    3. FRL funding: federal guidelines target 40% additional per pupil spending for FRL students. When Ashburn/Dulles schools have 5% FRL and Leesburg schools have 30% FRL, they should have a LOT of additional funding per pupil. The feds never intended to provide that additional funding. In fact, the whole reason counties get different amounts from the state of Virginia is because counties have different levels of FRL students. Much of that money is not for general education but targeted at ELL, SpEd or FRL. Why do we allow LCPS to provide the same spending per pupil to FRL students if that’s not what the research shows? In fact, as Jim Dunning and JennyMeyers have pointed out, if you consider the low salaries of the junior teachers in these schools, FRL students may be receiving less funding per pupil than general education students in Ashburn or Dulles.

    Now that the attention has died down, most of the school board goes back to focus on their own personal interests like how Jill Turgeon can get federal money provided to LCPS diverted to her IndEd Academies. Meanwhile, LCA Plowman scoffs at ever pressing charges. Maybe he has an excuse this time as his response to the federal civil rights complaint against him is due today.

  • 2016-05-10 at 4:11 pm

    The rezoning issue will likely come to a head again in a few short years, as the new Meadowbrook Farms subdivision is scheduled to begin sales by summer 2017. That is 400 additional single-family-homes literally up against Evergreen Mill Elementary School. The developers said no additional school would be built (by them), as they had already donated the land where EMES resides, as well as the land for 15’s expansion (to 4 lanes) and the Battlefield Parkway extension (it will now end at 15 where it becomes Meade).

    • 2016-05-10 at 11:37 pm

      Yup. Let’s prevent new title one schools then too!

  • 2016-05-10 at 11:43 pm

    Wow Brian. I am really impressed. I agreed with everything you said, and also, that was completely polite. Keep up the good work. To summarize your excellent points, I agree! Diverse schools need tracking. It is still important to have parent volunteers to pull out kids to help them catch up. Yes!!! All schools need to learn best practices. Yes, per pupil distribution of federal funding sounds good to me. Thanks for your continued attention, Brian.

  • 2016-05-11 at 10:38 am

    Working to keep the kids that live closest to Leesburg Elementary and Frederick Douglass OUT of those schools. Real nice. No child should be denied attendance at their neighborhood school due to who they are.

  • 2016-05-11 at 10:05 pm

    Lydrose, now let me explain why I am not holding my breath.

    I attended the LEAP meeting tonight. When I suggested they discuss tracking by ability level at a meeting next year, the president apparently had never even heard of this topic before. Nobody on God’s green Earth is counting on tracking being discussed at LEAP.

    When I suggested we get non-LCPS subject matter experts for the LEAP meetings (using “expert” and LCPS in the same sentence is a non-sequitur anyway), a previous president (apparently she has served in every position multiple times as she would proudly tell us) claimed that LEAP did invite outside speakers at one time. I guess that’s why when LEAP held a meeting on teacher effectiveness, they invited Tim Flynn of LCPS who spoke about everything BUT teacher effectiveness. Or why when LEAP held a town hall meeting this year, they steered away from critical questions of LCPS.

    I’ve also been blown away by EDS’ advocacy for the discussion of such topics as tracking, FRL/Title 1 rules, objective assessments, etc at LCSB meetings. I thought I was attending them all but haven’t heard a peep from any of you. Maybe I was sleeping when you spoke out for these discussions, I really can’t say.

    I must say I missed the MSAAC gifted and talented meeting this year. But given that nobody in LCPS had ever heard of Duke’s TIP program or Johns Hopkins CTY program, I’m not sure I missed anything. LCPS has a non-existent GT program at least until AOS in high school. Oh, that’s right, EDS has been screaming for a real GT program at all the school board meetings too. I must have missed that.

    Look, EDS and you all can do whatever it is you want to do. It’s your choice. But please don’t pretend that any of you lift a finger to hold LCPS officials accountable in the slightest. Your voices are nowhere to be heard. I understand it’s a bridge too far to speak out when a principal reports a citizen activist to CPS to have their kids removed as retaliation for public criticism, but I would think you could at least speak up for Title 1 discussions or tracking. Clearly I overestimated LOTS of people.

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