Letter to School Board
Chairwoman Van Doren and Members of the Board:

The current high school boundary refinement is the most substantial high school boundary adjustment since the 1990’s. Though easily dismissed by many as minor, it is of great consequence to the hundreds of real students who will be redistricted over the next four years, and to their siblings and peers to follow. It can have considerable long-term effects on our schools, and on our community; and it will establish a foundation for the next boundary revision, which may occur within just five years.

This process will either re-establish or summarily dismiss APS’ commitment to its core value of diversity which has been clearly exercised in previous boundary efforts at Yorktown and Washington-Lee, as well as in past efforts at schools such as HB Woodlawn, Key and Claremont Immersion, and the Montessori program.

Geographical expedience must not be the driving force behind decisions at the expense of core values and student achievement. Yet five of the six guiding principles are rooted in a geography which is itself rooted in historic patterns of socioeconomic segregation--far outweighing the principle of demographic diversity from the outset by default.

Because of their location on the map, a simple and expedient “solution” would be to send students who are living in an area of concentrated poverty to Wakefield High School. Doing so, however, would unconscionably exacerbate the existing socioeconomic disparities between our schools. Many of our most disadvantaged students will endure the loss of educational choice and opportunities that facilitate their success; and Washington-Lee High School would lose a key segment of the diversity that has made it the highly-regarded and highly-sought school it has become.

Ideally, changes will not significantly disrupt the current socioeconomic balance at Washington-Lee and would bring the socioeconomic demographics at Yorktown and Wakefield into better balance, so that they more closely resemble Washington-Lee, which is the highest-ranked of our three comprehensive high schools and the school that currently reflects the overall economic demographics of the APS student body.

Understanding that this is an insurmountable task within the confines of this boundary adjustment, the School Board must keep foremost in its consideration the importance of not increasing the disparities among the three comprehensive high schools.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, call upon the School Board, our elected leaders, to:

1. Make economic diversity a primary guiding principle in the current high school boundary adjustment decision and in all future boundary and admissions policy decisions;

2. Enact boundary changes that do not exacerbate the economic disparity between Wakefield and the two other comprehensive high schools, while minimizing disruption of the existing socioeconomic balance at W-L;

3. Strive, in every boundary determination large or small, and in every admissions policy, to move schools toward an economic demographic reflective of the overall economic demographics of APS;

4. Carefully consider how decisions regarding one school will affect other schools and the students attending them;

5. Ensure that our most economically disadvantaged students do not bear a disproportionate burden with the loss of educational choice and opportunities;

6. Make certain that your decision is driven by APS core values and its obligation to provide all students with the best education and opportunities it can provide.

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