Tuesday, November 18, 2008

B. v. Board of Education

Since you asked, here ya go! The letter-writing campaign has begun! Here is #1, submitted this morning:

School Board
Planning Commission

Re: redistricting plans for elementary schools

Dear Sir/ Madam,

In reviewing your recent map proposals, a glaring inconsistency has come to my attention. I have looked closely at the boundaries and neighborhoods included in the MO Elementary (MO) zone, trying to determine which plan would be most equitable. Yet the inconsistency I see in each plan is this: while the MO zone has many, many multi-family homes included – there are comparatively few single family home neighborhoods in this district.

That raises red flags in my mind as to what the future will hold for the student body of MO. First of all, having lived in and around this immediate area for over 5 years, I have been in many of the neighborhoods around Alpharetta. There is great diversity in this area. And according to the recent map proposals, the majority of said “diversity” would attend MO. The other schools (A, CW, SH) will be effectively homogeneous across the board – coming from similar upper-middle-class neighborhoods.

Each elementary school should get a proportionate amount of multi-tenant housing, single-family homes, and upper-middle income neighborhoods. Only by dividing the areas fairly can each school support the needs of those attending, and maintain a high standard of education.

I feel strongly that this new map will adversely affect MO. So many of the neighborhoods contain blue-collar families, with both moms and dads working, and therefore less available volunteers for PTA, classroom needs, media center requests and other voluntary parent involvement. Also, all the multi-tenant housing skews the student body towards those that are more transient. Class field trips at MO are already affected negatively, because the amount of voluntary field trip donations is dropping.

MO needs the demographic that it stands to lose in these redistricting proposals – single family homes. MO already bears a heavier weight of ESOL students than any other school in this area. That number would only rise with the proposed redistricting. Also, of the closest area schools (A, CW and SH), MO has the lowest number of students in the TAG program.

Finally, MO bears the highest percentage, by far, of students in the free/reduced lunch program – 24%. The previously mentioned other schools nearby have free-lunch enrollment percentages at 12%, 2% and 3% respectively. All of these statistics point to a potential downturn in the school’s quality.

Please continue to consider the input of local parents, as we all work together to come up with a map that would be the most equitable for our children.



Our school currently has a great mix of students from all walks of life, and we have been pleased with every teacher. However, it is already on the statistical low end of all the scales the schools are rated on. It is a simple matter of fair distribution of all the types of homes that make up an area.

Simple, right?

If the board moves forward with any of the current proposed maps, the housing values in our immediate area will most likely fall. Because with the stroke of a pen, our school will be determined as less desirable than others very close by. Ah, politics you whimsical mistress. With one hand you achieve the finest national measure of equality in my lifetime, while with the other local hand you proclaim there are biases based on socioeconomic standing.

I'm up for the challenge!

And if you have any strategic suggestions, send 'em over.


  1. Bethany,

    I love your letter!
    I hope that someone reads it and takes it to heart.
    This is so true in many school districts across the country! In Alamance county there were elementary schools with almost no black or hispanic children, and then there were two where all of the black and hispanic children went to school. It always bothered me. Even though the districts were divided by geography, there was just such obvious segregation--by color, and even more importantly --socioeconomic status.
    I hope that someone listens to you!
    get a petition going...have the people who sign it read the letter, and make sure they understand what it means. (i think you are a little more school board policy versed than some might be)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement! It feels like a stab in the dark, but I couldn't sit here and not help out. I'm thinking I will go brave and send the letter to the local papers...


Put it right here, babe!