Segregation Not Only Happens Between Schools But Also Within A School

Like Ricardy Anderson (Democratic nominee for school board from the Mason District), I have a child enrolled in Advanced Academic Program Level IV. Similarly, I also have chosen to keep my child in the same school instead of transferring her to a designated school for advanced academics. Keeping a child in the same school does look like preventing segregation but as Whitney L. Pirtle, a sociologist and professor at the University of California Merced,  recently notes on the Atlantic, "The public focuses its attention on divides between schools, while tracking has created separate and unequal education systems within single schools."

Above copied from The Atlantic

As parents, we do want the best for our children. But we must make this desire apply to all children, not just ours.

Pirtle ends her article with both sadness and honesty,
"While my individual actions and choices are important, their impact is limited. Until we can develop better admissions tests, or pass legislation banning these tests altogether, or invest more resources in public schools to incorporate gifted and talented education (GATE)-like curricula in all classes, those of us who are willing and able to do “whatever we can” for our children need to expand our idea of who “our” children really are."
The key fact that most people do not see is that tracking always leads to segregation. It can separate high-income from low-income. It can separate whites from blacks. It is its nature. And there is no admission test out there that will not end in segregation. It is a major conclusion from research in this area.
"Research has shown that “disproportionality in gifted identification process persists across all racial groups regardless of method used to identify the students as gifted." (Hodges, J., Tay, J., Maeda, Y., & Gentry, M. (2018). A Meta-Analysis of Gifted and Talented Identification Practices. Gifted Child Quarterly, 62(2), 147-174).
Yet, we continue to pretend that there are ways by which we can mitigate the underrepresentation of low-income children and minorities in these advanced or gifted programs. In Fairfax county, we claim that advanced academics in high school are available to all through either AP or IB curricula, yet we test elementary school students in kindergarten, first and second grades to label who is advanced and who is not. With this in place, some students become years ahead of others. Thus, although high school advanced academics is now a just a matter of choice, these programs are no longer within reach of those who did not start in advanced academics in their elementary and middle schools.

We even go through assigning four different levels for advanced academics and claim that everyone is at least at advanced academic level I. We administer tests, tests that have obviously been compromised that shadow school enterprises have sprouted in our area, offering preparation and training on how to take these tests. Even with the prestigious Thomas Jefferson school in Annandale, a former student of mine here at Georgetown tells me about a tutoring program where students are trained to write essays for every possible topic in the admission test. Yet, we continue to administer these tests. Why? Pirtle's answer to this question is simple: We, parents, want this segregation. She quotes from a book by Cottom:
“They (parents) are good people. They want all children in their child’s school to thrive, but they want their child to thrive just a bit more than most.”
This is what we always want. School policy makers should therefore keep this in mind. The solution lies in "expanding the idea of who “our” children really are."

The School Board and residents of Fairfax county should listen to one of its members Pat Hynes:
As FCPS moves forward on reforming its Advanced Academic Program, it will not be enough to squeeze a few more kids of color into a segregated system. The insistence on separateness is unnecessary, pedagogically unsound, and toxic. Please let the candidates for FCPS school board know classrooms segregated by race, home language, and family income are not acceptable.

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