Thursday, June 2, 2011

Separate & unequal.

Why is our County Board of Education rushing to build an inadequate school for more-diverse less-affluent students?

Westland middle school is a good school on a good site. In contrast, because Rock Creek Hills Park is so small (much smaller than the old Kensington Junior High site, since the Kensington Park retirement community was built on much of the site of the old school) with steep wooded creek-side slopes, any school built on its site would be inadequate.

Here are aerial photos, at the same scale, of Westland middle school, and Rock Creek Hills Park:

Westland is a good school on a good site, with ample room for athletic facilities. As the photos show (and as was stated on the record at the April 28th Board meeting), were a middle school to be built on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park, there would not be room for any regulation-sized athletic fields.

And here's the thing: If such a school were to be built, near the far North-East corner of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster, then, given the cluster's demographics and geography, Westland would serve the more affluent, mostly White students from the Southern region of the cluster, while the proposed inadequate school, without regulation fields, would serve the more diverse and less affluent students from the Northern and Eastern regions of the cluster.

Why segregate students by diversity and income? Why build, for less-affluent more-diverse students, an unequal school?

1 comment:

sfvanbochove said...

I am currently the mother of a 2nd grader in Rosemary Hills Primary School,
headed to NCC next year. I was invited to participate in the BCC elementary
school boundary study that will be implemented 2015-2016 at the earliest.
The new middle school is scheduled to open during that time. When the new
boundaries are implemented, it will affect, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, North
Chevy Chase and Rosemary Hills, elementary schools. Another boundary study
will follow for the new middle school, to determine what elementary schools
(with new boundaries) will feed into it.

The committee raised the very same concerns, currently raised by Jim Pekar,
perhaps not as passionate or colorful, but nevertheless these concerns are
valid and are the product of a many voices.

The size of the school drives the curriculum. However, MCPS picked two lead
sites, Rosemary Hills(no longer a contender) and Rock Creek Hills, both of
which have a much smaller foot print than Westland, thereby limiting the
curriculum, afterschool programs and athletic activities. Of equal
importance was the location of both of these sites, north and east of the
BCC cluster, which was contrary to the "centralized" location that BOE
recommended. A lot of parents I spoke with were concerned about the
potential lack of parity that results when a smaller middle school is built
and the impact of that inequality on their children's education.

Of great concern by committee members, parents, and staff, is the potential
unbalance along socio-economic factors that MPCS has worked hard for over 30
years to overcome. Given the location of both sites, there is a geographical
divide that inherently will split the cluster into unequal sections along
those socio-economic factors.

Regardless of how you may feel about Rock Creek Hills Local Park, as the
location of the new middle school, I encourage you to participate in the
feasibility study to learn of the potential impact of this site and the
issues associated with a smaller middle school that have been identified,
not just by our Rock Creek Hills community, but by communities of Chevy
Chase, North Chevy Chase and Rosemary Hills.

We all want a well balanced school for our children and for our cluster.
This is your opportunity to pave the path of success for our children and
communities as a whole.

Thank you.

S.van Bochove