- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Few in number are the original ideas that germinate and gain traction in Washington, and the issue of public schooling is no different.

Yet, as you read this, school authorities are working on something that is neither original nor unbiased. In fact, they are working on a plan that is as discriminatory and biased as any bigot imagined.

D.C. is considering changes to the city’s school boundaries that would establish “legacy preferences.”

You know what those are, right?

“Legacy” preferences mean that if School X has or had a sister who attends, School X must provide a seat for her siblings. (And by School X I do not mean that school was named in honor of Malcolm X. So let’s stay focused.)

I’m not certain whether D.C. would be the first in the nation to establish such a “legacy” preference in K-12 public schooling, and that’s because, as I said, not much original springs from the minds of nonlibertarian Washington. But this “legacy” is a dangerous proposition, one that will further tie parents’ hands and result in intentionally keeping kids in underperforming and unsafe schools.

Seems the goal of this plan is to resegregate public schools.

A candidate for the D.C. Board of Education I co-interviewed on WPFW-FM on Thursday explained how the program would work.

I asked David Do if he has any kids in D.C. Public Schools, and he said no. He also said there are great things about the boundary plan and some bad things.

One of the great things is that his “future” kids would be able to attend the neighborhood school where he volunteers.

Now, no offense at all to Mr. Do, but I think any parents who want to send their children to any traditional public school should be permitted to do so.

How in the world can you claim “legacy” seating at a public school? A public school?

That’s worse than establishing boundaries by ZIP code, which essentially is where D.C. stands right now. That system is essentially why kids who attend traditional schools in “codes” 20019, 20020 and 20032 consistently are ranked on the lower rungs of the academic ladder.

I also queried Mr. Do on Title I funds, the federal dollars that are supposed to help level the playing field for underprivileged schoolchildren.

Well, it seems that extra money isn’t taking up the slack in the academic gap. Moreover, Title I money can be used for anticrime programs, illegal and legal immigration policies and even dropout prevention, among other things.

In other words, create a project, get the school system to buy into it and voila — the gap widens.

D.C. officials need to permanently file away the school boundary plan, stop trying to resurrect Jim Crow and let parental choice be the beacon of light.

It might have sounded like a good idea to revisit school boundaries that have been in place since the 1970s, but public schools are not private schools and colleges, which have every right to “legacy” preferences.

It’s a good thing this is a key election year, because, if it weren’t, I’d be buying a new shoe wardrobe.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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