Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Who made this choice anyway?

Dear DJUSD:

Generations have worked hard to maintain the character that makes our classrooms shine. We have a system brave enough to engage children in a uniform manner without concern for aptitude or peculiarity. Many parents who do not choose Spanish or Montessori programs are unaware of educational choices and are undoubtedly less interested in their child’s education.

Allowing so many low-income and special education students to saturate traditional classrooms detracts from the average student’s needs. We need to have a better balance in these classrooms, because, as we know, the solution to pollution is dilution.

Dear DJUSD, forgive my sarcasm, let me now be blunt. The argument over choice programs has unveiled bigotry in this town. Terms like “white flight” are euphemisms used by people afraid of having their classroom representative of Yolo County. If there is a privilege to which only the most pure have access, why combat the expansion of these programs to a greater number of underserved children?

This climate is having a permanent effect upon children on both sides of the discriminatory divide. Perhaps there are problems with magnet programs and they should be dealt with in a transparent manner. But don’t you believe that the pretense for hatred coming from parents and teachers through the categorization and marginalization of children is wrong? This is an issue that the district needs to address.

I’m sad for those families who are unaware that their teachers think less of their children because of some illegitimate preconception. If one truly cares more about diversity and equity than one does self-interests, I encourage those individuals to explain how limiting educational options will help those poor, non-white children in their classes thrive.

These “problematic” children will not disappear if we eliminate choice programs. Perhaps it is not simply racism or bigotry that is driving this war against choice, but rather the root of all evil: money. Tax and tax, one begins to feel as if their child’s place is slipping away to someone who is less deserving.

Xochitl Montenegro
Davis

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  • Michael ZiserMarch 21, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    Dear Xochitl: I am one of the parents in the Birch Lane neighborhood program who has raised questions about inequalities between the neighborhood program and the special program also housed on that campus (Montessori). I can assure you that the last thing that I or any of the other neighborhood parents who are concerned about this issue believe is that the *students* or their families are in any way the problem. The problem is that neighborhood classrooms are more crowded, more unbalanced in terms of gender and grade-level, and have more students with special needs than Montessori classrooms across the hall. The data clearly shows this, and you only have to observe the classrooms for a few minutes to confirm it: the difference in learning environment is palpable. When programs become unbalanced like this, families with resources and connections move their kids to the more balanced classrooms, worsening the situation. Guess who pays the price: newer families with less resources and less community connection to Montessori. At our school, that usually means non-white and non-asian kids, who are barely represented in Montessori classrooms at all. If you are at all concerned about equal access to quality education, you belong with the critics of special programs. When we first brought this to the attention of the Montessori parent, the school administration, and the district office, we were hopeful that we could quickly figure out a way to define and resolve the problem that would be a win for everyone. Instead, we've been stonewalled by administrators, snubbed in the most childish ways imaginable by some Montessori parents, pegged (ridiculously) as racists for pointing out racial segregation, and watched as the truly excellent teachers in the Birch Lane neighborhood program get blamed for problems created by poor district policy, exacerbated by administrative incompetence, and perpetuated by the defensiveness of some Montessori parents and teachers. I'm certain that there are reasonable folks out there in the district office and among Montessori parents who would be interested in resolving the real issues; unfortunately, their voices are not currently the loudest.

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