As the last days of summer wind down, students are both sad for summer to end and filled with the anticipation of seeing their classmates from their community they may have gone to school with for years. While many of us were vacationing, the Fairfax County School Board started making plans that will drastically change the fabric of our community schools. They started revising FCPS’s existing school boundary policy (Policy 8130.7). They presented the draft of their new policy on Monday, July 22 at a work session.
Astoundingly, the new policy removes the following criteria for consideration of boundary changes:
- the overall impact on students and families
- busing costs
- consideration of school feeder alignments
- instructional effectiveness
The new policy is based on the County's "One Fairfax" policy that expressly aims to create equity throughout all of Fairfax County's 1.2 million residents by breaking up what Fairfax politicians call "islands of excellence" within its 400 square mile boundaries." As a naturalized citizen from Mexico, I am highly in favor of equity for all people. I am not in favor of making huge changes to the schools that students now attend, busing students to a different neighborhood and separating students from the community of students and families that have supported them throughout their education.
One parent I spoke with said, “We used to walk our kids to school together starting in Kindergarten. They are all still close friends. Now our kids are entering high school. I really look forward to watching them play sports together and seeing all the families we have known for years. Our community is a big family. I don’t want my child sent somewhere across the county away from the kids we have grown up with.”
The School Board wants to create greater equity and help fewer privileged students. I support helping students that need help. However, FCPS is already doing this. Lower-income Title 1 schools receive additional federal funding and have more resources many other schools do not such as smaller classes, parent resource centers, and instructional coaches and parent liaisons that work more hours than at other schools.
Research shows that getting parents more involved in their child’s education is one of the most significant ways to help bridge the achievement gap. If students are bused away from their neighborhood it is extremely difficult for lower-income parents to come to events at their child’s school or to get access to resources the school provides such as school supplies, clothing, and extra food.
The School Board is misguided in its new boundary policies. It is common for them to star unpopular changes while families are vacationing or celebrating holidays. Families are paying attention and do not want to lose the support and excellence of the community schools they love and count on.
One Fairfax "equity lens" has been the excuse and top priority of this board to change the boundary policy in preparation for county-wide boundary changes. Policy that gives them more power to move children without public vote (from 5% to 15%) and power to select which children move based on their income and race (see proposed changes here).The board refuses to help any overcrowded schools until they get their power and mock hard-working families for worrying about it.
Thur Sep 19, 2019 Superintendent Scott Brabrand emailed a video about the current boundary policy discussions to all FCPS across the county. Both the email and the video are misleading and disingenuous.
During each of the four school board work sessions where policy 8130 has been discussed, both Brabrand and the school board members use the terms “One Fairfax”, “equity lens”, “One Fairfax equity lens”, and “socio-economic equity” many, many, many times. Read more