This is the first post on All Opinions Are Local by Montgomery County blogger Dan Reed, who is a new participant in The Post’s Local Blog Network.
Over the past week, I've looked at how demographic changes and flight are making Montgomery County Public Schools a segregated system. Today, let’s talk about ways to fix it.
I started working on this series last year, when my brother began looking at Northeast Consortium high schools to attend this fall. I'm a proud product of MCPS and Blake High School, but it’s clear to me that both the school system and the county need to change if they want to remain competitive regionally, nationally and globally.
The de facto segregation of MCPS has been an issue for decades. But school and county officials have often ignored it or responded with weak or ineffective solutions. We can’t keep isolating our low-income and minority students in the system’s worst-ranked schools. And we must ensure that middle- and upper-middle-class families see every school, not just a privileged handful of campuses, as a valid choice for their children.
Education researcher Richard Kahlenberg has found that students of all backgrounds do better in mixed-income schools, while middle-class parents are four times more likely to participate in parent-teacher associations, making the school community stronger. Not surprisingly, teachers and administrators in high-poverty schools are more stressed out, making it hard to attract good faculty, which further reduces performance.
In a 2010 study of Montgomery County, policy researcher Heather Schwartz found that low-income students living in subsidized housing in high-income neighborhoods did better in school than students living elsewhere. It found that throwing more money at high-poverty schools, the policy of superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr and his predecessors, can only go so far.
[Continue reading Dan Reed’s post here at Just Up the Pike.]
Dan Reed blogs at Just Up the Pike. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.