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9/25/2018

FAA Policy Testimony

“Board Members are elected to be leaders. You take an oath to do the best for ALL children. You have an opportunity to make a difference here and now. The FAA policy language should uphold diversity in our schools and steer the Board away from listening only to the loudest voices. Please remember those that do not have a voice. Listen to the kids. Listen to your own conscience.”

I’m here today in support of adding the words “especially, and in particular” regarding diversity in the FAA policy. There are a number of reasons to give this factor more weight.

First, there is evidence-based data to support it. A 2001 to 2007 study of Montgomery County showed that low-income students gained 8 points in Math assessment scores when in lower-poverty schools.

Studies also show that higher-income students perform as well in higher-poverty schools as they do in lower-poverty ones, . Please go to bit.ly/diversitydocs for the studies.

Second, there is compelling historical precedent. In Brown v. Board of Education, Thurgood Marshall established that “separate is inherently unequal”.

Dr. Docca recently commented that integration was tried here in Montgomery County and didn’t work, specifically referring to my neighborhood school, Rosemary Hills. But it did work. In fact it worked brilliantly. Chevy Chase and Kensington fought to be kept together with our mixed neighborhood when the boundaries of the new Silver Creek Middle School were being drawn.

Third and most important, is the real life experience of today’s kids. I have had children in MCPS for the last 17 years. They and their friends have repeatedly told me how much they value diversity in their schools. Parents fear what they do not know. But I can tell you my daughter’s middle school years in a high-poverty, 93 percent minority school were the best experience either of my children has had in Montgomery County Schools. She learned that not all cultures are obsessed with thinness and the nicest pair of boots. She learned appreciation of what she has, and compassion for others. She learned to be comfortable around people different from herself. She gained confidence and focus, and like-minded friends who are still close 18 months later. As a parent, sending her to Loiederman MS was probably the single best thing I have done for her development.

I advocated for demographically balanced options during the boundary discussions about Rosemary Hills Primary School in 2010, and more recently about Silver Creek and Westland middle schools. It is true that schools across the country have also become more and more segregated. But the Board chose options that further segregated those schools. The Board has made a conscious choice to maintain or increase segregation in decision after decision. But this does not have to be the case.

Board Members are elected to be leaders. You take an oath to do the best for ALL children. You have an opportunity to make a difference here and now. The FAA policy language should uphold diversity in our schools and steer the Board away from listening only to the loudest voices. Please remember those that do not have a voice. Listen to the kids. Listen to your own conscience.

Thank you.

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