Friday, August 8, 2014

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity

Real estate. When I see those two words I think of Lucy in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Her voice is forever stuck in my head. While others wished for toys or a new bike or candy or new clothes, Lucy was looking for a bigger investment. I thought of Lucy when I saw this post on Facebook:

10655 GREEN MOUNTAIN Cir, COLUMBIA, MD 21044 - 4 beds/3 baths(MRIS) Sale Pending: 4 bed, 3 bath, 1452 sq. ft. house...

This is a sampling from the thread that followed:

Home prices in Columbia are clearly governed by some mad god.

I have no understanding of it.

It is fascinating to watch pricing trends. How they vary street to street, part of town, etc. Ellicott City goes a LOT higher because they don't have the "bad schools" that a planned community has with including the poor in districting. My neighborhood school is actually a Title 1 school as there are so few families in our neighborhood with kids (a lot of original owners and older owners). So, most of the kids are from the low income housing and rental units. BUT... there is a good mix of students of upper middle class, middle class and poor... just a bit too lopsided. And fantastic teachers and staff.

Wilde Lake?

I went to Long Reach, which is a "bad school". But in reality it's one of the top schools in the country, along with all the other schools in HoCo.

No, the elementary school. Bryant Woods. But Wilde Lake is a "bad school". Um yes... tell that to the kids going to schools all over the country and their high SATS and high AP passing scores.

Yeah. The fact that there are Black kids at the schools doesn't make them bad. There are people that don't see that.

I completely blame the school rating sites. Reality is: low income students will almost automatically mean drops in test scores for a gazillion reasons. But people read that as, "Oh, kids do bad here." Or... maybe they even do admit to themselves (though I doubt it). "I don't want my kid to go to school with so many bad (black) kids."

At the high school level there's basically a completely different school experience/opportunity for low-performing and high-performing students. If you're smart you'll get your AP classes regardless, if you're not you'll get remedial classes and they'll focus on helping you just graduate. So there's both a "bad school" and a "good school" inside every high school.

But yeah... if you're so afraid of black people that you can only live in the most gentrified of gentrified districts then I guess all the schools will seem "bad".

Very true.


I'm sharing this conversation with you because it touches on some uncomfortable truths that we don't like to talk about in Columbia. The people in this thread graciously allowed me to share this with a wider audience. I want to stress that this is the beginning of a conversation here. This is not an opportunity to take pot shots at the individual whose thoughts I have shared. It is pretty clear to me that these are folks who are part of the solution, not the problem.

These are the points I'm going to focus on tomorrow:

  • Why do we define schools by test scores alone?
  • What happens when neighborhoods lose families with children?
  • Do we really choose diversity?
  • Where do we go from here?






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