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‘Educate Don’t Segregate’ group urges Loudoun School Board not to divide Hispanic students

A father and daughter listen during a bilingual informational meeting on the rezoning process hosted by Educate Don’t Segregate at the Rust Library in Leesburg on March 22. Times-Mirror/Hannah Dellinger
A movement known as “Educate Don’t Segregate-LCPS” is urging the Loudoun County School Board to not reverse its policy of socio-economically balancing Leesburg elementary schools.

With about 800 signatures on their petition as of March 23, the group is gaining the attention of regional, state and national media. The group formed after School Board members proposed several plans to rezone central Loudoun elementary school students that would populate two Leesburg elementary schools with over 50 percent impoverished Hispanic students.

Previous boards made the decision to spread high-needs student enrollment to schools up to 3 miles away, so no one school would become overburdened. While in the process of rezoning central Loudoun elementary schools to solve overcrowding at Evergreen Mill Elementary School, the current board has debated whether it might be more beneficial to put at-risk students in the schools closest to their homes so families can have better access to schools and become more involved in their children's education.

Some board members argued that by concentrating the impoverished and English as a second language-learners, their schools can attain more Title 1 funding, which is allocated to each state by the federal government and to localities by the state, to support the needs of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

They reasoned that designated Title 1 schools would be better-equipped and customized to serve at-risk students. Debbie Rose (Algonkian) pointed to high test scores in Sterling Title 1 schools as an example of success.

However, according to the U.S. Department of Education website, Title 1 funding is based on the number of free and reduced lunch students in the county as a whole, not on the number of Title 1 schools in the county. That means concentrating low-income students in a Title 1 school will not bring more federal funding into the school system.

“Adjustments in boundary lines that result in more schools being eligible for Title 1 will not impact the allocation Loudoun County Public Schools receives from the Virginia Department of Education,” reads an informational document LCPS staff posted online. “Serving additional schools that become Title 1 eligible means that the allocations the current Title 1 schools receive would be reduced. In summary, it would be the same amount of funding spread across more schools.”

The $1.5 million in Title 1 funding that LCPS is currently allocated has to be split up evenly between all Title 1 schools, including the ones that may be created in this rezoning process.

If two more Title 1 schools are created, as some of the 12 attendance zone plans propose to do, each Title 1 school would receive about $187,000 in federal funding to support high-need impoverished students. Existing Loudoun Title 1 schools that already receive funding would see their coffers decrease in that scenario.

The Educate Don’t Segregate group believes filling a school with about 50 percent low-income students without a concrete funding plan to support student needs is irresponsible.

“They are creating the D.C. effect,” said Darcy Cunningham, a member of the online group protesting the rezoning changes. “In D.C., if you live in a certain area, your children won’t get the same education as the children in the affluent neighborhoods.”

Rev. Daniel Velez-Rivera of bilingual St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Leesburg, said many members of his congregation will be affected by the rezoning. They expressed to him they felt they were not adequately informed about the situation.

Members of Educate Don’t Segregate are going door-to-door with translators to explain what is at stake to the Spanish-speaking families that may be impacted. They also hosted a couple of bilingual informational meetings, drawing out crowds of over 200 people.

Matilde Sanchez, a Spanish-speaking mother of Leesburg elementary students, told the Times-Mirror through an interpreter she didn’t know much about the rezoning process until she spoke with Educate Don’t Segregate members.

“We didn’t know anything about it, except about two weeks ago the school sent home a letter in Spanish saying they were going to be doing some rezoning and some children would be moved, but that’s all that it said,” she said.

None of the 12 proposed plans were offered to parents in Spanish by the School Board or LCPS. Members of Educate Don’t Segregate summarized each plan in charts, translated them into Spanish and distributed them to parents in affected neighborhoods.

Now that Spanish-speaking parents better understand the proposed plans, they are worried about their children’s education.

“What is a concern is not so much that their kids will be moved, but will they get the same quality of education as all the other schools in Leesburg?” said Rivera. “Moving to a closer school may be convenient, but they don’t want that at the expense of a quality education.”

Sanchez and many other parents wonder why the drastic rezoning changes are necessary.

“If there is a problem of overcrowding at one school, why are they bothering all the schools?” Sanchez said. “In this day and age, I don’t understand why they are doing this. After talking to members of the community, we feel like we have begun to uncover some racism.”

Research shows that many of the country’s public schools are resegregating its students based on race and income. Some studies even suggest that public schools are just as segregated by race as they were in the 1960s. Experts say segregated schools are usually the worst performing because of the challenges teachers face when poverty is concentrated.

The School Board is expected to choose a new central Loudoun attendance map at its March 29 meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the School Administration Building in Ashburn.

Click here to view all of the proposed plans.


What makes Michael assume I have not been a sub teacher in this area?  I have, as it happens. The casual racism of this thread shouldn’t shock me—I’ve lived in Northern VA for 25 years—but it still discourages me. I teach kids every working day of my life who work hard and want to better themselves. And I can’t think of them as somehow less important than I am.  #sorrynotsorry

Your blatant racism is sneaking out again, SGP.  Your suggestion that low income residents of our county are all illegal aliens, paying no taxes and having too many kids is outrageous and should not be tolerated.

I moved up to Frederick over a year ago but read about this through Facebook friends. If this is the direction Loudoun wants to go, then I’m glad I did just that, it’s well worth the few extra grand I’m paying in taxes (that’d be called “principal/interest” in Virginia, but what the hey). In any case, what with HHI exceeding Fairfax, it seems odd that Loudoun’s achievement still seems that much further behind Fairfax’s, but that’s another issue for another day.

Full disclosure: My daughters would have attended Leesburg ES, but we lived close enough to King Street that we’d have gotten reassigned to Reid.

Now to address the supposed reasons:
Resources: $180k won’t buy bupkis for schools that are 60% some combination of FARMS/ESL. 2-3 aides per school, perhaps.

Given the tax-cutting fervor (well the Randall board’s less bad than the York III board, or was that York IV) of a large chunk of Loudoun residents, I severely doubt the county’s going to do jack!@#$ for the schools as Mr Ohneiser suggests doing. Many people really and honestly wish FARMS/ESOL students would just somehow disappear or move out of Loudoun. Many other people seem to think these students ... are no problem at all and anyone who thinks otherwise is a RACIST, CLASSIST, and other -ISTs.

Finally, this plan flies in 50+ years of research indicating that concentrating poverty does no one—at-risk and not-at-risk—a lick of good. We’re not DC or Baltimore where 80%+ of the kids are FARMS/ESOL/at risk somehow and distributing at-risk students is well-nigh impossible.

Sterling-area schools seem to have a smaller achievement gap, but everyone—at risk and not at risk—is doing worse than the rest of the county.

As for neighborhood schools: in every single rezoning in the past five years, there’s attendance islands, people being bussed past closer schools, etc. Yet this concern about neighborhood schools only seems to be for Leesburg.

I don’t see a county-wide attendance island reformation or re-righting where every effort is made to send students to their closest school (or allow students their pick of 2-3 nearby schools). Nope—just Leesburg. Why is that? Why isn’t this being done for Brambleton, South Riding, etc., etc.?

Callme, it’s pretty much a given there is not much “critical thinking” going on in your house but today is your luck day.  I’m going to explain it for you.

1. Federal taxes: illegal aliens pay virtually nothing in taxes and many get payments from the feds.  I’m sure you are saying “How is that so”, right?  One, cash barter/wages for starters.  But if you have a tax number (ITN), you can claim “refundable” tax credits via the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  That means that they get the money paid to them EVEN if it’s more than they owe in taxes.  In fact, according to IRS data, in FY 2010, 72% of all illegals filling tax returns claimed the EITC.  And, also in 2010, the IRS paid out more in these refundable tax credits than the taxes owed by them.  Net payments to illegals for simply breathing our air.  By 2014, the EITC payments to illegal aliens totaled over $4B/yr.  Check out the search terms “wthr” and “tax loophole costs”.  It has the link to the IRS report too.

2. State income taxes are very low compared to federal taxes with many deductions for kids.  Thus, even when they file tax returns, they are unlikely to pay any state income taxes.  Recall that our schools receive about 30% of their funding through the state.

3. Lastly, we have local taxes. Yes, we all pay real estate taxes directly or via rent.  That is true.  But given that:

a. Many of these families have more kids than the normal family (each at least $13K/yr)

b. Their ESL status means they get more resources than a native born child (ESL teachers and/or smaller class sizes) so they get more than $13K/yr while the native born kids get < $13K/yr

c. Their density and rental values are much less than the average family.  So they are paying nowhere near the average of just $5K in residential taxes.

That wasn’t so hard, was it Callme?  When you look at what’s actually paid (with the exclusion of sales taxes which are hard to escape), many of these families could actually be getting paid (fed tax refund - local real estate tax) to receive larger education benefits that those who were born here legally.  That is what you appear to be arguing for in your “social justice” theories.

The reason the board is dealing with adjusting the school boundaries is to deal with overcrowding at one school (Evergreen Mill).  Relieving overcrowding at this one schools can be achieved by minor adjustments to the school boundaries lines.  The board is now reopening debate into community or social-economic diverse schools.  A decision of such importance shouldn’t be rushed in just a couple of weeks, but should be studied over a much longer period of time.

If the board does decide Community Based schools are the better way to go then that’s fine.  By all means have community based schools, but none of the plans submitted provide for community based schools.  Plan 12, that some proponents say is community based schools is not community based schools for everybody.  In my case, my kids will still go to a school that is 2.1 miles from our house rather than our community based schools (Tolbert) which is 0.6 miles.  If you look at the proposed boundary lines for plan 12, the more affluent neighborhoods which are twice as far from Tolbert get to go to Tolbert, but my kids will be bused to a school that is not in the neighborhood and not part of our community.  My children will be sent to a Title I school even though we don’t fit the demographic of a school that will have 53% FRL & ELS which means my children’s education will suffer.  As a parent, I like a diverse school, but this isn’t diverse.  If the board wants community based schools then please let’s have community based schools and ensure that children go to the schools that are closest to them.  You determine who goes to which schools by taking the homes that are nearest to the schools and work your way from nearest to farthest out.  It’s a point of basic fairness and equity.  How school boundaries are devises and which neighborhoods are included/excluded should be completely transparent and based on distance to their community school.  Not based on one neighborhood being more deserving than another because their homes are worth more than another neighborhood. 

SGP - not sure how you concluded “against those who pay very little taxes, if any” when taxes are based on property value and we all pay the same rate, or have you not been paying attention to your rantings.  Even if families rent their homes, taxes are still paid on the value of the locations and rent payments cover these amounts.

“ASSIMILATE NOT DISCRIMINATE” or “EDUCATION BY ASSIMILATION”... Say no to “ESL” and let’s everyone become Americans! jholcomb should try being a substitute teacher instead of just attending meetings. I have done both and I have seen what the teachers have to work with and it is a near impossible task. What are Loudoun citizens getting for the more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS that we pay for educating our children!

jholcomb - who and why are “they” the most vulnerable “members” of the community? The last time I checked, the words “common values” we’re part of the meaning of “community” and the Plaza Street and My Neighborhood have very differing values. I can assure you with at least 10 different major factors, but won’t waste my breathe as liberals won’t care to understand. We will continue to give the most vulnerable our welfare, charity, handouts, etc. but they must do for themselves. Many, many are good people and have assimilated, and are continuing to assimilated. Many, many others aren’t and won’t. Many others are arriving daily illegally without any language skills and being put into the same classes as our kids and we are being asked to remain silent. I believe not!

Let me see if I can understand the various groups here:

1. We have ESL families, most of whom are from Latin America. In their home lands, they would have been educated with 100% Hispanic populations with a per pupil cost of no greater than $2k/yr. This appears to be the group that Educate Don’t Segregate is counting on to keep the current zoning paradigm.

2. Then you have disadvantaged families who have long been citizens. They are comprised of all races but the minorities are the ones most likely to be in this status. This includes blacks who were once segregated by race using the color of law. They have no need for ESL services but will be uniquely hurt by segregating leesburg schools.

3. Then you have non-FRL families who used to be the predominant group in each leesburg school. They will be bunched in majority minority schools and will have a less effective education. The rich suburbs couldn’t care less about you.

4. Finally we have the rich suburbs represented by DeKenipp, Rose, Turgeon and Hornberger. They want to reduce their schools to less than 5% FRL and kick out the minorities. They will say anything, including how they are truly “worried” about groups 1 and 2 above, to protect their home values and keep their schools “pure”. They refuse to allow full public discussion and reject any input from outside experts.

It seems like very few are publicly speaking out for groups 2 and 3. I cannot imagine why they are hitching their hopes to a campaign extolling the injustice against those who pay very little taxes, if any, and whose default education in their home lands would undoubtedly be far inferior to even a segregated school here. But I guess it’s not my district.

I’m not sure why Bob O thinks we are not considering what is best for the most vulnerable members of the community.  Did he attend the meeting?  Has he studied the materials about the plans?  If he did, he might understand the situation better.

Ok, here’s how this decision will turn.  Plan 12 is a done deal for most of the school board and the only way to block it is through the courts.  While one of the more effective arguments against Plan 12 is that Loudoun should not abandon white students to a high-poverty school, white students essentially have no rights on this issue.  They are not a protected class.  Sorry, that’s how the law works.

But blacks (8% of this region’s students) are a protected class and they are not insignificant in this issue.  Loudoun segregated by race at one point in its history and Plan 12’s efforts to resegregate will make that history relevant.  Take a look at the following numbers.  For each school in the region, I have provided the following numbers from the VDOE site for the 2016 attendance data:

a. Number of overall students
b. Number/% of black students
c. % of the black students that qualify as FRL

Ball’s Bluff - 633 : 61/9.6% : 36%
Catoctin - 521 : 28/5.4% : 43%
Evergreen Mill - 641 : 29/4.5% : 76%
Frances Hazel Reid - 713 : 40/5.6% : 40%
Frederick Douglass - 733 : 110/15.0% : 62%
Tolbert - 734 : 57/7.8% : 46%
Leesburg - 567 : 38/6.7% : 32%

Overall, Hispanics make up 25% of the students in this region and 72% of them qualify for FRL.

Specifically, Frederick Douglass has a combined Black+Hispanic population of 39%, Evergreen Mill has 38%, Ball’s Bluff has 35%, Frances Hazel Reid has 37%, and Tolbert has 26%.

Since Plan 12 moves so many black and Hispanic students back to just a few schools, a “disparate impact” suit could be brought against this decision.  Specifically,

1. Non-FRL students underperform in reading tests in high-poverty schools.  This is true in Loudoun and across the nation (see the Fairfax and/or Wake County studies on this)

2. Concentrating black students who are clearly not ESL students can only have negative effects for them.  This nonsense about needing a Title 1 school to “effectively deliver services” wouldn’t even be applicable in this case.

3. With its history of forced segregation and its zoning policies that result in black families being concentrated in the Leesburg city area, a black family would have standing and a pretty good case that Plan 12 resulted in a harmful, disparate impact.  It doesn’t matter if the Potomac Falls families don’t have bad intentions (most do but it’s not relevant), the fact that there are alternative plans that could accomplish the goals of policy 2-32 without having such a disparate impact could get Plan 12 overturned in a federal court.

That is the way to victory, not by listening to Evan MacBeth proclaim “everyone is an extremely valued member of our community”.  Save that for your love fests.

It’s rather telling when people attack EDS and accuse them of having alterior motives. That’s usually how people react to something they don’t agree but don’t have any facts to back their arguement.
Why do people keep insisting that creating title one schools will give disadvantaged kids in Leesburg a better education and more resources? That’s not true, well, not unless LCPS takes the money away from the kids in Sterling. How is that morally right?
And what’s with the accusations about kids not inviting their disadvantaged classmates to birthday parties? That’s just horrible to assume!
Yes many parents don’t want to see their children upset, if they did, then I would be concerned. The fact is we really do care and want what’s best for all of the children. We don’t want to take money away from the kids in Sterliing, we have read the research, talked to the experts, and discussed the issues with the ELL and FRL families- we did what the school board should have before submitting plans that greatly change the dynamics of every school in Leesburg.
So until somebody can argue that our principals and views are wrong, using real data and facts, we will continue to reach out to the community and do research. We will fight for what is right for every child in Loudoun County.
People can call us racists and bigots, accuse us of only doing this because our children’s feelings are hurt, we don’t care, we don’t stoop to that level. We are setting an example for our children and rather they not be judgemental or reduce themselves to calling others names if they don’t like what somebody says or does.

Much better description of how Title 1 works. As one can tell, $180k isn’t enough to do anything since teachers cost about $95k/yr to employ. This extra funding amounts to less than 2% of per pupil cost per year.

The real difference is that LCSB chose to also voluntarily lower class size from 23 to 21. That’s equal to about 9-10% more in per pupil spending. Just like LCSB voluntarily chose to add staff to their Title 1 schools entirely from local funds, they could add staff to the 30% FRL schools right now to alleviate the issues. If a school has roughly 690 students, its primary teachers would increase from 30 to 33 in the current Title 1 model (additional auxiliary positions exist too). LCSB could simply add 1 or 2 teachers to the 30-40% schools now.

Remember that Title 1 estimates it costs 40% more to educate FRL students. LCSB is providing only 10% even in its Title 1 designated schools.

Lastly, Rose boasts about Sterling schools. Ask her about Forest Grove and Sterling Elementary. They are total disasters as one might expect both in test scores and growth scores. Speaking of growth scores, Rose and Co. refuse to even look at this growth data (SGPs) even though Rose claims she is “up to the task” of being her own research adviser.

An entire article arguing that Hispanic, low-income, English Language Learners singlehandedly create low-quality schools.  Amazing.  Racism, classism, and language discrimination wrapped into a single, tidy little package. 

“Educate Don’t Segregate” proponents claim that “distributing” a certain type of chid is beneficial, as if these children are packages in a warehouse. Are the “haves” inviting the “have nots” for birthday parties and sleepovers? Are the “haves”  buying the same trendy clothes and gadgets for the other kids in class as they purchase for their own children?  Or are the “haves” totally satisfied with leaving the “have nots” feeling left out? Perhaps “Educate Don’t Segregate” organizers should think about what’s best for the most vulnerable members of our community and stop focusing on their own child’s hurt feelings about switching schools.

Of course this article doesn’t address the increased flexibility to meet student needs that specialty schools could provide under Title 1, such as high-quality after school programming or better family activities.  Edward Murrow must be turning in his grave.

In my 8 years of experience on the school board the use of Title 1 funding or “Moving to a closer school may be convenient, but they don’t want that at the expense of a quality education.” type of rhetoric could be viewed as misleading.
Why require the closest school to the Leesburg triangle be crowded or even full? Why not accept the challenge and provide class sizes similar to what the Academy of Science does for elite students - 13 - 15 students per teacher? The “INNER” city scchool could easily become an academy if LCPS was willing to make the effort instead of merely diluting the efforts of other crowded schools by allocating these small children to an environment of being bused to neighborhoods they don’t live in or even live nearby.
The federal government programs are mostly underfunded, underperforming, overstaffed and over politicized efforts which LCPS could manage more efficiently without accompanying federal mandates. Perhaps if the parents who think it is so great to bus these inner city kids well over an hour per school day would volunteer to bus their own young child miles from their neighborhood we would see a lot less interest in such concepts. Proximity should be the guiding variable in a fairly designed policy for boundaries in my experience.
Bob O__ Esq.

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