Bob’s back with a column this week. Much of it is devoted to what a waste of time and money it was to verify the residency of the students using our public schools. I disagree (and $25,000, not Horton’s “hundreds of thousands of dollars” were expended on the effort) because, like Peter Sherr, I kept receiving inquiries about the issue from residents convinced that we are educating half of Port Chester. Sherr said, repeatedly, that it was important to keep the trust of taxpayers that the BOE be perceived as a careful guardian of their money , spending it wisely and well, and therefore it was imperative that the board answer these rumors. I agree: not every rumor demands a response, but this one did.
In my opinion. Horton disagrees, and that’s fine. But he then turns his attention to the real issue underlying the residency verification: racial redistricting, and thats where he loses me.
The doctrine of “separate but equal” schools that enforced segregation around the country has been discredited [“illegal”, actually, not just “discredited”- Ed]
for more than 60 years, so the idea of racial imbalance school laws seems anachronistic in 2013 [and racial imbalance is connected to enforced segregation how? – Ed].
And while there may be no causal relationship [another way to put that is that there is no study showing a connection; “may be” is a weasel term for “is no” – Ed]
the fact is that the town’s most underperforming schools are the very ones with racially imbalanced school populations [they are also the schools with the poorest children and the highest percentage of non-English speakers – could that be the issue here, rather than the absence of a sufficient number of whites and Asians in those classrooms?- Ed]
The state has been telling Greenwich for at least 10 years that some schools violated state enrollment guidelines, and it has taken no significant enforcement action. So this is hardly the heavy hand of the state coming down on the school that some people claim. [The state has held off “enforcement action” to date, and now it’s threatening again. That sounds like the heavy hand of the state coming to interfere with our schools, unless Horton is saying that the latest salvo from Hartford is just an empty threat – that’d be okay with Greenwich citizens, but it seems unlikely to be Horton’s meaning – he wants action, now, and the state seems poised to grant his wish. Ed]
Those who hold the position that town schools should be exempt from the law would stand on much firmer ground if they could point to a multi-year, consistent, effective program to bring these schools up to the same performance level of other schools in town. [The argument against complying with the state’s demand is twofold: by the statute’s own language, the two affected schools are what the law terms “special schools” with open enrollment and other features and are thus exempt from the law’s racial balance requirements, and the law itself is unconstitutional under federal law. There’s no argument being made that we’re exempt because we’ve been engaged in an “effective program to bring these schools up” – we probably have, but that’s not the argument – Horton is employing a straw man here – Ed]
Instead, the school board over the years has tried a variety of half-baked programs the results of which are that the so-called student achievement gap has grown, not decreased. [The percentage of poor and non-English speaking students in those schools has also doubled in that same period. Coincidence? Horton says “yes”, I think not. – Ed
Ten years should have been enough time to achieve meaningful improvements in student achievement. [ Why? How, if the cause of the imbalance is poverty, as the state’s insistence on counting the number of children eligible for a free lunch suggests are we to bring about meaningful improvement? Are we back to adding white bodies to the classroom again? ? (Only liberals, by the way, think that there is such a thing as a free lunch, but I digress – Ed]
The state seems to have no desire to force a solution on the town, but at some point it cannot continue to ignore the disparity in student achievement. The school board should commit the district’s considerable educational talent and resources to making the racially imbalanced schools beacons of excellence [back to conflating lack of achievement with racial imbalance, with nothing to connect the two except a general, good-hearted belief that mixing black and Hispanic kids with white kids and Asians is “good”, and that the failure to achieve that must be “bad”. Since lack of equal achievement is also “bad”, to Horton, the two must be related. To paraphrase a great Australian statesman, two wrongs don’t make a white].