How are DPS magnets ‘choice?’
Your article about the Hillside IB program (Jan. 21) doesn’t accurately reflect the challenges parents face in the DPS magnet program.
The DPS magnet uses a lottery to assign seats and gives priority to neighborhood zones, siblings, and larger priority zones. The only problem: By offering preferences to those groups, qualified students are unintentionally excluded.
Consider this scenario. A student performs above grade level, and attends a non-magnet school, doesn’t live in a priority zone, and is an only child. They meet none of the priority or preference criteria.
They want to go to Burton Elementary, but missed kindergarten acceptance. DPS says they should have the ability to apply to the lottery and be placed in one of their three choices.
In the 2016-17 school year, for first grade, Burton accepted only seven new students, with 34 applying. In second grade, 24 applied and one (a sibling) was accepted. That is a 4 percent chance of a student getting a seat in secondnd grade. How is this choice or an “available” situation?
Families are fighting a losing battle that favors siblings and geographic areas. So, they stay with programs they can get into: zoned, charter, or private schools. They assume that the lottery won’t work, or they won’t rank their choices in the best order for success.
So, consider whether it’s a lack of interest in the Hillside IB program, or a lack of availability and access to parents who would jump at the chance to enroll their child if given a choice.
A conservative approach needed
All human beings need food to eat, clothes on their back and a place to live. It is unfortunate that some in our community are either homeless or ill-prepared to afford a place to reside. Those who have lived in Durham for more than 20 years are aware of the increased gentrification that has taken place over the year, especially in the past 10. Although downtown Durham has been “revitalized,” it has priced many of our vulnerable citizens out.
I remember when I was a tad and would visit my grandparents in Durham, some of the older homes on Roxboro Street and the Hayti area. I used to say that if they were fixed up they would be beautiful. Today they look much better, but the people living there, at no fault of their own, are living in places that were once low-income areas. All these areas needed was some tender loving care so that people needing assistance could reside there, raise their families and take pride in the community.
The luxurious-looking apartments between Fayetteville Street and Roxboro adjacent to Historic Hayti as well as much of the Tobacco District would have been prime real estate for Durham residents who needed affordable income. Instead they were “taken” and “awarded” to residents that could pay the exorbitant rates. Why did this happen?
I am hoping our new mayor will take a conservative approach and offer opportunity to deserving families in the Bull City. Conservatism is not a dirty word. Conservatism offers everyone willing and able an opportunity to take themselves where they are and work toward something greater. It is not depending on government for the answer but expecting when government acts on behalf of the people that ALL the people are considered and in this case those seeking quality affordable housing. I am praying that Mayor Schewel and the zoning board will make better decisions for our residents.
The world around me
The planet I call home is constantly adapting to an everchanging humanity, and recently it has not been receiving the treatment needed to thrive.
I am a current sophomore at Woods Charter School. As an educated citizen, I’ve developed many concerns regarding human treatment of the environment in the United States, more specifically in my home state of North Carolina. Growing up aware of the natural beauty of the world around me, I learned of the importance of the Earth to all organisms from an early age. Earth is the basis of human life, and in taking preservative action by reducing dependence on fossil fuels, perhaps investing in environmentally sound urban planning, and increasing public knowledge about the effect it has on the environment, we can circumvent further harm of our planet and create a strong foundation for the changes needed to best care for our environment.
Mother Earth has provided for humanity for thousands of years, and has been forced to evolve alongside humans; she can only do so effectively if treated right.
I brought in MLK Day listening to students at the 26th Annual MLK Youth Lock-In. We talked about racism, implicit bias, the role of school resource officers, and their hopes for our world. Later that morning, I marched alongside the same students and community members through the streets of Downtown Durham. As we marched, I remembered my favorite Dr. King quote, “But we shall overcome, and I am convinced that we shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
In my time as a member of Durham Public School’s Board of Education, I have actively worked to bend the arc towards justice in our community. I advocated strengthening our policies to protect student information. I voted to support the establishment the Office of Equity Affairs that facilitated Racial Equity training to our senior leadership. I participated in the search, interview, and selection process of our new Superintendent with a demonstrated history of increased student achievement.
As I marched alongside my fellow board members, I reflected on the bending that we must continue this year. We must further examine our data to uncover inequities in education. We must speak truth to how systemic racism impacts our education system. We must listen to the students, parents and community members – using their voices as the compass in decision-making. We must build the capacity of our teachers and leaders to create equitable, inclusive, and engaging school communities. We must continue to work daily to love our students, our parents, our staff and our community.
Well-equipped to continue this work, I’m excited to announce my campaign for re-election for the District 2 seat. I commit to continue to ask hard questions, to challenge us to be innovative and reflective, to view every decision through an equity lens and most importantly, to partner with our students, our families and our employees. I believe in a Durham where every single child succeeds and know that together, we can build this Durham.
Join me in bending the arc toward justice.
Durham Public Schools Board of Education
A book to read
I appreciated the opinion article by D.G. Martin, “A Black History Month Reading List” (Jan. 24). My current read covers the vast internal U.S. slave trade in the 1800s to supply the new states with enslaved people from Virginia and Maryland.
Those people were used as capital, currency and product.
“The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry” by Ned and Constance Sublette is long and bleak, but deserves to be widely read and discussed.
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