Originally Posted by acs
I do see a real problem in our district. My very personal issue in my district is that everyone who can (middle class families) seems to be pulling their kids out of PS to put them in charter schools (which have clearly, in our district, been set up to only work for white middle class kids), private school (white middle class) or homeschool (white Christian conservatives). These are the parents who would be on the PTA or volunteering in the classroom if they were in PS. Meanwhile the public school no longer looks like our district in general. Poor single parent families, people just scraping by, and non-English speakers are typical in PS, but not seen at all in the private, charter and homeschool. Basically, it's segregation and I don't think it's fair. This is putting a huge financial strain in the district and hurting the quality of the public school system.

And this is my problem: most of the parents pulled their kids out, not because they were having problems, but because they were afraid that they might have problems or they didn't want their kids associating with the "people who live in trailers" (and yes I have heard people say this). I am not mad at any of you, but I am mad at my local friends, because I have seen our PS go down hill because the white middle class are proactively removing their children.

My husband grew up in Baton Rouge where the very thing you described happened. The devastating effects are still seen in that town. We currently live in a very middle class suburban school district with pockets of poverty. My daughter attends the poorest school in the district because we chose to enroll her in a Spanish immersion program. Our district has less than 20% free and reduced lunch students and my dd's school has 70% free and reduced lunch students.

As the Spanish immersion program has developed, it has brought many active, educated, middle-class parents back into the school. This parent participation has made a tremendous difference in the school. My dd was in the first year of the program so I have witnessed the change over time. I also believe that having the children of parents who value education in the school has had a positive impact on the student body as a whole. This exposes children who come from poverty to the possibilities and opportunities that come from education. I grew up in poverty and know how important that is.

This program has worked better than other types of magnet programs that bring middle-class students into poor schools for a number of reasons. First, students of diverse backgrounds and languages are actually educated together in the same classroom rather than having separate classes or programs for the transfer students. Secondly, each group of students is the expert in their native language and the novice in the other language. They each share in being the teacher and being the student. They learn to work together and depend on each other. This helps to eliminate the us vs. them mentality that is often evident between different social, economic, racial or religious groups. I have a friend who teaches at a middle school in a neighboring district that consists of mostly low-income hispanic students. She often hears them express their belief that white, middle-class society is "out to get them." The immersion program teaches students to accept and value differences in other people. Finally, this program works because it is not forcing integration as programs like desegregation busing did. It offers something of value to all parties.

I'll get off my soapbox now.