The ZIP code of a child should not determine where that child attends school. Should it?
It only takes a few clicks of a computer or laptop mouse to determine where a school applicant lives.
If she lives in, say, South Central Los Angeles, the cultural home of the violent Bloods, Crips and other gangs, her application might be deleted or placed in the affirmative-action basket.
And that’s because South Central is mostly black, is home to mostly rental units and has a median income of about $34,000 — all of which could be easily interpreted as a high-need situation.
Now cross the country and look at the public education system in the nation’s capital.
Parents are asked every year to participate in a lottery system to apply for public schooling for their children. The application allows up to 12 schools to be selected, and they can be ranked.
The process is not open-ended. For school year 2020-21, the D.C. Public Schools began accepting applications the week before Christmas, and the deadlines are Feb. 3 for ninth grade through 12th grade, and March 2 for students in preschool through eighth grade.
If you’re trying to determine the best fit for several children, pray for patience (and even if you don’t ordinarily seek patience, do it anyway).
The D.C. system is like those used by other school districts, colleges and universities — meaning, they’re selective.
Feigning “diverse” student bodies, public school systems don’t want to appear discriminatory, but you know they are.
For example, colleges and universities have legacy policies. Daddy, granddaddy or mama went to the college is a plus.
In D.C., if an applicant’s sister or brother attends the same school, it’s a plus — and the non-legacy can be bumped.
Discrimination? You bet.
Some D.C. parents are ignorant of this ploy because the system feigns diversity. Need an example?
One of the most sought-after traditional public high schools in the District is Woodrow Wilson, which is located in Upper Northwest. Wilson is a sort of academic gem, and it ranks high among parental requests.
Yet it’s socio-economic makeup is the opposite that of the geographic dividing line, Rock Creek Park, where the poorest and oldest residents of the District live.
So, if an applicant in ZIP code 20032, 20020 or 20019 applies, the child’s application could likely be treated as if they lived in South Central L.A.
The school system’s cover is blown because city hall begs day in and day out with reasons why children who live in similarly majority black and poor ZIP codes need more money, and why school choice is so popular in the District.
Politicians and unions harp on “high-quality” schools for all, but deliver them not.
What they do deliver is a systemic method of discrimination by ZIP Code.
As proof is the legislative proposal floating around city hall that exposes the bias by mandating that parents like Wilson High’s have no edge to fund and bolster programs with personal or donated money for their children.
Schooling can be separate, but schools will never be equal.
And that’s why the ZIP code of a child should not determine where that child attends school.
⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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