Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

AAPS posts redistricting survey

8. September 2005 • Murph
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Anne Jackson sends a link to the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ survey on redistricting, and comments,

The construction of the new Ann Arbor High School is underway. School district plans are to have it completed to receive students in the fall of 2007—two years away.

Two years may seem like a long time, but plans are already underway by the AA School District to tackle the question of redistricting (again). It has recently posted “The High School Redistricting Web Survey” on the website: until September 30, 2005. (direct link to survey)

Now is the time to let your opinions be known!

The school district is planning to use data collected in the survey to help form community forums, the first being held on October 20th.

Some questions to consider: What are your ideas about redistricting?

  • What would you like the school district to know?
  • How should redistricting be carried out?
  • Do boundaries need to be rigidly drawn?
  • What about holding a city-wide lottery?
  • If boundaries are drawn, what is the most important parameter for the district to consider?
  • Could gas prices affect district decisions and possibly the most
    important parameter in deciding boundaries?
  • What do you think about the racial and ethnic diversity in our schools?
  • Is a “neighborhood” school important?
  • How do you feel about your children being bused to a high school outside of your immediate neighborhood?
  • How should the district ensure quality and diversity in the new school?

Post your questions,thoughts, comments, and concerns here. Let’s candidly discuss this issue as it is complicated, controversial, and will directly affect our children’s higher education!

  1. I filled out the survey and want to know what others thought of it. I see it as a very first effort (a first pass) to gauge the “climate” on the redistricting issue.

    I voted “No” on the question “Are you in agreement with these parameters?” because they need to be reworded and improved. For example, #2 and #4 are essentially the same and should be combined. “Walkability” only effects a very small percentage of High Schoolers.

    I will throw this out for discussion—I am not in favor of redistricting with rigid boundaries. I believe that true diversity is only achieved by including all ethnic and racial groups in the equation. For example, I don’t believe that a White majority (dominant group) should determine how it wants to “diversify” schools. This is coming from the wrong perspective. A city-wide lottery is needed to determine true diversity with all ethnic/racial groups participating. Not just one dominant group controlling who is bused to a White school so that it can be diverse.

    Does anyone know what parents/teachers, etc. were appointed by the district administration? I’m curious.

    That’s all for now. I would enjoy hearing others’ perspectives.
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 8 '05 - 10:31AM    #
  2. For more information on the redistricting timeline, see this article (09/02/05, Ann Arbor News) on

    “Speak up now to help shape new high school Initial decisions will have long-term effects”
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 8 '05 - 10:41AM    #
  3. ”“Walkability” only effects a very small percentage of High Schoolers.”

    Why do you say that? I’d have thought that a mile radius around a high school could cover a lot of residences, and a mile is probably less than a 20 minute walk!
       —Bruce Fields    Sep. 8 '05 - 11:09AM    #
  4. I would have to figure out all the numbers, Bruce. I can tell you are a walker, but many kids do not walk a mile to school.

    I don’t think “walkability” is a good parameter for determing the best HS boundaries. Perhaps for elementary and middle schools, but there are only 3 HS and many kids are driven or bused in.

    The “neighborhood” school parameter is a bit more understandable. The new HS would be our “neighborhood” school. (BTW, this school is not walkable as there are no sidewalks or walkways to it. Perhaps there will be?)

    Would I want my child bused to Huron HS, out of my neighborhood?

    I for one would be willing to do a lottery (even with Huron in the mix) if it meant true diversity for our schools. I have faith in the quality of schools in AA and any of them would work. Sure, it might be a sacrifice to drive a little further, but what about all of the outlying neighborhoods who have had to be bused or go by cars for years? I think it’s time that others need to participate in the “diversity” effort.

    The way I see it, the new HS should have been in the SE neighborhood all along. The SE high school site never had a chance. I still can’t believe there are two HS on the west side. Hmmmm…who has the influence in this city? OK, this is an old debate…I’ll stop.

    Back to “walkability”—I just don’t think this is a very important parameter to consider when there are far more important parameters.
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 8 '05 - 11:35AM    #
  5. The West side of town is experiencing all the growth, which is the HS is there, and why Lakewood school reopened.

    As for walkability, schools are not required for bus students who live within 1.5 miles of the school, this is in the state law.

    Right now, Community HS is the richest and whitest of the city’s high schools. Of the two comprehensive HS, Pioneer is much less diverse and has a higher SES than Huron.

    We just had a discussion about why we need to cutback on parking spaces in high schools, so I think that geography matters a great deal in redistricting….
       —JennyD    Sep. 8 '05 - 12:03PM    #
  6. Anne, without “rigid” school boundaries won’t it be difficult to bus the kids efficiently? If there are there are three kids on a street, and they go to three different high schools, they’d need three buses to come down the street, wouldn’t they? It would also seem to isolate those kids from one another if they didn’t have the shared experience of a common school.

    No strong opinion; just wondering.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Sep. 8 '05 - 12:13PM    #
  7. Yeah, I haven’t “solved” the busing issue. It’s a biggie. But…is it possible to throw away some old models?

    How about this: Have buses for “Huron” “PHS” “NEW HS” and “CHS” located in one of 4 PODS (N,S,E,W). Students are dropped off at a POD by a shuttle(s) that go into their neighborhood and take them to the nearest POD. The, larger buses are ready to takes students to their respective HS. The “1.5 mi radius” kids could walk to a POD or their parent could drive them to the nearest one.

    As far as CHS lacking diversity, good point. Is that just OK that it is? If diversity is important (which I think it is) are students at CHS being “fully educated”?

    Growth is big in the West right now. But, in the future? Also, it just so happens that this is where the $$ and clout reside.

    RE: the parameter about diversity. Really, I’m wondering, how much of the “diversity” is just politically correct thing to say. How much is anyone willing to REALLY think outside of themselves and create new models achieving it? I say busing is not the answer to achieving diversity. It’s based on a dominant group’s idea of what “diversity” is all about. Any ideas of better means to create diversity?

    As far as not being with your neighborhood friends. Oh well. Maybe you’ll make friends all over the city and from different neighborhoods that you don’t even know about. You’ll still have your neighborhood friends after all. Wouldn’t this do a lot for the city and community, not to mention broadening students’ awareness of others? Isn’t this what diversity is all about?

    Must we keep the HS rivalry thing going? How does this contribute to our kids’ education?

    Ideas and questions…I’m not saying I have all the answers. I’m learning about what my position is too on this whole thing.

    -Translate SES, JennyD. I don’t know what that is.

    -Does anyone know if the new HS will actually BE made walkable?
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 8 '05 - 02:17PM    #
  8. Anne,

    The committee list is as follows, since you asked:
    George Fornero- Chair
    Michael Dempsey- Parent/Ann Arbor Chamber Member
    Ben Dahlmann- Parent/Ann Arbor Chambe Member
    Barbara Byers- Co-Chair Parent Advisory Committee on Special Education
    Scott White- Co-Chair Parent Advisory Committee on Special Education
    Barbara Earle- Clague Parent
    Waleed Samaha- Huron Staff Member
    Brent Kirshner- Huron Student
    J.T. Knight- Pioneer Student
    Renee Shoulders- Slauson Parent
    Ellen Daniel- Scarlett Teacher and former School Board member
    Joetta Mial- Retired Huron Principal
    William Hampton – President, Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP
    Pat Rose – Principal, Slauson
    Cheryl Garnett – Former School Board member
    Arlene Barnes – Administrator, High Schools
    Bill Browning- Retired teacher and School Board member
    Sylvia Nesmith- Chair, Black Parent Student Support Group
    Elena Wakeman- Chair, PTO Council
    Faye Askew King- Community member
    Linda Jeffries- Huron teacher
    Jane Landefeld – AAPS Co-Director of Research
    Tom Jensen – Community Member
    Joe Breakey – Community Member
    Glenn Nelson – Trustee
    Janis Williams – AAPS Bond Office
    Liz Margolis – AAPS Communications Director

    There will also be a Pioneer teacher on the committee.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 8 '05 - 02:50PM    #
  9. As for some of the issues you addressed…

    I talked to hundreds of community members in helping to develop the preliminary parameters list over the summer. It came up more than almost anything else that folks did not want anyone getting bused away from a school they could walk to. This was also a major issue during the 1998 redistricting. Folks do not want their children to get bused by a school they can walk to, even at the high school level. Personally I walked to Pioneer every day for four years, and I’m really glad I did. And I was one of hundreds of students who did so- tons of kids walk to Pioneer, especially their freshman and sophomore years.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion on whether walkability and minimizing transportation costs is important, that’s why the district is doing this survey and I’m sure they want to hear a bunch of different perspectives. But I think a good percentage of the community values that.

    I don’t think the school site choice has much to do with ‘who has the influence in this city.’ The district has owned that property for 40 years, makes sense in tough financial times to build on the land you own instead of buying more.

    Valuing diversity is not ‘lip service’ on the part of the district. I think the district hopes this process will lead to a substantive community dialogue about what we consider racially diverse schools to be…and I hope you will be there to contribute since you have such strong opinions. First community forum is October 20th…and there will be over 20 chances to give input over the course of this process.

    The district is pretty committed to making this a community driven process so that however the lines end up as many people as possible are happy. Please keep the input coming-
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 8 '05 - 03:06PM    #
  10. Anne – I understand your interest in diversity (and SES translates to “socio-economic status” in my mind), and support you on that, but I think that, as a general case, it’s best to have kids going to the school closest to them. It allows for the best access to extra-curricular activities, for the best access of parents to the schools (both to the teachers and to support their kids’ activities), and for the closest connections between kids. (If kids are randomly assigned between schools, it makes it that much harder for them to get together with their classmates for homework, projects, etc.) Sure, Ann Arbor’s not a big town, and it’s not a horrible burden for high schoolers to schlep across town for these things, but it is _a_ burden.

    Not that I really have any better suggestion.
       —Murph    Sep. 8 '05 - 03:20PM    #
  11. I went and took the survey, and was surprised to find that I actually agreed with all of their goals in the redistricting. Goals 2 and 4 are NOT the same, as Anne describes; one goal is to have all children within walking distance to actually be assigned to that school; the other goal is to have students attend the school that is closest to them. The distinction is that not every child lives within walking distance of school! simple, yet very important. If, for example, a high school student lived north of Kerrytown (and taking CHS out of the options), do they attend Huron or the new school? neither is within walking distance, but whichever one is closer would make a lot of sense.

    And as much as I appreciate diversity, I would throw a fit if my child did not attend the new high school, for the simple reason that it is less than half a mile from our house. To go elsewhere simply does not make sense. Where is the environmental sense in busing or driving all over town when you don’t have to?!

    Pod transportation – expensive and time consuming. Students would have to take 2 buses just to get to school? doesn’t make sense when so many can walk down the block to the school.

    New HS serves the $$ and clout? Someone tell me where this clout and money come from, I’d love to have some. I live in a neighborhood that was (is?) one of the last affordable areas within the city limits, right down the street from the new HS. Almost all the neighborhoods at the city limits are more affordable than further in (OWS and OFW, for example). The immediate neighbors to the north of the new HS might be more affluent, but the neighbors to the south certainly are not.

    City friends vs. neighborhood friends – sorry, I disagree with this too. I went to a high school that was the only high school for the city, so students came to it from all over. And still, students were far more likely to be friends with their neighborhood kids than kids across town. Why? because they can’t drive there! or if they can, later on in school, they might be friends, but there is a definite cost and burden to it. It doesn’t make sense to me to require students, for example, to drive all over town to have a study group for a particular class when they could just as easily meet at someone’s house locally.

    I vote for keeping schools local!
       —KGS    Sep. 8 '05 - 04:22PM    #
  12. Anne, would you define your term “true diversity”?
       —Steve Bean    Sep. 8 '05 - 04:45PM    #
  13. Hi. Sorry about the SES thing. I’m a grad student in a social science and this is jargon. It’s socioeconomic status, and it goes to wealth and affluence in my usage here.

    This district’s biggest problem at the moment (in my estimation) is Scarlett Middle SChool. It is the poorest, least white school in town. It has the lowest achievement scores of the middle schools. Getting diversity there would require affluent whites to attend. The district is trying to do that by making Scarlett a magnet technology school, but I suspect that’s a tough hill to climb.

    If one of the three comprehensive high schools (HHS, PHS, or new school) is districted so that the average SES is vastly different from the other two, we’ll have a Scarlett MS situation.

    As an aside, is it possible that Community is so popular among conservative 2nd Ward types because of its innovative and liberal structure? Or is it because almost all the kids are rich and white?
       —JennyD    Sep. 8 '05 - 04:59PM    #
  14. I hear your points, Tom and Murph.

    Are the three community members parents of kids who will be going to HS in 2007? I would hope that there is a parent representing each of the middle schools.

    I hope that the community forums are taken just as seriously as the survey. I would hope that there will be detailed Q&A minutes so everyone can see the responses to their questions.

    It will be interesting to see how the issue of diversity is addressed (besides drawing lines to achieve it). Once again, I think that “drawing lines” to achieve it is taking the wrong approach. I don’t think it has to be a cut and dry case—no lines or lines. I imagine that there are a lot of creative thinkers on the panel. I hope that their ideas can come out and be seriously explored.

    A simple analogy.

    School district ABC has the goal of having a school with all types of hair color. The dominant hair color in the city is magenta. The district wants to mix up the magenta-haired with different colors, thereby aligning themselves by default with the dominant, magenta-haired people and coming at the issue from this point of view.

    The majority of people with blue hair color live in the west side of the city and have a strong neighborhood community. HS X is very near them, but not within walking distance. In order to achieve diversity, the district needs some blue-haired kids to go to HS X and some to HS Y. This also happens in another area of town where the majority of people with green hair live. Both neighborhoods become divided among two HS schools to achieve a mix of hair colors as initiated by the magenta-hairs and the district. Alignment. In and out groups. Dominant point of view.

    In addition, new HS Z is close to a large majority of magenta hairs who live in the north. Many of them are within 1.5 miles of the school, so they must go there. The rest of the magenta hairs are too far away from old HS X and Y for it to be practical for them to either of these schools. They live on the far north side of the city. They cried for the new HS Z to be built near them, citing the demographic trend of population increases (mostly magenta) on the north side of town.

    What are we afraid to address here?

    That it’s an unspoken but known fact that the average blue-haired person cannot afford to live in the magenta-haired neighborhood? That the blue and green hairs are not supported by housing to live near the magenta hairs?

    That the magenta neighborhoods want to remain magenta? That they really want predominantly magenta schools?

    I am inclined to believe that the magenta neighborhoods will only embrace diversity so far that it doesn’t do a b c d or e.

    Disclaimer: Only for the purpose of illustration of why we segregate and how we are becoming more segregated as a city.
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 8 '05 - 05:02PM    #
  15. JennyD said :
    “Getting diversity there would require affluent whites to attend.”

    My point exactly. Taken from the other point of view and I can hear the cries now (and already do…)

    How would you feel if someone drew lines to get you to diversity a school that’s mostly black?

    Be real. Be honest. Whose point of view is it from? Ask yourself that. Can you support diversity this far? I imagine it’s pretty darn out of the comfort zone for most.

    True diversity is an ideal that you can strive for. (I’ll come up with a definition later, if it’s even possible to do so.) But being “truer to diversity goals” means to step out of your comfort zone/dominant position and take a risk. I know, it’s a challenge I try to take often, but often find myself not taking it. Slide right back in to my world, my comfort zone…ahhhhh.

    Gotta go. More later.
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 8 '05 - 05:15PM    #
  16. Anne,

    You also asked if steps are being taken to make the new high school walkable for students in its attendance area. They are. The district is working with the city to get crossing walks with lights at key intersections near the school site including near the highway exit and near the main Maple Rd. entrance to the school.

    Sidewalks are also being built along the school property to ensure that walkers are safe.

    I know people will talk about what a busy road this is and how dangerous to walk along it is. I live near the corner of Stadium and Packard and walked along Stadium to the corner of Stadium and Main- some of the busiest road in Ann Arbor- for four years. I never even came close to getting run over, and as far as I know no one else has been run over walking to Pioneer despite its being at such a busy intersection. Kids are going to be safe walking to the new school as long as drivers observe traffic laws!
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 8 '05 - 06:09PM    #
  17. Anne,

    In reference to your question about parents from the middle schools being represented the answer is yes. There is a parent from every middle school represented on the committee, even if they were not explicitly labeled as such. For instance AAPS Communications Director Liz Margolis has a sixth grader at Tappan.

    The committee is an incredible cross section of the community pretty much no matter how you look at it.

    We are glad that you are so enthusiastic about being a part of our dialogue about diverse schools.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 8 '05 - 06:16PM    #
  18. For the record, a friend of mine’s daughter was hit by a student driving a pickup to Pioneer last spring, at the corner of Seventh and Stadium. She was rather seriously injured, but is now okay.
       —JennyD    Sep. 8 '05 - 10:09PM    #
  19. Anne, you’ve successfully confused me – can we dismiss with analogy and try to figure out what you’re looking for more plainly?

    Are you talking diversity in race, class, both? (Sounds like both…) Would a diverse school have the same socioeconomic makeup as the entire district? Or would some, not necessarily proportionate representation work?

    Also, like KGS, I’m not convinced that the new school is only close to wealthy white neighborhoods, though I’m not going to look for census data right now…
       —Murph    Sep. 8 '05 - 10:16PM    #
  20. Thanks for the information, Tom.

    Murph – I just want people to look at diversity issues outside of their own perspective and comfort zone.

    I am on the west side and am in a great neighborhood. I would say strongly middle SES, but high in education and “alternative” careers (artists, musicians, small business owners, etc.) Also retirees and young families who want to rennovate the modest, smaller houses.
    Farther west, the demographics are different—largely white, higher SES for the most part. So, when I talk about diversity, I am primarily concerned about Ann Arbor’s African-American community, yes.

    So, yes, I imagine that the school will be receiving a “mix” of kids—I’d wager, however, that this west area is mostly white with a range of SES.

    I will check into the details before I assume anything else.

    Tom – What are your views on Diversity in the schools? What about Scarlett, as JennyD mentions? What if you were told that your child was going to be bussed to a school to make it more diverse? (I’m thinking of lines that might be drawn to fulfill the diversity parameter.)

    Again, my concern is that we not “draw lines” for school diversity based on a white perspective. I would be interested to know what the African-American representatives on the committee feel about this. I know that they can’t speak for all in the Black community, but I would hope someone there is not afraid to at least raise questions of what diversity means and how it affects the sub-dominant populations.
       —Anne    Sep. 9 '05 - 09:38AM    #
  21. Also, Murph. You are much better educated about these matters than I. I am coming from the point-of-view of living in this community all my life and seeing the demographic shifts over the years. I see, more and more, that Ann Arbor is becoming more distinctly stratified—higher % rich, less % middle, higher % mid/lower income. Same as the U.S.

    Many of my classmates, whose families raised them here in the 50s and 60s cannot afford to raise their families (in the style that they would like) here and many have moved farther west to Livingston Cty, etc.

    Can you educate me about “proportionate representation”? In a nutshell. I’m interested and don’t know how to define that.

    As far as SES and race. Let’s leave U-M out of the mix. You have a divided city here in AA, believe me. Ann Arbor is, at it’s core, a white, educated, rather conservative base. It has always been that way and the divisions are more apparent today.
       —Anne    Sep. 9 '05 - 09:51AM    #
  22. I did the survey, and tried to emphasize the need for balanced SES. And race, actually.

    One thing I might suggest for Community, as an aside, is that it have a proportionate number of slots to represent the community. Like overall, the school population is 57 percent white, so how about that’s the percentage of whites that can be at Community. And there are 15 percent African-American, 13 percent Asian, and so on. Currently, Community is 81 percent white, PHS is 66, and HHS is 51.

    I also suggested that middle school classes be sent in entirety to one high school, rather than split.
       —JennyD    Sep. 9 '05 - 11:14AM    #
  23. Jenny-

    I think sending middle schools to high school as a unit is something we would all like to see happen in an ideal world. Right now only Tappan gets split and it was tough for me to see all my friends goes to Huron while I went to Pioneer.

    Unfortunately though five middle schools just aren’t going to divide into three high schools evenly…so I think it’s almost inevitable that Clague and Slauson are going to see some splitting up.

    I think that’s why the district is looking at trying to keep the elementaries together to the extent possible though- at least folks would get to stay with their friends from K through the end of high school
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 9 '05 - 11:31AM    #
  24. Anne – look to Jenny’s note on Community High, above, for an example of “proportionate representation”.

    The problem I see with defining “diversity” as something so fuzzy as, “stepping outside of your comfort zone,” is, well, who defines my comfort zone? And who decides in which direction I should step out of it, and how far I should step? And why that person and not some other person? I think your intent is good, but your definition is not enough to act upon. (And if you’re just calling for the AAPS to consider diversity, and for them to make the choices, then what’s wrong with their current slate of parameters, which includes diversity?)

    I don’t really disagree with you; I’m just trying to draw you into more elaboration.
       —Murph.    Sep. 9 '05 - 12:25PM    #
  25. JennyD said: *Like overall, the school population is 57 percent white, so how about that’s the percentage of whites that can be at Community.*

    I heartily agree to this and also to implement that percentage across the board, including the new HS. I would say, to protests I can already hear, that we look at this for Scarlett, too. It doesn’t make sense to me to have a school in Ann Arbor, like Scarlett or CHS, that leans too far either way. That is, if diversity in AAPS is truly important for the administration to achieve.

    Tom – It would be a useful exercise for the committee to see how the boundaries map out using one variable (race = approx. 60% white) for all HS in the district. Where would the boundaries fall and what schools/neighborhoods would feel the biggest impact? It would be quite interesting to see the impact of adhering to the “approx 60%” across the board.

    If you’ve already done this, can you point me to a representation of this? I understand that there are other considerations, but I would like to see this done.
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 9 '05 - 12:29PM    #
  26. Murph – Point well taken. Let me think about this and see if I can elaborate some more.

    Sometimes the “fuzzy” things are not explored enough because they can’t be quantified and the fuzziness is very complex.

    I just want to see if we can see things from another perspective.

    There are many factors why Scarlett is majority Black. I would ask people here to say why they think that is? And, should it remain that way in the redistricting?
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 9 '05 - 12:36PM    #
  27. Interesting…was just reminded of Jones School (where CHS is now) that was shut down (in the 60s) due to it being segregated (Black).

    Ironic that CHS is close to being segregated (White).

    Is Scarlett the 21st century version of Jones School?
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 9 '05 - 12:47PM    #
  28. Anne,

    Scarlett’s boundaries will stay the same through redistricting- we are not intending to touch middle or elementary school boundaries through this process. This administration and board are doing more to address Scarlett’s historically poor (and many feel undeserved) reputation than has been done in a long time, and I think we’re going to find that things are much better a few years out.

    As for what the maps would look like drawn solely to see what they would be with 60% white schools, the point of our community input process is to determine which of the parameters are most important to citizens. The maps that are drawn will reflect that- so if what we hear from the community as its top prioriy is boundaries that produce schools that all have the same racial composition then I’m sure we will produce such maps. But if the community’s priorities shake out in a different way then the boundary proposals will reflect those preferences. Either way it’s going to be months before we see the first proposal because we have so much time built in to solicit opinions about all these difficult and important issues.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 9 '05 - 12:52PM    #
  29. Anne,

    I don’t know if you were trying to imply that Scarlett is segregated but it is actually a model of diversity. 36% caucasian, 34% african american, 9% asian, 20% other. There are few other schools in the district that are MORE integrated, considering the district as a whole is 57% caucasian.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 9 '05 - 12:56PM    #
  30. I think so, Anne. Here are some interesting stats about the middle schools.

    Percentage White

    Clague: 51.7
    Forsythe: 71.9
    Scarlett: 36.4
    Slauson: 62.8
    Tappan: 57.0

    Percentage Black

    Clague: 12.2
    Forsythe: 11.5
    Scarlett: 33.8
    Slauson: 14.2 14.9

    Percentage eligible for free/reduced lunch

    Clague: 10.7
    Forsythe: 13.9
    Scarlett: 33.8
    Slauson: 17.4
    Tappan: 20.1
       —JennyD    Sep. 9 '05 - 12:56PM    #
  31. Tom – Yeah, I suppose you could look at Scarlett as a “model of diversity” if you were to want to do that. Apparently I was wrong about it being majority Black. Thanks for correcting me.

    But I look at the stats this way:

    Clague+Slauson+Forsythe (Tappan is missing #s) = 38% Black. Scarlett is 33.8% Black.

    That tells more of the story, I think.

    Forsythe and Slauson – both very high % of White. This might very well be the demographics of the new HS esp. if parameters #2 – #4 are voted as most important. (I have a feeling that these will be chosen by most as the most important as provided by the basic survey tool being used.)

    I really hope other tools/methods are used to collect input.
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 9 '05 - 03:23PM    #
  32. Anne,

    The reason the survey questions are so open ended is so that we can get everyone’s ideas about what’s important beyond the list that we came up with ourselves. Beyond the surveys the forums will give folks a chance to verbally air any of their ideas/concern- so there are definitely others tools being used to collect input- that’s why we’re still five months away from announcing a preliminary set of boundaries and nine months away from a final decision.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 9 '05 - 03:32PM    #
  33. “But I look at the stats this way:

    Clague+Slauson+Forsythe (Tappan is missing #s) = 38% Black. Scarlett is 33.8% Black.

    That tells more of the story, I think.”

    To see why that’s an erroneous comparison, try doing it with the numbers for the percentage of each school population that’s white. You need to compare Scarlett’s percentage to each of the other schools’ individually or else to the average of the others in order to make a meaningful comparison.

    Rather than thinking in terms of an optimum percentage of white (or any other race of) students for the high schools, how about setting minimum percentages? That would ensure a minimal level of racial diversity* (preventing full-blown “segregation”) and would allow reasonable flexibility in shifting students around (or not.)

    * I suggest we identify which type of diversity we’re talking about—racial, cultural, economic (SES), etc.—rather than use difficult-to-define terms like “true diversity”.
       —Steve Bean    Sep. 9 '05 - 03:57PM    #
  34. More details.

    Sorry about the screwup with the Tappan number. Percent black is 14.9 and somehow floated up….

    One reason for low white numbers at Tappan and Clague is that both have large Asian populations:

    Percent Asian

    Clague: 25.2
    Forsythe: 6.2
    Scarlett: 9.4
    Slauson: 11.2
    Tappan: 14.4

    The race percentages from the AAPS website.
       —JennyD    Sep. 9 '05 - 04:02PM    #
  35. I will try it as you say, Steve.

    Is Scarlett truly a model of diversity, or is it just me that’s questioning whether it is or not? Because of its being balanced in and of itself, does that tell the whole story? (I’m looking for alternatives to the theory that it is balanced and others here are well-versed, it seems in looking at stats and drawing inferences.)
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 9 '05 - 05:38PM    #
  36. Okay, here are some alternative perspectives:

    1) Who you go to school with has negligible impact on how you see others as an adult. Far more important are a sense of self worth and similar measures of maturity, which may even be heightened in spite of the views of your parents, friends, etc. about people of other races (religions, etc.) I think this is a valid perspective and it fits my own experience. (You wouldn’t know me from the bigots I grew up with.)

    2) The (racial) diversity of the schools is less important than the integration of the students within each school. Do students self-segregate during lunch period, for example? While this is a valid distinction, I don’t think that it’s necessarily an important one, unless problems arise directly because of it.

    3) One of the Key Values of the Green movement is “Respect for Diversity”. (Note that it’s not “Diversity”, per se.) So, might the emphasis on diversity (racial or otherwise) in school populations be misplaced? Do the schools do anything beyond integration to develop respect for diversity? The goal of a diverse school population is what?—the development of tolerance/acceptance/understanding of others? Does the mere presence of others who are different ensure this outcome (or whatever else the goal might be)?
       —Steve Bean    Sep. 9 '05 - 06:39PM    #
  37. Steve, actually I have to offer an alternative view. We as a nation have decided that who you go to school with makes a huge difference. That’s why we had busing.

    From a statistical view, if you are a student, then your chances of succeeding in school are markedly improved if your classmates are affluent. It’s also good if they are white, but affluence is more important. This is a finding in many national surveys of students.
       —JennyD    Sep. 9 '05 - 07:09PM    #
  38. I believe your 2) point Steve is important to look at. How to integrate students at a deeper level (rather than just populate the school to make it diverse.

    In the early 70s when I was at PHS, the black and white population was at odds (in everything except for sports it seemed). I honestly can’t remember a black student playing in the orchestra, of which I was a member. Or the band, for that matter.

    Perhaps things have changed a little, but not much. I still see the same today (self-segregating based on race). It might very well mirror the way society really is, on a smaller scale. That is, still fundamentally segregated. I don’t think a lot has been done to get to the core of this issue.
       —Anne    Sep. 9 '05 - 09:29PM    #
  39. Not to change the subject at all, but I’d like to introduce the idea of the new HS possibly having a magnet component, with a % of students coming from all over the district to participate. I didn’t see anything in the parameters about this. Why? Has the idea been tossed aside and, if not, how does it get back on the table?

    A magnet component would draw interest from all over the city. That might screw up boundary lines, but hey, it might be the way to providing access to what I bet my bottom dollar will be a very high SES and white-populated school.

    I’d like to see this discussed for sure.

    My parents’ views had a profound affect on me, Steve. As did my friendships with classmates of all races and backgrounds (although my best friends were white, like me).

    When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I visited my grandmother in St. Louis, MO. She worked in a community youth center for the black inner-city population of St. Louis. I spent the day with the kids and the teacher remarked to my grandmother to the effect “Miss Harriet, it was amazing that your granddaughter participated all day and held hands with these Black kids. She didn’t even see the difference between them and her.”

    Well, maybe some of our “nature” is already pre-determined.

    Kind of a tangent, but I wanted to remark on influences.
       —Anne    Sep. 9 '05 - 09:45PM    #
  40. Anne,

    There is a magnet component of the school. 400 of the slots will be reserved for folks from around the district who are interested in participating in the programs, and transportation will be provided to ensure that the program is accessible to low income students.

    Although the program is still being fleshed out, the magnet will probably include themes students can choose from including Health and Community Wellness, Business and Information Technology, Community Planning and Design, Public Policy, and Transportation.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 9 '05 - 10:52PM    #
  41. So, the magnet is a sure thing, Tom? This isn’t still up for debate? I don’t know why (possibly misinformation) but I thought that the curriculum was still being discussed and the magnet was an option at this point.

    I think this should be publicized…it sounds as if you have specifics of the magnet and i have yet to read anything about it.

    If there are documents re: the magnet, please point us to them. Thanks.

    What is the projected enrollment of the new HS? So, the redistricting will only take into the account the projected enrollment minus the magnet, correct?

       —Anne    Sep. 10 '05 - 08:55AM    #
  42. Anne,

    The magnet is a sure thing. There have been several lengthy articles in the paper about it. The exact form it will take is still in the planning stages and will be another thing you can give feedback on throughout the community input process.

    The June 15th board meeting was devoted almost entirely to discussion of the magnet. You can read information about it starting on pg. 48 of the Board packet for that meeting-

    Once the new high school is fully open it will have about 1600-1650 students. Tentatively, 400 of them will be magnet spots and 1200 of them will be geography based.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 10 '05 - 12:25PM    #
  43. Tom, since I have your ear…

    The magnet topics sound pretty wishy-washy to me. Like those dopey electives in middle school. Half-baked courses designed to make learning “interesting, fun, and relevant!” My research in the school of ed tells me that those kinds of programs are nice ways to clue people in that the courses are for the less-able students.

    I mean, public policy?? Health and community wellness?? What kind of students does the district think will enroll in these programs?

    And if the answer is “students in the middle of the pack,” I would agree. And I’d add that these students surely will end up in the middle of the pack if they take these programs.

    I could be wrong. This is my impression as a I read/learn about the magnet programs. I offer this so you could show me what I’m missing.
       —JennyD    Sep. 10 '05 - 03:02PM    #
  44. Jenny,

    I’m not a professional educator so I can’t really adequately address your concerns. Please feel free to contact Arlene Barnes ( who is the Administrator for High Schools and spearheading the magnet initiative. I’m sure she’d be happy to hear your concerns.
       —Tom Jensen    Sep. 10 '05 - 03:13PM    #
  45. Tom says,

    the magnet will probably include themes students can choose from including Health and Community Wellness, Business and Information Technology, Community Planning and Design, Public Policy, and Transportation

    JennyD says,

    The magnet topics sound pretty wishy-washy to me. Like those dopey electives in middle school. . . I mean, public policy?? Health and community wellness?? What kind of students does the district think will enroll in these programs? And if the answer is “students in the middle of the pack,” I would agree.

    Oh boy, here comes a rant…

    Tom, let me be the first to say that I’d be happy to add a teaching cert. to my existing degree slate, I will already have a Masters degree, and I expect I am No Child Left Behind-qualified to teach every one of those topics (but I wouldn’t want to teach BIT).

    Jenny, I don’t know where you’re getting wishy-washy out of those topics – my absolute favorite part of high school was reading and discussing Plato and The Federalist Papers, and my biggest lament is that I only had one class in which that happened. Most of those magnet topics seem like, done right, they’d offer up years of such goodness. Allow me to trail off into daydreaming about how much better high school would have been if I had taken fewer classes like AP Calc, AP Physics, AP English, etc, and more like my Government class…

    Yes, sure, those topics could be done badly, and it’s far easier to imagine that we’re still chasing Sputnik and that a math/science/engineering magnet is a better topic – that we need to stress the importance of those subjects to the exclusion of philosophy and citizenship, such that we cause all of our brightest children to enter college as miserable engineerlings and only later figure out that they really want to do something that helps people. It’s ridiculous how many people I know who started (or finished) undergrad in engineering, and are now grad students in planning, policy, social work, SNRE, etc, finally feeling like they’re doing something worthwhile and trying to make up for lost time.
       —Murph    Sep. 10 '05 - 03:47PM    #
  46. Okay, now that that rant’s done, I’ve gone up to your link, Tom, and read through the magnet portion of the document. And I will say that, one, the documents’ views of “community health”, “community planning”, and “transportation”, at least, are tragically narrow. I suspect this is a problem of not having been well-developed yet, and hope that the remainder of the planning process will broaden them. Two, DO NOT DO NOT replace policy or planning with transportation. What I said earlier about Sputnik? A transportation magnet that replaces a planning or policy magnet, rather than being an extension of those, would be appropriate for the 1950s, and would be terribly regressive. Call it “engineering” if you want to keep the description given. In order to be comprehensive enough to be called “Transportation”, it needs overlap with planning and policy magnets. I say this as somebody with an u/g in engineering and soon a Masters in Urban Planning, concentration in Transportation Planning.

    From the documents: include experts from the community in a variety of capacities from guest lecturers to short term or part time staff positions.

    I am willing to,
    * Work on the design of the magnet programs,
    * Serve as a staff technician/team teach alongside certified teachers, or,
    * Look into getting a teaching certificate.

    Just tell me who to send the resume to. I’m available in January, unless I need to get the certificate. If the school district has some ridiculous notion that teachers should not be visible as people outside of schools or hold vocal opinions, I’d be willing to give up my online presence, disagree with that attitude though I might.
       —Murph    Sep. 10 '05 - 04:06PM    #
  47. Wow, Murph. I’m impressed.

    Here’s what would help me:

    If the description of these magents said somthing like, “This is rigorous, college-prep track that centers on ideas, implications, and enactments of public policy in the US and around the world. Core courses include The Judicial System, Tensions Between Common Good and Individual Rights, Capitalism and Democracy. These courses will be supplemented by state required courses in Math, Science, and Language Arts. STudents entering this magnet will limit their electives to the magnet courses in order to guarantee a comprehensive look at the topic, and to ensure that students within the magnet have a cohort experience that will enhance their learning.”

    Right now, it sounds a little mushy. And in general, when education sounds mushy, it is mushy.
       —JennyD    Sep. 10 '05 - 04:57PM    #
  48. JennyD wrote We as a nation have decided that who you go to school with makes a huge difference. That’s why we had busing.

    the way i see it, we as a nation decided that state sponsored racial segregation is evil unconstitutional. federally enforced busing is an expedient to eliminate state sponsored segregation. i don’t think we have a national consensus on diversity.

    Steve Bean wrote The (racial) diversity of the schools is less important than the integration of the students within each school. Do students self-segregate during lunch period, for example?

    beverly daniel tatum explores this issue in why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? and suggests that it is a natural and healthy part of identity development.
       —peter honeyman    Sep. 11 '05 - 01:22PM    #
  49. One magnet course (possibly a combo of public policy/labor law/social science/teaching (education)/career choice?) should focus on the implications of the changing demographics of the U.S. (I’ll leave it to the experts to determine what topics address this trend).

    Diversity topics should definitely be part of a course in the magnet to prepare students for the future.

    From the Bureau of Labor Statistics
    —* By 2012, the Hispanic labor force is expected to reach 23.8 million, due to faster population growth resulting from a younger population, higher fertility rates, and increased immigration levels.

    Despite relatively slow growth, white non-Hispanics will remain the largest group, composing 66 percent of the labor force. Asians will continue to be the fastest growing of the four labor force groups.

    And from
    —* The rising diversity among young children. (Over time, more than half the children in US public schools will either be Hispanic, African American, Asian or another race. This is already the case in California, Florida and Texas.)
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 12 '05 - 08:44AM    #
  50. AA News article last night (Monday, 9/12/05) on the new High School:
       —Anne L. Jackson    Sep. 13 '05 - 09:34AM    #
  51. How would you feel if someone drew lines to get you to diversity a school that’s mostly black?

    Be real. Be honest. Whose point of view is it from? Ask yourself that. Can you support diversity this far? I imagine it’s pretty darn out of the comfort zone for most.

    That’s easy—if it was an academically strong school with an excellent reputation, that would not be a problem—otherwise it would.

    Let me say something about diversity here. First of all, it’s much easier at the high-school level because you’re drawing from a much larger area. But are we really concerned that particular populations are more heavily concentrated in some parts of the city than others and that this effects student populations? Is it a problem that Asians tend to live on the northeast side and are overrepresented at Huron? And is it a problem that, culturally, Asian families seem to find CHS’s programs less attractive and are underrepresented?

    In strictly black-white terms, the truth of the matter is that there just aren’t enough black students in the district to make anything remotely close to a majority black high school no matter how lines are drawn (I believe there are now more students of Asian than African ancestry).

    Isn’t it time, given the complicated ethnic makeup of Ann Arbor (white, east-asian, south-asian, black, hispanic, middle-eastern) to let the 1960s view of the problem fade away?
       —mw    Sep. 13 '05 - 06:18PM    #
  52. Can’t really argue with your points, mw. People group where they group and feel comfortable I guess. I have done it—living on the west side is where I feel most comfortable.

    I would say that people go to schools (if they have a chance) where they feel comfortable, too (as in CHS, for a good example).

    I am willing to give up the 1960s example (Jones School). But I still remember the conversation I had with a black parent—racism still exists. He feels it and I can see where he’s coming from. It’s just a lot more subtle and draped in a politically correct cloth (esp. here in AA).

    I just want people to look outside the box that they are in. I am in a box most of the time, being white and having privilege.

    And, I’m concerned (have voiced it before in previous posts) that the new HS will be mostly white, high SES, and attract similiar kids to the magnet program if the curriculum doesn’t include something that meets the needs of those who can achieve if given the opportunity but are currently not.

    Prove me wrong about my thinking of what I’m afraid the new high school might become.

    I can easily change my mind ;)
       —Anne    Sep. 13 '05 - 09:53PM    #
  53. And, I’m concerned (have voiced it before in previous posts) that the new HS will be mostly white, high SES, and attract similiar kids to the magnet program if the curriculum doesn’t include something that meets the needs of those who can achieve if given the opportunity but are currently not.

    Well, I think the district does a relatively poor job of educating black kids now and I don’t think it has to do with either segregation or racism. Huron and Pioneer are now about as well integrated as they could possibly be and that has proven to be no magic solution.

    Why are there so few black kids taking the most challenging AC and AP courses? Because, in my experience, the school culture is one that actually discourages kids from taking these courses (not just black kids but all kids) unless the staff believes the kid in question can handle the material without breaking too much of a sweat. Wealthy, highly educated parents with means can and do push back – they’ve taken and passed these courses themselves, and they know it’s not rocket science. They know, further, that they can help with homework or can afford to hire a tutor. Getting kids from lower SES backgrounds (which includes a much higher percentage of black kids) to take challenging courses and succeed at them is going to require quite a different approach—one of actively encouraging, recruiting and supporting kids who are ‘on the bubble’.

    Huron has recently implemented a program called ‘AVID’ which seems to have the right idea:

    But I don’t know how successful it has been (I think it only started last year) or whether significant numbers of black kids are in the program.
       —mw    Sep. 14 '05 - 07:48AM    #
  54. I agree mw. The district serves high SES whites well, and Asians, but not others. When the opportunity came to sign up for Alegbra AB (the accelerated course) the school was fairly discouraging, telling people that only few kids could handle it. They did, however, set up a program so students could do AB in algebra in 1.5 hours, rather than just 1 hour per day, so maybe that’s a move to change that.

    I must say that CHS really disturbs me. I wonder what the cost is to run a small school that attracts elite, rich, white students. This truth is kind of hidden by the school’s groovy patina, but that’s the deal. If it’s such great education, why don’‘t black and low-income parents enter their kids into the lottery? Or is that the perfect barrier for parents who are less able to be involved in their children’s schooling? It allows everyone to say it’s a lottery, but it’s not really. It’s only a lottery for the select few who join.

    If you stripped away the costs of transportation, sports, and the extras from the per pupil expenditures at HHS, PHS, and CHS, which would be the most expensive program? I’d hate the think it’s CHS, but it might be. Because I have to figure that if CHS were less expensive, the district would find a way to add a few more seats there.

    I do think that the district is trying now to do someting about the achievement gap between races. I’ve seen it at my kids’ school. We’ll see….
       —JennyD    Sep. 14 '05 - 09:47AM    #
  55. I must say that CHS really disturbs me. I wonder what the cost is to run a small school that attracts elite, rich, white students. This truth is kind of hidden by the school’s groovy patina, but that’s the deal. If it’s such great education, why don’t black and low-income parents enter their kids into the lottery?

    Why don’t Asian families apply at the same rate? My sense is it’s because the school really has a liberal arts emphasis that does not appeal. Is that necessarily a problem? AAPS is planning to add more magnet programs. If we accept (even celebrate) that there are families with different cultural backgrounds and values, don’t we also have to accept that they’re going have different ideas of what makes for a ‘great education’ and they’re going to make different choices about schooling options without getting our shorts in a twist?

    If you stripped away the costs of transportation, sports, and the extras from the per pupil expenditures at HHS, PHS, and CHS, which would be the most expensive program?

    That’s easy—Clemente by a huge margin. The differences between HHS, PHS, and CHS are minor by comparison.

    Or is that the perfect barrier for parents who are less able to be involved in their children’s schooling?

    I don’t see that CHS requires more parent involvement. In fact, it seems to me that parent involvement is easier (more like an elementary school than a high school in that respect), so that parents that find it difficult to be involved would probably find it easier at CHS.
       —mw    Sep. 14 '05 - 11:48AM    #
  56. “Well, I think the district does a relatively poor job of educating black kids now and I don’t think it has to do with either segregation or racism. Huron and Pioneer are now about as well integrated as they could possibly be and that has proven to be no magic solution.”

    That’s a bunch of crap. It’s not the district’s fault in the least. I believe it’s about the priorities of the student – many higher-level SES students foresee a good college and a successful career in their future, and thus take the higher level AP courses to get into a good college. Lower level SES students often don’t see college to be quite as much as an option, and therefore are more concerned about simply passing the minimum to graduate high school rather than aspiring to get into college.

    I know that priorities are a main issue, because I’ve been through the district myself as a recent graduate and have friends who are black and of lower SES that have aspired to take the higher-level courses and succeeded in them. You cannot force students who don’t think challenging AP courses are important/necessary to take them.
       —SD    Jan. 4 '06 - 10:06PM    #