The Montgomery County Council pressed school officials Monday to consider shifting attendance boundaries to make schools more economically and racially diverse — a potential and politically volatile remedy for a persistent achievement gap.
In Montgomery, the question of how students are assigned to neighborhood schools until now has largely been absent from the debate over how to close the troubling achievement gap. Such plans, like the onecurrently being considered for D.C. schools, inevitably trigger rancorous community debates. Boundary changes in the 151,000-student system have focused on accommodating enrollment increases and the opening of new schools.
But several council members told Superintendent Joshua P. Starr at a meeting of the council’s education committee on Monday that the idea of shifting students to address a gap in academic achievement merits serious consideration...
...After the hearing, school board member Christopher Barclay rejected the idea of boundary changes, saying he was offended by the notion that students of color could thrive only if surrounded by more middle-class and affluent whites.
“I don’t believe in white supremacy,” said Barclay, who is African American. He said without improvements in teacher quality and other reforms, especially in struggling schools, boundary changes would simply redistribute poor children, essentially hiding “pockets of need” inside more racially diverse schools.
“What gets missed in this is, what are the abilities of those teachers to teach those children?” Barclay said. “I don’t want kids shipped all over the world.”