by: Tennille Caulfield
The practice of assigning kids to public schools based on their zip code (and by extension, their family’s wealth) and has long played a role in shaping the way families navigate their children’s educational journey. It perpetuates barriers for families in many ways. Yet, as our society becomes more dynamic and interconnected, this concept is facing much-needed scrutiny.
Why do we treat education as a scarce resource?
I recently sat down with Ms. Chauncinique Williams, a mother of three from Maryland who, because of her experience, now advocates for the elimination of school zoning. Ms. Williams faced challenges keeping her children in the same schools after a divorce. By listening to her experience, insights, and aspirations, we can uncover the potential benefits that could reshape our educational landscape for the better.
Their Lives Changed
A child’s learning environment can shift dramatically from family relocations, short-term work assignments, or health-related concerns. Even temporary changes can bring about unexpected disruptions to kids’ school placements. In addition to losing out on social opportunities, this also hinders their educational progress.
Understanding that such disruptions may have an influence on their academic development, social relationships, and overall routine, why should we make a difficult situation worse for families?
Listen to Ms. Williams talk about how her life change affected her children and how No More Lines policy would have helped her family during a difficult period.
The Difficulty of the Homeless Program
Because of her family’s transitory situation, Ms. Williams was prompted to apply for her local school’s homeless program. The program stems from the McKinney-Vento Act, which defines a child’s enrollment regardless of their current housing situation. While the program exists to assist vulnerable persons and families, it falls short in so many ways: the persistent lack of promised resources, especially transportation; the lack of communication between the program, schools, and departments; and the constant paperwork forcing parents to re-enroll each child every year.
Listen to Ms. Williams recount her frustration with being pushed to use this well-intentioned but failing government program. She notes that abolishing discriminatory school zoning statewide would have been more helpful to her family.
The Stability of the Child
The effects of frequent and constant school relocations can be substantial for school-aged children. Such experiences often lead to a range of challenges, including academic, social, and emotional disruptions. The struggle to constantly adapt to new environments can hinder the development of strong peer relationships, potentially leading to feelings of isolation.
Why are we worsening families’ despair?
Ms. Williams’ unique story shows us why cookie-cutter education is simply not working for so many. It shows us how enacting No More Lines and abolishing restrictive school zoning could help keep families afloat in turbulent waters.
Read more about No More Lines from yes. every kid. foundation.