Wednesday, February 25, 2009

somewhat disproved, is the consortium idea still worth it?

Blake High School is one of three campuses in the Northeast Consortium.

School Board member Phil Kauffman of Olney says the Northeast Consortium, which provides East County eighth-graders with a choice of three high schools each offering different "signature programs" in different subjects, may be too expensive to sustain. The consortium - which includes Paint Branch, Springbrook, and Blake high schools - costs $3 million a year to run. Critics say it hasn't fulfilled its original purpose of increasing racial diversity in the schools and that test scores have actually fallen since the consortium was established in 1998.

I still don't understand what the problem is. Like many eighth-graders here, I was told I was going to Blake because of its exciting arts program, not because I would help balance out the glut of affluent white kids whose parents were scared to send them to Paint Branch or Springbrook. I wouldn't have traded my time at Blake for anything - and I know I was happier there than I would've been had I ended up at Paint Branch, which is the closer school to my house.

But if anyone should speculate on whether or not the Northeast Consortium does or doesn't work, it's going to be Kauffman, whose wife Beth is a teacher at Blake and whose daughter Rachel was in my graduating class and a good friend of mine. As someone who knows the ins and outs of at least one consortium high school, he'd be the best judge of its value - but I wonder if giving students a positive educational experience is so easily quantifiable.

1 comment:

Thomas Hardman said...

De-facto "ethnic clustering" is well-established in Montgomery, despite the decades of the deep domination of the Democrats in local politics.

The Olney area and "upper east county" is generally very affluent and very white, though of course some remnants of the old pre-WWII families remain in clusters scattered throughout the area. Parts of the Sandy Spring area have been majority black since about the end of the Civil War, but since the mid-1970s, they have in terms of numbers of people been overrun and overwhelmed by wealthy suburbanites. Aspen Hill is largely "hispanic" (or whatever is the proper term for Central and South American indigenies) at least in terms of public school enrollment, and the farther you go towards Prince George's County along the axis of Briggs Chaney Road, the more overwhelmingly black are the public schools enrollments.

Since the public doesn't like the sound of "busing", the school board has to find some way to promote any desegregation they can.