Maury Capitol Hill

Anonymous
This just sucks all around. I’m most frustrated by the fact that DME very obviously wants to push this cluster through (from someone who attended all relevant town halls over the last month).
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Anonymous wrote:There is really no reason why any DCPS school should be over 50% white and under 30% at risk. DCPS needs to do something to ensure that all schools are serving their fair share of at risk and black students.


That's like saying no neighborhood should be mostly white. Which is racist. Reported.


How is it racist to call out people self segregating and shutting non-whites out of a neighborhood and a school? That isn’t the definition of racism. And let me remind you people that Maury was a majority black and Title I school a little over 10-15 years ago.


Dude look at the makeup of the school lol. This plan would be a disaster for multiple dropoffs, walkability, and school consistency. Literally nobody is talking about race (except you)


People are talking about race using coded language. Everyone knows that black children are referenced by derogatory terms such as “low income” “at risk” etc. on this forum. I’m just mentioning something that some folks on this forum already mentioned. It isn’t new.


I just want to point out that this “coded language” originates with the DME, which at some point must have received the correct legal advice that a school boundary plan based on race is likely illegal at this point.


No, the coded language comes from prejudiced people who spend their entire day posting anonymous comments on a blog knowing that they would never say these comments in public lol


Not wanting to split my kids between 2 schools and managing that crazy pickup/dropoff is not prejudiced dude. Clusters don't work. You obviously are biased and hate the Maury families, we get it. How about putting that energy into fixing your school instead like we did?


You didn’t “fix” the school. There were simply enough affluent folks who moved into the neighborhood to spearhead displacement of black families who lives near Maury for generations. That isn’t the flex that you think it is sir/ma’m/they.


Then why is the school a good school, then? Please explain.


DP. I can explain. Much of it has been been explicit in the thread, but it might be helpful to pull it together.

Maury's boundaries cluster along the the NE corner of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, extending into Hill East toward RFK. Over the last 20 years, the broader neighborhood as gentrified rapidly, becoming whiter and wealthier. The gentrification happened most quickly and completely in the western half of the Hill, in the historic district and closer in for easier commutes to the Capitol, downtown, and Northern Virginia. However, as this part of the Hill became more expensive, more UMC families looked east for more affordable homes. "Affordable" being a relative term -- I am talking about gentrifying families, mostly dual income, in professional white collar jobs ranging from feds to consultants and lawyers.

The Maury boundary was immediately appealing for several reasons. It has good proximity to Lincoln Park (UMC people like dogs, children, and green space to take them) and to Eastern Market, one of the Hill's biggest selling points in this era in terms of having bars and restaurants and a farmers market in walking distance. As H Street's reputation improved, the Maury boundaries proximity to H Street was also a selling point.

But note I'm talking about "proximity" to these places. Especially regarding H Street/Benning Rd, houses in the Maury boundary benefit from being relatively nearby (which means you have access to multiple grocery stores, including a Whole Foods, as well restaurants, coffee shops, dry cleaners, doggie daycares, human daycares, etc. -- stuff UMC people like) but importantly, Maury does not actually abut either H Street or Penn Avenue. It is entirely bounded by the park and residential neighborhoods, with extremely limited commercial zoning.

Because the Maury zone has limited commercial or mixed-use zoning, it is also unique on the Hill in that it has very little multi-family housing compared to other school boundaries. Miner, for example, as a number of large multi-family housing projects in its boundaries, including more than one that is designated low-income or accepts Section 8 vouchers. But Maury has little of this.

So as the Hill gentrified, Maury's boundary wound up on the leading edge of this gentrification, because it's mostly SFHs within walking distance to major Hill amenities like the park, the market, and H Street, but doesn't actually contain any of them.

But that's half of it. The other half is that families in the neighborhood saw this happening and recognized an opportunity to make Maury a neighborhood school that benefitted from this unique gentrification pattern. Maury families aggressively invested in and promoted the school to neighbors. Before this, and despite gentrification, Maury (like most other Hill elementaries) had a large OOB contingent and included a high at-risk population (it was Title 1, as others have discussed). By taking this step, this group of UMC families was able to increase IB buy in, which had the impact of lowering the school's black AND at-risk populations simultaneously. As they did this, test scores rose. Rising test scores encouraged not only more IB buy in, but the interest of other UMC families in the area, who often ranked Maury high in the lottery. So even Maury's OOB population began to skew whiter and wealthier.

None of this is devious. People at Maury wanted a good school and they got one. But it's also disingenuous to pretend that demographics didn't play a central role in that transition, and that for many Maury families, the "investment" they made in Maury was literally buying more expensive housing IB for a school where lots of other high income families already lived. This happens everywhere all the time, but is different than actually doing anything AT the school to improve outcomes. Maury improved by attracting student demographics that tend to test well and get a lot of parent support.

HOWEVER, Maury is part of DCPS and the "improvement" of Maury has somewhat limited value to the district because it's so localized and dependent on gentrification patterns. People keep saying that Miner should just do what Maury did, but if you understand these neighborhoods, you understand that Miner can't follow Maury's footsteps because unlike Maury, Miner has a lot of at risk kids IB. It always has to serve those kids. This means that UMC families in Miner's boundary who don't want their kids attending school with a large at risk population will always shy away from the school, and it also means that the school is unlikely to get the kind of OOB interest from UMC families in the larger neighborhood that Maury was able to attract. Miner cannot do what Maury did unless you eliminate the low income housing around Miner. I know no one is suggesting that. Right?

The obvious solution here is to shift the boundaries so that Maury is no longer a little island of UMC families, and actually serves low income families in the neighborhood where it is located. The end. Will this fix all Miner's problems? No, Miner's problems are complex and much bigger than this issue with demographic imbalance. Will it lower test scores at Maury? Probably, test scores track very closely with parental incomes.

Now the big question. Will it chase UMC families out of Maury? Some, probably. As clearly established by this history, UMC people tend to prefer schools with fewer low income kids. White people also tend to prefer schools with a certain critical mass of white kids (this is true of most races, actually -- people don't love sending their kids to schools where they are one of only a few children of their race, religion, or ethnicity, and most people avoid it). So it's possible that by redrawing boundaries so that Maury has more black and low income kids, some of the UMC white people IB for Maury will choose to leave, and claim it is because the school was "ruined" by a boundary redraw. So be it. Next time maybe people like this will buy homes in upper NW where they can be more confident that their children will be shielded from attending school with significant numbers of the city's poor, black population.


I agree that redrawing the boundary is the most sensible plan. DME said they only looked at a straight vertical boundary, but there are certainly other options that would provide more socio-economic parity.
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