Closing Out 2019, Plenty of Work Left to Do

Hi Friends!
I hope you’re finding moments of peace during this hectic holiday season.
Related to APS Activity:- There is another version of the APS survey on school moves available, open until December 18.
- Arlington Analytics has a map building tool you can use to play around with school boundaries. It has been updated to include the 2020 Boundary Planning Process Data.
- Maura McMahon and Abby Raphael have been writing Ed Talk pieces in ArlNow:
— November 1 “Equity in Arlington Education”
— November 15 “Giving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a Chance”
— December 13 “Elementary School Moves/Boundaries” — this one has a similar message to the feedback I sent to APS about its proposed equity policy.
At the December 5 APS School Board Meeting, two members of the Arlington NAACP Education Committee spoke during the public comment period about the lack of representation in the hiring process of the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO), which is wrapping up this month. You can view their comments in the recording: Sherrice Kerns is at 56:30 and Symone Walker is at 1:01:00. It is the practice at School Board meetings for the SB members not to respond to comments made by the public during their meetings. However, one SB member decided to abandon that practice and admonish the speakers. You can see it at 1:08:30. The story was covered by Scott McCaffrey at Sun Gazette Newspapers. Next steps: better representation and inclusion during the Superintendent hiring process. And community members are closely watching who is hired as the CDEIO and how that person is supported in bringing about the culture change that is needed.
Resources:- Theresa Vargas wrote about two brothers who were the victims of gun violence and the public comments made on her first story.
- I’m including this not to endorse any candidate, but because I really appreciated the focus on empathy in Colbert I. King’s oped.
- The Inclusive Schools Network shared information about Lisa Lightner who writes the blog “A Day In Our Shoes” about being an IEP advocate. She also put together a list of 25 inclusion books for kids.
- Livia Gershon writes about “The ‘Parenting Tax’ of School Choice.
- There’s an amazing film called “Color of Fear” that was put together from a dialogue about race relations among men of different racial backgrounds, facilitated by the director, Lee Mun Wah, released in 1994. It’s a very powerful film.
- Eric Higgins writes about “The Dangerous Narrative That Lurks Under the ‘Achievement Gap’.”
- The Education Week Research Center released a report about “How Teachers Talk About Educational Disparities” with lots of data and the meanings associated with those language choices.
- Thomas Downey writes about why the US House of Representatives has 435 members and why it should be expanded. Thanks to a group member for sharing this with us!
- Kevin Carey writes about education reform related to the institution of having school districts that are funded by property taxes. Thanks to a group member for sharing this with us!
- Jon Henley writes about how “Homelessness is not inevitable and can be solved — these cities show us how.”
- Housing Arlington released its key takeaways from the community conversations about housing.
- Hamed Aleaziz at Buzzfeed wrote an article about an ICE whistleblower’s report about the lack of or negligent medical care in ICE detention facilities. Warning, contains graphic descriptions.
- Ibram X. Kendi is releasing a children’s book called Antiracist Baby in June 2020. It’s available for preorder now.
- Peter Jamison writes about a hate crime hoax at a church in Indiana and the complex results.
Actions and Events:- Renae Merle wrote about the proposed redlining law overhaul (Community Reinvestment Act of 1977). Public comment is being accepted for 60 days after it is posted on the Federal Register. The latest one isn’t posted yet, but if you search for the name of the law, you can see changes going back many years related to it.
- EmbraceRace is hosting a webinar on “From ‘Best’ to ‘Worst’ Practices in Family Engagement for Educational Justice” on December 17. You can register here.
Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Network meeting on December 19 (hosted by OAR).
- Arlington Public Library is hosting many book clubs, several of them about topics relevant to this group.
- White Awake is sponsoring an online course called “Before We Were White” beginning January 26. You can find out more and register here.
Thank you for your continued engagement with this work. I will be on vacation next week. You’ll hear from me again in the New Year! Well wishes to everyone!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Local Anti-Racist Efforts and Opportunities

Hi Friends!
I hope you had a rejuvenating Thanksgiving holiday. Feel free to share interesting conversations you might have had, questions that came up for you, anything at all. I have noticed that when I bring one of my anti-racism or whiteness books around with me in public that people want to know more about it, they are curious. It might be an easy way to engage people around you in conversations about your anti-racist work!
Some personal highlights this week:
- A group member shared this blog post and I am encouraged by the author’s willingness to consider her own biases and actions and then find ways to change her behavior to be more in line with anti-racist efforts. I hope all of us can strive in this direction!
- I highly recommend reading anything by Robin DiAngelo, but perhaps especially White Fragility.
- Nancy Van Doren announced that she will also not be seeking School Board reelection in 2020. Please encourage equity-minded community members to consider running for the two seats that will be open!
- Congratulations to Arlington County’s Human Rights Champions, including Black Parents of Arlington for their advocacy efforts!
- I’m very excited to tell you about the Service Never Sleeps virtual Allyship Workshop. Here’s a sneak peek. I try to live their motto every day, “Tireless Action Toward Social Justice.”
- Please engage with the County’s effort to solicit feedback from the community about the upcoming budget. Make sure that anti-racist voices are being heard loud and clear in this process. From a group member:
“Here is an opportunity to stand up for a budget and policies that spread equity and are anti racist.If you are concerned about Arlington’s Affordable Housing Crisis…..If you want to make sure Arlington is true to its vision of being an inclusive diverse world class community……If you believe that Arlington’s work force should have a chance to live here…..If you have heard the stories of rising rents, unresponsive landlords hoping to sell, families and county employees having to move far away…..If you are upset that that people of color are disproportionately impacted when large tech companies move into a city….If you want Arlington to continue to have people from mixed incomes, and you believe we can learn from the mistakes of cities like Seattle and San Francisco.”
- Rebecca Bellan wrote about the racist bias showing up in Uber and Lyft ride hailing services.
- Elena Botella wrote a book review about Barrio America, about the power of Latino immigrants and the white racist response and how that has affected our cities.
- The SPLC Weekend Read was about “The struggle for Native American voting rights.
- Marilyn Mosby and Miriam Aroni Krinsky wrote an oped about the recent exonerations of several people wrongly imprisoned in Baltimore and how we must protect children from a corrupt justice system.
- Hannah Knowles wrote about a white attendee’s response to “Slave Play” (playing on Broadway).
- Podcast “Seeing White
- Brentin Mock wrote about why “Neighborhoods With More People of Color Pay Higher Energy Bills.”
- Richard Florida wrote about a recent study that shows “How to Grow the Wealth of Poor Neighborhoods From the Bottom Up.”
- Black Lives Matter has revamped its website, so if you’re looking for information about how to get involved or what that organization is prioritizing for the new year, check it out!
- Integrated Schools posted about how “ensuring political change takes only about 3.5% of the population to be actively engaged.” This means that if 3 million families actively engage in this work, change can happen.
- Kalyn Belsha wrote about what has happened to integration efforts started under the Obama administration.
- Linda Poon wrote about the legacy of health inequities stemming from the “Indian Relocation” policies of the 1950s.
- Richard Florida wrote about the wage inequality across America and why it is even wider in cities.
- Kriston Capps wrote about the detrimental effects the USDA new food stamp rule will have on vulnerable populations.
- Tim Elfrink wrote about US Attorney General William P Barr stating that communities that protest police behavior could lose the protection of law enforcement officers.
- Hansi Lo Wang spoke and wrote about efforts to install free wi-fi to help rural communities of color be counted in the 2020 census.
- Sean Illing wrote about housing discrimination in America.
- Michelle Diament wrote about a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) about significant barriers to pursuing disputes related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- Challenging Racism Book Group, January 23 — register here.
- VACOLAO is hosting the 2020 Virginia Immigrant/Latino Advocacy Day on January 16 — register here.
Thank you for engaging in this work, every day.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

APS School Changes Resources

Hi Friends,
I know, I said I wasn’t writing another update before Thanksgiving, but I realized that there is a huge amount of information and concern about the APS school change processes happening right now (and the “engagement” around those changes), so I want to share as many resources and information about this process as I can. Please share more information if I have missed anything!
First, a rundown of the many moving parts:
Elementary School Planning Process — this precedes the boundary process and proposes moving option programs from one school location to another.
- The community survey was open through November 24, but you can always email instead.
- It’s important to read the FAQ page (which they are adding to) for more information about why they are doing it this way and what it all means.
- The Online Information Session video from November 5 is also a helpful resource to watch (about 28 minutes).
- A November 22, 2019 APS Facebook Live session on Elementary Planning: Answering Common Questions (about 8.5 minutes long) — this addresses a lot of common questions I’ve been hearing families asking.
Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process — this is what comes after the decisions about where the option programs should go. This page includes the overall timeline for the process, Phase I of which is the planning process above from November to January 2020.
PreK-12 Instructional Programs Pathway (IPP) — this is a framework (not a policy or procedure, but a guide).
- You can view the presentation on the IPP at a School Board Work Session from June 11, 2019 and the “final” document dated August 2019, which is called a Planning Document (and it’s still marked as a draft). Does anyone have a more recent or final version?
- This guide addresses the option programs APS would like to have available in its schools. The part of the timeline where we are now states: “December 2019 — The Superintendent will identify program changes and moves among current neighborhood and option school/program sites that would go into effect concurrently with new boundaries for Sept. 2021.”
- That new elementary boundary process will take place in Fall 2020. A middle school boundary process will take place the following year.
2021–2030 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), including the 2019 Arlington Facilities and Student Accommodation Plan (AFSAP) — the CIP includes investments needed for new schools and school additions, and major maintenance and minor construction projects (MCMM).
- This will be adopted in June 2020.
- Change is coming. It’s unavoidable. We need to advocate for action in the best interest of ALL of Arlington students. All of our students will be impacted by these changes, so let’s prepare them to be resilient and accepting of change, and show them how to advocate for our community as a whole and for actual, tangible, meaningful equity in our schools.
- The Fall 2020 boundary process is needed to create a boundary for the new Reed School. If the typical process is used, this will result in boundaries that include students who live outside the neighborhood walk zones, resulting in a move of more students and higher transportation costs and transit times for students. This would affect ALL but four ES boundaries.
- The demand for student seats is much higher in the south and east of the county, and much lower in the north and west of the county. This is why APS has two proposals to move programs from one school building to another, to create “new” neighborhood seats where option program seats are located currently.
- There are Community Meetings planned on December 9 and 10, an online webinar on December 13, and a Spanish Community Meeting on December 16. APS will present final revised scenarios to the School Board on January 9 and there will be a School Board Public Hearing on these options on January 30, 2020.
- Is the options/transfer policy going to change to ensure demographic balance/guaranteed access for students of color/economically disadvantaged students? If we move options programs out of south Arlington, they will become less physically accessible/less convenient for our lower income families to access, which means we need to ensure that intentional efforts are being made to welcome and include diverse families to all of our options programs. Otherwise, these proposals could create additional barriers for disadvantaged families and could further segregate our option programsThe Policy is currently due for School Board consideration on February 20, 2020 and SB action on March 12, 2020, which likely means that it is not a part of the conversation at this point.
- Some options programs (I’m thinking about Campbell because I’m more familiar with it, but there may be others) have invested significant financial and time resources into their physical spaces that directly contribute to the success of their programs, which means that there is additional cost to choosing to move those programs to another physical location.
Engagement efforts have been missing significant portions of our ES populations, particularly those school communities that include high percentages of economically disadvantaged students and families who do not speak English at home. Many of these families would be directly impacted by these proposals and the very fast timeline for engagement is not realistic given the communication barriers and other barriers to involvement these communities face. Many schools/PTAs are asking for more time to engage their families in a meaningful and respectful way about these proposals.
— — This matters because APS uses community engagement responses to make its proposals and decisions. In the response on the FAQ page to question #3, “How is demographics addressed in these proposals?” it states: “In previous surveys, most elementary families told us that they value proximity for a variety of reasons.” APS does not share how many families contributed that particular feedback, what schools they are associated with, and how representative of our students’ families those opinions might be. APS does not have a good track record of considering the perspectives and preferences of those populations NOT at the table. In order to move forward in this process in a way that takes an equity lens, we must allow time for meaningful engagement with all of our families.
What is actually preventing Spanish-speaking families from enrolling in Immersion programs? If one of the reasons for the option program moves is to have a larger native-Spanish speaking population to attain the 50/50 balance of native and non-native Spanish speakers in our Immersion programs, are we sure that proximity is the one barrier preventing Spanish-speaking families from enrolling their children in Immersion programs? Or might there be other reasons these families are not enrolling in immersion programs? We need to know this before we use the 50/50 balance as a reason for these program moves.
Also, please consider weighing in on this additional opportunity for feedback:
APS Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer position feedback is accepted until December 2, 2019. Scroll down for some helpful FAQ information before providing your feedback.
Some concerns to consider:
(1) How will this position be supported (staff, budget)?
(2) How will this person be set up for success (authority, access to information)?
(3) How will this person ensure an effective relationship with the Superintendent when a new Superintendent won’t be hired until after they start their position?
Thank you for engaging in this work.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Meaningful Engagement is Required

Hi Friends!
Happy beginning of the holiday season! I’m writing a really long update this week because I’m taking next week off. Enjoy the resources below, particularly the helpful ones about Thanksgiving. Have some brave conversations!
How many of you signed up for a Disney + account as soon as it came out? How many of you noticed the disclaimers before many classic titles about “outdated cultural depictions” — in other words, racist stereotypes? Here’s one take on Disney’s effort.
- Tannia Talento has announced that she will not run for reelection for her School Board seat. I’m excited to hear about potential candidates of color and/or equity-driven candidates to take her place.
- Please pay attention to the Amazon MOU with Arlington police regarding Ring doorbell cameras. There are significant concerns about privacy and criminalization of normal juvenile behavior. If you have a Ring device (and even if you don’t), please engage with this.
APS Boundary Process: Many groups are advocating for a slower process, sincere engagement with communities (not engagement theater), and a countywide approach rather than encouraging conflict among individual schools. Parents are asking for data to back up the proposals so they can understand the problems APS is trying to solve and the factors involved in those decisions. After the last boundary process which involved erroneous data, many parents are feeling distrustful of the process and the lack of transparency isn’t helping. The CCPTA provided detailed recommendations based on parent feedback after the last boundary process, but no response has been received. If you want to advocate about this or provide your feedback on the proposals, you don’t have to use the survey, you can just contact
- Montgomery County has been in the news lately for equity related issues, one for a conflict about where to potentially place another early voting center and another about the passing of its recent racial equity bill.
- Electing reform prosecutors is an important step. Supporting them so they can succeed in their efforts is going to take a lot more time and work, because the system is fighting back. Dismantling systems of white supremacy takes sustained, dedicated labor.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote about the school-to-prison pipeline in Essence magazine.
Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR) in Arlington is hosting a Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Network on December 19 at 7:00 pm at Arlington Central Library. “OAR’s community-based Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Network’s primary focus is to create a space to openly discuss race-related subject matter that centers the lives of those impacted by the criminal justice system. This group of committed and passionate volunteers will mobilize with an understanding of historical and current issues impacting our men and women. By empowering and amplifying the voices of those who have been marginalized through systemic racism we aim to challenge racist laws, regulations, programs, policies, and beliefs that dominate our society and culture. We also aim to pursue partnerships with community members, other advocacy groups, and anti-racism organizations to increase the impact of this work and improve the quality of life for people of color. The Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Network’s ultimate goal is to transition people of color into positions of power in the community, local and state government, the Virginia General Assembly, and other white-dominated organizations to create a shift toward anti-racism across our established infrastructure.”
- CityLab had a story about “Why Public Transit Is an Equity Battleground” connecting the right to move around one’s community and the challenges of poverty.
- Fortune Magazine carried a piece by Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP, about the fact that “Comcast is Challenging a 153-Year-Old Law That Protects Against Racial Discrimination. We Can’t Let That Happen.
- If you missed the Housing Arlington Community Conversation on Equity, you can watch it here.
- You can also read about land use tools Arlington is considering.
- There’s a national redlining map available called “Mapping Inequality” and you can see the historical redlining maps that graded areas in four categories ranging from “Best” to “Hazardous.” One guess who lived in each of those locations.
- The Atlantic’s Vann R. Newkirk II wrote about “The Great Land Robbery” regarding black farming families.
- A new study came out about understanding and addressing youth homelessness, from Voices of Youth Count.
- The Arlington Committee of 100 hosted a conversation on affordable housing on November 13. You can check out the recording here.
Thanksgiving is coming! During this holiday, when families try not to speak about anything that will ruffle anyone’s turkey feathers (what can you even talk about these days?!), it is important to remember that the events commemorated by this holiday are complicated and painful and are not a celebration for many Americans.
- Settler Colonialism, perpetuated by Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, is being addressed in part by efforts by Indigenous land rights organizations. Three of them were featured in a recent SURJ webinar (SURJ is a part of the Indigenous Solidarity Network), Manna-hatta FundReal Rent Duwamish, and Shumi Land Tax. Indigenous peoples are not gone, they are living, breathing people, and they are still being marginalized and deprived of their human rights.
- If you’re interested in an event, the Washington National Cathedral is hosting “Indigenous Peoples Blanket Exercise” on November 24: “On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, deepen your understanding of the denial of Indigenous peoples’ nationhood and human rights in this unique, interactive and participatory history lesson. Developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and educators, this exercise illuminates the ways Indigenous human rights have been denied since first contact and institutionalized in the most fundamental laws, policies and programs of nation building. During the closing Talking Circle, facilitators support participants in understanding their experience and finding ways to participate in healing and decolonization.” More information about the Blanket Exercise is here.
- And after Thanksgiving, if you want to get some training on how to talk to friends and family about racism, SURJ NoVa is hosting an event on December 8.
- Arlington County is hosting a Secret Santa program for our most vulnerable residents.
Enjoy your holiday time and keep looking for ways to speak up, have conversations, and learn something new.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.