School Equity and PTA Funding Disparities

Hi Friends!
There are a lot of things coming up in the next week:
- A reminder that you have until June 11 to provide feedback on the draft PIP for the School Board Policy J-2 Student Equal Educational Opportunities-Nondiscrimination regarding transgender students. Please share your affirmation of transgender students and support for the update!
- Please vote in the School Board caucus on June 6 and 8.
- Please vote in the primary election on June 11. (For my Commonwealth’s Attorney endorsement, see this post.)
- Please consider attending the VOICE Action event on June 9 — flyers in English and Spanish are attached. From one of our members: “This is a pivotal time for Arlington with the arrival of Amazon and other large corporations. There have been a slew of recent articles describing what has happened to working class people in San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland, and other places when the tech companies move in. Too often people of color are disproportionately negatively impacted. On the other hand, we can look at the change coming as an opportunity. We have learned a lot about what cities can do to protect their affordable housing supply, and how officials can make sure that the new financial benefits and programs are equitably distributed. We will hold our politicians accountable. This is another chance to put Dismantling Racism and Allyship Work into practice. This is a two hour commitment to do some anti-racist work.”
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Last week, APS announced that the Virginia Board of Education had honored 12 Arlington schools with the “2019 Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) awards based upon student achievement and other performance indicators during the 2017–18 school year.” Congratulations to those schools! I do want to point out that 75% of the 12 schools had a %ED of less than 15% and student bodies that ranged from 64–81.2% white. The remaining three schools had a %ED between 23–35% and student bodies that were more diverse, ranging from 46.6–47.2% white (all stats from 17–18 school year). We will have a better indicator that we are closer to truly educating all Arlington students to their potential when low %ED and high %white are no longer correlated with performance recognition.
Related to this, the CCPTA recently held its annual leadership workshop, which was very well attended and was a great success. If you have school-aged children, please consider being active in your child’s school’s PTA. There is so much opportunity for informed parents to speak up for equity. Here’s part of what I shared with that group:
From VA PTA Position Statement Advancing Equity & Diversity
“Virginia PTA reminds its PTAs to:
- Openly assess beliefs and practices to assure inclusiveness and guard against discrimination;
- Make every effort to create a PTA board and membership that is inclusive and reflective of its community;
- Foster programs, events, and practices that eliminate bias, prejudice, and misunderstanding within their communities, and celebrate cultural diversity;
- Actively participate in parent education programs run by your school division which are designed to welcome immigrant families in each school community.”
Equity Implications:- Please consider that Arlington’s schools are segregated by income and race. Out of 32 schools, 12 schools have over 40% of students considered economically disadvantaged, all but two of which are located south of Route 50.
- Please consider that PTAs in Arlington do not all have the same ability to raise similar amounts of funding or to provide similar levels of support and opportunities for their students and staff. 2017–2018 PTA budgets at Arlington elementary schools ranged from $20,000 to $190,000, a spending range from $42 to $304 per student. Over $2 million was spent at the 26 schools that shared their information, and about 75% of that total was spent by just 14 schools.
- Some PTAs in Arlington have been able to achieve amazing things — new playground and facilities upgrades, hiring companies to provide after school enrichment opportunities, landscaping and beautification efforts, classroom libraries and seating options, and generous teacher appreciation efforts, all of which increase opportunities for many of Arlington’s students.
- Please consider as you plan your activities and budget needs that very well-intentioned and appreciated efforts by any PTA can unintentionally further exacerbate inequities among schools. The VA PTA Equity and Diversity Position Statement encourages members “at all levels to monitor, support, and advocate for programs and policies that embrace diversity and inclusivity as strengths and work to eliminate structural inequities that limit equitable learning opportunities.” Let’s encourage our school communities to take a county-wide perspective on addressing inequities in Arlington.
Opportunities for Impact:- Donate to the CCPTA’s CPCI grant fund — PTAs donate to the grant fund, which is then disbursed to grant applicants for specific purposes that meet strict guidelines and are evaluated by the CPCI Working Group twice a year.
- Participate in the CCPTA’s Partnership Program to collaborate and develop a mutually supportive relationship with other PTAs and school communities.
Examples for Discussion:- A PTA holds an annual auction as one of its main fundraisers for the year. A cover charge of $20 is set for parents to participate and many items start at $200. The only way to participate is to attend in person.
- A PTA plans to pay for a facilities upgrade to the school, with the principal’s permission. They commit to contributing a set amount of funds from the budget each year for five years to pay for the project.
- A school principal regularly attends PTA meetings and during budget discussions, the principal expresses strong preferences about how the PTA budget should be spent. The principal also regularly expects the PTA to pay for things for the school and the PTA Board approves them without membership discussion.
- A school community is very diverse, with approximately 20% white students. The PTA Board is made up entirely of parents who are white. Communication from the PTA is always only in English and always only electronic.
Let me know if you have questions or want to discuss this further.
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Some changes are coming in Arlington related to Nauck/Green Valley:
- The Washington Post had a great story about the name change.
- Arlington County Board Chair, Christian Dorsey expressed support (YouTube) for the name change.
Affordable Housing and Housing Discrimination are also getting a lot of press:
- If you missed the recently Housing Arlington discussion at the end of May, it’s posted (YouTube) and they are accepting feedback.
- The ACLU (among other things) is taking on a housing discrimination case in Chesterfield County, VA because a company bans residents from living in its apartments if they have a criminal record of any kind. Claire G. Gastanaga, Executive Director of the ACLU stated: “Longstanding obstacles in the criminal justice system have created race-based differences in outcomes, even for the same types of crimes. Given these differences, criminal record-based discrimination is racial discrimination.” This is why criminal justice reform matters.
There is also a lot of recognition of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to grant women the right to vote around right now, which is awesome. But we must remember that the movement was and the recognition of it is whitewashed. Check out SPLC’s Weekend Read about it.
Listen Up, Learn Up, Speak Up. Keep doing the work. It’s making a difference and it matters. And you are not alone. VOTE!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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