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 engage@apsva.us 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 engage@apsva.us.
- 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.

See It And Address It

Hi Friends!
I’m keeping it short this week because I really want you to engage with this.
(1) I have noticed Loudoun County schools in the news quite a bit for intolerant (at best) situations, just this week:
- Some parents are protesting LGBTQ classroom books in Loudoun County schools.
- The VA Attorney General has begun a bias probe of Loudoun County schools.
(2) Please watch Robin DiAngelo’s video on “Deconstructing White Privilege” (20 minutes, you don’t have to watch, just listen). Key takeaways (for me, anyway):
- Conflict over good/bad schools and good/bad neighborhoods are about upholding white supremacy.
- No one in Dr. DiAngelo’s privileged, segregated, white upbringing advocated for the value of including people of color in her life. Did anyone in yours?
I want to hear your thoughts and feedback. Clearly, culture change and active anti-racist advocacy is required to truly integrate our schools and ensure equal opportunity and education for all of our students. Each of us can have conversations with our fellow white families in our communities about the need to confront white supremacy, to acknowledge white privilege and our role in upholding a racist system, and our responsibility to change the system.
Where do you get stuck? What are you unsure about? Remember that you have been fully socialized into a white supremacist society, so it is normal to struggle with these realities. The system was created in a way that would prevent those who benefit from it from seeing it. Please open your eyes, not with shame and guilt, but with understanding, open-mindedness, and grace. We can’t fix it if we refuse to see it. We are all complicit. We each have a role in addressing it.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Systemic Racism is Everywhere

Hi Friends!
Hooray about the voting results in Virginia and Arlington!
Sorry for the delay again this week — so many things happening in the world of local educational equity work! I’m going to use this opportunity to catch up on some resources and opportunities that have come my way.
- We need all of our SB members and key APS staff to read this as APS works to hire its first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer — The Challenging, Often Isolating Work of School District Chief Equity Officers (Christina A. Samuels in Education Week 10/22/19).
- Theresa Vargas (The Washington Post 11/6/19) highlights the maternal and infant mortality crisis, which seems to be getting worse and affects families of color more acutely.
- An older article from 2013, this highlights literacy as a civil rights issue (Joseph J. Dunn in America Magazine 11/20/13).
- A group member shared “Keeping Black Girls in School” from The Brian Lehrer Show at WNYC (11/1/19) about Monique Morris’s documentary “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” (she founded the National Black Women’s Justice Institute).
- I wanted to remind our group about Hold The Line Magazine, which recently released their Line Leaders Guide (for purchase) to facilitate conversations and socially conscious thinking with our children.
- A group member shared “How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time” from Baratunde Thurston’s TED2019 talk (April 2019).
- The criminalization of homelessness is another example of criminalizing poverty, which affects people of color more frequently, and is often upheld in the name of “public safety” when the reality is another civil rights violation and not a useful solution to the issue of homelessness.
- For those of you working on environmental activism, the NAACP sees this work as directly tied to racial and economic equity.
- For those of you working on gender equality activism, the NAACP and the National Black Justice Coalition see this work as a civil rights issue.
The good/bad thing about systemic racism is that no matter what your area of expertise/comfort, there are ways to bring racial and economic activism into your work. It’s EVERYWHERE.
- EmbraceRace is hosting a webinar called “Doing Race, Family & Culture through Transracial Adoption” on November 19. Register here.
Housing Arlington: Community Conversation Series — November 12 is the last one, online only, about Housing & Equity.
- “Learn From This Place: Bringing Arlington to Halls Hill” on November 13 (free, but registration is required).
- Arlington Democrats are hosting an issue forum on “Pathways to Housing Affordability” on November 12.
- Arlington County wants to know how it should spend its money! It’s budget season (again). Here’s one way to participate. There will be more opportunities to weigh in on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) later in the year. Here’s a graphic of the timeline.
APS annual school calendar review — if you complete the survey, please add in your comments at the end that APS and Arlington County should remove “Columbus Day” from their calendars and replace it with “Indigenous People’s Day” or something similar. The more they hear from people about this, the more likely it will be to happen. It’s not the main point of the survey, but we should take every opportunity to speak up.
APS Elementary Boundaries and Planning Initiative — lots of information, community questionnaire open until November 24.
APS English Learners Program Evaluation — Work Session October 22 — click on meetings, then October 22 work session, then agenda to see relevant linked documents. From a group member, “Take a look at the report, English learners program eval report. WestEd did the evaluation and worked with APS staff to collect classroom observations and such. Go to the findings section, starting on page 30… you’ll see vignettes of what was observed and what is possible (culturally responsive pedagogy), starting on page 34. These were really good because it not only provides examples of what happens currently at APS, but what can be improved at APS.”
Keep engaging in the work. And if anyone is interested in meeting to chat about these things (or others) in person, either one-on-one or in a group, please reach out and I’ll be happy to put together a topic discussion.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.