Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | AUGUST 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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Socioeconomic disparity in local schools

I am so tired of hearing people talk about the Iowa City School District diversity policy in terms of race. It is a policy to finally, after years of being ignored, to address the fact that one school has existed with 80 percent of its students receiving free- and reduced-lunch benefits, while another elementary school in the same district serves as low as 3 percent of its students with free- and reduced-lunch benefits.

This policy is not to replace district goals toward ethnic/racial diversity goals. It is a policy that uses the word “diversity,” as it originally explained in the introduction that was discarded under duress, in reference to socioeconomic diversity. Did everyone really miss the whole movement behind We are the 99 percent? Because that’s the kind of socioeconomic disparity extremes, 3 percent versus 80 percent in elementary schools in the same district, that this policy is meant to address.

Additionally, the crafters never intended the goals to be met by brutal busing, something which I have always opposed; the intention is that the superintendent is directed to use alternative programming placed at the schools that are the most socioeconomically disadvantaged.

The success of the policy has always hinged on the superintendent being willing and responsible for getting creative programming options into the schools with the highest poverty to draw a wider socioeconomic range of students to them, not to bus poor kids to richer schools.

Julie VanDyke
Iowa City resident

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