JCPS Facilities Plan

Equity is Not Just a Buzzword

Equity in education in JCPS isn’t a buzzword for communities of color. It is their hope, it is their motivator for all the work they do for their children. It has been their life’s work, particularly because their children are the ones who have been bused out of their neighborhoods across town to increase the black to white ratio of the east end schools for nearly 60 years, while there has been little attempt to do the same in the west end schools. The racial equity plan and the racial equity analysis protocol adopted in 2018 were supposed to be vigorously used to address this, among other things. It was a promise. It was a commitment. It is the expectation of the communities of color that JCPS abide by their stated commitment to equity...not later, but now.

While there is no doubt that Shawnee must be renovated and there are so many schools that need renovations or new ones built, student assignment and racial equity, in particular, must be a major driving factor in the decisions.

It is our contention that demographics and the JCPS student assignment plan should drive the facilities plan. Building the schools before implementing the student assignment plan would diminish the number of seats in the west end while increasing the number of seats in the east end, resulting in the necessity for more students bussed to east end schools, and creating more segregated schools. Historically, the majority of students bussed have been students of color.

Building for Equity

Overcrowding in several east end schools is one of the driving forces for building a new school near the Gene Snyder. While there is overcrowding in some schools it is not due to the fact that there are not empty seats in classrooms in other areas of the county. Redrawing districts, shifting boundary lines to the west, creating a student assignment plan that is equitable for students of color as well as their white counterparts, replicating popular programs around the county, and including more students of color in advanced programs would all be equitable alternatives to simply “building where there is growth.”

It is easy to point to new school buildings in disparate parts of town to claim progress, but it would be disingenuous. When more students will be bussed farther, parents will have more challenges participating in any meaningful way in their bussed student’s school, more bussed students will be unable to participate in schools activities, and more students will be in schools with higher populations of students living in poverty, there is no progress. Again, the student assignment plan must be adopted and implemented to know what the needs for schools are in the near future and may be for farther in the future.