In Juan Pablo Alban’s November 20th editorial, he said, “Based on rankings, Marshall stands out as the most academically excellent high school in the District”.
By Pablo Miralles
But it’s not “Marshall”, it’s Marshall Fundamental. Rarely does anyone ask what is a “Fundamental School”? And why do they get preferential attendance requirements?
For those who do not know Fundamental schools were created in the mid 70s by a far right school board which was voted in shortly after the court ordered desegregation. Their goal was to reverse the ruling. After that failed, they turned to making schools “safe”. They were convinced that these newly integrated schools had a discipline problem compounded by a too liberal education.
So they created Fundamental Schools where discipline and academic rigor were emphasized and art, music, and sports were deemphasized. Students wore uniforms, parents consented to the use of corporal punishment, and the school was allowed to have a district wide attendance policy where parents had to “sign-up” to have their children attend.
Half a century later the uniforms are gone, the arts and music are held in high esteem, but the curated attendance and name remains.
Why? I posit that some parents have no interest in creating a district true to the ideals of inclusion, equity, diversity and access. They want something “better” than other kids. And Marshall Fundamental’s enrollment policy gives them a sense that their school will have active parents and kids committed to academic excellence.
If Marshall Fundamental wants to compare itself to other schools, then it should have an attendance zone like every other school. They should be obligated to educate all those kids regardless of their circumstances.
Pablo Miralles is the award-winning filmmaker behind “Can We All Get Along? The Segregation of John Muir High School.”
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