The term “neighborhood school” gets thrown around a lot in the education conversation, oftentimes as kind of the anti-thesis of charter and “choice” schools. As in: “The district should focus more on neighborhood schools and less on charter schools.” Or “Choice is taking resources away from neighborhood schools.”
Unions especially like to wrap themselves in the cozy warmth of the “neighborhood schools” blanket. But what do they really mean by “neighborhood school”? Is it really about the neighborhood?
Eric Gorski from Chalkbeat Colorado has a great story on that today, in the context of Tuesday’s Denver school board election. And it includes this definition of a “neighborhood school”:
“When I think of what does it mean for a school to be a neighborhood school, I think of it in the context of being of the neighborhood. So to me, what matters is, is this a school that is serving the kids who live there? Is it committed to that community and does it have an enrollment system and process that makes it equally accessible to kids of all levels, whether it’s kids who historically have had success in the system or not?”
That’s pretty straightforward…and it’s not from one of the union-backed school board candidates. I’ll let you read the full story to see whose definition that is. Plus, it’s great fun to read the story and watch the union candidates do the definition dance on neighborhood schools…to see the histrionics they go through to mean “union controlled” schools without saying those words.
And the story ends with quite a twist—two of the big “neighborhood school” candidates use choice to send their own kids to a school outside of their attendance area, thereby—as the union theory goes—“taking resources away” from their very own “neighborhood schools.”