Wednesday, January 25, 2017

County Board Acknowledges January 2017 Letter on Affordable Housing Along Lee Highway

January 19, 2017.  Staff of the Arlington County Board acknowledged receipt of a recent letter from the CARD Housing Committee Chair regarding affordable housing along Lee Highway.  See the letter here.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

VOICE Meets with CARD Steering Committee

December 21, 2016.  
CARD and VOICE held a joint leadership meeting today to discuss common interests in the future trajectory of Arlington County.  Both organizations have advocated in favor of committed affordable housing in Arlington.  CARD sent letters in June and September 2016, asking the County Board to preserve affordable housing in the Westover community.  

"We really hope the County Board and staff will actively seek opportunities for committed, affordable housing throughout Arlington, rather than concentrated in only one area," said Joye Murphy of CARD Steering.  "Doing so opens the door for children of low-income families to attend some of our highest-perforning schools. Diversity, housing, and equal opportunity are intrinsically linked." 

Both CARD and VOICE have organized grassroots campaigns on affordable housing policy in Arlington. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

WaPo Editorial Board Weighs In

Following Michael Herrity's excellent article, the important issue of how we can work to increase socioeconomic diversity in Arlington public schools continues to gain momentum.  Just this morning,  the WaPo Editorial Board, weighed in on the issue of socioeconomic diversity issues here in Arlington.

In total, this is a lot of great press. Thank you to your advocacy efforts and weighing in where you can. This important conversation will continue with upcoming changes the SB is considering in the Spring.

We encourage you all to become involved.

The first link below is the update to the petition, the second is the editorial, and the third is a recent podcast from Slate highlighting this issue:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New High School Boundaries will Further Segregate Arlington Schools

CARD is troubled that socio-economic segregation in Arlington's schools continues to deepen, especially following the School Board's recent decision to re-draw high school boundaries, despite a petition to the Arlington County School Board advising otherwise, signed by 361 Arlingtonians.

On December 7th, the editor of the Crossed Sabres online publication at Washington-Lee High School published the following Open Letter to the School Board.  CARD agrees strongly with the sentiments of this letter and hope it results in real change to de-segregate Arlington through education and housing policies.  We applaud the editor's courage to speak up so effectively and urge immediate action toward reducing segregation of our communities and schools.

Open Letter to the School Board

 Dear Arlington County School Board,
         Hung on the walls of your building are your Core Values: “Excellence, Integrity, Diversity, Collaboration, Accountability and Sustainability.” Last Thursday, you voted, in a unanimous 5-0 decision, to abandon all of these values with your passage of High School Boundary Refinement option four.
         The school board has struggled for quite a while with the segregation of its schools. In earlier years, (all the way back in the 1950s and 60s), integration was difficult for your predecessors to achieve, as they were under “Massive Resistance” (a term used to describe a movement during which laws were passed that cut funding from integrated schools).  Now the issue of school segregation is subtly resurfacing again as schools are regressing to levels of segregation which are the highest they’ve been since their original integration. Just last month, the Commonwealth Institute -a think tank which analyzes Virginia governmental policy-called you out for inequality. It cited the fact that there are two schools in your district (Randolph Elementary and Carlin Springs Elementary) with 73 and 80 percent free and reduced lunch populations respectively, when the county average is 30 percent. Although the report did not go into detail, when comparing elementary school boundaries to a map of median income in Arlington, I found a disturbing trend of economic gerrymandering as pictured below.
Arlington avoids 'mixing' richer and poorer neighborhoods
 *Red dots represent elementary school locations.
          Proximity to a school, the factor which was supposed to trump all others in this boundary selection, seems to have been neglected for the sake of economic homogeny. To simplify, you sliced up the county to put more wealthy students with other more wealthy students, and to put less wealthy students with other less wealthy students. 
          According to the latest statistics on your website, Wakefield currently has 4 times more free and reduced lunch population (by raw numbers) than Yorktown. The percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch among the three high schools are 46.92, 31.06 and 12.35 representing Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown respectively. For a school system that has diversity as “core value” and maintains in its vision statement that it is a “diverse and inclusive school community,” don’t you find it a bit strange that you have the third least diverse school inside the beltway (behind Langley and Madison)? Surely a school system that values diversity so much would be horrified by their levels of segregation, both racial and economic, and would take every opportunity they could to right this wrong.
         However, this is not the case. With your passage of option four, you voted to move a cohort, of which 57 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch, to Wakefield, while moving a separate cohort of just four percent free and reduced lunch to Yorktown. Not because it was impossible given the circumstances; you had the option to move a cohort of 23 percent free and reduced lunch to Wakefield. Just look at a map of median household income with the area you could’ve selected versus what you did.  

         You know very well that free and reduced lunch kids do better in schools that are not overwhelmingly dominated by other free and reduced lunch kids. If not, I encourage you to view these studies from Fairfax County Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools and the Center For Public Education. However, you don’t even have to look that far, as an analysis done by our very own Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development (CARD) pictured below will show you the same result. I would like to highlight the Fairfax report as it identifies a statistically significant tipping point — if 45 percent of the student body is in poverty, schools are very unlikely to achieve expected standards for achievement (also pictured below). This move will push Wakefield further over that point.

         Furthermore, the socioeconomic makeup of a school has a profound impact on the opportunities students of that school are afforded. Just take a look at the PTA budgets of your three high schools (pictured below). Yorktown boasts 54,110 dollars, Washington-Lee spends 40,147 dollars, and Wakefield only spends 17,610. PTAs fund scholarships, academic trips such as tech expos, club events such as Model-UN conferences and much more. Yorktown’s PTA spends over three times the amount Wakefield’s does. This level of inequality in the public education system of such a small county should concern you.
         Although you claim to “value all students, staff and families in our diverse, inclusive school community,” when given the opportunity to help free and reduced lunch students, you consciously chose to do the exact opposite. Your stated mission is to prepare students to “be responsible and productive global citizens.” Surely part of becoming a “global citizen” includes knowing how to interact with people that don’t look like you.  Yet, this move in four years according to your own data will remove 27 percent of black students at Washington-Lee and send them to Wakefield, despite the fact that Wakefield’s a black population is already larger (20.7 percent to Washington-Lee’s 9.0). After this move, according to your data, Wakefield will have twice as many black students as Washington-Lee and Yorktown combined. Additionally, if your projections for this move are correct, Yorktown will pass James Madison and Langley to host the highest concentration of whites in one high school inside the beltway. Arlington is only 26 square miles but through negligence you’ve managed to become more racially segregated than all 406 square miles of Fairfax.
         This brings me to my last and most personal point. Throughout this entire process you’ve used this image at the beginning and end of every single presentation on your boundary changes to highlight the diversity that you claim to value so much.

         You probably don’t know this, but the black student to the left is Jordan Hinkson. I know this because I’ve been good friends with his younger brother since 7th grade. I find this image ironic and symbolic because he lives in W-L’s only historically black neighborhood: the one that you moved to Wakefield. If your current boundaries were in effect when he attended high school this photo, which you use to symbolize the diverse and inclusive community you claim to cherish, would never be possible. You undoubtedly will use the same photo when presenting the changes on December 13th at High School Information night. Because of this, I request you use this photo instead.
It would be more accurate.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

CARD Supports APAH's Proposed Westover Development

September 16, 2016

Dear Chairperson Garvey and Members of the County Board:

CARD, the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, promotes the responsible development of Arlington County, to increase the quality of life for residents while promoting social and economic mobility. Responsible development includes the thoughtful placement of geographically distributed affordable housing, educational excellence for all, and shrinking the student achievement gap. CARD supports APAH’s request for AHIF funds in their proposed acquisition of extant Market Rate Affordable (‘MARK”) apartments in Westover.

This proposal by APAH is an excellent start to achieving affordable housing goals in Westover. Combined with the 33 apartments in four buildings known as Fisher House already in the Westover neighborhood, this new consolidated community will provide Westover with over 100 committed affordable apartments, and provide the excellent resident services for which APAH is known.

APAH’s request for AHIF funds is large – over $11 million. CARD believes that this investment should be made. Granting AHIF funds will help achieve the County’s short term affordable housing goals for the Westover area and help achieve the County’s long term goal of the Affordable Housing Master Plan.

Diversity and social/economic mobility are achieved through the thoughtful placement of affordable housing interspersed in higher income neighborhoods. Students from lower income families have a better opportunity to reach their full potential when they attend schools with students from higher income families while, at the same time, the academic achievement of students from higher income families is unaffected.

MARK units are usually located in less desirable neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty and schools with higher rates of students receiving free and reduced price meals, but these particular MARK units do not fit the standard pattern.
  •  The proposed acquisition is in census tract 1011, a census tract with only 2.3 % of households living below the poverty line. Note that the DC Metropolitan Area’s overall poverty rate is 8.7% and that Arlington County’s poverty rate is 9.4%. The census tract’s median income is $170,781, substantially higher than Arlington’s average median income.
  • The proposed acquisition is within the McKinley school district. Only 6% of McKinley students are eligible for free and reduced price meals.
CARD hopes that this acquisition will enable families the opportunity to live in Westover and enjoy its excellent schools and amenities. Therefore, CARD supports the preservation of these specific MARKs as affordable housing and urges the County Board to grant APAH’s request for AHIF funds.

Sincerely yours,

Kay Langenbeck Chair, CARD Housing Committee

Thursday, June 16, 2016

AHC, Inc.'s Proposed Project on the West End of the Pike and CARD's Advocacy:

Our Housing Subcommittee recently sent the attached letter to the County Board, Arlington County Housing Director, David Cristeal, and the Housing Commission.  We will keep our members apprised of any developments in response to our letter.  Many thanks to the hard work of our Housing Subcommittee for compiling the relevant data and staying abreast of this issue.

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Candidate Coffees

CARD continues to engage candidates for elected office in our region.  We offer you the opportunity to meet candidates and discuss issues most important to you.  Sign up to our Google Group for details.
  • May 25 - County Board Candidate Libby Garvey
  • Prior candidate coffees are summarized here