Decatur Schools parent: Zoning process should consider free and reduced lunch students

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 9, 2013
An incredibly reduced photo of Map 7, the top choice of the City Schools of Decatur zoning committee. The attendance zone for Westchester elementary  is the blue section int he upper left hand corner.

An incredibly reduced photo of Map 7, the top choice of the City Schools of Decatur zoning committee. The attendance zone for Westchester elementary is the blue section int he upper left hand corner.

Yesterday I put out a call for letters on the upcoming rezoning of City of Decatur K-3 schools. One local mom, Allison Taylor, responded within a few hours.

For a bit of context, you should look at the top three map options being considered. The free and reduced lunch population that will be at each K-3 school is listed in the info box at the bottom of each map.

I’ll be posting letters about the K-3 rezoning all weekend. If you have one, send it to Keep the letters short, thoughtful and constructive. Thank you.

Here’s what Taylor had to say:

Children of poverty in Decatur, PLEASE don’t forget them

I don’t want to stir anything up, and require no responses- I just wanted to share one person’s perspective about what is happening with the zoning committee. As a mother to three children in City Schools of Decatur, I am not asking you to change your choices, but to consider a different part of the picture when you do. If you see the concerns I bring up as relevant, please share your thoughts with the members of the Zoning Committee and School Board alike.

Zoning for minority integration is extremely important, however, I think it is equally important to integrate according to socioeconomic status. Having 13 students with free and reduced lunch at one school and 104 at another school, 16 in one and 94 in another, or having 15 at one school and 101 at another, is a crippling discrepancy and creates a huge gap in resources between schools, and these are the numbers represented in each of the three proposed/final options.

Consistently, children of poverty are the most at risk group in our schools, and although it is often linked with race, it is an issue in and of itself as well. In our system, the three proposed zoning options basically place children of privilege in one school and those without in another; the poor minorities will be in one school and the affluent or middle class minorities in another. We end up providing no role models for children of poverty, and we end up discriminating against both socioeconomic AND racial communities. Please, please, please consider this discrepancy when making your final choice. The final proposed three choices are just not right for our community. They may look integrated, but they are just segregating in a different and equally harmful way, because we won’t be able to provide equal resources to the schools in greatest need. Being a minority doesn’t mean you have to have a hard time in school, but being a minority of poverty almost always does! These kids are already fighting an uphill battle, and they need us to stand up for them, especially in these early,formative years. Please go to the K-3 Zoning webpage to view the maps at, and contact the individuals on the committee and on the board if you feel another option is needed.

40 percent of children living in poverty are not prepared for primary schooling.

-Children that live below the poverty line are 1.3 times more likely

to have developmental delays or learning disabilities than those who don’t live in poverty.

-By the end of the 4th grade, African-American, Hispanic and low-income students are already two years behind grade level. By the time they reach the 12th grade they are four years behind.

-Children living in poverty have a higher number of absenteeism or

leave school all together because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members.

-Dropout rates of 16 to 24-year-old students who come from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes.

-A higher percentage of young adults (31 percent) without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to the 24 percent of young people who finished high school.

-Less than 30 percent of students in the bottom quarter of incomes

enroll in a four-year school. Among that group – less than half graduate.

Thank you,

Allison Taylor

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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