Reading the last Times and the few articles concerning the redistricting of education zones specific to Riverview Elementary brought me back to my youth at first thought.
I attended an elementary school in Palm Springs, California, not unlike any other elementary school across the country. There was a fair share of students who came from “less well-off” families. I had firsthand knowledge of this because I was the first bus stop on a route that went through the north end of Palm Springs, which was a community that continues to be “less well-off.” Several of these students had help with lunch back then as they do now. Not that that mattered, though – I made several long-lasting relationships with those fellow busgoers that continues to this day and several of them have Ph.Ds and are college educated. Many of us attended the same AP courses in high school, and I eventually received my juris doctorate. My standardized test scores were average, but my final level of education wasn’t.
Which brings me to my second thought reading these articles: What was the real concern here? It seemed to me that there really isn’t any aside from what the school district and Superintendent Epps’ original concern was, to keep neighborhoods intact in any redrawing of the lines. That makes sense to me, but the whole notion that increased “free and reduced” lunch would lessen the quality of education received by my 7-year-old reeks of a time where schools were segregated based on the color of one’s skin. Furthermore, the fact that a teacher thinks that the Riverview has the potential to become the “poor school” without redrawing the lines does not sit well with me, either.
I’m extremely proud of Principal Annette Chinchilla and the team she has assembled at Riverview. It is a state-recognized grade school that excels above and beyond. I believe that her team and leadership are up to the challenge of lower scores, demographics aside. Several schools in hard neighborhoods of New York have risen to the challenge in their public education system and have beaten the standardized test scores and risen to the occasion. There is no reason whatsoever to think it can’t be done in Fort Mill.
W. Henry Hampton