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Letter: A River Runs Through It (and That’s a Shame)

To the Editor:

A river runs through Arlington, sucking in the unsuspecting. It’s The-School-Lottery-River.

My new neighbor got pulled in within days of arriving. Going to Carlin Springs Elementary School never occurred to her, because no one mentioned it.

We landed there by chance.

Driving past Campbell to take my four-year-old to Carlin Springs for speech therapy, I wondered at the schools’ proximity. Now I get it: opt-in schools are for people who don’t want to attend the neighborhood school.

But why don’t they?

Carlin Springs is beautiful. State-of-the-art classrooms have SMART boards and computers. The building is awash with natural light. The hallway artwork rivals some museums’.

Teachers partner with parents, and hold 33 bachelor’s, 65 master’s and two doctoral degrees.

A full-time gifted specialist teaches critical-thinking in every class. The full-time counselor’s open-door policy extends to families. Enrichment programs are first-rate.

Though Carlin Springs lost Adequate Yearly Progress status this year (which assesses schools for No-Child-Left-Behind), so did three of four opt-in schools. (Never mind the questionable meaningfulness of AYP.)

Alongside academics, Carlin Springs’ diversity really shines. Our kids learn to respect differing peoples, cultures and customs in our increasingly multicultural world.

When parents reject Carlin Springs because they don’t want their child to be the only white kid in the class, I’m astounded.

Why not?

We claim to value diversity. Our zip code’s Caucasian population is about 50 percent. But our neighborhood school’s? 5 percent.

I’m unconvinced of opt-in schools’ superiority. Before dismissing Carlin Springs, investigate it for yourself.

It’s time The-School-Lottery-River dried up.

Maria Keffler

Arlington