Opinion

The school-to-prison is the most misunderstood phenomenon in Arlington, even amongst the highest levels of leadership. School board and county officials, including law enforcement and the former Commonwealth Attorney, have vehemently denied that the school-to-prison pipeline exists in Arlington.

They acknowledge the phenomenon but contend that it exists elsewhere, but “not here.” Such narrow-mindedness is troubling. Perhaps it is cognitive dissonance that causes them to recoil at the mere suggestion that our affluent county with its highly educated residents and top-ranked schools is complicit in the school-to-prison pipeline. It is.


Opinion

Arlington Public Schools (APS), like many school divisions, has had a substantial decline in enrollment since the pandemic began. But APS has not yet factored this into its estimates of future enrollment.

Enrollment projections are used for the APS budget, its Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), and boundary decisions. Because overestimating enrollment has significant financial implications, APS should base its next enrollment projections in part on actual enrollment for this year and last year.


Opinion

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Dyslexia impacts 1 in 5 people, or 20% of the population. In APS, that would equate to over 5,000 students.

According to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), “Dyslexia is a “specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”


Opinion

“A backward situation.” That’s how Arlington School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen described the planning process for the expansion of the Career Center during the Board’s Sept. 21 work session on the upcoming Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

What’s backward is staff’s proposed timeline that has the School Board voting in October to set a budget and the number of seats for the Career Center project. Instead, these decisions should not be made until the School Board votes on its next CIP in June.


Opinion

Arlington is the home of the Pentagon, headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, and of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, which comprises three main installations that were combined during the last round of Base Realignment and Closure: Fort Myer (Army), Henderson Hall (Marines), and Fort McNair (Army). Many of the students living on and off JBMHH attend Arlington Public Schools.

The Virginia Purple Star Designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military. Disappointingly, despite its proximity to the heart of the military, only one APS school (Discovery Elementary) earned the Purple Star designation in 2019-2020. None has earned it for 2020-2021. By contrast, 34 Fairfax County public schools and 21 Prince William County public schools earned the Purple Star designation between 2018-2021. In the other military mecca, 59 Virginia Beach City public schools and 11 Norfolk public schools earned the Purple Star designation between 2018-2021.


Opinion

The Virginia Department of Education has released the results of the 2020-21 Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. It is no surprise that pass rates for Arlington Public Schools (APS) students have declined significantly and gaps in student achievement between different groups have increased. These test results are consistent with trends in Virginia and nationwide.

In a recent APS press release, Superintendent Francisco Duran stated that the results show “where we need to focus our attention.”


Opinion

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) be provided to eligible children with disabilities and ensures special education and related services to those children. Despite those requirements and assurances, special education (SpEd) students in Arlington Public Schools are in crisis. The system that should be supporting and reinforcing them is broken.

Often, a parent must wait for their child to fail in order to get school administrators, referred to as the Local Education Agency (“LEA”), to refer their child for an evaluation. Preventive measures are virtually nonexistent. This “wait-to-fail” model results in extensive collateral damage to students academically, psychologically, emotionally and physically. The fallout is not only borne by these students and their families, but also by their teachers and classmates. Everyone is impacted — directly or indirectly.


Opinion

May 17 marks the 67th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the landmark Supreme Court case that overturned the doctrine “separate but equal,” which became law in 1896 when Plessy v. Ferguson upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public facilities, as long as the segregated facilities were “equal” in quality.

In Brown, the Court unanimously held that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” and violated the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment. However, the Court declined to specify remedies for school segregation, asking instead for further argument.


View More Stories