Letter to the Times: Closing Broken Arrow would compound systemic issues

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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To the Lawrence Public Schools Board of Education:

Your vote to hold a hearing on closing Broken Arrow Elementary School is a great disappointment and a clear testament that the winds of prejudice are still blowing across the land. 

You clearly know the profound negative impact your vote has on the students, but consciously you made the decision. This Lawrence school board and USD 497 administration have a history of undermining and devaluing students who attend Title I schools. You may frame and present the data to justify your vote, but you cannot disguise your indifference about education equality and diversity. If carrying out the plan recommended by the Boundary Advisory Committee, you would close Broken Arrow Elementary school and shift most of those students to other Title I schools. Your intent to group the Title I recipients/students in one or two buildings is discrimination in action! 

Your vote is to strengthen the systemic racial and class bias that already exists in many aspects of our society. Instead of developing an improvement plan to uplift those students who have more at-risk factors in dropping out of PreK-12 education, you choose to redraw school boundaries and house them away from the better-off schools. You even manufactured a sales pitch that your vote is to “pay our teachers better.” Your seemingly deceptive statements serve no public good! 

We hope that you’ll find moral courage to vote in favor of keeping Broken Arrow Elementary school open.

Best, 

— Eve Bonner; Lisa Potter, LSCSW; Kaelyn and Shane McCall; and more than five dozen other Lawrence community members and Broken Arrow parents

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