Local Commentary

Editorial: F.C. Schools’ Diversity Review

What a refreshing development for the Falls Church City School System to submit to a tough evaluation of how it is handling issues associated with diversity and inclusion in the schools at all levels. The report prepared by George Mason University’s Julian R. Williams is by no means a whitewash or pollyanna treatment of the issue, despite the almost universal sentiment that “good intentions” pervade the system from top to bottom.

In addition to documenting how many things remain to be done, based on a plethora of interviews with staff, parents and teachers over the last 10 months, there is a big section devoted to conclusions and proposed solutions. Some of the latter are truly creative, including the idea for a “Parents University,” an at-home program that keeps parents in the loop with the latest thinking on diversity and inclusion issues, including anti-bullying strategies. It includes the novel idea that the schools may want to take a more proactive lobbying role in the promotion of affordable housing in the wider community.

That is a particularly thoughtful and poignant suggestion, and something we heartily recommend be expanded to the entire D.C. metro region, and nationally. In this time, “affordable housing” means simply “housing,” with the vast majority of new housing options being beyond the financial reach of most of the population. Currently, housing developers are vying to serve the needs of the top one percent of the population with megamansions and pricey apartment and condo options. A singular countervailing trend is included as part of the massive West End project slated for construction right next to the new George Mason High School that includes 100 or so so-called micro units of more affordable apartment residences that are targeted for single young professionals who will also take advantage of the West Falls Church Metro station within walking distance.

The developers insist that these small units are designed for singles, but if history is any indication, they will be taken up by anyone who needs to find something affordable. It used to be the common wisdom in Falls Church, for example, that the Winter Hill condos were not suitable for families, but they are now swarming with kids because they’re relatively affordable to families, including to teachers with full complements of spouses and two or three young children.

It would be great if the FCCPS picked up this initiative in the spirit of keeping the region affordable for its teachers and staff and the parents of all its students.

And by the way, not contained in the report but in the name of inclusion and diversity, is the continued efforts by the schools’ theatre arts program to stage incredible productions like last weekend’s “A Chorus Line.” What a great show to involve so many students in a spirited and moving affirmation of everyone, with a particular spotlight on LGBTQ persons.

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