4/5/2018 • San Antonio, TX • San Antonio Independent School District (SISD) Chief Innovation Officer Mohammed Choudhury is using an income-weighted lottery to diversify five of the district’s specialty schools, including Laura Steele Montessori Academy, a school the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector helped get started. Texas Public Radio has the whole story here.
Choudhury identified a well-recognized dilemma associated with “choice” schools: when an attractive and successful school opens in a low-income area with open enrollment, it doesn’t take long for white, middle-class families to find it and become the majority. These families typically have more awareness of alternative schooling options and more resources of time and money to devote to seeking out programs, applying for lotteries, transportation across town, etc.
“I can show you data of my most popular schools of who applies,” said Choudhury. “If I just let the pool reflect the way the cards fall, then the school would become an island of affluence.”
Montessori has recently been shown to successfully close the so-called “achievement gap” across socioeconomic groups, as reported in MontessoriPublic here. (Full study here.) And as Choudhury points out, 50 years of research have corroborated the finding that:
Children who live in poverty, but attend economically diverse schools, have better academic outcomes than children who attend schools where most students are low income. [And, …] attending economically diverse schools does not hurt the academic performance of children from wealthier families.
So the families at Steele should be well served by San Antonio’s new policy.