Diversity Policy Brings Out Diverse Views From the Community

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Hundreds of students, parents, and teachers gathered Saturday to voice concerns about a proposed diversity policy in the Iowa City Community School District during a school board listening post.

The school board's goal, in creating the policy, is to build a more "level playing field" at each school. The board says research shows greater poverty levels and lower test scores are connected. They want every school to have about the same number of kids on free and reduced lunch. In turn, they believe every child will have enhanced learning opportunities.

People are split right down the middle on this issue. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is there is a problem of disparity in Iowa City Schools. What they don't agree on, is the solution.

Those for the policy, believe it will help raise the level of student achievement

"Lincoln has six percent free and reduced lunch, 67 percent in the top 25 national test scores for 5th graders. Mark Twain has 79 percent free and reduced lunch, 4 percent in the top 25 nationally. These numbers are real and this is an attempt to bring those numbers into balance," Jason Lewis, Iowa City parent, said.

Laurie Moore supports the policy because she feels every child should get the same educational experience

"We have the resources in the community to serve all students well," Moore said.

But those against the policy feel, sending kids to a different school in another part of the town won't solve the problem, but rather create another one.

"High school is more than a means to a diploma, schools by their nature are social as well, breaking up musicals, debate, sports, drama for purpose of equilization effects individuals," Chris Arpey, Iowa City parent, said.

Amy Johnson says her biggest problem with the policy is the district singling out students on free and reduced lunch to try and create diversity

"F.R.L. does not mean you have low test scores and no F.R.L. doesn't mean you have a high test score," said Johnson.

No matter what side of the issue the public is on, one thing is clear...each only wants what is best for the students of Iowa City Community Schools.

Three of the districts 7 board members were at the listening post today to hear public comment. It was not an official meeting, no vote was taken. The school board has scheduled a second reading of the diversity policy at their meeting this Tuesday.
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