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Discriminating Against 'Regular' Kids

Discriminating Against 'Regular' Kids

Bubble gum stuck to a shoe - that's how I felt in elementary school "regular" classrooms. Students in "special" classrooms had more learning opportunities, individualized instruction, and field trips. These "school-within-a-school" classrooms are called APPLE (Alternative Parent Participation Learning Experience) in my school district in Spokane, Wash.

APPLE functions as a tax-funded private school. Tuition is labor - a signed parent-involvement contract for 90 hours of work. Parents must provide transportation and participate in fundraisers. Hopeful parents are interviewed by APPLE parents. Siblings have priority.

Parent contracts discriminate based on parental status. Can parents who aren't able to afford cars provide transportation? Will parents who are worried about food and shelter donate to fundraisers? Can ESL parents read these contracts? What happens if parents die? Will their children be kicked out of APPLE?

APPLE draws resources (volunteers and fundraisers) away from "regular" classrooms. APPLE took frequent field trips. We didn't. My Mom was our only volunteer. Our car wouldn't hold 22 kids. All APPLE students (grades 1 - 6) were in a school play. I wanted a part but, "No regular kids allowed!" We had to provide the audience.

No African-American, Latino/a, or Native-American students were in APPLE at Franklin or Logan Elementary Schools in April, 2002. Franklin had a 46 percent gap in free/reduced lunch rates between APPLE and "regular" classrooms. Logan's gap was 31.9 percent, and Garfield's 40.6 percent. A Garfield APPLE class had 15 students, while a "regular" class had 26. This lack of diversity won't help close the notorious achievement gap!

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