Lakewood Elementary and Mount Auburn are highlighted in a new book that examines how American schools remain separate and unequal 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education.
In “A Fine Line: How Most American Kids Are Kept Out of the Best Public Schools,” author Tim DeRoche claims that even after the landmark ruling, school districts draw attendance zones around the best public schools, echoing the redlining practices of the early 20th century.
“For the book, we were interested in identifying pairs of schools within a big city, in the same district, in which one is high performing and one is struggling or even failing and what separates the two schools is an attendance boundary,” DeRoche said.
“I live in LA and there are two schools that fit that description. I was trying to figure out if this is a national phenomenon. We started looking at every big city in the United States. When we looked at Dallas, Lakewood and Mount Auburn jumped off the page.”
The book references Lakewood Elementary’s $12.6 million addition that increased capacity from 552 to about 1,000. Meanwhile, nearby schools Eduardo Mata and Mount Auburn were operating well below their enrollment capacities, DeRoche said.
The district caved to the wealthy political forces opposed to altering the boundaries of the attendance maps. As a result, Dallas taxpayers paid $12.6 million to build additional classroom seats at Lakewood Elementary— when there were plenty of available seats at a public school just down the road.
District trustee Dan Micciche is also quoted in the book.
“When you’re talking about redrawing the boundaries of a Blue Ribbon school, the resistance is going to be very, very high,” he said.
DeRoche has worked in K–12 education, serving public school districts, charter school networks and curriculum developers for 20 years. He has written for Education Week, the Los Angeles Business Journal and The Washington Post.
“By drawing the line and keeping populations separate, you hurt the overall quality,” DeRoche said. “What the line does is it calcifies differences and enhances them over the time.”
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.