It was strange to read an article that painted Ross School and its surrounding community in such an “us-vs.-them” way (“A Line in the Sandbox, 6/16). I have no idea why the author wanted to focus his story on some hot-headed e-mails that were posted to the Dupont Circle Parents Listserv almost three years ago by a single parent who had a disagreement with the principal. It simply does not accurately represent either the school or the community, either then or now.
The successful playground project, for example, was the result of many community people working collaboratively (in the memory of community activist John Wiebenson, who started the project before he died). The project required the sustained hard work of many folks for over two years, generously volunteering many hours of labor and providing many resources. The real story is not one person who had a brief public meltdown but the marvelous collaboration and hard work of so many, many people.
Ross Elementary is a successful public school where my son (the Daniel in the article who gets in trouble sometimes with Brandon) is thriving. The students at Ross come from as wide and diverse a background—educationally, culturally, and economically—as our city can offer us. The parents, as well, are a diverse group from many walks of life—just on our PTA and LSRT we have a Howard University professor, a NASA photographer, a gallery owner, a high-ranking Marine officer, a doctoral student, a waitress, a stay-at-home mom, an artist, a lawyer. Really, the school is a part of the community in a great way and there are a lot of us who are committed to our community from all walks of life and backgrounds who get along incredibly well there.
Ross has a very small boundary and so it serves about an equal number of in-boundary and out-of-boundary families, but most live in walking range. The comparative wealth of families at Ross does not correlate to their in-boundary or out-of-boundary status, nor does an out-of-boundary status categorize an interested parent as an outsider. It is the rich diversity at the school that makes it so delightful. I am proud that my son has such a diverse group of friends at his school. I am also proud that he has exceeded the DCPS reading benchmarks for kindergartners and am excited to be sending him to Ross’ first grade next year, where all the students this year far exceeded grade level benchmarks in reading and math—and a majority were reading at the third-grade level.
Every parent has to decide what is the best educational fit for his or her children. I wish Gloria Borland’s new private school every success. From what I understand, it has a very different focus and curriculum than Ross has, but that doesn’t make Ross Elementary the enemy. I’m sure both schools can exist in Dupont Circle, where a number of other private schools also thrive. I also wish those parents who have decided to move to Maryland the best. I’m sure they are doing exactly what is right for their families and their kids. Right now, it is my choice to stay in the community where I’ve lived over a decade and work in my community school. It’s working for me.