[Hpn] Feinstein should drop her support of separate schools;& 2 Letters to the Editor

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Mon, 25 Jun 2001 11:40:26 -0400

Below is a forward of an oped, followed by a forward of two letters to the 
editor, which were published today (Monday, June 25, 2001) in the San 
Francisco Chronicle regarding the ongoing battle over segregated schools for 
children who are homeless. Following those is the Web address for a related 
recent editorial in the SF Chronicle and contact information for writing 
letters to the editor to that paper for those so inclined.

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont


-------Forwarded oped-------

Monday, June 25, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle <http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle>
Editorial section
Page A - 19
Feinstein should drop her support of separate schools

Paul Boden, Barbara Duffield

AMID self-congratulatory speeches about helping poor children receive a 
better education, the U.S. Senate passed a huge bill last week that would, 
among other things, allow some schools to keep segregating homeless 

Buried under 900 pages of the Senate's education package was a measure that 
would permit six schools -- five in California and one in Arizona -- to not 
only segregate their homeless students, but to receive federal funding for 

The House also has included a provision in its education package that would 
fund 30 homeless schools.

To fund any school that segregates homeless children is not only outrageous,

but clearly illegal under federal law, which entitles homeless students to a 
free, appropriate public education, and prohibits their separation from the 
mainstream school environment.

What is even more unacceptable is that our own U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein 
became the only Democrat to join Republican U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona in 
supporting homeless schools.

Feinstein appears to have been seduced by the self-serving pleas of 
segregated schools, such as the "Transitional Learning Center" in Stockton, 
where homeless children in kindergarten through sixth grade are separated 
into three classrooms, and given 4 1/2 hours of school time.

Feinstein, along with other supporters, has said that such special schools 
offer hygiene, counseling and other services that are not provided at public 
schools. Without these special services, many homeless children would drop 
out of school, some supporters argue.

But such contentions are patently false, and they display an arrogant 
disregard for law and practice.

The McKinney-Vento Act requires states to remove barriers to homeless 
student's enrollment, attendance and success in school. Many school 
districts in California are now complying with the McKinney-Vento Act -- 
with remarkable results.

For example, in the Fresno Unified School District, there has been better 
attendance records and improved test scores among more than 2,000 homeless 

But officials at some school districts have chosen to disregard the law, and 
set up special schools in the belief that a homeless child has special needs 
that cannot be met in a public school.

This is wrongheaded because homelessness is not an educational condition.

Homeless students have the same educational needs as their housed classmates 
and they are capable of reaching the same academic standards.

It is indisputably unacceptable to segregate children of color, children 
with disabilities and children with a limited knowledge of English, and the 
same should be true for homeless children.

It is traumatic enough to lose one's home. To then remove these children 
from their friends and school activities is simply cruel.

Segregation should be a thing of the past in America. History will judge us 
by the strength of our opposition.

We urge you to contact your members of Congress, including Sen. Feinstein, 
to urge that the segregation measure be eliminated, and to ensure equal 
educational opportunities for all students.

Paul Boden is director of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. 
Barbara Duffield is education director of the National Coalition for the 

---End of forwarded oped---

---Forwarded letters to the editor---

Monday, June 25, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle <http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle>
Letter to the Editor section
Page A - 18
[Second and Third letters down]

--snip, snip, snip--

Editor -- Re: separate schools for the homeless (Editorial, June 22). Let's 
not throw out alternatives because we wish everyone to be the same.

Imagine that you are a 9-year-old. You have lived in more than six places 
during your short life. You've been in at least as many schools. You may not 
have breakfast, probably did not get much sleep, have no clean clothes and 
haven't had the chance to take a bath. You arrive at your new school. The 
teacher assigns everyone to write an autobiography. Your skills are minimal, 
because you haven't had the opportunity or the materials to practice them. 
How well do you think you would do? How kind and sympathetic do you think 
your new teacher would be to your circumstances?

Team sports? Glee clubs? Those activities are after school and you need to 
get back to the shelter by 3 p.m. when it opens. A simple question like, 
"Where do you live?" throws you into a frenzy.

Better a church basement with people who are sympathetic than schools where 
you are treated with disdain.

Certainly, I do not advocate "isolating" children; a good transition program 
offers an alternative. Better that a community provide for families in 
crisis so that kids do not end up homeless. You go, Sen. Feinstein.

Oakland .

Editor -- The bills in Congress funding segregated schools for homeless 
children are disturbing for at least two reasons: They take children out of 
more mainstreamed and diverse classrooms and place them in separate 
facilities that will be costly to maintain; and, a precedent is established 
creating separate schools for children based on their economic and social 

While some may argue we already do this, it seems legislation should support 
movement in the opposite direction. Why not provide additional services at 
existing schools?

Oakland .

--snip, snip, snip--

---End of forwarded letters to the editor---

~~~Related Editorial:

June 22, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
Homeless and separate:



Letters to the Editor should be addressed to letters@sfchronicle.com. Due to 
space considerations, only letters of less than 250 words will be considered 
for publication. Please provide your name and telephone number along with 
your letter. You will be called if your letter is being considered for 


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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