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Mandarin immersion as magnet school: San Mateo, Calif.

February 26, 2013

Here’s an interesting opinion piece from the former mayor of San Mateo, Calif. about College Park Elementary, which is home to a Mandarin immersion program with students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade and which will fill to 5th grade in two years, eventually filling the school.

OP-ED: Does North Central neighborhood need a school?
February 25, 2013, 05:00 AM By Sue Lempert

Back in the ‘70s, San Mateo’s North Central neighborhood had two neighborhood schools, Lawrence Elementary and Turnbull Middle School. Both schools were eventually shut but not because of poor performance. Lawrence was located between 3rd and 4th avenues east of the railroad tracks. The neighborhood was becoming increasingly commercial and traffic heavy. The school was deemed vulnerable in an earthquake and in any major flooding from Crystal Springs Dam. Turnbull middle school was one of the best. But it was shut because enrollment was shrinking and the school district, after Proposition 13, couldn’t afford to keep all existing schools open.

During these years, the North Central neighborhood was primarily black. In the late ‘60s, the board decided to integrate the schools in a one way busing strategy. North Central students would be bused out of the area to other schools in the district. This was the right thing to do at the time. Students bused out of their home neighborhood might receive a better education and all students would benefit from integrating the schools. When Lawrence closed, the number of students bused to other schools in the district increased. It was often difficult for these students. A group of parents asked for their neighborhood school back. If that wasn’t possible they wanted a significant number of their students going to any one school. Otherwise their children felt isolated. By the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, some educators were beginning to question whether busing minority children to other schools improved their academic performance if a quality education could be provided in their neighborhood.

Please read more here.

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