Beyond Boundaries: Deeper Reporting on School Attendance Zones

Marquita Brown::

When Baltimore County school officials wanted to move boundary lines in 2015, some parents predicted declining property values and voiced fears of sending their children to school with “those kids.”

Liz Bowie, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, pushed for clarity on the coded language. Doing so, she told a packed room at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar, is crucial to news coverage of school boundaries and the often related issues of segregation, class bias, and equity.

“The key is to really keep asking parents and community members, when you talk about property values, what do you really mean?” Bowie said. “When you’re talking about ‘those kids’, what are you afraid of about ‘those kids’? What are ‘those kids’ going to do to your kids?”

In Bowie’s reporting for Bridging the Divide, a recent Sun series that included a look at the impact of changes in school boundaries, she pressed parents and community members to truthfully answer a crucial question: “What’s really at the heart of your fear?”

Curiously, Madison recently expanded its knees diverse schools.