Letter: Woodbridge Can Do Better
As a resident of Woodbridge for 22 years, and as a retired teacher who worked at Beecher Road School for 16 years, I wish I could say that I was surprised to read in “A ‘Missed Opportunity’” that elected members of a Woodbridge town board, in this case the Woodbridge Board of Education, are opposed to robustly continuing to support Open Choice, a state-wide program that allows urban students to attend public schools in nearby suburban towns. Sadly, this type of attitude and behavior seems to have become the norm in our town. As Bettina Thiel notes in her article, the town is already facing a lawsuit for its refusal to follow the Fair Housing Act, preferring instead to preserve decades-old zoning restrictions that prevent lower-income families from moving here. Now we have Board of Education members pretending that issues of funding are at the heart of their decision to cut the number of Open Choice students who may attend Beecher Road School. It’s truly mind boggling that a member of the Board actually believes that the Beecher is “diverse now”. By what measure? According to the Census Bureau, Woodbridge is 82.8% white, has a median household income of $171,652, and a median value of owner-occupied housing units of $462,300. The fact that Woodbridge zoning laws have for decades denied homeownership to lower-income people who would like to live here is disturbing enough, but now the Board is actually going to whittle away at a program which offers children from neighboring urban communities an opportunity to attend our award-winning schools? The argument that Open Choice students all require costly special education services is disingenuous and deceptive, a pitiful way to justify cutting the program. Eliminating spots in Open Choice is the wretched accomplice to refusing to adapt exclusionary zoning laws; both actions send the same message: Keep Out. Woodbridge, do better.
This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.