After we published yesterday’s piece about thinking about walk zones as we plan the future of our district, we received an email from a reader with a very good point:

First, I want to say that all of the CHCCS schools are amazing and like every district, zoning and facilities need to be considered and addressed periodically to stay in line with how the community grows and changes. And this seems to be the approach the board and district are taking so far.

Walking and biking zones are important and should be considered, but not “maximized”. In my view, that language feels dangerously close to the kind of “neighborhood schools” dogwhistle that characterizes many southern city school districting discussions (Charlotte and Nashville are great examples). I am certain that is not the intent of the blog, but school redistricting is politics and language is incredibly important when framing political decisions.

And even as someone who has organized his own life around walkability, I also probably disagree that it should be maximized! Due to neighborhood-level segregation, walkability and diversity are often in tension.

I thought this paper was a fine overview of the topic:

So as we enter into what will likely be a long year of school districting politics, I would encourage TBB to continue to push walkability, but keep it in context and maybe even explain some of the equity challenges that CHCCS faces and the history of how we got here.

We really appreciate the thoughtful response. To be clear, we think walkability is one value, but not the only one. There are many values that could and should go into a proposed rubric. We know that the school board will discuss many of these tonight, and we look forward to continuing this discussion with all of you.

(You can email us comments too! Our email is: [email protected] and that reaches our entire board.)

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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....