EDUCATION
07/11/2011 03:40 pm ET Updated Sep 10, 2011

Why Affluent Parents Are Keeping Their Kids In Lower-Rated and Poor Schools

For many years, families in the tree-filled Wakefield Chapel neighborhood of Fairfax County heard experts predict the school system would eventually move them out of the enrollment area for Annandale High School, full of kids from poor immigrant families.

Wakefield Chapel was one of very few Annandale High feeder neighborhoods outside the Beltway. Neighbors thought that policymakers, wanting to keep everyone happy and comfortable, would send them to a school more in tune with their ambitions and backgrounds.

But the boundaries didn't change, and many Wakefield Chapel homeowners found they loved what Annandale High was giving their children. The school had the advantages of all Fairfax schools -- skilled teachers, high standards, great equipment and generous budgets. But what was special to them was their children mixing with young people of all races, income groups and national origins.

Now, finally, the predictions have come true. Annandale High is overcrowded, and Fairfax officials are suggesting the school board move the Wakefield Chapel kids to W.T. Woodson High, which has mostly affluent families.

But in a switch from the usual boundary change debate -- affluent parents objecting to sending their kids to a school with a large number of low-income families -- the Wakefield Chapel parents are angrily demanding that their children be allowed to stay with the poor kids.

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