School boundary lines burden families

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Based on where people reside within the boundary lines, it determines which public school their children will attend. In many ways, this makes sense because students should not be making long commutes to school. But, many current boundary lines are defeating their purpose.

In the Alhambra Unified School District, boundary lines for high schools are configured inefficiently. Students living across from San Gabriel High School (SGHS) are not qualified to attend SGHS, but zoned to a further school. Although it is illogical, rewriting the boundary lines would not help because many families would no longer qualify for their desired school and their efforts would be wasted. 

In addition, location-based schooling impacts family finances. According to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts’s book, The Two-Income Trap, location-based schooling drives couples to take on larger mortgages to gain access to desirable public schools, causing them to pour their income into expensive homes and leave them vulnerable to financial collapse. 

Students will also be undergoing difficult adjustments if the boundary lines were changed. They would be even more stressed, separated from their friends, and forced to adapt to a new environment. A study published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that moving schools may lead to feelings of low self-esteem and a sense of social defeat. Additionally, the feeling of being excluded from the majority could also render physiological consequences. 

Although a system where parents can choose what school their children will attend may sound pleasant, there are limited slots at any school. Schools prioritizing those who live closer and pay taxes makes sense; however, awareness of the downsides of location-based public schooling would encourage policymakers to consider alternatives. Arizona, for example, allowed families to take a portion of the state’s allotted spending on their child’s education to use it on individualized options such as tutors. If California followed that direction, it would increase accountability for public schools and give parents an escape from inadequate school systems.

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