It is a life-and-death situation where Suburban Park received life at the cost of slowly killing the communities of color who are part of the Ravenswood City School District.
In order to understand this death sentence, we must revisit Menlo Park's history. Over the last few years, Menlo Together has hosted interactive sessions on Richard Rothstein's book "The Color of Law," which clearly outlined how government — including Menlo Park — created segregated neighborhoods with unequal access to opportunity through redlining and deed-restrictive practices.
This housing segregation led to school segregation, and more death followed. In 1975 and 1976, the predominantly white Suburban Park and Menlo Oaks neighborhoods petitioned successfully to leave the predominantly Black Ravenswood district for Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD), taking their tax base with them while valuing "the character and quality of their single-family neighborhood."
This was phase one of Ravenswood's death sentence fueling the Tinsley lawsuit, which successfully claimed the change created racially segregated school districts. The settlement, known as the "Tinsley Program," requires school districts to desegregate, forcing several surrounding (mostly white) school districts to accept students of color from Ravenswood. This program is actually a two-way program, meaning surrounding districts can (and should) send students to Ravenswood, but that is never marketed.
In 1983, the cycle continued when MPCSD annexed portions of the Willows and Flood neighborhoods, stripping Ravenswood of more students, funding, and diversity.
What is life to me? It is providing the best for my kids by building a strong foundation of understanding the world around them; learning communication skills; and finding joy, self-confidence, and self-worth. I am glad that I chose to send my kids to Ravenswood, where they build and value these principles and experiences daily. Ravenswood provides my kids an excellent education, and by attending our neighborhood schools, investing our resources, time, energy and advocacy, we strengthen the community.
What else strengthens the community? Diversifying our neighborhoods so they may house families, teachers, staff and anyone who needs an affordable place to live.
Ravenswood is transparent and efficient in how we allocate our funds. We, through the generous support of our foundation, have been able to adopt a new talent initiative to attract and retain amazing teachers, staff and district team members. We are moving beyond the many death sentences forced on us by unjust and broken systems. One way to sustain our budget is by leasing out our land. And what better way of helping our district have more signs of life than by giving well-deserving families life: the same access to life in Suburban Park, which its residents have the benefit of thanks to unjust laws, racist practices and selfish causes.
Housing is a human right and building 85 to 90 units of affordable housing that prioritizes teachers and staff from a district that has provided abundantly with minimal resources and a deck stacked against it is the least Menlo Park can do. Families need affordable housing, teachers need affordable housing, staff need affordable housing, people need affordable housing. Every neighborhood needs affordable housing.
Menlo Park, I implore you to vote No on V and shed this history, which you now understand. Vote No on this ill-conceived measure that harms us all. Don't value the "character" of a neighborhood built in the 1950s atop segregationist policies and practices that strangled Ravenswood's access to resources. Instead, join Ravenswood in building a future where all are welcomed, loved, valued and can live their lives to the fullest.
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