A School Divided

The self-segregation of a Marin County school district

| January 23, 2013
SPLITTING UP Currently planned is a move of a public school to Marin City while retaining a charter school in Sausalito.
  • SPLITTING UP Currently planned is a move of a public school to Marin City while retaining a charter school in Sausalito.

A proposal to consolidate two schools raises issues of racial segregation and equity with deep roots in southern Marin.

The Sausalito Marin City School District currently oversees three campuses. Two—Bayside Elementary and the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy middle school—are traditional public schools, while the K–8 Willow Creek Academy is a charter school. The district's proposal would move Bayside students from their current Sausalito campus, which they share with Willow Creek, to the Marin City MLK campus, creating two schools district-wide—a traditional K–8 in Marin City and a K–8 charter in Sausalito. Reasons for the move include dollars currently lost on doubled-up administrative fees—up to $250,000 a year—and educational opportunities that could come with a larger student body, among others.

But the landscape of the move concerned community members at a meeting on Jan. 15. As anyone familiar with the history of southern Marin knows, Sausalito and Marin City share a zip code and little else. While Sausalito touts a median household income of $110,000, Marin City's median is just over $46,000. And while the hillside city overlooking the Bay is roughly 93 percent white—ACS data through 2011 reports that there is one black person living in all of Sausalito—the unincorporated county pocket tucked away behind it houses the largest concentration of African Americans in Marin County, at roughly 45 percent. To consolidate the two traditional public campuses, both with a black student majority, in Marin City while keeping the charter with a black minority on its current hillside campus in Sausalito would be a move that, some say, looks an awful lot like segregation.

Sausalito resident Marie Simmons invoked a Jim Crow comparison, saying the move would create an educational system that was "separate but equal."

"How do you prepare [the kids] for an increasingly diverse society if you segregate them?" she asked the district board. "Studies have shown that children do better if you integrate them."

Another community member expressed her fears in starker terms.

"From what I've seen, it looks like all the board wants to do is bring the kids down to Marin City and dump them," she said.


Comments (2)

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The meeting that finalizes this deal is tonight and is open to the public.

Thursday January 24, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Meeting Location: 200 Phillips Drive, Marin City, CA 94965

Posted by Carson K. Smith on 01/24/2013 at 10:22 AM

It was horrifying to read this article and realize that nothing has changed since 1960 when the school committee in Sausalito launched the first integration attempt of the schools by removing me and 5 boys from Bayside school and bused us into the MLK (Richarson Bay School) in 1960. It is an abomination to hear that nothing has changed, in the self proclaimed, " most progressive state in the nation". How can it be that there is still a segregated Marin City and an elitist Sausalito? What century are you in?????

Instead of addressing the toxic degradation of the segregation of Marin City from Sausalito , the town of Sausalito now seeks to promote further segregation by funding a charter school in Sausalito and busing for" the rest of the students of Sausaltio to MLK."

The segregation of students in Sausalito and Marin City led to race riots when all students joined together at Tamalpais High School in 1960. This system of segregation led to horrific violence at the high school as students tried to accomodate to the new cultures that were totally foreign to them. This segregation was and continues to be a travesty.

This article speaks about creating a charter school in Sausalito for some students and "dumping all the other students in MLK." This would be exactly the case should this proposal be agreed upon by the town. It is shameful.

I ask that you ALL consider carefully the fact that there should be no Marin City...Sausaltio should catch up with the rest of the nation and integrate the two areas, with low- income housing available throughout the two areas and thus stopping the perpetuatiion of the cruelty of segregation for all of its citizens, the most valuable being children.

Posted by colleen ryder on 01/29/2013 at 12:37 PM
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