Is fundraising driving inequity in Montgomery County schools?

EQUITY | Officials and parents in Montgomery County are concerned that private fundraising is driving inequity and increasing the achievement gap in public schools throughout the county, with schools in wealthy areas managing to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for new classroom technologies, like interactive whiteboards, and fancy playing fields (WaPo, 8/11):

Of the 126 privately funded school improvement projects in the county in the past three years, 22 have cost between $10,000 and $1.3 million, almost all of them in wealthier communities with fewer minority students. Of those 22 projects, 17 were at schools with lower rates of students receiving free and reduced-price meals, a measure of poverty, and a majority of the projects were at schools where whites and Asians made up more than half of the student body.

“You don’t want a system where you drive on one side of [Interstate] 270 and see incredible things happening and drive on the other side and wonder why these things aren’t happening,” said Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Eastern County), head of the council’s education committee and a former member of the Board of Education.

HEALTHCARE | Due to the divergent political climates in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, residents will have access to varying levels of help enrolling in health insurance when the insurance marketplaces come online on October 1. And, in Virginia, thousands who would otherwise qualify for insurance in D.C. or Maryland won’t in their home state, since Virginia will not expand Medicaid eligibility. (WaPo, 8/9)

Related: WRAG, together with a number of partner organizations, is hosting a special forum this Thursday on outreach and enrollment strategies across the Greater Washington region. [More information]

– A new study by Montgomery County Public Schools shows a correlation between first grade students’ academic performance, attendance, and behavior and the likelihood of later dropping out of high school. (WaPo, 8/11)

Once common, perfect Va. SOL scores now rare with new tests (WaPo, 8/12)

SAFETY NET | D.C. may have illegally cut nearly 400 eligible people from Medicaid home care benefits in recent years. Advocates say the program’s bureaucracy “puts vulnerable people in peril.” (WaPo, 8/11)

Related: Situations like this underscore the importance of civil legal aide. Mary McClymont of the Public Welfare Foundation (and a WRAG board member) has written on this topic, and spoke with WRAG’s president about it last year. (Daily, April 2013)

ARTS | Vacancies Hamper Agencies for Arts (NY Times, 8/7)

HOUSING | Thousands of Marylanders are losing homes in second wave of foreclosures (WaPo, 8/10)

DISTRICT | The Secret to D.C.’s Stunning Population Growth? Old People (Atlantic, 8/12)

COMMUNITY | The Meyer Foundation released a statement last week on the sale of the Washington Post. Said Meyer president Julie Rogers,

The Graham family are leading philanthropists in the Greater Washington region. We have been honored to have them as colleagues and partners and are confident that their deep-rooted commitment to important local causes and organizations will continue. We also look forward to welcoming Mr. Bezos in his new role as the owner of one of our region’s most significant media outlets, and we hope that his own philanthropy will reflect that role.

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: The Best Candidates for Foundation Leadership Often Come From Within (Chronicle, 8/9)

These photos make me feel a little better about sitting safely at a desk all day.

This week we are digging into some big projects, so the Daily is going on an abbreviated schedule. We’ll be back on Wednesday and Friday.

– Rebekah