Two years after the death of Mike Brown is as good a time as any to point to remember a few important parts of the story of the Ferguson teen who was killed on this day in 2014.
Two years after the death of Mike Brown is as good a time as any to point to remember a few important parts of the story of the Ferguson teen who was killed on this day in 2014.
Explainer: #Vision4BlackLives Agenda Highlights School Reform Critics' Priorities (With Some Key Exceptions)
However, a little-noted part of the comprehensive agenda was its education section, which calls for "An End to the Privatization of Education and Real Community Control by Parents, Students and Community Members of Schools Including Democratic School Boards and Community Control of Curriculum, Hiring/Firing, and Discipline Policies."
*Privatization strips Black people of the right to self-determine the kind of education their children receive.
*Using mayoral control and state takeover, they impose their experimental, market-based approach to school reform.
*The education crises plaguing most of our public school districts are the result of corporate-controlled, state-sanctioned and federally-funded attacks to reverse Brown v. Board of Education, and create a desuetude discrimination and educational apartheid that must be challenged and overthrown.
*Their aims are to undermine Black democracy and self-determination, destroy organized labor, and decolor education curriculum, while they simultaneously overemphasize Standardized Testing, and use school closures to disproportionately disrupt access to education in Black communities.
The authors of this section include Jonathan Stith (Alliance for Educational Justice), Hiram Rivera (Philadelphia Student Union), and Chinyere Tutashinda (Center for Media Justice). According to an Tweet from Stith, "A squad of Black education justice parent & youth organizers [was] present as well." The resources provided for this agenda include the Every Student Succeeds Act Explained, AROS Demands Memo, and Journey For Justice.
In case it isn't clear, this call for elected school boards, an end to privatization, and a pullback from foundations like Gates and Broad is very much a reform critic's view of what needs to be done -- not at all a reformers' vision.
Or, as The American Prospect's Rachel Cohen put it, "There are some high-profile Teach for America alums in Black Lives Matter, but the
#Vision4BlackLives platform calls for the program's end."
As such, this is the second time in recent weeks that we're reading about reform groups seeming to have been outflanked by their critics. The earlier instance was the development of the DNC party platform, which included amendments from Randi Weingarten and others that called for similar things. (You could also include the release of stolen DNC emails in which campaign officials urge against mention of Common Core.)
It's also an early indication of where the larger Black Lives Matter movement might be headed on education issues, which has been until now a murky thing to understand. There are several TFA alumni among the leaders of the movement, but the movement has also partnered with teachers unions in places like Chicago (where a BLM activist surprised union leaders by denouncing the police union).
However, there are areas in which the movement's agenda would seem to go along with the priorities of many reform groups -- and put them in conflict with organized labor. Some quoted highlights:
*Put a moratorium on all out of school suspensions.
*Remove police from schools and replace them with positive alternatives to discipline and safety.
*Inequitable funding at the school district, local and state level leave most public schools — where poor communities of color are the majority — unable to provide adequate and high quality education for all students, criminalizing and targeting Black students through racist zero-tolerance discipline policies.
*Key stakeholders, such as parents, teachers, and students are left out of the decision making process.
Advances, then backlash. That's the big story of civil rights and inequality, says Washington Monthly's Nancy LeTourneau.
What I learned from the discussion was that people probably have very different notions about what it means to come at improving schools from a social justice perspective. For reform critics like Ravitch, opposing approaches that disempower classroom teachers or put pressure on traditional schools feels like social justice. For reform advocates like Duncan giving parents choices and making schools accountable for results feels like social justice.
Eager as they might be to claim the mantle of social justice advocacy, my sense is that both sides are wrong, and that the things that they spend most of their time advocating for are not the things that social justice advocates would prioritize for children and communities of color who most need better schools.
It's important to note that changes to education are not central to the current #BlackLivesMatter movement that embodies social justice advocacy in the current era. When education does come up, things like more charters, school desegregation, teacher empowerment, accountability, and student loans are not priority items.
So what would a social justice education agenda look like? Here's a highly imperfect guess at some of the priorities that might be highlighted. There's got to be a better version of this somewhere, but it's a start:
10/ Cops out of schools
9/ Ending defiance-based suspensions and expulsions
8/ Anti-racism /cultural awareness training for teachers
7/ High-quality universal preschool
6/ Living wages for paras, aides, and early childhood teacher
5/ Equitable distribution of certified teachers (and payroll costs) among district schools
4/ Limits on self-segregation of affluent students within neighborhoods and island districts
3/ Dramatic reduction in local control/property tax-based funding
2/ Giving parents right to legal action against inadequate education (as with IDEA)
"Meant to promote the first lady’s Let Girls Learn initiative, 'This Is For My Girls' grabbed headlines when it was first released but hasn’t quite stuck in the public consciousness since then."
Pale Fire https://t.co/VrDUYWNJ1Q | The New Yorker— Culture (@sr_culture) July 18, 2016
As I read it, this piece in The New Yorker (Pale Fire) suggests that the current conflict over education reform is in many ways the playing out of long-simmering white-on-white class conflicts.
If so, this would suggest that focusing narrowly on social justice issues -- while entirely understandable in short-term tactical terms -- could only exacerbate the conflict and theoretically slow progress.
It's nothing you haven't thought or read or perhaps articulated yourself, but a worthwhile reminder.
"Nestled in neighborhoods of varying degrees of affluence, suburban public schools are typically better resourced than their inner-city peers and known for their extracurricular offerings and college preparatory programs. Despite the glowing opportunities that many families associate with suburban schooling, accessing a district's resources is not always straightforward, particularly for black and poorer families."
That's the promo blurb for Inequality in the Promised Land: Race, Resources, and Suburban Schooling, by L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy.
It's one of several recent books taking a long hard look at suburban communities whose schools may not be as good (or as equitable) as may be commonly believed -- for example Amanda Lewis' With The Best Of Intentions.
Related posts: How Racial Inequality Gets Baked Into Schools; White Teachers, Black Students: An "Awkward Disconnect"; Mugshots Help Combat Racial Stereotypes; Best Titles To Help White Teachers, Parents, Reporters Understand Race; Forthcoming Novel Highlights White Parents & Diverse Schools.
Check out this fascinating American RadioWorks interview titled Race in Suburban Schools, featuring L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy talking about his look at one Midwestern suburban school district that illustrates the increasing diversity and nagging achievement gaps in the leafy burbs. One striking example Lewis-McCoy describes is how he observes white teachers hold back from correcting the grammar and speech of black and brown students to avoid stigmatizing them.
The word “ghetto” has come to sound like an indictment of a people as well as of a place. https://t.co/BZwBwihm7n— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) July 14, 2016
This recent New Yorker article (There Goes the Neighborhood) raises a bunch of important questions about how we think about gentrification and low-income communities that used to be commonly called "ghettos" -- and, by extension, low-income (generally low-performing) schools.
Scholars have long been sympathetic towards these communities, according to the piece:
"Scholars who studied the ghetto tended to be motivated by sympathy for its residents, which often resulted in a complicated sort of sympathy for ghettos themselves."
It could be argued that some of the same emotions have been on display when it comes to the low-income, generally low-performing school.
However public opinion has changed dramatically.
"Where the ghetto once seemed a menace, threatening to swallow the city like an encroaching desert, now it often appears, in scholarly articles and the popular press, as an endangered habitat."
The reality may be, however, that displacements from gentrification are not be as widespread as is commonly thought. That's because underlying mobility rates are already relatively high in these communities, as evictions, better opportunities, and other shifts move families in and out of low-income areas.
In addition, "Gentrification needn’t be zero-sum, because gentrifying neighborhoods may become more densely populated, with new arrivals adding to, rather than supplanting, those currently resident.
Sympathetic scholars, recent focus on gentrification, and questions about underlying mobility rates suggest that the common "gentrification = bad" construction that's prevalent right now might warrant some careful rethinking. Perhaps changes to neighborhood schools -- demographic, programmatic, etc. -- shouldn't necessarily be viewed with immediate suspicion. Perhaps gentrification isn't universally bad.
"A new study finds a program that works with at-risk young men in Chicago schools reduced overall arrests in the group by 35 percent, violent crime arrests by 50 percent and boosted on-time high school graduation for participants by 19 percent." via WTTW Chicago Public Television (Program for At-Risk Youth Cuts Arrests by 35 Percent)
Like many white people, my only experience of institutions was majority white. And so there was a learning curve for me. I was a little uncomfortable the first day of kindergarten. I saw black families – I didn’t see individuals. I saw Hispanic families … It took me a while to see past race, in a way, if that makes any sense, and to see that these were potential friends for me, these were potential allies, mom friends.
- Brooklyn parent and author Lucinda Rosenfeld, talking with WNYC's Rebecca Caroll and the NYT's Nikole Hannah-Jones at a recent panel on school segregation (What role should parents play in promoting integration?). Rosenfeld's next novel, about a white mom choosing a majority-minority school for her child, comes out early next year.
Reform critics like to talk about big social issues like poverty, or focus on reform challenges like racial segregation in charter schools, but downplay ignore structural issues in public education like school assignment policies and district boundaries.
It's not just attendance zones and school assignment policies within districts that contribute to segregation and school inequality. According to a new report from EdBuild, school district boundaries themselves play a dramatic role in "segregating communities and separating low-income kids from educational opportunity." The most vivid examples of this effect are "island" districts entirely surrounded by other school districts of vastly different means.
"The way we fund schools in the United States creates incentives for communities to segregate along socioeconomic lines in order to preserve local wealth. In so doing, communities create arbitrary borders that serve to lock students into, or out of, opportunity. This reality is especially glaring in the case of island school districts that are entirely surrounded by single districts of very different means."
While there are nearly 200 examples nationwide, the report highlights examples in Oakland, Freehold NJ, and Columbus OH.
Seattle's Garfield High School is integrated in terms of student demographics, but not when it comes to participation in advanced courses (or where students hang out), notes this Seattle Times story.
With Kaya Henderson leaving, Bowser has a decision to make - The Washington Post ow.ly/CPWx301PUcE
The end of busing in Indianapolis: 35 years later, a more segregated system calls it quits bit.ly/29cevii
Garfield High principal navigates racial divide | The Seattle Times pllqt.it/UhslkY
Pittsburgh school directors reviewed report on superintendent's resume for 1 hour before vote | TribLIVE ow.ly/LxTf301PTVw
Schools Can't Accurately Measure Poor Students | US News ow.ly/nbYd301PVEQ
Amid teacher hiring binge, Philly union cries foul - Philadelphia newsworks.org/index.php/educ…
First Teachers Union in Post-Katrina New Orleans Inks Contractblogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacher…
Bellevue schools consider banning many short-term suspensions | The Seattle Times ow.ly/gCfJ301PUDq
Here's the video from last night's WNYC #raceinschools conversation including Lucinda Rosenfeld, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Rebecca Carol.
I don’t think we could have done this if I had to answer to a school board. My superintendent colleagues spend the vast majority of their time trying to convince people to allow them to do what is good and right for kids. That’s never how I spend my time. I take great ideas to great leaders and they say yes or they say no and we keep it moving. There is no way that we could have gotten as far as we have gotten without mayoral control.
- DC Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson explaining keys to her success on WAMU (Chancellor Kaya Henderson Says She's Leaving D.C. Public Schools)
Lucinda Rosenfeld's new novel, Class, is scheduled to come out in a few months, but we're already starting to hear about it this summer.
According to the Amazon blurb, the book focuses on "idealistic forty-something Karen Kipple" who sends her kid to an integrated Brooklyn school.
"But when a troubled student from a nearby housing project begins bullying children in Ruby's class, the distant social and economic issues Karen has always claimed to care about so passionately feel uncomfortably close to home."
Sounds interesting -- if also perhaps stereotypical. But perhaps that's the point. Anyway, can't wait to read it.
Meantime, Rosenfeld is on a panel tonight at 7 with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Rebecca Carroll.
Crossed fingers they'll talk about the UWS parents who are trying to block school integration, along with the Brooklyn situation.
You can watch the livestream here.
This video highlights Avalon School in St. Paul, Minn., and Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Los Angeles, Calif -- one charter led by teachers, another part of a college-prep focused network. (Charter Schools After 25 Years: Inside Two Contrasting Schools via EdWeek)
There aren't a lot of African Americans who live on the Upper West Side...We were sad to learn that, you know? I would like more diversity, but we chose to move to this place because we put the quality of the education at a higher value.
-- An unnamed UWS parent in this Gothamist piece (UWS Parents Fight Proposal To Relocate School)
School segregation is the result of intentional policy choices and governmental interventions. It was constructed, and to end it we must deconstruct it through further interventions. We also must acknowledge that segregation was created at the behest of middle class white voters and business leaders and it can only be undone at their behest.
- Nate Bowling (We have the answer, we choose to ignore it)
Here's an Urban Institute look at how various big-city school systems look, using NAEP TUDA data and controlling for demographics. Click the link to read the report.
So I urge you A, to stop talking to the press... This is a private matter, I think, from our community. This story doesn't exist without your quotes... Be mindful of when you speak, if you're going to speak to the press, because slandering or saying anything negative about this teaching staff is wrong... Conversely, painting any opposition as classist or racist is about as bad as it can get.
-- Jason Jones quoted on WNYC (Advice from Jason Jones to Upper West Side Parents: Don't Talk to the Press)
"San Francisco’s Lowell High School is one of the most selective public schools in the country. But the school’s selectivity means that black and Latino students, who are often less prepared for academic rigor than Lowell’s majority-Asian students, are underrepresented." via PBS NewsHour.
Or, watch this kid imitate Presidential candidates at his graduation.
Still buzzing over the Sunday Tony awards show? Me, too. Check out the show performances if you missed any here, or click the link above and watch some of the NYC high school kids who've been attending the show and performing for Lin Manuel-Miranda as part of what Scholastic's Wayne D'Orio dubbed "Hamilton 101." It's pretty cool to watch them. The video is about a half-hour long.
Here's an hourlong panel from this year's recent NSVF Summit addressing the gap between the idea of diversity and making it happen. The topic seems especially timely given this last weekend's NYT Sunday Magazine article about how individual parent decisions cumulatively reinforce residential segregation and school assignment policies.
Want more? There's another panel What Will it Take to Integrate Our Schools? that also looks good.
"Overall, the national average of chronic absenteeism was 13 percent, or about 6.5 million students, the Education Department said....Detroit Public Schools has the highest rate of chronic absenteeism among the nation’s largest 100 school districts." via AP
When you have people coming from all different neighborhoods to come to school together, they have no reason or way to get to know each other unless you sort of rip the top off the school and say the school is going to be the community.
- Community Roots Charter School Co-Founder Allison Keil in WNYC (How One Brooklyn Charter School Integrates With Intention)
This WNYC video short shows NYT writer Nikole Hannah-Jones and her husband taking their daughter to a segregated school in Brooklyn. Read the accompanying article by WNYC's Rebecca Carroll here, or the NYT piece about the decision and the controversy over rezoning the segregated school to give wealthier white kids access to the building.
Here's a GIF showing how each school in NYC's District 1 would be affected by a controlled choice school integration initiative, based on a model presented by WNYC in its school integration series.
As you can see in the top row, schools that currently have almost 100 percent poor kids would see an influx of nonpoor kids. The bottom row shows how schools with relatively high percentages of nonpoor kids would gain poor classmates under a model plan.
The plan would phase in over time, and only new students (kindergartners, mostly) would be affected. But obviously these would be big changes for schools and families. Some families won't have choices. But we all know what happens when more affluent families don't get what they want.
Watch above, check out the details here. #equitymatters
New Orleans Plan: Charter Schools, With a Return to Local Control - The New York Times ow.ly/T2Bk3004sT8
Yes, the feds could pull North Carolina’s education funding for violating transgender civil rights - Washington Post ow.ly/3EXB3004sJw
U.S. Urges Colleges to Rethink Questions About Criminal Records - The New York Times ow.ly/9aLI3004sG6
Teacher prep programs attracting/accepting disproportionate share of white candidates pllqt.it/BkQOjO
Watch WGN TV coverage of the LaRavierre/Emanuel conflict (which for the record has not been fully reported by independent media). Or, click here to watch President Obama talk to Howard University students about being young, gifted, and black in 2016. Or, check out this 360 degree video of a tornado.
Decade after Katrina, New Orleans poised to regain schools : AP Article ow.ly/4nuzGA
D.C. teachers protest salaries and failed contract negotiations - The Washington Post ow.ly/4nuzi2
Michigan House Passes Legislation to Pay Off Debt of Detroit Schools - WSJ http://ow.ly/4nuGVi
Survey: Nearly half of teachers would quit now for higher-paying job http://ow.ly/4nuGZb
ALEC summit in Pittsburgh to attract lawmakers, controversy | TribLIVE ow.ly/4ntLU6
Donald Trump Says He Likes Local School Boards, But Don't Tell That to Los Angeles -Education Week ow.ly/4nuzAi
Randi Weingarten: Donald Trump's Rhetoric Has Contaminated Schools - Politics K-12 - Education Week ow.ly/4nuzEk
Top State Senator Attacks de Blasio on School Control Push - The New York Times ow.ly/4nuzua
Funding US Schools | OPB ow.ly/4nuzT1
Emanuel: Teachers union tax ideas not an answer for school funding - Chicago Tribune ow.ly/4nuA1A
Police: Gunman Killed Estranged Wife Outside High School - ABC News ow.ly/4nuzX9
Deep Inside New York's JFK Airport, There's A High School : NPR Ed : NPR ow.ly/4nuzta
So much of the recent attention towards school segregation has focused on within-district segregation, which makes sense. Gentrification, attendance zone boundaries, immigration, and other factors all play a role there, and are relatively easily understood and at least theoretically addressed by a single school district or mayoral agency.
But as USC's Ann Owens explained at last week's #EWA16 event, the most segregation takes place between different districts.
One reason this may garner less attention is that it makes it harder to consider what the solutions might be when two semi-autonomous public agencies are involved, and one of them is probably much better-off than the other. Consolidating districts? Good luck with that. Transfer agreements between districts? NCLB called for those but generated precious few actual transfers.
Interested in more about media coverage of segregation? Check out my column at The Grade about the surge in coverage, and some possible problems it raises.
Credit Ann Owens and sources listed.
Here's Seth Myers talking about Teacher Appreciation Week and the Detroit teachers sick-out. Via Valeria Strauss. Meantime, Chicago teachers seem to be backing off their move towards a second strike.
Jane Sanders: Bernie and I Stand With Unions and Against Standardized Testing - Politics K-12 via The Nation https://t.co/bQ1dLOWTWE
In NY, Clinton treads lightly in praise of uncontroversial school [Eagle Academy]| POLITICO http://ow.ly/4njQqo
Sick-out by Teachers Shuts Nearly All Detroit Public Schools - ABC News https://t.co/sDjoln5DAA
CTU: Teachers leaning away from May strike http://sun-tim.es/1W1vJjE
Nearly 300 11th graders opt out in Burbank CA | 89.3 KPCC https://t.co/1d1AvP93wk
Paying For America's Schools: Is There A Better Way? : NPR https://t.co/fp9lMGiWAI
Access to education a challenge for NY immigrants | Newsday https://t.co/4PvvGlkS1H
A NYT piece out today emphasizes the strong correlation between income and student achievement. This chart reads: "6th graders in richest districts test 4 grades ahead of peers in poorest."
Some districts, like Union City, NJ seem to beat the odds. Others -- especially areas with large SES variations and school segregation -- show large gaps between low- and high-income student populations.
Folks like @thaddomina were quick to point out that the data also show that "the variation among SES-similar districts is important, too." The MSDF's Joe Siedleki picked New Orleans out.
As the mayor knows, the demand for public charter schools grows every year in his city...Unfortunately, the mayor pursues policies which look to close the doors of new or expanded public charter schools to Newark families in order to pursue his pro-union political agenda. The state will stop him from doing so.
- NJ Governor Chris Christie (Christie calls Baraka funding criticisms part of 'pro-union' agenda)
Observers and policymakers refer easily to New York’s pre-K program as part of the “public” education system or at the very least as a “public” education program. Yet vouchers for K-12 private schools are often criticized for “privatizing” public education.
-- James Ryan in Medium (The Largest Voucher Program You’ve Never Heard About)
"Over the past few decades, school districts in Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Washington and elsewhere have found higher than acceptable lead levels in their students’ drinking water due to old plumbing systems." via PBS NewsHour.
WNYC's Beth Fertig was at the performance (as was NYC schools head Carmen Farina) and Fertig's piece about the student performances on Broadway is running on NPR this morning: "Broadway's 'Hamilton' Makes Its Way Into NYC's High School Curriculum" ow.ly/10EAor
One of BuzzFeed's latest videos, purportedly about questions black people want to ask other black people, has generated reactions ranging from 😬 to 😡.
One of the questions is a version of the age-old "acting white" issue, which Vox debunked not too long ago: The most insidious myth about black kids and achievement.
Seriously, some people are really offended by the attempted humor. For example: 27 Answers To Buzzfeed’s Dumb Video. This is probably where I should provide a trigger warning.
Related posts: Why Do Journalists Love Shaky Science on Race? Eduwonkette; How Barack Obama's Election Can Change the Myth of 'Acting White' NY Mag.