Education News from Washington Post
Erich Martel, a great Advanced Placement history teacher at Wilson High School, was involuntarily transferred to another school and then forced to retire because, I think, he refused to stop investigating alleged D.C. school mismanagement, including his revelation that high schools were graduating students who didn’t meet all of the requirements.Read full article >>
In the last year or two educators have started to publicly speak up about the negative consequences of standardized test-based school reform and the privatization of public education. Troy LaRaviere is one of them. He is the principal of Chicago’s Blaine Elementary School and a leader of the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education. The following is part of an interview that LaRaviere did with freelance journalist and public education advocate Jennifer Berkshire, who worked for six years editing a newspaper for the American Federation of Teachers in Massachusetts and who authors the EduShyster blog, where the entire Q * A originally appeared. LaRaviere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @troylaraviere.Read full article >>
The national media spotlight has been on Ferguson, Missouri, since August, when a white policeman killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown, and the area is now anticipating a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict the officer. How Ferguson really got to this point (it’s not the way conventional wisdom holds) is the subject of this post. IT was written by Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers. He is also senior fellow of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law, and he is the author of books including “Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right, and “Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap.” He was a national education writer for The New York Times as well. This appeared on the EPI blog.
By Richard Rothstein
I’ve spent several years studying the evolution of residential segregation nationwide, motivated in part by convictions that the black-white achievement gap cannot be closed while low-income black children are isolated in segregated schools, that schools cannot be integrated unless neighborhoods are integrated, and that neighborhoods cannot be integrated unless we remedy the public policies that have created and support neighborhood segregation.
When Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August, I suspected that federal, state and local policy had purposefully segregated St. Louis County, because this had occurred in so many other metropolises. After looking into the history of Ferguson, St. Louis, and the city’s other suburbs, I confirmed these were no different. In The Making of Ferguson: Public Policies at the Root of its Troubles , the Economic Policy Institute recently published a report documenting the basis for this conclusion, and The American Prospect has published a summary.
Since a Ferguson policeman shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, we’ve paid considerable attention to that town. If we’ve not been looking closely at our evolving demographic patterns, we were surprised to see ghetto conditions we had come to associate with inner cities now duplicated in almost every respect in a formerly white suburban community: racially segregated neighborhoods with high poverty and unemployment, poor student achievement in overwhelmingly black schools, oppressive policing, abandoned homes, and community powerlessness.
Media accounts of how Ferguson became Ferguson have typically explained that when African Americans moved to this suburb (and others like it), “white flight” followed, abandoning the town to African Americans who were trying to escape poor schools in the city. The conventional explanation adds that African Americans moved to a few places like Ferguson, not the suburbs generally, because prejudiced realtors steered black homebuyers away from other white suburbs. And in any event, those other suburbs were able to preserve their middle- class environments by enacting zoning rules that required only expensive single family homes.
No doubt, private prejudice and suburbanites’ desire for homogenous middle-class environments contributed to segregation in St. Louis and other metropolitan areas. But these explanations are too partial, and too conveniently excuse public policy from responsibility. A more powerful cause of metropolitan segregation in St. Louis and nationwide has been the explicit intents of federal, state, and local governments to create racially segregated metropolises.
Many of these explicitly segregationist governmental actions ended in the late 20th century but continue to determine today’s racial segregation patterns; ongoing segregation is not the unintended by-product of race-neutral policies. In St. Louis these actions included zoning rules that classified white neighborhoods as residential and black neighborhoods as commercial or industrial; segregated public housing projects to replace integrated low-income areas; federal subsidies for suburban development conditioned on African American exclusion; federal and local requirements for and enforcement of property deeds and neighborhood agreements that prohibited re-sale of white-owned property to or occupancy by African Americans; tax favoritism for private institutions that enforced segregation; municipal boundary lines designed to separate black neighborhoods from white ones and to deny necessary services to the former; real estate, insurance, and banking regulators who tolerated and sometimes required racial segregation; and urban renewal plans whose purpose was to shift black populations from central cities like St. Louis to inner-ring suburbs like Ferguson.
Governmental actions in support of a segregated labor market supplemented these racial housing policies and prevented most African Americans from acquiring the economic strength to move to middle class communities, even if they had been permitted to do so.
White flight certainly existed, and racial prejudice was certainly behind it, but not racial prejudice alone. Government turned black neighborhoods into overcrowded slums and then white families came to associate African Americans with slum characteristics. White homeowners then fled when African Americans moved nearby, fearing their new neighbors would bring slum conditions with them.
That government, not mere private prejudice, was responsible for segregating greater St. Louis was once conventional informed opinion. A federal appeals court declared 40 years ago that “segregated housing in the St. Louis metropolitan area was … in large measure the result of deliberate racial discrimination in the housing market by the real estate industry and by agencies of the federal, state, and local governments.” Similar observations accurately describe every other large metropolitan area. This history, however, has now largely been forgotten.
When we blame private prejudice and snobbishness for contemporary segregation, we not only whitewash our own history but avoid considering whether new policies might instead promote an integrated community. The federal government’s response to the Ferguson “Troubles” has been to treat the town as an isolated embarrassment, not a reflection of the nation in which it is embedded. The Department of Justice is investigating the killing of teenager Michael Brown and the practices of the Ferguson police department, but aside from the president’s concern that perhaps we have militarized all police forces too much, no broader inferences from the August events are being drawn.
The conditions that created Ferguson cannot be addressed without remedying a century of public policy that segregated our metropolitan landscape. Remedies are unlikely if we fail to recognize these policies and how their effects have endured.Read full article >>
Thousands of parents came to the D.C. Armory on Saturday to get a jump on their school search at the first city-wide public schools fair.
The formerly all-charter event expanded this year to include every traditional school so that parents pushing strollers or shopping for high schools for their teens could peruse tables sorted by grade and alphabetical order, not by school sector.Read full article >>
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan issued this statement Saturday in response to Rolling Stone magazine’s account of an alleged 2012 gang rape in a Charlottesville fraternity house:
Dear members of the University Community,Read full article >>
Montgomery County’s school board voted unanimously this past week to boost the district’s school construction budget by $223.3 million amid continuing enrollment growth.
The request for more funds, which requires county and state action, largely reflects recommendations Superintendent Joshua P. Starr outlined in October.Read full article >>
Faced with mounting pressure from students, faculty and alumni, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan suspended all campus fraternities Saturday, an action prompted by a searing magazine account of an alleged 2012 gang rape inside a fraternity house at the school.Read full article >>
How many public K-12 schools are still named after John F. Kennedy, 51 years after the president was assassinated?
It was once common for public schools in the United States to be named after presidents, a tradition that some have argued was a reflection of a community’s civic values. It is less so today — with more schools being named after places and things (such as manatees in Florida) — but you can find out with this National Center for Education Statistics search tool, which allows you to find a lot of information about public schools, including their names. Though the results depend on your search terms, here are some of my findings.Read full article >>
School reformers talk nonstop about using “data” to drive policy, teaching and just about everything else, which, you would think, would require that the data being used be accurate. The following post exposes a troubling problem with the push for “data-driven” everything — bad data. This important piece was written by award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York, who was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010, tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. Burris has been exposing the botched school reform program in New York for years on this blog, and it is worth reading. You can see some of her earlier postsRead full article >>
(Update: Adding Ritsch’s statement)
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is losing his second communications chief in two years. Massie Ritsch, the acting assistant secretary for communications and outreach, is leaving his job to take a new position at Teach For America.Read full article >>
The harrowing account of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house described in a new Rolling Stone article roiled the campus Friday, with students, faculty members and parents questioning the administration’s response to the allegations.Read full article >>
The Prince George’s County Public School System notified employees on Friday evening of a possible security breach involving employees’ personal data.
“Your personal information may have been potentially exposed to others,” Deputy Superintendent Monique W. Davis wrote in anemail. “Please be assured we have taken every step necessary to address the incident, and that we are committed to fully protectingall of the information that you have entrusted to us.”Read full article >>
This will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Texas and its textbook adoption saga: The Republican majority on the Texas Board of Education overrode Democratic members’ concerns on Friday and approved about 90 social studies textbooks, workbooks and other instructional materials, some of which have been criticized as being inaccurate and biased.
One Texas newspaper said the only “happy face” in the board room was that of a member of the Sikh community, which was delighted that their religion was being included in textbooks for the first time.Read full article >>
A new report on Adam Lanza, who fatally shot 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, says that the public schools he attended “unwittingly” enabled Lanza’s mother to “accommodate and appease” her son through a “lack of attention to social-emotional support” and by allowing him to study independently on the assumption that he was gifted, when, in fact, he wasn’t.Read full article >>
Parents on Thursday night peppered the chairman of a charter school that has ties to the University of Maryland, after they recently learned of an effort to revamp the lottery system for admissions and to reclassify the school.Read full article >>
While President Obama’s new executive order offering protection from deportation to millions of illegal immigrants raises many questions, let’s look at how many children of illegal immigrants are attending K-12 schools in the United States, and how many of those children are illegal immigrants themselves.Read full article >>
Strauss: Anonymous letter claims credit for vandalism at U-Va. frat house alleged to be site of rape, vows more action
An anonymous letter sent to the University of Virginia student newspaper takes credit in the name of unnamed students for vandalizing a fraternity house that has been at the center of a Rolling Stone magazine story about a gang rape that allegedly occurred there. What’s more, the students who took responsibility for the vandalism said they would “escalate” and “provoke” the university until its demands are met.Read full article >>
Can you guess the percent of evening cable news guests who are brought on camera to discuss education issues who are actually educators? Well, someone did the math and came up with this: Nine percent. Yes, 9 percent. And that was high if you looked at the results for single networks.Read full article >>
The Prince William County school board has approved enrollment boundaries that determine which students will attend the county’s newest high school, scheduled to open in Dumfries in the fall of 2016.
The U.S. Department of Justice has been watching the county’s boundary process and scrutinized an initial plan because it appeared irregular and sent too few minorities to the school. A later version won Justice Department approval, but board members on Tuesday night altered that one slightly and passed it.Read full article >>
The District’s Paul Public Charter School is under investigation for alleged testing violations.
The middle school in Ward 4 has been classified as a “tier 1” school for the past three years, but the school did not receive a classification this year when score cards were released last week. School officials notified families that they did not receive a score because of “procedural testing violations during the administration of the DC CAS” in the 2013-2014 school year.Read full article >>