Archive for October, 2015

“With All Deliberate Speed” or “At Once” Means “Never”

October 31, 2015 1 comment

Yesterday, Sumeer Rao, a writer for Colorlines whose mission is to cover race matters “...from the perspective of community, rather than through the lens of power brokers”, wrote a brief post noting that October 29, 2015, was the 46th anniversary of the Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education ruling by the US Supreme Court. While less celebrated than Brown v. Topeka, it was intended to underscore the urgency to put an end to dual school systems and make it clear that “all deliberate speed”, the language in Brown, meant now. Rao summarized the decision as follows:

In Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education—which was decided on this day in 1969—the Court ruled to underscore their previous mandates in Brown and Brown II and ordered immediate desegregation of public schools. Noting that the “all deliberate speed” language in Brown enabled Southern states to procrastinate, the Court’s decision took no chances, saying, “The obligation of every school district is to terminate dual school systems at once and to operate now and hereafter only unitary schools.”

Brown effectively put an end to Jim Crow laws and practices because it overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, an 1896 case that allowed for “separate but equal” facilities… a phrase, like “adequate schools”, allowed separate substandard facilities to be designated for blacks because some whites had the same kinds of facilities. Ten years after Brown Congress passed the Civil Rights Act which reinforced the court ruling and seemingly put an end to legalized discrimination.

In a fifteen year period during the time I was growing up in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, our nations leaders passed legislation that was intended to put an end to our country’s legacy of racial discrimination. 46 years later, little has changed. Based on my personal experience as a child, student, teacher, public school administrator and parent, I find that the only way one can overcome prejudice is to share a seat in a classroom, a playground, a church pew, or a neighborhood with someone of a different race or culture. When one experiences an individual from a different race or culture, prejudice quickly disappears and that person’s humanity shines through. I know that moving from where we were then and how we are now to a world where we stop thinking of different races and cultures as “the other” will not happen now and cannot be forced. I fear that our current housing patterns and stereotyping will prevent us thinking of different races and cultures as “the other” making it impossible to achieve the kind of world our forefathers and religions of all stripes want us to live in.

Success Academy’s “Got To Go” List Underscores Bogus Civil Rights Claims of Charters

October 30, 2015 Comments off

Anyone who follows the methods for-profit deregulated charter schools use to weed out low performing students could not be surprised to learn that the schools develop lists of students who need to be weeded out in order to keep their performance levels on standardized tests high. In case some politicians and “reformers” needed evidence, Kate Taylor of the NYTimes has found it and presented it in an article published on Thursday titled “At a Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Students Who Have “Got To Go”. The response from the spokesperson for Success Academy was even more appalling than the fact that the for profit charter school kept the lists:

In a written response to questions, Success Academy’s spokeswoman, Ann Powell, said that the “Got to Go” list was a mistake and that the network quickly got wind of it and reprimanded Mr. Brown, the principal.

Ms. Powell said that Success schools did not push children out, and that what might look like an effort to nudge students out the door was actually an attempt to help parents find the right environment for their children. Some on the list required special education settings that Success could not offer them, she said.

There was no denial that a list was kept… and I can only surmise from the slap on the wrist the principal received that the “mistake” was that Mr. Brown allowed the staff members to let the parents know of the list’s existence. Worse, the notion that Success Academy could not offer special education services while receiving public school funding is absurd. The school pays no rent, overpays its CEO and other leadership, underpays its teachers, and receives millions of dollars that would otherwise fund public schools that are mandated to provide special education services.

Ms. Taylor’s article is thoroughly researched and full of anecdotes about parents whose children in grades K-3 were repeatedly suspended for minor infractions in an effort to get the parents to withdraw their children from school. The children in question had ADHD or special education needs that were costly.

A charter school that was truly interested in providing an equal educational opportunity for all children would bend over backwards to help children who require special services. A charter school that strives for profits would drive those same children out. It’s clear that Ms. Moskovitz’ civil rights claims lack credibility.

Comptroller Stringer’s Requirement that Success Academy Follow Regulations Sets Up Cuomo

October 30, 2015 Comments off

As reported in yesterday’s NY Daily News, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is refusing to release funds for Eva Moskovitz’s PreK Charter school until she complies with the rules set forth by the city. In putting Ms. Moskovtiz on notice, Stringer stated:

“There is no conceivable reason for one charter school to be held to a different standard than every other charter school, and no one should try to skirt the process that ensures accountability, quality and integrity,”

Will Mr. Cuomo allow dual standards to apply to Ms. Moskovitz? Stay tuned!

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