Archive for June, 2017

NY Times Editors Miss the Mark on Desegregation Editorial

June 26, 2017 Comments off

Today’s NYTimes editorial praises several cities for their efforts to desegregate within their boundaries. Singling out Dallas’ recent decision to address the issue of segregation head on, the Times editors describe the efforts to address re-segregation as follows:

A growing number of school districts are refusing to accept segregation. One hundred school districts and charter school networks in 32 states, particularly in California, Florida, Iowa, New York, Minnesota and North Carolina, are promoting integration by taking socioeconomic status into account as they assign children to schools, according to a 2016 analysis by The Century Foundation. Just two districts were doing that 20 years ago. These districts typically go about this by redrawing attendance boundaries or creating magnet schools.

But what good is done by “redrawing attendance boundaries” within a school district like Dallas where 90% of the children qualify for free and reduced lunch and are minority students? And how does the creation of magnet schools help when most of the white residents in a city like Dallas are choosing to attend charter schools and/or private schools that are mostly white? Neither the Times article on the Dallas schools nor the editorial offer evidence that choice is helping with resegregation.

Here’s the sad reality of resegregation: the only way to reverse the trend is to appeal to the white residents who reside in those communities to enroll their children in neighborhood schools instead of relying on magnet schools. Given the choice between putting their children on a bus to go to a public magnet school across town that is “mixed” racially and demographically or taking their children out of a private charter school that is “competitive” and, consequently, less “mixed” racially and demographically, most parents will stay in the school their children are currently enrolled in. But if parents thought the school closest to their home was as well equipped and staffed as the schools in the nearby suburbs, they might consider enrolling in that school no matter what its demographics. Bottom line: the best way to accomplish resegregation is to provide robust programs for ALL children in ALL schools.

The editors failed to acknowledge the disparity in funding between districts and failed to point out the reality that boundary lines need to be redrawn between districts as well as within districts… but the editors were quick to criticize the Mayor for his failure to “name” resegregation as the major problem facing NY city schools. In future editorials I hope the NYTimes will advocate more funding for neighborhood schools, a consideration of redrawing boundaries between school districts, and full throated support for the administration in NY city schools when they DO make an effort to integrate the schools in the city.

NJ Legislation Validates NY Op Ed Writer’s Assertion that Racism is Alive and Well… And Minority Children in NJ Need to Learn How to Deal With It.

June 26, 2017 Comments off

I read two articles in succession this morning whose messages intertwined. After reading an op ed article in the NYTimes by Ibra Kendi how we are “Sacrificing Black Lives for the American Lie“, I read a Truthdig post by Emma Niles described a bill passed by the NY Legislature that mandates instruction in K-12 public schools “learn how to deal with police”. Both articles cited the fact that black men are arrested at a rates that are much higher than whites: nine times as often at the national level and an even more shameful twelve times as often as whites in New Jersey.

Wendi’s article describes the needless killings of innocent blacks by police officers and the subsequent findings of innocence by juries as evidence that racism is alive and well. He suggests that the remedy for this problem of police officers over-reacting is to make our country aware of the deep seated racism that exists.

To diagnose police officers’ lethal fears as racist, juries and prosecutors would also have to diagnose their own fears of black bodies as racist. That is a tall task. It may even be easier to get a racist cop convicted of murdering a black person than it is to get a racist American to acknowledge his or her own racism. Racist Americans keep justice as far away from black death as possible to keep the racist label as far away from themselves as possible.

But this can change. Killing the post-racial myth and confessing racism is the first step toward antiracism. Police officers can recognize that label as the start of their better selves instead of the end of their careers. Americans can recognize that label as an opening to a just future.

Black people and the post-racial myth cannot both live in the United States of America.

Evidently New Jersey has a different solution, though. Instead of appealing to police officers to “appeal to their better selves” legislators in that state see the problem as one of the potential victims. Their solution?

…require K-12 students to be taught how to interact with police officers “in a manner marked by mutual cooperation and respect.”

Where Kendra sees the issue of police killing innocent black and brown children as one of racism, the NJ legislator’s see it as an issue of black and brown children failing to be cooperative or respectful. Tell that to the parents of Tamir Rice in Cleveland or the children of Philandro Castile in Minneapolis or any number of the parents and children of the innocent African Americans killed by police because the police “feared for their lives”.

In this era of plentiful guns and homicides I appreciate the fear that police officers experience on a daily basis, particularly in urban areas. But I cannot see how requiring instruction on cooperation and respect for police officers will solve the underlying problems of racism and the abundance of firearms. The NJ legislators would be better off passing bills to redraw attendance lines for schools to increase integration, to provide more funding for poverty stricken school districts, and to make it more difficult for children to use guns.

Here’s an Idea: Guarantee Every Child an Excellent Education

June 26, 2017 Comments off

Saying every child has a CHANCE for a good education is like saying every parent has a CHANCE to eat nutritious food… or has a CHANCE to make a living wage… or has a CHANCE to live wherever they want to…. What? You mean we already say those things with a straight face and believe if we continue to say them over and over again we can pretend they are true?


Little African Girl At Wooden Fence With Thumbs Up.

Let’s get one thing straight: there are plenty of things wrong with America’s school system. But they almost all stem from one major error.

We don’t guarantee every child an excellent education.

Instead, we strive to guarantee every child THE CHANCE at an excellent education. In other words, we’ll provide a bunch of different options that parents and children can choose from – public schools, charter schools, cyber schools, voucher schools, etc.

Some of these options will be great. Some will be terrible. It’s up to the consumer (i.e. parents and children) to decide which one to bet on.

In many places this results in children bouncing from school-to-school. One school is woefully deficient, they enroll in another one. One school closes suddenly, they start over again at another.

It’s terribly inefficient and does very little good for most children.

But that’s because it’s not designed with them…

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