January 19, 2011
Editor’s Note: As Congress prepares to begin debating the contours of the 2011 budget, the National Coalition on School Diversity–a network of national civil rights organizations, university-based research institutes, local educational advocacy groups, and academic researchers seeking a greater commitment to racial and economic diversity in federal K-12 education policy and funding–has been working to ensure that school integration remains a federal funding priority. Below, Phil Tegeler and Saba Bireda of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) outline a number of different avenues for federal funding to promote school integration.
Incentivizing Integration? The Potential of New Funding Priorities at the U.S. Department of Education
Philip Tegeler and Saba Bireda1
The Integration Report
Almost four years after a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court declared school integration to be a “compelling government interest,” in the Parents Involved case, and more than two years after the U.N. Committee on Racial Discrimination criticized the U.S. for patterns of increasing racial isolation in its public schools,2 the U.S. Department of Education has identified school diversity as a priority goal for its competitive funding programs. The Department’s “Notice of final supplemental priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs,” 75 Fed. Reg. 78486 (December 15, 2010) 3 lists 16 new funding priorities 4 to be applied to future grant programs. Priority 11, “Promoting Diversity,” prioritizes “projects that are designed to promote student diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, or avoid racial isolation.” What does this mean for advocates of quality, integrated education? Will the Department apply this new priority aggressively to incentivize school integration throughout its discretionary funding programs – or will it simply get lost in the laundry list of 16 new priorities? The answer depends partly on the effectiveness of our collective advocacy: we need to demand the inclusion of this priority in all future Department grant programs, and alert applicants at the state and local level to pay attention to this factor as they apply for federal grants. The National Coalition on School Diversity is planning to actively pursue this agenda with the Department in the coming year.5
How federal funding can promote school integration
The federal program that most directly supports racial and economic integration is the Magnet Schools Assistance Act (MSAA), which has been funded far below its potential for many years. Indeed, the program has been flat funded at the $100 million level last year for the past two years (especially when compared to the charter school budget at $ 256 million). 6 In the 2011 budget, the Obama Administration requested an increase of 10% for magnet schools, but so far these additional requested funds have not materialized (Congress’s “continuing resolution” process simply continues funding at the prior budget year’s level when there is no agreement on a new budget). Magnet schools are also undermined by the continuing lack of guidance from the Department on appropriate race-conscious methods that can be used pursuant to the Parents Involved case – though advocates still expect this guidance to be issued soon.
The power of the new funding priorities is that they open up the possibility that school integration will become a Departmental mandate that extends beyond the “boutique” MSAA to other areas of Department funding. Here are some of the possibilities (assuming each of these programs is refunded in 2011 and beyond):
Investing in Innovation Fund (I3): This program provided $ 650 million in grants in 2010 to “support local efforts to start or expand research-based innovative programs that help close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for high-need students.” As the National Coalition on School Diversity argued in a letter 7 to the Department in 2009, there is powerful recent evidence on the benefits of racial and economic integration on student achievement and other student outcomes – evidence that is at least as significant as that generated by other school reform strategies. 8
21st Century Community Learning Centers: This program provided more than $1 billion in grants for after-school enrichment programs – an area where school integration could easily be encouraged in places where children are artificially separated during the school day by attendance boundaries and school district lines. While the integration of after-school programs does not have the same impact as regular school day integration, districts could use 21 CLC to create unique opportunities for racial and economic integration.
School Improvement Grants (SIG): This program provided $ 546 million in 2010 to assist in the dramatic turnaround of “persistently low-achieving” schools. The Department required SIG-receiving schools to implement one of four intervention strategies (turnaround, transformation, restart, and school closure), mostly directed at school management and human capital systems. While the Department encourages school closure and restart (closure followed by reopening as a charter or alternatively managed school), there is no mention of the creation of new, diverse schools in place of low-performing racially and socio-economically isolated schools. The other two strategies- turnaround and transformation- also could incorporate racial and economic integration as a reform strategy but do not.
Race to the Top (RTTT): It is unclear whether this keystone program ($4.35 billion) in the Administration’s reform efforts will be funded in the FY2011 budget, but many advocates were shocked that no priority was given to school integration in the final Notice of Funding Availability (see the National Coalition on School Diversity’s letter 9 to the Department). RTTT encouraged states to implement significant reforms to improve education for all students yet states could win funding without taking any steps to reduce racial and economic isolation in schools. Future RTTT competitions could be revised to include school diversity as part of the selection criteria considered in the application or making school diversity an invitational priority.
Support inclusive and integrated charter schools: The charter school grant program received $256 million in the FY2010 budget and is a large part of the Administration’s reform efforts. Charter schools seek to introduce innovative curricula, academic programs, and management ideas, goals that certainly can be reached in an inclusive and diverse environment. The National Coalition on School Diversity recently published a policy brief 10 recommending that safeguards be added promulgated for this program to ensure that federally funded charters do not further racial and economic integration. Federal policy should also support increased inclusiveness of students with disabilities and English language learners by explicitly prioritizing funding for schools that serve such students.
Voluntary School Choice Programs: $ 26 million in grants to create or maintain intra/inter district and open enrollment public school choice programs.
Support interdistrict school transfers in the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (ESEA): Recognizing the educational harms associated with concentrated poverty in public schools, Congress originally enacted Title I to direct more money to students who attended the most disadvantaged schools. In conjunction with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title I funds also created more leverage to prompt reluctant school districts to desegregate. Through these means, Title I has historically helped increase the educational opportunities for children attending schools of concentrated disadvantage. Unfortunately, a huge proportion of today’s poor Black and Latino children have no choice but to attend low performing high-poverty schools. Although the ESEA includes a provision for students in underperforming schools to transfer, those transfers most often are only available to other schools within the same school district, since other districts are not required to admit them. ESEA should be updated to authorize interdistrict transfers (with appropriate funding mechanisms and safeguards to ensure that such transfers are available to all students and that receiving districts do not discriminate against incoming children11
If the U.S. Department of Education follows the Supreme Court’s admonition and treats school integration and reduction of racial isolation as compelling national government priorities, we could begin to see some reversal of the resegregation trends that have characterized American schools over the past two decades. 12 The Department’s new funding priority is an important step in that direction, but school integration will need to be embedded across the board, in every Department initiative, to guarantee real progress. We recently saw the power of the Department’s incentives to change policy at the state level, in the Race to the Top threshold requirements, and applying similar integration incentives to hundreds of millions of dollars in 2011 spending could make a real difference to tens of millions of low income children attending racially isolated schools.
1 Philip Tegeler and Saba Bireda are, respectively, Executive Director and Deputy Director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC). PRRAC is an active member of the National Coalition on School Diversity.2Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Concluding Observations (February 2008), 17. www.prrac.org/projects/CERD.php
4Ihe list includes: 1) Improving Early Learning Outcomes, 2) Internationally Benchmarked Academic Standards, 3) Improving The Effectiveness And Distribution Of Effective Teachers Or Principals, 4) Turning Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools, 5) Improving School Engagement, School Environment, and School Safety and Improving Family and Community Engagement 6) Technology, 7) Core Reforms, 8) Increasing Postsecondary Success, 9) Improving Achievement and High School Graduation Rates, 10) Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education, 11) Promoting Diversity, 12) Support for Military Families, 13) Enabling More Data-Based Decision-Making, 14) Building Evidence of Effectiveness, 15) Supporting Programs, Practices, or Strategies for Which There Is Strong or Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness, 16) Improving Productivity.
5 The National Coalition on School Diversity is a network of national civil rights organizations, university-based research institutes, local educational advocacy groups, and academic researchers seeking a greater commitment to racial and economic diversity in federal K-12 education policy and funding. See www.school-diversity.org.
6 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010.
8 See, for example, the four "Research Briefs" compiled for the National Coalition on School Diversity at www.school-diversity.org9
11 See the Coalition’s Policy Brief on ESEA Reauthorization,
12 Gary Orfield and Chungmei Lee, "Historic Reversals, Accelerating Resegregation, and the Need for New Integration Strategies," (Los Angeles: Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA, 2007).
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Memphis School Board to allow consolidation cote
After six hours of contentious debate, the Memphis City School Board voted 5-4 late Monday night to let city voters decide if the 109,000-student district should surrender its charter and unite with surrounding Shelby County. The vote must be held within 60 days. And, if consolidated, the Shelby County and Memphis districts would combine to form the nation’s 14th largest school district with 151,000 students. Memphis’ stunning move had its roots in maneuvering by neighboring Shelby County. Unlike Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and some other districts in the state, Shelby County and Memphis are not consolidated. Tax revenue is split between the Shelby County and Memphis districts. After the November elections, debate sprang up that Shelby County would renew efforts to attain “special school district” status, which would freeze the district’s boundaries and allow it taxing authority.
Memphis suburbs consider creating independent school systems
Shelby County suburban mayors are exploring options to escape the prospect of Memphis City and Shelby County schools consolidation. “People are very clearly concerned about the integrity of the public schools that their children attend in Germantown,” said Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy. She and a few other mayors are considering creating independent school systems in their cities. Goldsworthy said they’d have to overcome a state prohibition on Tennessee municipalities starting school systems.
Faith in Memphis: Couple choose neighborhood school
Not long after Mandy and Robert Grisham moved to Midtown five years ago to start a church, they began hearing about The Decision they were going to face as their son Adam got closer to school age. Stay in Midtown, get in line for private schools, and spend tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours in a car over the next 13 to 15 years. Or move to the suburbs. Yet this past August, Adam, Walt and Maddox entered kindergarten at neighborhood Peabody Elementary, along with five other Cooper-Young children. The Grishams say there are at least eight Cooper-Young families who are considering sending their 4-year-olds to Peabody next year. “We’re not going to sacrifice our son to a movement,” Mandy said. “He’s our baby. We’re going to do what’s best for him. But what’s best for his neighborhood and community is best for him, too.”
Shelby County withdraws special school district status
Shelby county getting special school district status could be off the table. Shelby County School Board chairman David Pickler says he now wants fixed boundaries for the suburban system which would mean no consolidation but it also means no special school district. Consolidation may be the one word that scares the Shelby County School Board more than anything and because Memphis City Schools’ board members found a way to possibly force consolidation, Shelby County is backing off their plan to gain special school district status. Over the past two weeks Memphis City Schools’ board members have been in talks over whether or not they should give up their charter, thus being absorbed by the Shelby County School District.
Memphis, Shelby school leaders discuss future of systems
The leaders of the Memphis City and Shelby County school boards have had their first head-to-head meeting since the recent frenzy over the suburban system’s pursuit of efforts to gain special-school-district status. The city district is considering whether to surrender its charter to block the county district from fixing its boundaries and possibly gaining taxing authority, which many feel would financially hurt city schools. The move could lead to the consolidation of the two school systems.
Republican wins could change Shelby County Schools to “Special School District”
If Republicans sweep elections not only in Memphis, but across the state, it could have a big effect on the children of Shelby County. Shelby County Republicans are hoping the expected victories means passing a bill that would allow “special school districts.” The election is still a day away, but Shelby County Republicans are confident they now have the support to pass the bill that would allow these special districts.
US schools chief criticizes NC board over busing
The nation’s top education official on Friday joined a chorus of criticism targeting a decision last year by North Carolina’s largest school district to end its busing for diversity program. “America’s strength has always been a function of its diversity, so it is troubling to see North Carolina’s Wake County school board take steps to reverse a long-standing policy to promote racial diversity in its schools,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote in a letter to The Washington Post that was also provided to The Associated Press. The federal education agency’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating the board’s decision, following a complaint filed with the department last year by the state chapter of the NAACP and other groups. They allege that ending a policy in which some of the district’s 140,000 or so students were bused to achieve socio-economic balance in the school district amounts to a rollback of civil rights-era changes that integrated the schools. Duncan’s three-paragraph letter didn’t necessarily endorse that position, but it did urge other school boards to think twice before using Wake County’s new policy as a model. “I respectfully urge school boards across America to fully consider the consequences before taking such action,” Duncan wrote. “This is no time to go backward.”
Alves student assignment plan delayed until February
The leadership of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership announced today that the new student assignment plan being developed by education consultant Michael Alves won’t be released until February. The Alves plan would also focus on possible changes beginning in 2012. Alves was hired to develop an assignment model that factors in student achievement along with stability, family choice and proximity.
Morrison leads protest over hiring of retired general to lead Wake Schools
Board members decry lack of transparency and a rushed, expensive process in selection of a candidate with little education experience.
The Wake County School Board’s hiring of a retired brigadier general with limited educational experience as its next school superintendent is drawing sharp opposition led by board member Carolyn Morrison. Morrison, a former Wake principal and former director of the Division of Education at Peace College, says the board’s new hire, Anthony J. Tata, has scant qualifications for the job. Morrison said she was alarmed by Tata’s response to questions about promoting diversity in the schools, an issue that has split the board and the community for a year.She said Tata, the chief operating officer of the District of Columbia Public Schools, said D.C. schools do well despite high concentrations of minority and low-income students in its classrooms. “This man said he was OK with segregated schools,” Morrison said.
Richard Kahlenberg on the Wake school diversity fight in 2010
Richard Kahlenberg is calling the Wake County school system’s school diversity fight an example of one of the best developments to happen in education in 2010. In a blog post Monday for the progressive Century Foundation, Kahlenberg cites the controversy in Wake an example of how at the local level “many citizens and education leaders fought back vigorously against growing segregation.” Despite what happened in Wake, Kahlenberg writes that “nationally, momentum for socioeconomic integration grew.”
Wake schools get a grilling
Federal civil rights investigators want to know everything from how many Wake County students were bused for socioeconomic diversity to the reasons school board members dropped the use of diversity in student assignment. Wake school administrators are now trying to answer a lengthy list of questions about student assignment and academic achievement asked by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
National NAACP commits to Wake County schools fight, week of December 9-15, 2010
The battle to combat public school resegregation across the country is on, and Wake County is officially at the epicenter of the struggle, said NAACP Pres./CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous during remarks in Raleigh last week. Meanwhile, Democrats on the Republican-led Wake County School Board were able to temporarily stop the reassignment of over 6,000 Southeast Raleigh black and Latino children from integrated schools across the county for 2011, on the same day that investigators from the US Dept. of Education’s Civil Rights Division, responding to a complaint by the NC NAACP and national NAACP, formally opened their probe into race-based reassignments by the board.
NAACP head calls out Wake County
The head of the NAACP looked down from the podium at his group’s first national educational summit in three years, picked that tone that says “you all know what I mean” and uttered just two words: “Wake County.” Then Benjamin Todd Jealous, who is the president and CEO of the group, made it clear that the Wake school board’s efforts to end diversity-based school assignment have made the county a front line for his group. “It is not a mistake we are in Wake County,” he said. “We have watched desegregation roll for 20 years in this country, but when folks start getting bold about it, when they start putting it out on the street in clear terms, talking about our children as animals released from cages, resurrecting the rhetoric of none other than Barry Goldwater, then it’s time for the family to gather together, and it’s time for the family to go back out into the country and tell them what is going on.”
Accreditation team to review Wake schools next month
The organization that accredits Wake County’s high schools will send a team to Raleigh next month to conduct a special review of the school district’s elimination of the socioeconomic diversity policy. Based on a complaint from the state NAACP, AdvancED is conducting a review of nearly every major decision made by the school board since last December, including the elimination of the diversity policy and the move to community schools.
Big shift in Wake students on table
Amid heated accusations of possible resegregation, community members of Wake County schools’ student assignment committee on Tuesday proposed reassigning thousands of Southeast Raleigh students to schools closer to where they live. Republican school board members Chris Malone and John Tedesco said the Southeast Raleigh moves are only logical given the Oct. 5 vote by GOP member Debra Goldman and the board’s four Democrats to quash a zone-based assignment plan that was being developed by Tedesco. After that vote, Malone said, the remaining guiding principle became a policy adopted in May that eliminated diversity as a factor in assignments while stressing stability, proximity and family choice.
School turbulence unlikely to subside
A long and argumentative year for the Wake County school board is nearing an end. But the one ahead looks to be at least as challenging – if not more so. A heaping plateful of matters need addressing – most notably a projected budget shortfall of at least $100 million. Meanwhile, division and acrimony among board factions and community members show little sign of easing. The four Democratic and four Republican board members vote mostly in separate blocs, with GOP member Debra Goldman an unpredictable force in the middle.
Feds won’t reconsider Wake magnet school grant application
Federal education officials have turned down the Wake County school system’s request to reconsider its rejected $10.3 million magnet school grant application. Interim Superintendent Donna Hargens had asked federal officials to reconsider Wake’s application because she contended that one of the reviewers incorrectly focused on gender issues and made factual errors when scoring the proposal.
NC: National NAACP plans education summit in Raleigh Dec. 2-4 to train school activists
Wake County schools have drawn protests and formal civil rights complaints from the state NAACP, but for three days in December, Wake County will be a gathering place for NAACP education activists from around the country. From December 2-4 in Raleigh, the NAACP will host the Daisy Bates Education summit. Over the course of the event, NAACP members and community activists will be trained on how to advocate for improved public schools in their communities.
CMS, Wake linked in school battles
In 2010, this is not where many of us envisioned N.C. public schools would be. Civil rights complaints have been filed against the state’s two largest school systems over student assignment and other policies. In both Raleigh and Charlotte, anger and dissatisfaction with school board actions spilled over into rallies, marches, accusations and arrests. The genesis of the discord in these two cities is different. But they both illuminate the race and class issues that still play key roles in public schools. They also highlight how inadequately communities have dealt with those matters.
Wake school board under probe
Wake County school leaders will have to defend their student assignment and discipline policies to federal civil rights investigators responding to complaints filed by the NAACP. The Office of Civil Rights investigates a third of the 6,900 complaints it receives each year, according to Jim Bradshaw, a spokesman of the U.S. Department of Education. Wake was notified about the investigation in a letter dated Nov. 5. Bradshaw said they typically try to complete investigations within six months. If the school system is declared in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Wake could lose about $80 million a year in federal funding.
Neighborhood schools delayed for Wake County
Wake County Schools will not be moving as quickly to neighborhood schools as some parents would want. In the school board meeting yesterday it was decided that a more deliberate approach to student would be decided on. Kevin Hill made a proposal to hold a series of board and public meetings and develop cost estimates before designing a long-term assignment model. When the vote was taken on the proposal, it was decided that was to be the course of action much to the dismay of Ron Margiotta, Chris Malone, Deborah Prickett and John Tedesco. For the second time, Debra Goldman sided with the “minority four” and effectively ended any chance at neighborhood schools for next year.
Parents get say on schools
While Wake County school board members continue to debate the long-term student assignment plan, parents are focusing on where their children will attend classes next fall.
Starting tonight and running through next Monday, school administrators will hold four meetings to hear from the public about where they want their children assigned for the 2011-12 school year. If things move on schedule, a final plan for next year could be approved in February.
There are two parallel processes going on.
School board claims mandate on diversity
GOP board members read the election results as Wake voters’ approval of community schools
Emboldened by the Republican sweep of county commissioners’ seats, GOP members of the Wake school board said last week that the public has given them a mandate to move ahead on community schools and the elimination of diversity-based student assignments. During the campaign, local and state Democratic leaders attempted to rally voters to back their candidates and send a message against the GOP-backed Wake County school board’s elimination of the diversity policy. But Republicans won all four seats on the ballot on Election Day to gain a majority on the board of commissioners, which controls more than a quarter of the school board’s budget.
Diversity policy supporters pointing to 2011 school board elections
Supporters of the old diversity policy are ramping up the message of “wait ’til next year” in the aftermath of last week’s GOP election victory on the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
As noted in Thursday’s American Independent article by Ned Barnett, diversity policy supporters say last week’s election results shouldn’t be seen as a referendum supporting community schools. Instead, they’re pointing to the 2011 Wake County school board elections as the true test of public sentiment.
Test plan splits Wake school board
Wake County school board members are splitting along partisan lines on whether to use test scores to help decide where students would go to school. Four of the five Republican board members are objecting to the proposal from business leaders to use student achievement as a factor in student assignment. Critics say using student achievement is a way to bring back the old socioeconomic diversity policy that the school board eliminated in the spring. The four Democratic board members say they’re willing to look at the idea of using student achievement as one of the four guiding principles in the assignment plan that consultant Michael Alves is developing.
Burns weighs in on interplay of Wake boards
Former Wake schools Superintendent Del Burns said this week that county commissioners could have “great impact” as the 143,000-student system works to come up with a new school assignment plan. The Board of Commissioners has to approve the school system’s budget and can influence school construction, location and calendars, Burns said. “There could be interplay between the two boards,” he said. “There has been in the past.”
We need a fifth vote, Wake schools bloc says
Most Republicans on the Wake County school board are bemoaning the loss of their majority for neighborhood schools, a serious blow to their mission to phase out the former board’s diversity-based student assignment plan. The lamenters, who include Chairman Ron Margiotta, said it will require gaining a new majority next year in elections to break the panel’s stalemate and push through the changes they’ve promised in the state’s largest school district. At the heart of their frustration is board Vice Chairwoman and fellow Republican Debra Goldman, who joined Democrats in killing development of a zone-based plan which could have been partially initiated next year.
Goodmon rakes Wake school board
Capitol Broadcasting CEO Jim Goodmon, one of the region’s leading businessmen, publicly lashed into the Wake County school board majority on Saturday over its elimination of the use of diversity in deciding where students attend school. Goodmon, the closing speaker at a forum organized by supporters of the old diversity policy, accused the Republican-backed board majority of making decisions with a political agenda and not acting responsibly. Capitol Broadcasting owns several local radio and television stations, including WRAL.
Diversity supporters cheer vote by Wake school board
Supporters of Wake County’s discarded socioeconomic diversity policy are hailing the school board’s decision to halt work on a new community schools plan. School board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman broke with her Republican colleagues on Tuesday night to back a motion from Democratic board members to scrap work on a plan to divide the county into 16 community assignment zones. Goldman insists that they’re still moving to a system of community-based schools. But opponents of the move to community schools are calling the vote a victory.
Wake teachers give school board low marks
A group representing thousands of Wake County teachers that has been critical of the Republican school board majority has conducted a survey showing a high percentage of its members are against the elimination of the diversity-based student assignment policy. The survey of members of the Wake County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educators found that 81 percent disagreed with the elimination of the diversity policy. In addition, 81 percent of the respondents said they had a negative impression of the school board, and 72 percent felt the state’s largest school system is going down the wrong track.
Goldman hears praise, concern in open forum
A quiet Debra Goldman won praise from some Cary residents Tuesday about her stormy break from Wake County school board colleagues last week over a zone-based assignment plan.
But the school board vice chairwoman also heard concern about reassignments, delays in getting a new plan started and other outcomes that could follow her move. About 150 people came to the high-security meeting with Goldman at Cary Town Hall. Police officers, fire officials and building supervisors in attendance likely outnumbered the 27 speakers who gave Goldman feedback.
Land-use policies shape schools
Six months of newspaper headlines have confirmed the obvious. A disproportionate number of low- to moderate-income families reside in south and east Wake County. There is no magic wand to resolve the school-busing-for-diversity debate for the upcoming school year, and any near-term school board effort at neighborhood school attendance districts will tend to be similarly segregated. Pre-civil rights-era racial housing patterns are the origin of today’s problem, but zoning and social funding programs have tended to perpetuate the discrepancies. According to a 2008 study by the Wake County Housing Authority, government-subsidized housing as a percentage of total housing stock ranges from highs of 9.4 percent and 11.66 percent in Wendell and Zebulon to lows of 0.0 percent (that’s right, 0.0 percent), 1.0 percent and 1.1 percent in Morrisville, Apex and Cary.
Map shifts about 4,200 Wake students
Undaunted by high-profile opposition to their community-based assignment plan, Wake County school board majority members pushed ahead Tuesday by changing where more than 4,200 students would go to school under their draft plan. The vote, in response to concerns from families affected by the change, came over heated objections from nonvoting community members of the committee appointed by board minority members. They argued that they need to first review the finished plan, which divides Wake into 16 community-school zones with boundary lines that are subject to change.
Wake schools to provide documents in accreditation fight
The Wake County school board agreed today to turn over documentation requested by an agency that threatened to immediately remove accreditation to the district’s high schools if it didn’t cooperate with the special review. School board attorney Ann Majestic said that the board, after meeting behind closed doors, will provide the information requested by Advancing Excellence in Education Worldwide, or AdvancED, as part of a review looking at most of the major decisions made by the new board majority. But Majestic said board members still feel that AdvancED is going beyond its authority to accredit individual high schools by asking district wide questions about the elimination of the diversity-based student assignment policy and other issues.
Wake schools give no data to accrediting agency
Wake County school officials have provided no studies or data to an accrediting agency to justify the elimination of the diversity policy in favor of the move to community-based schools. Advancing Excellence in Education Worldwide, or AdvancED, had requested all information and studies used by the school board majority to adopt the new student assignment policy and to support its belief it would improve the high schools accredited by the group. The group asked for student performance data, financial impact studies, transition plan impact studies and specific case studies. But the response the Georgia-based organization received on Friday from Wake provided a four-paragraph answer on the assignment policy question with no accompanying studies or documents.
Huge growth in Wake County could mean big changes to Wake school board districts and the debate on neighborhood schools
Wake school board leaders say their controversial new neighborhood student assignment policy may not be fully implemented until the fall of 2012. That will add a lot of pressure to the next school board election, a year earlier in the fall of 2011. But that election could be greatly influenced by data from the U.S. Census. The Census data will be analyzed early next year. Once every 10 years, the geographic borders of elected districts are re-drawn for Congress, state legislatures, and even school boards. Wake County over the last decade has seen huge population growth. It will likely lead to dramatic changes in Wake school board districts and those changes could greatly impact the neighborhood schools debate. Currently, a thin five to four majority on Wake’s school board is driving the push for neighborhood schools — all five represent areas of Wake County outside of Raleigh. “It’s really pretty simple,” said Francis DeLuca with the Civitas Institute. “The part of the county that’s growing wants change.”
NAACP takes Wake to feds
Claiming that the resegregation of Wake County public schools has already begun, the state NAACP has launched a far-reaching legal effort to stop the transformation of North Carolina’s largest school district. State and national leaders of the civil rights organization gathered at a downtown church Saturday to announce a federal civil rights complaint accusing the Wake County school system of racial discrimination over student assignment and disciplinary issues.
Raleigh Chamber requests new school assignment plan
Massachusetts educational consultant Michael Alves, who studied Wake County’s assignment system earlier this year, will develop an assignment plan based on student achievement, proximity, choice and stability at the request of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership, officials announced today. The move can be seen as the nonprofits’ response to the Wake County school board’s developing 16-zone plan, which does not take diversity into consideration. The use of student achievement could mean that zones will be more diverse racially and economically because members of minority groups tend to score lower on standardized tests.
Map puts Wake students into 16 school zones
Moving forward on the promise to let students attend schools in their neighborhoods, a Wake County school board committee agreed in principle Tuesday to divide the county into 16 assignment zones with widely varying levels of poor and academically successful students.Although still a preliminary step in the drive to develop a revamped student assignment plan aimed for the 2012-13 school year, the committee’s action offers Wake County parents the most detailed information so far about which schools their children will likely attend. It also underscores the school board majority’s determination to favor proximity to home over socioeconomic diversity as a crucial factor in assigning students to elementary, middle and high schools.
New Howard school board still fails to reflect racial diversity of county
For the first time, white students make up less than 50 percent of Howard County’s (Maryland) 51,000-student school system, even as county voters chose four new school board members for a nearly all-white body charged with running the well-regarded system. Howard’s schools, like those in Baltimore, Montgomery and Charles counties, have been trending toward increasing diversity in classrooms for years. But the school board hasn’t followed suit, despite expanding from five to seven members in 2006. Meanwhile, people of all races seem to agree that diversity on the school board is needed.
Census preview shows gulf between public, private schools in Anniston
Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau released data from the 2009 American Community Survey, a smaller-scale version of the U.S. Census that gives Americans a preview of what the full Census will likely reveal in coming months. Where race is concerned, Anniston’s (Alabama) east and west sides are almost mirror images of each other. Golden Springs, for instance, is more than 70 percent white, while the neighborhoods just west of downtown are more than 70 percent black.
On the east side, for instance, in Golden Springs and the area around the Anniston Country Club, at least half of all elementary-age schoolchildren attend private schools. In most of the majority-black Census tracts west of Noble Street, fewer than 1 percent of kids go to private schools.
Race in Richmond: Schools aim for social diversity
Tim and Amy Holtz of Ginter Park represent the type of family that Richmond school-system officials would like to see in greater numbers. The Holtzes, white and middle class, enrolled their son Stephen at Thomas H. Henderson Middle School. In doing so, they defied the norm in a school district that is more than 90 percent minority and has a 75 percent poverty rate. One in three of the nearly 35,000 school-age children in the city do not attend Richmond’s (Virginia) public schools. With the region’s poverty largely concentrated in Richmond — and city-suburban school consolidation off the table — city school officials must find a way to diversify a district that resegregated by race and class immediately after court-ordered desegregation.
Attorney who led NAACP’s Indianapolis desegregation case dies
John O. Moss Jr., the attorney who led the NAACP’s Indianapolis school desegregation case beginning in the 1960′s, passed away this morning at his home. He was 74. Moss spent 30 years on the case, which led to a federal court order that sent black students from the Indianapolis Public Schools to several township schools systems in Marion County. The case’s impact is still being felt in the area, reflected in the growing number of minority students who attend those township schools and minority families who live in Indianapolis’ suburbs.
Resegregation of schools a disheartening trend
Having been born a year after the Civil Rights Act was signed, I’m disheartened that resegregation of our schools is now an established fact. In the 2006-07 school year, more than 50 years after the Supreme Court’s landmark desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education, approximately 40 percent of black and Latino students attended schools that were 90 to 100 percent minority.
Metro Nashville Schools blasts rezoning lawsuit
District hires private attorney, experts for desegregation case
Two families who brought a desegregation suit against Metro Nashville Schools have no case, the district contends in a Thursday court filing. Other federal court filings show Metro hired a private attorney to defend the case, plus two experts in desegregation, one being paid nearly $200 an hour. Frances and Jeffrey Spurlock and Carroll Lewis filed suit last year, alleging the district’s 2009-10 redistricting plan catered to white families, rezoning black students out of affluent, higher-achieving schools and into largely minority and lower-achieving ones. Earlier this month, plaintiffs’ attorney Larry Woods filed documents in U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee proposing Metro wipe out its current 12-zone student assignment plan and instead create four larger zones that mix low-income and affluent families.
Parents protest Pasco school redistricting plans
A unanimous Pasco County School Board (Florida) has given initial approval to new attendance boundaries for several middle and high schools in east Pasco as part of an effort to ease crowding at Wiregrass Ranch High and Long Middle.
Barbour explains remarks about desegregation
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential Republican presidential candidate, said Tuesday he was not trying to downplay the pain that many endured during the South’s segregation era when he defended his home town’s 1970 public school integration process.
New census data show desegregation patterns improve slightly
A report issued last month that looked at Census Bureau housing data revealed some good news about reversing racial segregation in major metropolitan areas — including in St. Louis.
The new data show that 61 of the 100 largest metro areas registered declines in black-white segregation when measured by the index of dissimilarity — which ranges from zero (complete integration) to 100 (complete segregation). Mr. Frey found that much of the growth in racial integration since 2000 has taken place in metro areas in the Sun Belt (Tampa, Atlanta, Orlando and Houston) — the result of a larger black middle class moving to places that provide greater economic opportunities. But three industrial Midwest cities — Detroit, Indianapolis and Kansas City — also showed significant gains in neighborhood integration. But while progress is real and sustained, Mr. Frey cautioned, it also has been slow and modest.
Learning Community report lacking
The Omaha, Nebraska Learning Community’s first formal written report to the Nebraska Legislature offers little evidence of the new entity’s effectiveness but a glimpse of internal friction. Some of the 11 member school districts did not submit enough personal student information and other data to satisfy the Learning Community Council. That made a full analysis of the initial effects of open enrollment “impossible,” the report says. According to the report, the Learning Community also lacked information on normal student movement in and out of districts. Without it, the council could not determine if a school’s change in socioeconomic diversity was caused by open enrollment or something else, such as an increase in affordable housing drawing low-income families to a district. Despite the report’s gaps in data, there was enough information to dispel a myth that student movement would be one way: from poor schools to more affluent ones. It actually was fairly evenly split, she said. The data also debunk a prediction that some districts would resist accepting kids, she said. Only 4.35 percent of schools were unable to accept applicants because they were at capacity, the report says. Nearly 85 percent of schools accepted applicants who would increase their socioeconomic diversity.
Riverview Charter to defy Beaufort County school board’s cap on enrollment
The Beaufort County Board of Education (South Carolina) and the Riverview Charter School board are at odds again, this time over the number of students the charter school is allowed to enroll next school year. The school board voted in November to limit the school’s expansion to 38 additional students, bringing its total enrollment to 342 for the 2011-12 school year. But the Riverview board voted last week to admit an additional 76 kindergartners, bringing the total to 380. The two boards previously sparred over the charter school’s enrollment last winter, when Riverview proposed adding students — beyond the growth allowed in its charter — to help it comply with minority enrollment targets set by the federal Office for Civil Rights. The school board rejected the request, saying the district can’t afford to expand the charter school. Riverview met its targets after OCR revised them in May.
All eyes on Eden Prairie school boundary vote
An Eden Prairie school board vote on attendance zones may have broad impact on desegregation and neighborhood schools
When Eden Prairie’s seven school board members convene Tuesday night, the controversial decision they are set to make about redrawing school boundary lines will be of keen interest throughout the metro area. Will they back a plan that will move 1,100 elementary students next fall to new schools, largely to reduce segregation in schools? Or will they scale back in response to a huge parental outcry and make fewer changes or nix the plan altogether? Bloomington and other metro-area suburban school districts, which also face increasingly diverse student demographics, are watching Eden Prairie’s move. Bloomington’s school board chair attended Eden Prairie meetings to watch how feedback was handled. In Eden Prairie, an affluent southwest suburban district with 9,700 students, redrawing boundary lines aims to balance schools that are over- or under-capacity, move fifth- and sixth-graders into what are now K-4 schools and reduce racial and socioeconomic isolation, which often go hand-in-hand.
Among elementary schools, there is a 33 percent gap in the number of students who qualify for free- or reduced-price meals. The proposed change would reduce that gap to 2 percent.
School leader at center of outcry against changes
Eden Prairie’s superintendent stands by controversial policies that have divided the community and pitted her against parents Melissa Krull is facing a firestorm of fury from Eden Prairie parents. And the school superintendent knows it. In recent weeks, parents have picketed, petitioned and publicly denounced her leadership. Normally quiet school board meetings attended by few have turned into standing-room-only shouting matches. At issue is a plan, championed by Krull, to reassign 1,100 Eden Prairie students to different schools to balance the community’s increasing diversity. Unlike most school districts that put the decision in the hands of board members, the final call in Eden Prairie rests with Krull.
Eden Prairie parents protest boundary lines
Dozens of parents in Eden Prairie don’t want the district to go through with plans to redraw school boundary lines. The school board wants to redraw district lines in order to balance out crowded schools, make room for a sixth elementary school and flatten economic differences. Superintendent Melissa Krull explains this is something the district has wanted to do for years. “Mainly we are trying to use all the space in all our schools efficiently and well. We have room in our northern schools and crowded schools in the south,’ says Krull.
Noticing their efforts
Quiet efforts to build cultural understanding should not be forgotten even if the institutions that once supported them now barely remember them. During 14 years of Virginia’s tough transition from segregated to desegregated public schools, the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education provided a quiet link for black and white teachers and others to get to know what minefields to avoid. The Consultative Resource Center for School Desegregation ran on federal grant money from 1967 to 1980 as a little publicized effort in how to bring people together.”The center was invited by many superintendents across the state to carry on desegregation seminars” for teachers and school administrators, said Jim Bash, one of two former directors now retired from the Curry School and living in Charlottesville. “We traveled all over the state doing that.”
School committee vote draws outrage, grief
Ignoring the passionate pleas and hard evidence presented by hundreds of students, parents and teachers this fall that their schools should remain open, the mayor-appointed School Committee voted unanimously on Dec. 15 to close, merge or allow charter takeovers of 20 Boston schools. The crowd of hundreds repeatedly interrupted the meeting with chants of “Shame on you!” and “No vote to close schools!” but the members pressed on toward their approval of School Superintendent Carol Johnson’s so-called “Redesign and Reinvestment Proposal.” Many saw the hours-long meeting as a political show conducted by the school board with a foregone conclusion; calls for a return to an elected School Committee, whose members could be held accountable, were met with wild applause.
NYS Regents Board suggests studying school consolidation
Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Johnson said there needs to be fiscal and educational incentives for schools to move forward with consolidation.The New York State Board of Regents on Tuesday voted to create a panel to review the potential benefits and pitfalls of school district consolidation, the formation of which must be approved by the state legislature and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo. The consolidation panel review is one of 11 suggestions adopted unanimously by the Board of Regents in its State Aid proposal for 2011-2012. School district consolidation is an idea that has been raised several times in the past on Long Island but heavily opposed by residents and educators who believe it would hurt educational programs and drive up costs. But the panel cannot be formed without approval from the state legislature and the governor.
In North Carolina, a racial uproar over schools stirs old echoes
Confronted with depressing revenue numbers, this Southern city’s school board reluctantly embraced a solution that is increasingly common in America’s struggling economy: Charlotte-Mecklenburg school officials voted to close schools, 10 of them. The decision last month sparked a racially charged uproar. The district is 33% white. The majority of the school board is white. In the schools targeted for closure, 95% of students are minorities. Before the vote, hundreds of residents, including many worried black and Latino parents, packed public forums to protest. Charges of racism were leveled, and the local head of the NAACP was hauled away from one meeting in handcuffs. School board members have received threatening letters.
Orleans public school enrollment continues to climb with increase in diversity and charter choice
The remarkable gains in student academic performance since 2005 are accompanied by a steady increase in student enrollment, from 35,995 students in 2008, and 38,051 in 2009, to 39,877 this year. The data reflect that the student population is more diverse, with the percentage of non-African American students growing from 6.6% before Katrina to 11.3% this year. Additionally, the percentage of students attending charter schools increased sizably, from 61% last year to 71% this year.
Parents push for diversity in New Orleans’ schools
The New Orleans school system has been almost completely remade since Hurricane Katrina hit five years ago: Test scores are climbing, new charter schools are opening all the time, and facilities are being upgraded. But one thing has changed little — the population of the city’s public schools is overwhelmingly African-American. Some parents think that has to change.
School district leaders propose busing changes
Students from low-income areas of Bradenton (Florida) might stop taking long bus rides soon to rural east Manatee schools for the sake of diversity. That’s because Manatee County School District leaders are proposing that some Braden River, McNeal and Tara elementary students be reassigned to Daughtrey, Oneco or Samoset elementaries. The move would put those students in their neighborhood schools. If approved by the board in December, busing would be eliminated for about 145 suburban students transported to the three east Manatee schools. During Monday night’s board meeting, school board Chair Jane Pfeilsticker asked schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal if the NAACP will be involved in discussions over the proposed policy. He said yes.
School board discontinues controversial student assignment despite NAACP’s opposition
The school board unanimously approved Bradenton (Florida) Superintendant Tim McGonegal’s motion to approve “Committee B” and discontinue student assignment to McNeal Elementary despite opposition from Manatee County NAACP, who said the action will reverse years of progress.
School board reconsiders diversity busing
Addressing the concerns of parents who want their children to go to schools closer to home, the Manatee County School Board (Florida) is considering updating its program of busing for diversity. The committee members’ task was to develop options for 145 students who are primarily from lower socio-economic families and are bused to Braden River, Tara and McNeal elementaries. “It all began with parents of the 145 students having some concerns about how far their children had to go to school and the fear of them getting sick there,” said Danny Lundeen, supervisor of student demographics, projections and assignments. The commitment to busing for diversity took hold in 2000 when the school district adopted a voluntary desegregation program after a civil right complaint was filed against the district with the federal government, Lundeen said.
School board to seek search firm to find new JCPS Superintendent
The Jefferson County school board voted Monday to hire a consultant and create a screening committee to help choose a new superintendent for the state’s largest school system.But it also decided to postpone a decision that could determine when, and whether, long-struggling Shawnee High is transformed into a kindergarten-through-12th grade magnet school.
Breaking down color barriers: Louisville needs diversity in housing, schools
For Louisville to be truly “Possibility City,” our leaders need to look more creatively at what lies ahead. Today’s youth will come of age in an increasingly diverse society. The Census Bureau predicts that the white population will no longer be the majority by 2042 as the U.S. grows and
As Jefferson County’s current crop of schoolchildren become adults, they will need to know how to live and work with people different from themselves. Yet school desegregation has been this community’s only major policy that recognizes and addresses this change. In light of its importance, the recent decision of the school board to replace Superintendent Berman is a sad commentary on how fragile our schools’ achievements are. “Possibility City” can do better. That is why we advocate complementary housing policies to support and extend what JCPS has been doing virtually alone for 35 years.
JCPS board to weigh delaying changes at Shawnee High
Nearly two years after Jefferson County (Kentucky) school officials agreed to turn Shawnee High into a K-12 magnet school, hoping to help reverse chronically low achievement, Superintendent Sheldon Berman is pushing for the plan to be reconsidered. Berman said that adding elementary grades next year as planned “might diffuse the energy that we need to put into the high school.” In addition, he said, the principals of several western Louisville elementary schools fear that a K-12 Shawnee would draw away students at a time when some of them already are losing enrollment.Yet advocates for the long struggling Shawnee say the delay would –once the district’s new high-school assignment plan is enacted in 2012-13–leave Shawnee as the only school with well more than half of its students from low-income, low-education and high-minority neighborhoods.
Three years after landmark court decision, Louisville still struggles with school desegregation
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made it sound so simple that day in 2007, when he and four other members of the Supreme Court declared that this city’s efforts to desegregate its schools violated the Constitution. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” Roberts wrote, “is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” But life has been anything but simple for school officials here. They have steadfastly – or stubbornly, depending on the point of view – tried to maintain integrated classrooms despite the court’s command that officials not consider race when assigning children to schools. Consultants were hired, lawyers retained, census data scrubbed, boundaries redrawn, more buses bought, more routes proposed, new school choices offered and more lawsuits defended. The final product, which integrates schools based on socioeconomic factors rather than on race alone, has proven to be more complex and costly than the previous system. Long bus rides and complaints from a vocal minority of parents have threatened popular support of the plan. The school board has delayed full implementation. The legislature is contemplating whether to guarantee parents a spot in their neighborhood schools.
Berman replacement needs “time” to make changes
A Jefferson County Public School (Kentucky) board member who voted to fire superintendent Sheldon Berman says his replacement needs to “re-energize” the school district. A veteran superintendent from outside JCPS and a Louisville district PTA president say that process could take years, once the new superintendent gets a handle on the problems — and meets all the people involved.
JCPS board members discuss votes on Sheldon Berman’s contract
Linda Duncan said she walked into a special meeting of the Jefferson County Board of
Education on Monday fairly certain that Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s contract would
be renewed. Duncan’s comments came Tuesday, one day after the board decided that Berman, who is paid $273,182 a year, plus benefits, should leave the district when his four-year contract expires on June 30.
A continuing peril
There was no revolution on the school board. And the candidate in the mayor’s race who condemned the Jefferson County Public Schools’ (Kentucky) student assignment plan as broken was defeated. For now, at least, the student assignment plan — which was developed after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the one that used race as the basis for assignments — seems relatively secure. But the threats were real. In the race for District 3 on the county school board, incumbent Debbie Weslund, the board’s current chairman, easily defeated two candidates who were aggressively attacking the assignment plan. One of them had received the blessing of right-wing extremist Frank Simon’s organization.
JCPS middle school assignment plan to begin in 2011; HS delayed
The Jefferson County Board of Education voted Monday night to forward with its new student assignment plan for middle school students next year, but will delay implementation of the high school plan until the 2012-2013 academic year.
Consultant to review JCPS assignment plans
The Jefferson County Board of Education has voted to hire a consultant to review the district’s student assignment plans and recommend any adjustments. The board adopted a new assignment plans for elementary–and middle and high schools–following a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that declared the previous desegregation policy unconstitutional. The elementary plan is in its second year, but has come under scrutiny following parents’ complaints about school assignments and long bus rides. Implementation of the middle and high school plans were postponed until next year and the following year, respectively.
White flight appears to be slowing in Dothan schools
As concerns grow about school resegregation in the wake of Supreme Court decisions and the winding down of several federal desegregation orders, the Dothan City Schools (Alabama) appear to have slowed the trend of white flight. Dothan has schools that are fairly balanced, although some schools are inching toward becoming more racially homogeneous.
Report on Jefferson Parish advanced academies is due
More than two months after testing and admissions problems were uncovered at a West Bank magnet school that denied entrance to qualified students, the results of a district wide probe of Jefferson Parish’s advanced academies for high-performing students are due Friday under a federal directive. And there is a lot at stake: the school system’s quest to free itself from a federal desegregation order, the careers of three educators who have been suspended during the investigation and public confidence in the highly sought schools that were touted in part as desegregation tools as well as an alternative to private schools.
District 65: School counts show increasing diversity
Twenty years ago, District 65 (Indiana) served roughly equal numbers of white and African-American students, with a smattering of Hispanic and Asian students further enriching the mix.
The district’s demographics didn’t change all that much between 1990 and 2000. But School District 65′s latest enrollment report confirms the district has become more diverse over the past decade. The shift can be seen in stark relief at the kindergarten level, where African-American and Hispanic students are found in nearly equal numbers, representing 21 and 19 percent, respectively, of total kindergarten enrollment.
Participants look back on Columbus desegregation order
For the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld U.S. District Judge Robert Duncan’s order to desegregate Columbus City Schools (Ohio) in 1977, key players from the legal case and scholars gathered for a look back at the decision during a special panel discussion Nov. 30. In addition to Duncan, participants in the discussion were Sam Porter, the attorney who represented the Columbus school board in opposing the desegregation order; community and civil rights leader Clarence Lumpkin, who advocated for changes to end racial disparities in the district; current Columbus City Schools Superintendent Gene Harris; and Sharon Davies, an OSU law professor and author of Rising Road.
Connecticut barely improves in efforts to reduce racial isolation
Lack of progress disappoints plaintiffs in the Sheff desegregation lawsuit
The state Department of Education slightly improved its rate of desegregation in Hartford schools over the past year, but fell short of its goal to have 35 percent of students educated in a diverse setting. The state released statistics for year three of the agreement Tuesday. They show that 27.7 percent of Hartford students are learning in integrated settings, a slight increase over last year’s rate of 27 percent.
CREC to receive federal funding to support student achievement, diversity in Hartford region schools
U.S. Congressman John B. Larson announced that the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) has received a multi-year competitive federal grant to promote high achievement and diversity in the classroom for students attending the specialized magnet schools in the Greater Hartford region. The grant, provided by the U.S. Department of Education under the Magnet School Assistance Program, will equal approximately $3.7 million in the first year for an anticipated total for the three year grant of approximately $11.5 million. In all, the funding will support the development of eight CREC managed magnet schools in Hartford, Windsor, and East Hartford and aid to achieve guidelines set forth by the 2008 Sheff vs. O’Neill Stipulation and Order for desegregation in Hartford’s public school.
Melancon says St. Landry schools will be unitary before Easter
U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon expects the St. Landry (Louisiana) school system to be declared unitary before Easter. The designation will close the 40-year-old desegregation case by noting all necessary conditions have been met, but does not free the board from meeting the provisions of the law and the agreements reached during the case. The remaining areas of concern in the litigation are quality of education, student assignment and facilities.
Judge poised to hear Decatur request to end desegregation
A decision of historic proportions will be under consideration Wednesday and Thursday at the Seybourn H. Lynne Federal Building in Decatur, Alabama. U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor will be deciding whether to end a desegregation order that the Decatur City Board of Education has been operating under since 1969.
Challenging a segregated and unequal school system
That our nation’s schools are segregated and unequal has been well-documented. The denial of this obvious reality and the refusal to acknowledge it for what it is would seem surreal if it weren’t so real — and so destructive. In its report “Segregated and Unequal: The Public Elementary Schools of District 3 in New York City,” the Center for Immigrant Families (CIF), a community organization of low income women of color and community members (of which I am part), speaks about the importance of breaking “the normalization of segregation, that is, the way that it has become accepted as ‘just the way things are’.” The schools in the District where CIF is located in NYC offer an insight into the process of how segregation happens and becomes entrenched. District 3, located in an area that prides itself on its progressive values, is one of the city’s most diverse school districts and also one of the most segregated. Students of color comprise more than 75 percent of the public elementary school population; some schools in the District are majority white, while others are overwhelmingly children of color. For years, some of District 3′s public schools have been quietly turned into quasi-private institutions to which admissions often depended on such factors as how much a family could contribute financially or who you were ‘connected’ to, as well as your ability to speak English.
Plan to redraw Pasco school feeder zones raises academic, funding concerns
Natalie Brock noticed it right away. A plan to redraw middle and high school attendance zones in eastern Pasco County (Florida) would dramatically alter the socioeconomic diversity of the schools. The single biggest factor: changing the feeder pattern for Cox Elementary School from Weightman Middle and Wesley Chapel High to Pasco Middle and Pasco High.The campuses in Wesley Chapel would see their numbers of low-income students fall, with Long Middle dipping to almost 30 percent of enrollment. Meanwhile, the schools in Dade City would see their level or poor students rise, in the case of Pasco Middle to 70 percent or more.Brock, a member of the committee charged with revising the boundaries, quickly brought up the issue during deliberations.
Carol Johnson to unveil school overhaul plan
Faced with a $63 million budget shortfall, Boston schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson is expected to propose closing nine schools, merging five others and extending the school day by an hour in the years to come under a plan she is expected to unveil tonight.
The surprising consequences of Brown v. Board of Ed.
Why, so many years after the world-changing ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, does the world seem so unchanged? To note only the extremely obvious, schools across the country are more segregated than ever. Has the ruling’s original promise been unfulfilled? Martha Minnow, the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and the school’s dean (she succeeded Elena Kagan) grapples with the long-term consequences of Brown, and in particular with some of its unexpected, and salutary consequences, in her book “In Brown’s Wake: Legacies of America’s Educational Landmark.” It is a fascinating book, even for laymen, in part because Minnow explains clearly and cogently how the Brown decision has radiated out in surprising ways.
School district head recommends against Point Dume Charter
The head of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has recommended to the Board of Education that it deny the application for the Point Dume Marine Science Charter School. The board is scheduled to vote on the application at a special meeting this week Thursday. The recommendation by Superintendent Tim Cuneo is based on what he states in a staff report to the board that the charter application does not meet legal requirements in several areas. Cuneo states in the staff report that the charter petitioners’ fears of the district closing the school and that the “loss of state funding would cause loss of services and resources at the school” are unfounded and “do not provide a basis for the conversion of the school to charter status.” He also says that the petitioners fail to prove that the new school would provide the “same high quality instruction and resources offered by the District,” and that the new school would “be exclusive and lacking in diversity.”
St. Helena Parish schools and race
The issue of race has pervaded St. Helena’s (Louisiana) schools for more than a generation, and it appears that at least the perception of race relations in the parish will play a large role in their future. The system is still in the grip of a nearly six-decade-old desegregation case, one that doesn’t look to be wrapped up anytime soon. Claims of racial bias almost certainly provided the impetus for the federal judge overseeing the desegregation case to demand voting statistics from the parish’s various precincts last month. Brady is not required to give reasons for his actions, but the implication is clear: he wants to know if votes on the taxes are divided along racial lines or, as others such as School Board member Alton Travis, who is white, have said, the tax is opposed by St. Helena residents of both races. If Brady determines that the votes were racially motivated, he may choose to order the School Board to impose a tax on parish residents, a power granted him by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1995 opinion.
Chicago parents scramble with new rules for best schools
Every year, the competition for a precious spot in the city’s top schools is fierce. Many neighborhood schools have significantly lower test scores, and parents see the competitive and magnet programs as their only option for a good public education. But the odds of their children scoring a seat in one of the top schools are slim. And the nerve-racking admissions dance has become even more complicated by the fact that the rules keep changing — twice in the last two years. Last year, the guidelines were rewritten to take an applicant’s race out of the equation and replace it with socioeconomic factors from the applicant’s neighborhood. This year, further changes to increase diversity were approved at a board meeting just a month before the Dec. 17 application deadline for the 2011-12 school year.
New admissions criteria for top Chicago schools,
CPS unveils another one-year policy
More than four weeks into the application period, Chicago Public Schools finally laid out the admissions criteria for its vaunted magnet and selective enrollment schools Thursday.
The new policy makes a handful of significant modifications to a complex formula the school district came up with last year, which relies on socio-economics rather than race to determine admissions. Numbers show that formula resulted in more white students being admitted to the top elementary schools than in previous years. African-American students saw their representation at top schools decrease, both at the elementary and high school levels. The admissions policy was changed after a federal judge ended the district’s decades-old desegregation plan last September. The new policy unveiled Thursday still divides the city’s students into four different tiers based on the socio-economic characteristics of the census tracts where they live. To determine what tier a particular census tract falls into, the district considers five factors: median household income, the percentage of single-parent households, educational attainment, home ownership and the percentage of households that speak a language other than English at home. This year, the district will also consider a sixth characteristic: whether a neighborhood’s attendance-area school is low- performing. If it is, that could give students an advantage.
Suburban schools that were once mostly-white and middle-class are taking in more low-income minority students and confronting achievement gaps–especially in wealthy districts
In Wheaton Consolidated Unit School District 200 (Illinois), nearly all 900 teachers are white. So are most of the students in this affluent suburban community, located 25 miles west of Chicago in well-heeled DuPage County. But that’s changing. Wheaton’s schools are considerably more diverse today than they were just five years ago. White enrollment is down 10 percent. African-American and Latino enrollment is up 13 percent. Minority students, including Asians, now comprise nearly a quarter of Wheaton’s 13,600 student population, and their numbers continue to grow.
Efforts to move outstanding educators to struggling schools have failed so far
James Sonnenberg has a request for Gregory Thornton, the new superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools: “Give me the best you have, to work with the children who need the most.”
It’s a logical request. Most business leaders put the most capable employees in the most demanding situations. But it’s also a very tough request, because, in general, that isn’t the way it works in education, where quality flows uphill, away from the lowest-performing schools and students. As teachers build up experience, seniority and, experts generally say, competence, they head for higher-performing kids, higher-performing schools and, frequently, the suburbs. A study released Nov. 18 by The Education Trust, a respected Washington-based education advocacy group, showed that students from low-income homes continue to have teachers who are working outside their field of expertise or who have little experience at rates much higher than higher-income students.
Diversity, closeness to home likely factors in school attendance zone debate
Debate about where students should attend school in the Alamance-Burlington School System (North Carolina) may ultimately involve a tension between two goals – keeping students in a school close to home and having diversity in the system’s schools. The subject has come up during discussions among members of the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education, most recently when the board examined a proposal from school system administrators to get rid of satellite zones that were put in place decades ago. The zones were meant to increase racial balance in schools that were part of the former Burlington school system. The Alamance County and Burlington systems merged in 1996.
Iroquois High School families face host of challenges
In many ways Iroquois High is a reflection of south Louisville, Kentucky, an increasingly diverse, blue-collar community where pockets of concentrated poverty, immigrant neighborhoods and fractured, nontraditional families create stubborn obstacles to students trying to carve out a successful education. Iroquois teachers are adamant that its heavy burden of high-needs students — 85 percent are from low-income families, 17 percent are in special education and nearly 10 percent are learning English — is no excuse for low test scores and graduation rates.
Rockford School Board approves zone assignment plan in 5-2 vote
Kindergarten students will attend the elementary school closest to their home next fall, after the Rockford School Board voted 5-2 Tuesday to implement an assignment plan based on geographic boundaries. Board members Lisa Jackson and Jeanne Westholder peppered the administration with questions before casting the votes against a zone plan. Jackson’s voice quivered when she talked about what people say about west-side students — who are referred to as “those students” — who need to stay in their own neighborhoods and not mix into east-side neighborhoods or schools. Jackson said after the vote she’s disappointed in the board’s decision, which will further segregate the community, she said.
Some fear switch in Rockford assignment may prompt suit
Some Rockford School Board members are concerned that a change in student assignment could put the district back into legal trouble. Board member Jeanne Westholder, who supports keeping the district’s current choice plan, said it’s one of the reasons why she’s against a switch to a geographic-based zone plan. “It’s important to be looking at it carefully,” Westholder said. “I’m not satisfied that we aren’t moving toward troubled waters.” In 1989, Rockford residents known as People Who Care accused the district of inequitable allocation of resources between east- and west-side schools. The district was later mandated to desegregate its schools. As a result of the suit, the district implemented a “controlled choice” student assignment plan that relied on race-based assignment to schools.
Sheffield: Buses remain in Rockford School District’s future
If you support a quick return to neighborhood schools in Rockford (Illinois), LaVonne Sheffield has a message for you: Forget about it. It’s unrealistic, she said, to think in Rockford most students can make just a short walk to school each morning. The district’s population has shifted over the decades and today there are lots of neighborhoods that don’t have a school within walking distance. The district is paying a consultant to recommend a student-assignment overhaul, but students will be bused to school no matter which plan the district chooses.
Unitary status could cost district $17 million a year
During a called meeting of the Pulaski County Special School District (Arkansas) board on Monday, the district’s desegregation attorney, Sam Jones, told the board the end of the 28-year desegregation court battle may be in sight. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller has been holding hearings and studying the requests by the PCSSD to be declared unitary — or desegregated — and removed from court supervision. But that title would come with a hefty price tag.
Complaints: CMS violated civil rights,
Ed Dept. expects to decide within 2 weeks whether investigation is merited
The U.S. Education Department is reviewing five civil-rights complaints alleging that Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s school closings and other assignment changes discriminate against black and Hispanic students. The department, which does not reveal who files complaints, expects to decide within a couple of weeks whether the complaints merit an investigation. In a worst-case scenario, a finding that CMS violated federal civil rights laws could block federal money or lead to a Justice Department probe. However, the Education Department tries to negotiate a resolution without resorting to those steps, according to its website.
CMS vote is a preview of the pain to come
Bruising debate has re-opened divisive wounds of race and class while still bigger cuts loom.
CMS, like other districts, must start planning for its 2011 budget before it knows how much it will receive from the state, county and federal governments. The state provides more than half the district budget of just over $1 billion. The state finance office has asked districts to project cuts of 5 percent, 10 percent or 15 percent. That comes to a cut of $32 million to $95 million for CMS. A historic Republican takeover of the N.C. legislature creates new uncertainties about spending and education policy, Superintendent Peter Gorman says.
Claims of racial bias rattle Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
CMS officials say a pending financial crunch is responsible for the need to close schools in 2011-12. But some are skeptical about their projections and priorities. As national experts laud Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ success with low-income and black students, some local families are taking to the streets, accusing officials of shortchanging those very children.
A proposal to close eight urban schools, where less than 10 percent of the total enrollment is white, has state and local NAACP leaders accusing CMS of racism while crowds stand and cheer.
NAACP leaders vow more protests against CMS plan to close schools,
The group also says it will push for an independent audit of district’s budget
Local and state NAACP leaders vowed Monday there will be more protests and civil disobedience at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board meeting next week, and announced a push to get an independent audit of the district’s budget.
A ‘resolutely truthful’ voice in CMS’ dark times
A piece of Charlotte’s history slipped away this week when longtime Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administrator Chris Folk died of a lung infection. Folk, who was 80, was the district’s spokesman from 1958 to 1992. He was on the front lines of desegregation in the 1970s, one of Charlotte’s defining moments. After his retirement he became CMS’ unofficial historian, speaking to community groups and briefing public officials and reporters.
CMS magnet schools no longer attract diversity
Thousands of students enter Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ magnet lottery annually, but data shows that in terms of ethnicity, those campuses are in general no more diverse than neighborhood schools. CMS’s overall enrollment is approximately one-third black, a third white, and a third other ethnicities. The average school is most likely to be predominantly black, white or Hispanic. “We have very few schools that mirror the district average,” said board member Tom Tate. “We have schools that would be high in one area or another.”The same general principle holds true for magnets.
Westchester County steps in to build affordable housing in Larchmont
Westchester County (New York) plans to develop 46 additional units of affordable housing near the Palmer Avenue train station that will help satisfy a federal housing desegregation settlement.
Last year, Westchester agreed to spend $52 million on building 750 affordable-housing units in mostly white, affluent areas after the Anti-Discrimination Center sued the county, accusing it of accepting federal housing aid without building affordable units in those communities.
Desegregation in Focus: Are schools actually desegregated?
On Monday, the Pulaski County Special School Board is meeting to discuss phasing out desegregation funds. Once the courts declare it and North Little Rock unitary, millions of public dollars to these districts will be phased out. The Little Rock School District already reached unitary status when the federal courts ruled last year that it had done everything to achieve racial balance and declared it no longer in violation of the Constitution. But is 70-percent African-American and 30-percent white balanced? Or do segregated schools continue to exist today?
The McDonough 3 commemorate 50 years of desegregation in New Orleans
November 14th marks the 50th anniversary of desegregation in New Orleans. 50 years later three women walk up the same steps; steps that changed their lives and history. They are known as the McDonough 3, but like to call themselves the “Chosen Ones” for a feat they didn’t understand at the time.
Norris newest face on OPSB
Former Judge Bill Norris is looking forward to rejoining the Ouachita Parish School Board (Louisiana), a board on which he served nearly 20 years ago. “I want to be able to make sound policy decisions and to be fair and impartial with my decisions,” he said. “But, I must absolutely speak out publicly about what I believe is best for the system.” Chief among priorities for Norris as he joins the board in January will be helping the district through the process toward obtaining unitary status, reapportioning zones for board members and improving district-wide student achievement.
Pitt County schools redistricting battle
These days you don’t hear much about desegregation. But one school board has been wrestling with redrawing attendance lines under a court order for next school year. Before the next school year begins, nearly 3,000 Pitt County (North Carolina) elementary and middle school students could be reassigned to new schools. Now, after months of discussion and debate, time is running out. Parents want to know, is shuffling students a long-term solution or could it hurt their child’s education?
SF school district goes after residency cheats
Assisted by an arsenal of private investigators and public databases, San Francisco school district officials have spent the last seven months cracking down on out-of-town address cheats, identifying 200 students who lied about where they live to get into city schools. Those caught were kicked out. Students have been removed from schools across the city. Most live south of San Francisco and have come for a variety of reasons, including a perception that they will get a better education. Some have parents who work in the city and see convenience.
Diversity issues roils Twin Rivers district
Strained relationships and feelings of mistrust are plaguing the Twin Rivers Unified School District (California), where many African American parents, community activists – and even two school board members – say the tensions stem from a lack of diversity among the district’s top administrators. The unrest has prompted a complaint to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and an investigation by the Sacramento NAACP. Emotions are particularly high as the district tries to determine which schools it will close to balance its budget.
Black, Hispanic students dwindle at elite Va. public school
When the Black Students Association at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology threw a pizza party in September for new members, every African American freshman on campus showed up. All four of them. Years of efforts to raise black and Hispanic enrollment at the regional school have failed, officials acknowledge. The number of such students admitted has fallen since 2005. There are two major reasons. Admissions decisions are generally made without regard to race or ethnicity, despite a policy meant to promote diversity. And initiatives to enlarge the pipeline of qualified black and Hispanic students in elementary and middle school have flopped.
Magnet-school scramble begins
The enrollment process for Cincinnati Public Schools’ coveted magnet school programs gets under way Monday. With it comes the annual dose of hope and stress for thousands of parents who want to get their children enrolled. Meanwhile, the district is mulling changes to the enrollment process, though that’s likely years away. About one-fourth of the district’s 33,000 students attend magnet schools. The enrollment process has been criticized as unfair to parents who don’t have transportation or can’t get off work to stand in line on enrollment day. The district is considering changing its magnet enrollment process. Some options could include switching to a lottery system or a hybrid lottery/first-come-first-serve system, although school officials stressed that no decisions have been made on what change should occur.
Broad Prize win makes diversity a focus in Gwinnett school board race
After Gwinnett’s (Georgia) win as the nation’s top urban district, a veteran school board member is being challenged by a newcomer who says the system’s diversity must be reflected in leadership to continue its success. The race to represent District 4, one of Gwinnett’s most diverse school zones, is heating up as some neighbors point to the prestigious Broad Prize victory as a symbol of the growing multiculturalism in Gwinnett. The recognition comes with $1 million in student scholarships for large urban systems who narrow the achievement gap. But to close the gap between whites, the poor and minorities, some say another disparity must be addressed.The state’s largest school system, which has a majority minority population of more than 161,000 students, is served by an all-white school board and superintendent.
Charter school is approved, despite opposition
The State University’s trustees unanimously approved an application on Wednesday to place a new charter school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But the arrival of the school, the Upper West Success Academy, was hardly a surprise to Upper West Side residents. The school’s coming has been foretold in confident advertising on bus-stop posters and fliers in the neighborhood for weeks. Meanwhile, an opposition movement to the school has been growing. It is hard to judge what has riled up opponents to the school more: the way, they say, the school and its likely location, Public School 145 on 105th Street, has been treated as a forgone conclusion by its backers, or that the charter will be taking space away from traditional public schools in a district already suffering from overcrowding.
Rezoning map unveiled in Williamson County, Tennessee
One of the changes is that some students will be allowed to rezone with their friends. The new plan also allows students who live within a mile of their school to be able to attend that school.
Parents said they are tired of getting moved around every few years. One parent says the new plan also makes Williamson County schools less diverse. “I’m really passionate about the diversity issue, because what’s going to happen when the complex is zoned for Centennial. Basically Williamson County Schools is going to herd all the diversity to one high school,” said Crockett Elementary School parent Sharyn Bovat.
Federal court monitor gives Jefferson schools 45 days for magnet probe
The independent federal monitor overseeing the Jefferson Parish (Louisiana) public schools desegregation effort has given the school district 45 days to complete its investigation into problems with admissions and testing at the district’s magnet schools, including Gretna No. 2 Academy whose principal was suspended because of alleged irregularities in the process.
judge will determine ‘whether the investigation and fact findings have completely and thoroughly addressed the admission of students who have applied for admission to a magnet school,” the federal monitor said Monday.
Jefferson schools’ goal of freedom from federal oversight in desegregation case may be in jeopardy
Four years ago, the Jefferson Parish (Louisiana) public schools turned an eye toward its 1971 federal desegregation order in an effort to erase the final vestiges of racial discrimination. Prompted by then School Board member Ellen Kovach’s call to end busing and return children to their neighborhood schools, the proposal sparked an outcry from black residents who feared the district was returning to segregated campuses and relegating black children to poor-performing schools in crumbling buildings primarily on the West Bank. In order to win the backing of the black community and to bolster its chances in the federal court overseeing the case, the district launched an ambitious plan that called for new programs, new buildings and a network of magnet schools and advanced academies for high-performing students.
Race issue a certainty in school board run
If you haven’t been paying attention to the school-board race, maybe it’s time that you started.
That old bugaboo, the politics of race, bubbles just below the surface in the contest for seats on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education (North Carolina). The root of the issue dates to 1995, when the school system did away with cross-town busing and started a program of neighborhood schools and parental choice. Resentment about the re-segregation of schools started to slowly build — nowhere near the bad, old “separate-but-equal” days but noticeable nonetheless. The student populations at high schools built since then — Reagan and Atkins — skewed heavily one way or other. This year, Reagan is 77.7 percent white, 12.3 percent black and 3.8 percent Hispanic. The three schools that Atkins comprises are 67.9 percent black, 24.4 percent Hispanic and 5 percent white (the numbers don’t add up to exactly 100 percent because of other small groups).
Magnets are due a review
HISD special schools have been successful, but a check-up for the program is needed
What began as an innovative approach to desegregation in the 1970s has evolved into a signature educational program of the Houston Independent School District (Texas) — magnet schools. For decades,HISD’s magnet program has given thousands of students the opportunity to choose to enroll in schools that nurture their unique talents and interests. But as our magnet program approaches middle age, we’re finding that it’s not as fit and trim as it should be. And that’s why a check-up is in order. The HISD board of education and administration have launched a comprehensive external review of the magnet program, which requires the help of parents, employees and the community to re-energize the program.
Economic school integration: A response to Valerie Strauss and Jerry Weast
While most school reform efforts are aimed at trying to make high-poverty schools equal to middle-class schools, The Century Foundation released a report last Friday finding that there appears to be a much better way to improve the prospects of low-income students: Give them a chance to live in more advantaged neighborhoods and attend schools with wealthier classmates. The report received some push-back from The Answer Sheet and from Jerry Weast, the school superintendent in Montgomery County, Maryland, the jurisdiction studied in the report.
New Hanover school board split on segregation letter to state,
Officials say schools aren’t re-segregating
In a special meeting Monday, the New Hanover County School board (North Carolina) voted to sign a letter of assurance to the Department of Instruction that it had not segregated the schools along racial lines when it redistricted its middle schools last school year. At risk was the system’s funding from the state to help disadvantaged students raise their test scores, about $775,000. A bill that was passed in June instructed that when approving a county’s Disadvantaged Students Supplemental Funding (DSSF), the Department of Instruction could deny funding if a county’s policies contributed to increased segregation based on race or socioeconomic status.
Education reform idea: move poor kids to netter neighborhoods
With the federal and state governments spending billions of dollars to improve schools and teachers, a group of thinkers from the education field gathered in Washington, D.C., Friday to say they have a better way to boost the academic achievement of kids in poor neighborhoods: Move them to middle class neighborhoods. That was the conclusion of a panel discussion about a new report, Housing Policy Is School Policy, by The Century Foundation. The study concludes that an effort by Montgomery County, Md., to diversify its neighborhoods by moving some poor families into public housing scattered in middle class communities has had an enormous educational impact: It significantly raised the academic performance of low-income kids.
The study’s supporters say it provides the strongest evidence yet that where a child lives has the biggest impact on his or her academic performance – not just because of the school, but because of the community. If true, it means that much of what federal and state governments are doing to improve low-performing schools is a waste of money. “The Education Department doesn’t get it,” declared panelist David Rusk, the former mayor of Albuquerque who is now a well-known consultant on education and urban policy.
Civil rights complaints to U.S Department of Education have spiked
The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) received nearly 7,000 complaints this fiscal year, an 11% increase and the largest jump in at least 10 years, according to data provided by ED. The increase comes as the office proceeds with 54 compliance reviews in districts and institutions of higher education nationwide, including cases involving disparate discipline rates and treatment of students with disabilities. OCR Director Russlynn Ali said the reason for the increase in complaints is unclear, but believes students, parents and administrators have more faith that officials will take action.
Parents upset over decades-old desegregation order
Parents in Fayette County (Tennessee) are upset because a decades-old federal desegregation order still isn’t resolved. Specifically, the order seeks to make schools in the county more racially diverse, leaving parent Chris Goodman to ask why nothing has been done. The Department of Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Fayette County leaders will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, October 19 to discuss that matter. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at the Fayette County Justice Center.
OCPS closes chapter on desegregation
The Orange County School Board (Florida) Tuesday night approved a settlement in a nearly 50 year old desegregation case that forced federal oversight of the public school district.
The settlement calls for renovation of some predominately black schools and the hiring of a more racially diverse staff. The NAACP of Orange County will be a partner to the settlement.
New desegregation deal OK’d for Orange schools
The Orange County school district (Florida) and the NAACP have reached a new agreement — similar to one recently rejected by a federal judge — that solidifies plans to renovate some black-majority schools and encourages the hiring of a diverse staff. The agreement, announced Thursday, would end further court fights in the decades-old desegregation case that dates back to 1962 when a group of black parents sued the district.
NAACP appeals judge’s decision freeing Orange County schools from desegregation oversight
NAACP attorneys have appealed a federal judge’s decision last month that freed the Orange County school district from court oversight nearly 50 years after a group of black parents sued to integrate county schools. In a notice filed this week, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund attorneys said they were appealing the judge’s overall ruling as well as her rejection of a settlement agreement that the NAACP and the school district had worked out this spring.Last month, U.S. District Judge Anne Conway in Orlando ruled that the Orange school system was “unitary,” meaning it had wiped out vestiges of past segregation to the “extent practicable” and no longer needed court intervention.
Diversity, AP classes make West High School rock
Ask most people at West High School (Tennessee) what makes their school special, and the answer is likely to be its diversity. Because of its location, West has one of the most diverse student populations in the county. “Until the last year or two, we haven’t had a defined feeder system,” said West High Principal Greg Roach. “The lack of a true feeder system contributed to our diversity. We were getting students from Northwest (Middle School), Bearden Middle and about four or five private schools. The private schools have been our third largest feeder. We have the only program for hearing-impaired students in Knox County, and we are a cluster school for the ESL program because of our location.” But the diversity found at West isn’t confined to the demographics of the student population. In order to ensure the success of its unique student body, West offers a diverse selection of Advanced Placement classes. It was the variety of AP classes, and the success achieved by the students in them, that contributed to West being named one of the top high schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine this year.
Thousands of students flee home districts,
60% more opt for other towns’ schools
The number of Massachusetts students leaving their local public schools for other districts has surged 60 percent in the past decade, with thousands more waiting for openings, a movement that signals rising discontent with many hometown schools and a level of desperation to attend better ones.
Obama administration targets ‘Disparate Impact’ of discipline
Federal officials are getting the word out that addressing racial disparities in school discipline is a high priority, and they plan to use “disparate-impact analysis” in enforcing school discipline cases—a legal course of action that some civil rights lawyers contend was neglected under the administration of President George W. Bush.
Forums on the future of Richmond’s schools shouldn’t neglect city’s past
What is the most significant change that has affected our world over the past 50 years? And how has education changed as a result? At a forum the previous night at the Science Museum of Virginia, no one in the audience mentioned desegregation. If you’ve lived long enough in Richmond, such an omission is startling. Court-ordered desegregation, Massive Resistance, busing and the flight of white parents (and middle-class parents of all colors) to the suburbs or private schools shaped the current Richmond education landscape. But many of the parents of today’s schoolchildren are not familiar with a time when Richmond’s school demographic looked much different.
Do charter schools widen race and class divide
Here at Chico Country Day School (CCDS), where students are predominantly white, Regan, Morgen and Alex were among the fourth-graders who were asked, as part of their school assignment, to imagine themselves as the future Time magazine’s Person of the Year. They put together an issue of the magazine to honor their future selves. One mile to the east, fourth-graders at Chapman Elementary School (CES), Chico’s most diverse public school, were also tackling a hands-on project. But theirs was a fourth-grade ritual that is familiar to public-school students throughout the state. The students built a cardboard model of a California mission. Both CCDS and CES are in fact public schools running on taxpayer dollars. Yet, their differences — and the types of students and parents those differences attract — illustrate an unforeseen consequence of the charter movement. In small cities and suburbs, charters can upend even healthy traditional schools by siphoning off students and the per-pupil state funding they bring in. The result can reshape public education by increasing segregation based on class, ethnicity and even ability.
Gwynn Park High unites alumni to celebrate 50 years of integration
The camaraderie among alumni at Gwynn Park High School’s (Maryland) 50-year class celebration Sunday was a far cry from the racially charged riots that once shook the Brandywine school’s student body almost five decades ago. Despite chilly weather and overcast, nearly 400 people attended the event, “1960-2010: 50 Years of Progress and Success from Segregation to Integration to Celebration,” held at the school. It felt more like a close-knit family barbecue than a typical high school reunion and featured music, food, dancing and athletic activities.
NHC school board must prove schools aren’t intentionally segregated
The state of North Carolina is asking New Hanover County’s school board members to certify they aren’t intentionally segregating schools. While there may not have been an intention, not all school members seem comfortable making that promise to the state. Some believe the school board knew what the outcome would be when they chose a districting plan based on neighborhoods. “If you look at the data you can predict that those schools are going to be high poverty, high minority and be segregated,” said board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh. If not everyone signs off on the affidavit saying they didn’t intentionally contribute to any segregation, the county could lose more than $700,000 in state funding.
Ignoring race in education reform will do more harm than good
Silver screens across the nation will soon be buzzing with “Waiting for Superman” directed by Davis Guggenheim and the team that brought us “An Inconvenient Truth.” Backed by media powerhouses like Oprah, the film has the potential to change the nation’s perspective of education and what needs to be done. While this is promising, conspicuously absent from these bubbling discussions on changing education is the issue of race. The absence of race is not just a pitfall of the film; race as a taboo topic permeates most of the education reforms being considered. In both national and international conversations about educational quality, gaps between racial majorities and minorities are routinely overlooked. When they are acknowledged, race is seldom considered as a tool for remedying educational woes. If we want to turn around education and develop our children more fully, we must face race. The continued racial and economic segregation of our schools should make us think of race; instead we are becoming more “colorblind” in our solutions to school failure.
Desegregation decision reflects progress
State Education Commissioner Robert Scott recently called a decision by a federal judge lifting a 39-year-old statewide school desegregation order a reflection of the state’s progress. Abilene (Texas) area school officials agreed that significant improvement has been made but said there also is a strong responsibility to guard against discrimination. “The practical effect of lifting the order, frankly, remains to be seen,” said Mark Neal, associate superintendent for legal and human resources with the Abilene Independent School District. “None of us are relieved of the ongoing obligation to make sure that we are not purposefully or inadvertently discriminating in public education.” U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider recently freed all but nine rural Texas school districts from reporting information on student transfers or have student and staff assignments monitored by the Texas Education Agency for desegregation purposes. Schneider ruled that the rest of Texas’ public school districts have been released from desegregation by other federal judges, are under separate desegregation rulings or weren’t parties to a 1970 suit that spawned the statewide order.
Plan aims to examine Cambridge Public School Controlled Choice policy
Controlled Choice: Richard Harding & Patty Nolan (School Committee co-chairs). To make school district choices much better for Cambridge families by reviewing the Controlled Choice policy and recommending policy changes to the Superintendent for adoption by the School Committee, while maintaining the values of integrity, balance and diversity and improving the experience of families in the school assignment process.
Longview ISD not impacted by desegregation order lift
A federal judge has lifted a 39-year-old state-wide school desegregation order. The judge found that most school systems in the state have been released from desegregation orders by other federal judges. The judge’s decision does not affect schools that had their own desegregation orders that were separate from the state-wide case – both Tyler and Longview were unaffected.
Though Longview remains under the order, many feel it is something that has outlived its time.Many remember how the kids got caught in the middle of the controversy when desegregation was ordered. “Actually, I’m surprised,” said Raymond McCarty, a student in the 70′s. “I didn’t know it was still in effect…I guess it was a noble thing to do but I thought all that was over with. I didn’t know it was still a law.”LISD still abides by the 1970′s judge’s order.”
New Rochelle gets set to look back at court decision that changed the city
City to mark 50th anniversary of Lincoln School case that brought an end to school segregation
With the approach of the 50th anniversary in 2011 of the Lincoln School desegregation decision, the city has begun looking at how the New Rochelle (New York) was changed by the case — the first to be filed in a northern city after the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling.
Tangipahoa schools receive $2 million grant
The Tangipahoa Parish (Louisiana) school system gained a federal boost this week in its quest to resolve its four-decades-old desegregation suit. Superintendent Mark Kolwe announced Wednesday that the system has been awarded a $2.04 million U.S. Department of Education grant to help with the creation of nine planned magnet schools. Updates to the Tangipahoa Parish School Board’s desegregation plan were approved by U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle in March. The changes involve putting magnet schools in areas where the majority of students are black, including the municipalities of Hammond, Amite, Kentwood, Roseland and Independence.
S.F. school board OKs plan to offer more choices
The San Francisco school board put the finishing touches on a new and long-awaited student assignment system Tuesday night, giving children a better shot at getting a seat at the school down the street while still offering families a choice if they want a different site. The 6-0 vote Tuesday ended a four-year process to revamp a system that parents described as confusing and unpredictable – and a reason to move to the suburbs where you can buy a spot at the local school when you purchase a home. Parents still will have a choice of district schools, as is the case now, and a prioritization process would kick in if there were more requests for a school than seats available. Siblings will get top priority at all grade levels. Those living in census tracts where students post the lowest test scores will also get priority, as will those living in the school’s attendance zones. Those who want more diversity also will be disappointed by the new system, which probably will do little in the short term to address de-facto segregation in district K-12 schools. Desegregating schools was a goal of the school district’s current system – one that was never met. Forcibly desegregating the city’s schools would require busing students across town in both directions. That’s something the district did for almost two decades under court order, not a popular option among parents today. Board members rejected new assignment systems that prioritized desegregation efforts. But the new system can be tweaked in future years to address problems families might encounter or to perhaps increase diversity.
Revised boundaries enhance St. Lucie County school choice plan
About five years ago, long bus rides were common for St. Lucie County (Florida) students under the school district’s controlled choice plan. But in 2006, the St. Lucie County School Board revised the attendance zone boundaries of the plan, which was adopted in 1991 as a way to racially balance schools years after a federal desegregation order. Under the revision, 18,000 students were assigned a new school from the year before and bus rides were shortened for many students. With controlled choice, there are regional school zones instead of neighborhood schools. Parents prioritize schools on a form, and while not everybody can get their first choice, school officials said this year 90 percent of high school students and 80 percent of elementary and middle school students got their top choice. Because of St. Lucie’s success with controlled choice — the plan led to a judge lifting the court-ordered integration order in 1997 after nearly three decades — officials in Raleigh, N.C. are looking at the district as a model.
Lowndes schools make another bid for unitary status
Lowndes County School District (Mississippi) remains under the order for facilities but is actively working to be released. A petition was sent to the Justice Department in June; the district awaits its response. Last year, the school board delayed its petition for unitary status, the term applied to school districts released from a federal desegregation order. The board agreed to hire a consultant from Mississippi State University to oversee work at the West Lowndes baseball field, which had drainage problems, added grade-appropriate discussions on racial and cultural sensitivity to district’s harassment and discrimination policy and added advanced placement classes at West Lowndes middle and high schools. Now, the board believes it’s time for them to be able to run their own district without Justice Department scrutiny. “We’d manage our own district,” Halford said of attaining unitary status. “You don’t have to worry about getting permission for this, that and the other. You get from under the watchful eye of Big Brother.
Alamance-Burlington Schools to reverse diversity zoning policy
A 40-year-old policy aimed at bringing diversity to local schools will soon be reversed. Alamance-Burlington Schools (North Carolina) will change a requirement for students to be bussed to schools outside of their local zone to balance the number of white and black children.
Guilford County Schools reversed its policy in 1999. Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools has a diversity policy. “Our zones are not based on race, but rather are designed to diversify the population at each school so that students may choose out of or into a particular school that may or may not be geographically as diverse an area as we would hope. A way of looking at it is that if we have one residential area that is predominantly a minority population, our goal would be that there is a school in that zone they may choose that has a different demographic basis so that both schools may enjoy more diversity,” said David Snapp, director of student assignment for Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools.
Housing segregation hurts schools: Report
Residential segregation still condemns most minority students to substandard public schools, an advocacy group said Monday. Overall, primary school enrollment is already “majority-minority” in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, but with wide regional variations, said the report by Nancy McArdle, Theresa Osypuk and Dolores Acevedo-Garcia for diversitydata.org, based at Harvard University. Housing segregation and school assignment based on geography yield high levels of school segregation, particularly for blacks, the report said. Black segregation is highest in Chicago, Milwaukee and New York while Los Angeles, New York and Springfield, Mass., lead in segregating Latinos. Within the same regions, moreover, black and Hispanic students attend schools with much higher poverty rates than whites or Asians. The worst disparities were found in two Connecticut cities, Bridgeport and Hartford.
Redraw PCSSD group asks
As the cost of Pulaski County’s 20-year-old desegregation agreement nears $1 billion, a group of frustrated Jacksonville residents Friday petitioned state Education Department Commissioner Tom Kimbrell of Cabot to reorganize the county’s schools, create an independent Jacksonville-north Pulaski County school district or do something. In a two-page letter to Kimbrell and members of the state board of education says a state of emergency exists and “your assistance will be appreciated,” but it stops short of asking the board to take over the Pulaski County Special School District or to create a new, standalone district. It does not ask any specific remedy.
Racial disparity in school suspensions
In many of the nation’s middle schools, black boys were nearly three times as likely to be suspended as white boys, according to a new study, which also found that black girls were suspended at four times the rate of white girls. School authorities also suspended Hispanic and American Indian middle school students at higher rates than white students, though not at such disproportionate rates as for black children, the study found. Asian students were less likely to be suspended than whites. The study analyzed four decades of federal Department of Education data on suspensions, with a special focus on figures from 2002 and 2006, that were drawn from 9,220 of the nation’s 16,000 public middle schools.
School officials see positive strides in teacher diversity
Arlington (Virginia) County school officials say they are making progress in efforts to have the system’s teaching ranks more closely mirror the racial and ethnic make-up of its student body. The percentage of Hispanic and black teachers hired for the 2010-11 school year was more substantial than each of the past two years, Superintendent Patrick Murphy told School Board members.
Student diversity not reflected in staff
Alexandria (Virginia) public schools boast a culturally rich student population — hailing from 128 countries and speaking about 75 languages — but getting staff members to reflect that student population has been a challenge. Nearly 37 percent of students in Alexandria schools last school year were black, according to the school system’s statistics. Twenty-seven percent were Hispanic; almost 25 percent white; 6 percent Asian; 1 percent Native American; and the rest unspecified. More than 51 percent of the city’s teachers and support staff members, however, are white, based on data from before this school year’s first week. Almost 37 percent of the teachers and instructional workers are black, and 8 percent are Hispanic.
Heather Schwartz. Housing Policy Is School Policy: Economically Integrative Housing Promotes Academic Success in Montgomery County, Maryland. October 2010.
The education reform debate is dominated by efforts to make high-poverty schools work better, but this report suggests that a more promising strategy involves providing low-income families a chance to live in more-advantaged neighborhoods, where their children can attend low-poverty public schools. HousingPolicyIsSchoolPolicy, conducted by Heather Schwartz of the RAND Corporation, compares two strategies being used by Montgomery County, Maryland, that have shown promising results for their public schools.
Nancy McArdle, Theresa Osypuk, and Dolores Acevedo‐García. Segregation and Exposure to High‐Poverty Schools in Large Metropolitan Areas: 2008‐09. Special Report. September 2010. Available at:
Great Schools in Wake Coalition
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The Integration Report is produced by the Initiative on School Integration at The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, and is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.