News Roundup: Week of 1.23.17

Of course, it’s hard to pay attention to anything other than the Muslim Ban and the fact that Steve Bannon has displaced the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the National Security Council (and the airport protests!). In the interest of staying on top of other important issues, here’s the news summary from this week. There were a few great pieces and interesting local news stories.

In case you missed it, Ed Week/PBS Newshour updated their reporting on a long standing issue: disproportionate arrests for black students in public schools. It’s a devastating article and, if you have 10-15mins, definitely worth a full read. Here’s my notes, populated with verbatim excerpts from the article:

  • Arrests-
    • “Nationwide, black boys are at the highest risk, three times as likely to be arrested at school as their white male peers. And African-American girls fare little better: They are more than 1.5 times as likely as white boys to be arrested.”
    • “In 28 states, the share of arrested students who are black is at least 10 percentage points higher than their share of enrollment in schools with at least one arrest. In 10 of those states, that gap is at least 20 percentage points. No other student racial or ethnic groups face such disparities in as many states.”
    • The gap in Virginia is 36% points
  • Referrals (citations, court referrals, and arrests)-
    • “Nationwide, black students made up 17 percent of enrollment in schools that referred students to law enforcement, but were 26 percent of students who were referred.”
  • Reasons-
    • “Civil rights advocates say students of color often bear the brunt of overly punitive zero-tolerance policies”
    • “Far too often when police are consistently present in black and brown communities, they criminalize behavior they wouldn’t in other places,” said Allison Brown, the executive director of the Communities for Just Schools Fund and a former lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice.
    • “1.6 million students attended schools with police but no school counselors and those students were more likely to be Hispanic or black.”
  • Maybe most troubling-
    • This is now on the White House website: “The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”
  • Response-
    • The article highlights a training program from the National Association of School Resource Officers, who “follows the “triad model,” which teaches officers how to serve in three roles in schools: as law-enforcement officials, as educators who teach students about subjects like the criminal-justice system or drug prevention, and as informal counselors and mentors for students.”

You can browse the data here and watch the Newshour clip about improvements to student-police relationships.  

Recently, I’ve been in schools where this is a problem. In addition to the incomprehensible damage for students who are subject to law enforcement, what’s hard/impossible to quantify is the effect this has on the entire school community, from the students who watch their peers being treated this way to teachers who don’t agree with the policy, but don’t feel they are able to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, this is a great tribute to a federal judge in Yonkers, NY who enforced a housing integration order against stringent public protest. Similar to the Boston busing crisis, the lesser-known Yonkers case illustrates the strength of resistance to integration in northern, Democratic cities. Written by the judge’s grandson, the article notes that:

  • integration is as powerful as it is hard to achieve. Studies consistently show the power of integration to transform lives. A 2015 longitudinal study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley revealed that black students who attended integrated schools not only tested higher, but earned more money, were less likely to be incarcerated, and even lived longer. This is why my grandfather fought so hard those 27 years, and why I now feel, in the wake of his death, it is our collective responsibility to continue the fight”

If you’re at all interested in this article, I highly recommend the HBO mini-series “Show Me a Hero,” which covers this exact story with extremely compelling characters/acting. This has somehow flown under the radar, but it’s really good.  

And, there were 3 short local stories.

  • Competing groups of activists converged on the Arkansas Capitol to demonstrate for and against a school voucher law
    • As noted in an earlier post, in resistance to Brown, the Arkansas legislature issued a series of bills in the 1950s “to establish legal pretenses for closing desegregated schools and transferring the money to private, segregated schools.”
    • Is it any different in 2017? The new Arkansas bill would allow the state to “take your tax dollars and send them to a family to allow their kid to go to a private school. They’ll come straight out of public education dollars.”
  • There was a town hall meeting in Lancaster County, PA to discuss whether public magnet schools are a good fit for county schools. The article contains a good short summary of research on magnet schools (e.g., more positive intergroup student relationships, positive impact on reading and math scores) and links to related research.
  • And, on a more hopeful note, here’s a letter to the editor of MI’s Battle Creek Enquirer, which states that:
    • “This problem needs to be fixed soon or, decades from now, our schools might be fully segregated.”

Of course, it’s always great to see genuine public interest in integration. It is out there.

One thought on “News Roundup: Week of 1.23.17

  1. Pingback: News Roundup: Week of 1.30.17 – School Desegregation Notebook

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