News Round Up

Cross posted from

We are vacillating between shooting out these news stories when the pop up and potentially clogging inboxes OR sending out round-ups on a more regular basis.  (do share if you have preferences one way or another).  Here is the news through June 29th!

Edbuild (a nonprofit “focused on bringing common sense and fairness to the way states fund public education”) released a report on school districts secessions. Generally, this looks like the Gardendale Alabama story we’ve been hearing about: an enclave of a larger district cleaves off to form its own district boundaries. Guess who lives in the smaller district, and who lives in the bigger ones? Yes, of course.

Edbuild writes: “The notion of allowing small enclaves to withdraw a portion of their taxes to serve only themselves is unique to education. Imagine allowing a citizen to withhold taxes for a library that they don’t use or a sidewalk they don’t walk on. Envision providing exemptions from federal taxes for people who don’t have family members receiving Medicare. Surely, there is a legitimate argument to be made for each, but that argument never outweighs the case for the public good. …Our school funding structure means that, whatever the express motivation for a proposed school district split, “local control” through secession will always be tied to money. Incentivizing communities to opt out of the public good, create inefficiencies, and keep their money for themselves will only further the economic divide in our country and segregate America’s next generation.”

For media coverage of this report see: Newsweek and MotherJones (and we especially appreciate the title in this one [though the word “new” is wrong – we’ve been doing this forever!): “White People find New Ways to Segregate Schools”.

Yesterday (6/28/17) marked the 10 year anniversary of the “Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1” in which five Supreme Court justices rejected voluntary desegregation plans in Seattle and Louisville, finding it unconstitutional for school districts to rely on the race of individual students when making student assignment decisions.”  However, as this Prospect article shows (and definitely worth a read) the legal implications of this decision have resulted in a great deal of confusion with serious consequences to integration policy.

“To say you can’t use race after Parents Involved is really misleading, unnecessarily constraining, and may even make districts hesitant to do anything at all,” says Erica Frankenberg, an education policy researcher at Pennsylvania State University. “I think it can be a real disservice to furthering integration.”

This Century Foundation 10-year-PICS-revisit details how “school districts that want to make racial integration a goal are thus faced with a choice: admit defeat or work to find a legally permissible route to those ends.”  This article, acknowledging that the federal government is unlikely to do much for integration, suggests that there is a great deal of hope in local efforts.”  It discusses how we need to mount more legal challenges and how state & district leadership can promote integration.  It does not, however, speak at all about the importance of PARENTS speaking up, opting in, grassrootsing this.

But we know.  We know that Parents have Power here.  Now we just need to wield it strong!

Reporting on middle school… A study by UCLA researchers published in the journal Child Development finds that students who attend more racially- and ethnically-diverse schools report less vulnerability, loneliness, insecurity and bullying. (here is the link to the research paper)

Here’s a beauty on institutional racism touching on the good/bad school narratives… “Folks tend to move to spaces where one might find great schools, great teachers, great neighborhoods and more without ever thinking about what “great” might mean. Ask a realtor what they mean by great schools. Ask different folks what “great” might mean or convey. Good test scores. Good grades. Blue ribbon schools. Where are the “great spaces” located, and who tends to teach, administrate and attend those “great or good” schools? Located in those good schools, one can assume would be good teachers. In fact, one of the leading criteria for assessing those “great schools” is whether a teacher has significant instructional experience. However, if one has had years of experience teaching in “good schools” and those schools tend not to be diverse, I would argue that an institutional racism problem may also reside in those “great schools.” In fact, institutionalized racism is the underbelly of the rhetoric of “greatness”.”

That last sentence!  “[I[nstitutionalized racism is the underbelly of the rhetoric of “greatness”.”

Institutionalized racism not only props up certain forms of ‘greatness,’ it also violently steps on greatness… in the form of little kids. Black Girls Are Viewed As Less Innocent Than White Girls Starting At Age 5.  You read that right. “[A]dults believe that black girls seem older than white girls of the same age” This means, of course, that standards for black girls are different.  This means that black girls are “five times more likely to be suspended as white girls and twice as likely to be suspended as white boys.”  This means that adults think that that black girls “need less nurturing, protection, support and comfort than white girls.”

This means that adults think that that black girls “need less nurturing, protection, support and comfort than white girls.”  Just try to forget you read this…

In local news, here is a short radio story on the history of busing in Detroit.  Here is a deep dive into San Antonio’s segregationproblems.  And here we read about an Austin battle over the location of a much-lauded magnet school (and how this is also a segregation story). Denver, too, is recognizing its segregation issues and trying to deal. And in Bosnia, the issue of school segregation is being challenged — students protested against segregation (spoiler: the students won!)



In Hartford CN, the “what is integration?” magnet story continues. Recently, the Superior Court Judge temporarily blocked any changes to integration standards for magnet schools.  Currently if a magnet school is at least 25% white/Asian, it is considered “integrated.”  However, because it has become difficult to meet that number at some magnets, State officials argue that the number should be reduced to 20% in order to allow those seats to be filled by Black and Latino students and not simply empty because no white/Asian students accepted them.  Here is a good oveview of the complicated details and implications at stake as this case moves forward…

And truly…  if you have a few spare hours to sit with some tea and watch a few talks about school segregation (perfect date night activity!!), this is worth your time.  John King, Jr (CEO The Education Trust, former US Secy Ed), Gary Orfield (Co-Director UCLA Civil Rights Project), Ann Owens (Sociologist USC), Johanna Josaphat (Teacher) are wrangled by moderator Richard Kahlenberg (Century Foundation) at a Shanker Institute roundtable.

Maybe this section could be called white-people-behaving badly?

I seriously hesitated in sharing this one because… because it is so utterly … It’s a lot.  This blogger takes serious issue with the fact that only 30-40% of “good school” suburban parents contribute to the parent org at her kid’s school. The 60-70% of families who don’t give or honor the major volunteer work are freeloading.  As a result of this bitter pill and the fact that her school does not get Title 1 money, she can’t see her way to any PTA-district-wide redistribution of funds.  “Nobody I spoke with wants to take money away from low-income students… But I also don’t know any parent who wants to continue donating – already knowing that the majority of families don’t pony up – and then have their donation funds collected by the district and distributed to schools their children don’t attend. I’m about as equity minded as one can get, but even I’d feel little incentive to donate under these circumstances.” She argues instead for a kind of schoolchild tax (!) for those who meet some income threshold: “once everyone who can chip in does, I’ll get behind redistribution. Until then, I guess I’ll be lumped in with the greedy Malibu-ites”. Anything I say right now about equity, context, privilege, opportunity hoarding, etc at this point will just be snark. So, moving on…


This doozy of an article, “To understand white liberal racism, read these private emails” talks about the parent backlash to a Black Lives Matter day at their kids’ schools in Seattle.  Sporting BLM shirts at school was, to the angry white parents, “too militant, too political, too confusing.”

School board member Stephan Blandford (who parents often seek for assistance from to transfer their children out of the 44% black elementary school) calls this “passive progressiveness.” He says, “’We vote the right way on issues. We believe the right way.’ But the second you challenge their privilege, you see the response.”

I wish this was unique to Seattle…. But we all know it isn’t.


We have a lot of work to do.  Buckling up…

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