SD News Roundup: Best of the fall

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s been a while since I’ve done a news roundup; so, there was a lot to talk about. To keep things manageable, I broke it up into three posts – the first looked at coverage of school segregation in Charlottesville and San Antonio (specifically analyze how media talks about or avoids talking about race), the second looked at school segregation in Pittsburgh. This post is just a quick overview of some of the stories that I found most informative/compelling since my last roundup. There’s no tight theme that binds them together, so I’m presenting them as links and blurbs. Hope you find something useful! And, happy Election Day (hopefully!).

The Notebook.org: More than half of Pa. schools have no teachers of color

Yesterday, I wrote about school segregation in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, I have more troubling news from PA. A recent report revealed that:

    • 6% of teachers are people of color, compared to 33% of students (this is the largest state-wide gap in the country)
    • 38% of all school districts ONLY employ white teachers
    • More than half (55%) of PA schools ONLY employ white teachers

Another plug for the Center for Education and Civil Rights: our director Erica Frankenberg, was quoted in this article saying: “studies show that students of color, and particularly black students, benefit from having teachers who look like them” and that “[teachers of color] bring up issues that white teachers may not have had in their experience. Most white teachers grow up in segregated environments.”

Vox.com: The lawsuit against Harvard that could change affirmative action in college admissions, explained

A major, major story. For those who don’t know – Harvard is facing a lawsuit from the same wealthy white businessman (Edward Blum) who brought us the Fischer case. His organization – Students for Fair Admissions – is claiming that Harvard’s admission policy unfairly discriminates against Asian-American applicants. The case could end race-conscious admissions policies as we know it, especially if it goes to the Supreme Court. This Vox article has a great overview for those who are not familiar with it. I will come back to this in future roundups. For more info and good comic relief, check out Hasan Minhaj on this.

Chicago Reader: Fifty years ago, 35,000 Chicago students walked out of their classrooms in protest. They changed CPS forever.

I really enjoyed this article. It goes into great detail about a 1968 student protest against school segregation that indeed changed policy in Chicago. Here’s a key excerpt:

  • “The 1968 high school walkouts were an expression of growing dissent among the city’s black and Latino student population, and a reflection of a wider climate of protest that permeated society at large. Years of disinvestment by Chicago Public Schools in the education of nonwhite students had created significant barriers for these students: there were few bilingual teachers, and the curriculum didn’t represent their experiences. In 1968 they went on strike, pushing beyond the adult-led actions of previous years and defining their own terms of action.”

The Guardian: This picture signaled an end to segregation. Why has so little changed?

This article visits Dorothy Counts-Scoggins who, when 15 years old, faced a rabid white mob on her way inside a previously all-white school. She is 76 now, and still lives in her hometown of Charlotte, NC. In addition to the story of her encounter with the mob, there are multiple powerful points here, like her reconciliation later in life with one of the members of the white mob that tormented her. And, this chilling moment where folks behind the segregationist HB514 knocked on Dorothy’s door last year to get her support. Her response: “You’ve come to the wrong house. I don’t think you know who I am.” And, then, when the bill passed: “I just can’t believe Charlotte is getting to that point…It’s nothing but racism. You know that and I know that.”

The New Yorker: Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special-Education System

This is the story of several students and teachers in the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support, or GNETS – a group of schools designed for students with severe emotional and behavioral needs. The article describes major problems racial disparities, teacher preparation/professional development and state oversight – looking at these issues through the lens of several students and teachers. But, really – this summary barely scratches the surface. I was moved, frankly, reading this article – tearing up a few times, getting angry, being confused about how this exists in the first place. It’s long, but it is definitely worth a read.

Peter started the SD Notebook in January 2017, and he joined the Center for Education and Civil Rights (CECR) at Penn State University in October 2018. CECR helped manage content for this post.  

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