U.S. Department of Education report: Still unequal after Brown

3 Apr

Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v. Board of Education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy. See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the city and there must be good schools in all parts of this state. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.
Moi knows that the lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This state cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century.

Kimberly Hefling of AP reported in the article, Five things to know about today’s report on unequal education:
Here are five things to know about the department’s findings:

ACCESS TO ADVANCED CLASSES:
STEM is the buzzword in education these days. Education in the fields of science, technology and engineering and math is considered critical for students to succeed in the global marketplace. Yet the department found that there was a “significant lack of access” to core classes like algebra, geometry, biology, and chemistry for many students. That lack of access was particularly striking when it came to minorities….
EXPERIENCED TEACHERS:
Quality teachers can play a key role in student performance.
Minority students are more likely to attend schools with a higher concentration of first-year teachers than white students. And while most teachers are certified, nearly half a million students nationally attend schools where nearly two-thirds or fewer of teachers meet all state certification and licensing requirements. Black and Latino students are more likely than white students to attend these schools.
There’s also a teacher salary gap of more than $5,000 between high schools with the highest and lowest black and Latino students enrollments, according to the data….
DISCIPLINE:
The Obama administration issued guidance earlier this year encouraging schools to abandon what it described as overly zealous discipline policies that send students to court instead of the principal’s office, the so-called “schools-to-prisons pipeline.” But even before the announcement, school districts had been adjusting policies that disproportionately affected minority students. The civil rights data released Friday from the 2011-2012 school year show the disparities begin among even the youngest of school kids. Black children represent about 18 percent of children in preschool programs in schools, but they make up almost half of the preschoolers who are suspended more than once. Six percent of the nation’s districts with preschools reported suspending at least one preschool child.
Overall, the data show that black students of all ages are suspended and expelled at a rate that’s three times higher than that of white children. Even as boys receive more than two-thirds of suspensions, black girls are suspended at higher rates than girls of any other race or most boys. More than half of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black.
SECLUSION AND RESTRAINT:
“Seclusion and restraint” is a term used to describe when students are strapped down or physically restrained in schools. The data show students with disabilities represent about 12 percent of the student population, but about 60 percent of students placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement and three quarters of students restrained at school. While black students make up about one in five of students with disabilities, more than one-third of the students who are restrained at school are black. Overall, the data show that more than 37,000 students were placed in seclusion, and 4,000 students with disabilities were held in place by a mechanical restraint….
PRESCHOOL:
The Obama administration views access to preschool as a civil rights issue. It says 40 percent of school districts do not offer preschool programs. Their numbers don’t include private programs or some other types of publicly funded early childhood programs outside of school systems. Obama has sought a “preschool for all” program with the goal of providing universal preschool to America’s 4-year-old that would use funding from a hike in tobacco taxes. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/five-things-know-todays-report-unequal-education/

See, School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/21/us/school-data-finds-pattern-of-inequality-along-racial-lines.html?_r=0

Here is the press release from the Education Department:

Expansive Survey of America’s Public Schools Reveals Troubling Racial Disparities
Lack of Access to Pre-School, Greater Suspensions Cited
MARCH 21, 2014
Contact:
Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released today the first comprehensive look at civil rights data from every public school in the country in nearly 15 years.
The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) from the 2011-12 school year was announced by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
This is the first time since 2000 that the Department has compiled data from all 97,000 of the nation’s public schools and its 16,500 school districts—representing 49 million students. And for the first time ever, state-, district- and school-level information is accessible to the public in a searchable online database at crdc.ed.gov.
“This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain. In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “As the President’s education budget reflects in every element—from preschool funds to Pell Grants to Title I to special education funds—this administration is committed to ensuring equity of opportunity for all.”
“This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed. This Administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities.”
The federal government has collected civil rights data about schools since 1968, but the Obama Administration revamped the CRDC to include key information on preschool student and school discipline tactics. The data measures whether all students have equal educational opportunity and provides critical information to the Department on enforcing federal civil rights laws.
CRDC data helps inform policy and regulatory work by the federal government. For example, the Departments of Education and Justice recently released guidelines to school districts on zero-tolerance policies and discipline tactics, a powerful example of the federal government using data to take action to bolster outcomes and reduce disparities for minority students.
The data released today reveals particular concern around discipline for our nation’s young men and boys of color, who are disproportionately affected by suspensions and zero-tolerance policies in schools. Suspended students are less likely to graduate on time and more likely to be suspended again. They are also more likely to repeat a grade, drop out, and become involved in the juvenile justice system.
The 2011-2012 release shows that access to preschool programs is not a reality for much of the country. In addition, students of color are suspended more often than white students, and black and Latino students are significantly more likely to have teachers with less experience who aren’t paid as much as their colleagues in other schools.
The 2011-12 school year was the first time the CRDC collected data on preschool discipline and the first year that all public schools reported data separately for Native-Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. As a result, the CRDC shows that racial disparities in discipline begin in the early years of schooling: Native-Hawaiian/Pacific Islander kindergarten students are held back a year at nearly twice the rate of white kindergarten students.
“This rich information allows us to identify gaps and cases of discrimination to partner with states and districts to ensure equal access to educational opportunities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “From Native American tribal nations to inner city barrios, all of our children deserve a high quality education.”
Among the key findings:
• Access to preschool. About 40% of public school districts do not offer preschool, and where it is available, it is mostly part-day only. Of the school districts that operate public preschool programs, barely half are available to all students within the district.
• Suspension of preschool children. Black students represent 18% of preschool enrollment but 42% of students suspended once, and 48% of the students suspended more than once.
• Access to advanced courses. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Asian-American high school students and 71% of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics). However, less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school. Black students (57%), Latino students (67%), students with disabilities (63%), and English language learner students (65%) also have less access to the full range of courses.
• Access to college counselors. Nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor; in Florida and Minnesota, more than two in five students lack access to a school counselor.
• Retention of English learners in high school. English learners make up 5% of high school enrollment but 11% of high school students held back each year.
As CRDC data indicates the opportunity gap among Americans hurts life-transforming opportunities for children that strengthen and build a thriving middle class. To address these issues, as part of his budget request, President Obama proposed a new initiative called Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity (RTT-Opportunity), which would create incentives for states and school districts to drive comprehensive change in how states and districts identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps. Grantees would enhance data systems to sharpen the focus on the greatest disparities and invest in strong teachers and leaders in high-need schools.
State-, district- and school-level data may be viewed at the CRDC website at crdc.ed.gov. For more information on the work of the Office for Civil Rights, click here.
The question which this society has to answer is how to provide a good education for ALL despite their race or social class.

Related:

3rd world America: Many young people headed for life on the dole
https://drwilda.com/2012/09/21/3rd-world-america-many-young-people-headed-for-life-on-the-dole/

The Civil Rights Project report: Segregation in education
https://drwilda.com/2012/09/19/the-civil-rights-project-report-segregation-in-education/

Study: Poverty affects education attainment
https://drwilda.com/2012/08/29/study-poverty-affects-education-attainment/

Center for American Progress report: Disparity in education spending for education of children of color
https://drwilda.com/2012/08/22/center-for-american-progress-report-disparity-in-education-spending-for-education-of-children-of-color/

Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/education-funding-lawsuits-against-states-on-the-rise/

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/3rd-world-america-the-link-between-poverty-and-education/

Race, class, and education in America
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/race-class-and-education-in-america/

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