A Lesson

Hate is Taught

Category: Blog, Featured · Tags: , ,

Latino Students

Latino Students Make Strides, Still Face Challenges, Report Shows

A new report from Excelencia in Education, an organization that advocates for higher educational achievement for Latinos, provides a snapshot of enrollment and educational achievement for the fastest-growing population in K-12 public schools

The report, “The Condition of Latinos in Education: 2015 Factbook” pulls data from a number of sources to give a state-level look at Latino K-12 enrollment and shed light on national advances and challenges.

The report dispels the perception that most Latino students are English-language learners. Among students ages 5 to 17, the report found that 84 percent who speak a language other than English at home speak English with no difficulty.

Latinos represent the fast-growing segment of all students in U.S. public schools. In 2011, they represented 24 percent of public school enrollment. Within a decade, they are projected to represent nearly one-third of all U.S. students in K-12 public schools.

Between 2003 and 2013, Latino students, as a group, showed marked improvement on National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math tests for elementary and high school students. During that same time period, the high school dropout rate for Latino students decreased by nearly half, but remained higher than that of their black and white peers.

The report shows that recent Latino high school graduates enrolled in college at a higher rate than their white and black peers, but were more likely to attend highly racially segregated high schools.

The report also notes that Latino students were the second-largest racial group represented in both special education and gifted and talented programs.


Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Minority Teachers

Racial divide widens in Ohio classrooms. Minority students less likely today to be taught by own race

Ohio minority students less likely today to be taught by someone of own race

In a kindergarten classroom in Akron, students eagerly raise their hands as Chelsea Griffin, a recent Kent State University graduate, leads a lesson on her last day of student teaching.

The kids want to be first in everything. And they want to please their teacher.

Griffin, 23, likes to think that she once shared her students’ carefree outlook on life.

She grew up in a supportive middle class family with great friends and teachers. But she first noticed around third grade that her race set her apart.

Her chances of confiding in a teacher who also identified as multiracial were slim. In 2006, only 20 multiracial teachers worked in Ohio’s public schools, according to state data.

In the predominantly white suburb where Griffin grew up, 136 of the 137 teachers remain white.

Griffin admits to internalizing bits of her sometimes confusing search for racial identity. The experience wasn’t all negative, she added, but she figures a few students or, at the least, a single teacher who looked like her might have given her more comfort and confidence.

“You know when you wake up that you’re black. When you’re the minority, you feel like you’re constantly reminded of that,” Griffin said. “And going to not as much of a diverse school, I think you’re reminded of that more. And so that may have been something that I struggled with — not feeling like part of the whole culture of the school.”

As a minority student and part of a more diverse future in America, Griffin’s formal education underscores the racial disparity between black and brown students and their markedly white teachers.

The racial gap between teachers and students is evident even in the most ethnically diverse communities. And its getting wider in Ohio.

Whites have retained roughly 94 percent of teaching jobs since 2006 despite there being 127,116 fewer white students. Meanwhile, schools and colleges struggle to recruit and hire minority teachers to match Ohio’s soaring minority student populations.

Because the racial composition of teachers has not kept pace with student diversity, Ohio’s minority students have become statistically less likely to be taught by a teacher who looks like them.

As a multiracial student with a desire to join the fraction of Ohio teachers who are not white, Griffin is a minority among minorities and a hopeful solution to bridging the racial divide.

And she knows the implications of ignoring such trends.

“It’s important for students to see students who look like them, to have positive role models who look like them and to encourage them,” she said.

Ohio more white, for now

Fueled by decades of soaring birthrates among immigrants and Hispanics, America reached a milestone in 2013 when white students lost their majority status, at least in younger grades.

Ohio, however, is exceptionally white.

In the Buckeye State and about a dozen others, kindergarten classrooms remain two-thirds or more white, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The nation essentially has reached a racial tipping point decades ahead of Ohio.

By examining the racial makeup of today’s elementary students and assuming that birthrates and population trends remain constant, the Beacon Journal calculates that Ohio could see the first majority-minority kindergarten class by 2050.

By looking not so far into the future, it becomes clear that Hispanic and multiracial births, coupled with a white population decline in rural and suburban communities, are driving the demographic shift.

The class of 2024 — and those who graduate in the following three years — will be 51 percent more Hispanic, 32 percent more multiracial, 5 percent more Asian, 4 percent more black and 11 percent less white.

In a decade, Ohio high schools will include 9,622 more Hispanic students, 6,108 more multiracial students, 3,251 more black students, 473 more Asian students — and a whopping 44,929 fewer white students.

Communities that experience any level of diversification will do so at varying rates.

Some, as they have in the past, could remain majority white for much longer.

Take Norton, which more than doubled its minority student population in the past eight years.

Last year, 176 minority students attended Norton, which — like 40 percent of Ohio’s school districts and 25 percent of its charter schools — employed no full-time minority teacher.

It’s been that way for a while.

Teachers in Norton, Manchester and Woodridge are just as white as they were eight years ago, while Akron, Copley-Fairlawn, Tallmadge and Twinsburg teachers have become more white as a group. Cuyahoga Falls teachers diversified the most (94.4 percent of the Falls’ teachers were white in 2014, down from 99 percent in 2006).

Diversity’s hot spots

School districts in or near large cities will lead the student diversity shift as young children there are markedly more diverse than their older counterparts.

It’s already begun. Since 2006, the largest increases in minority student populations in Summit County occurred in Woodridge, Cuyahoga Falls, Twinsburg, Nordonia Hills, Tallmadge and Akron.

Akron, among Ohio’s eight largest and most urban school districts, is driving diversity across the state, largely due to high birthrates among interracial couples.

As more diverse elementary students become more diverse high school students in the next decade, Ohio’s Urban 8 schools will see the portion of their multiracial students grow nearly five times faster than schools beyond their city limits.

Meanwhile, the white student population should grow 45 percent in these eight cities and shrink 13 percent everywhere else, dropping 11 percent statewide.

The surge in whites and especially multiracial and Hispanic students will drive up city high school populations 21 percent. Enrollment outside these cities, however, will fall 8 percent, dragging down Ohio’s total student population by 5 percent.

Teachers of yesterday

Ethnic diversity is happening faster among students than teachers.

And because some student minority groups, as opposed to teachers of the same race, have exploded in the past eight years, the likelihood that an Asian, black or Hispanic student will be taught by an Asian, black or Hispanic teacher has diminished.

The gap between minority teacher and student has widened the most for Hispanic students. In 2006, there were 67 times more Hispanic students than Hispanic teachers in Ohio. Last year, there were 116 times more.

Black and multiracial students also have less of a chance, statistically speaking, of being taught by a teacher of similar race.

Last year, there were 58 black students (enough to fill three classrooms) for every black teacher. And 697 multiracial students (enough to fill most school buildings) for every multiracial teacher.

Though multiracial teachers have grown faster than any other subgroup, the gap between multiracial teachers and students remains the largest.

Meanwhile, chances for white students to find themselves before white teachers have improved. In 2006, there were 13 white students for every white teacher. Last year, there were 12.

Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com.


Find this article at:

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Teachers of Color

We Need Teachers of Color


School demographics in the United States are changing rapidly as students become more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and spoken language. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education predicted a historic first: This fall, a majority of public school students will be children of color. At the same time, our country’s teacher workforce remains remarkably stagnant, with little change in teacher diversity rates over the past decade. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, show that between 2003 to 2011, the percentage of public school teachers of color inched up from just under 17 percent to 18 percent.

Nationally, organizations such as the Center for American Progress, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute have made teacher diversity an essential priority. In our home city, the Boston public school system recently renewed its efforts to raise the number of teachers of color by at least 35 percent—a goal it has pursued since the city’s busing crisis of the 1970s and 1980s. Boston, which has long been a minority-majority school district, now has 87 percent students of color; and 75 percent of all students receive free or reduced-price lunch.

Like Boston, almost all urban districts across the country strive to meet workforce-diversity goals. Many have launched regional and national recruitment campaigns, while fewer have collaborated with alternative teacher-education programs to expand the teacher-of-color pipeline. It’s true that recruiting, preparing, and hiring more teachers of color is essential for improving educational experiences for children. But districts must also find ways to keep these teachers. Sadly, retention has proven to be an even greater challenge than recruitment and preparation.

“Teachers and police officers need to reflect the communities they serve.”

Moreover, in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson Mo., and the multiple protests, workplace diversity and retention has taken on a heightened significance. Families and students from minority-majority communities and school districts have intensified calls for greater representation of minorities in civic, law-enforcement, and education professions. In other words, teachers and police officers need to reflect the communities they serve and maintain a deep affinity for and with their children and citizens. Diversity-employment policies, diversity training, and even the election of an African-American president are not enough. Until there is a shift in the workforce to match the overall shift in population demographics, racism and racial tension will remain a strong current in this country.

NCES data show that in 2011, 48 percent of the nation’s K-12 public school students were of color, while only 18 percent of their teachers were, resulting in a 30-percentage-point gap in national teacher-student diversity. In urban school districts, this gap is typically wider. In Boston, for example, it is closer to 50 percentage points.

More research is needed on the correlation between teachers of color and the academic performance of their students. But studies by Betty Achinstein and Rodney Ogawa from the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggest that reducing this gap by increasing the presence of minority teachers in K-12 schools can have a positive impact on the achievement and retention of minority students. Having teachers who more accurately reflect the population of their classrooms results in a number of benefits to students and the school community, including culturally based instruction and higher student expectations. These teachers can also serve in the role of cultural mediators and advocates, helping to counter negative stereotypes and strengthening a district’s human capital.

Several notable efforts are underway to recruit and prepare teachers of color for urban schools. Since 2004, the Urban Teacher Enhancement Program, a partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and three urban districts in the metropolitan area, has recruited 20 to 30 candidates a year for area schools. Approximately 70 percent of the program’s participants are African-American.

Since 2009, Teach Tomorrow in Oakland, a partnership program in California, has recruited local residents—83 percent of whom are candidates of color—to complete alternative teacher-certification programs and commit to at least five years of teaching in that city’s public schools. And over the past five years, Wheelock College (with which we are both affiliated), the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the Boston Teacher Residency have partnered with the Boston district on a federal Teacher Quality Partnership grant to expand the teachers-of-color pipeline. To date, this partnership has recruited and trained 184 teachers of color for Boston classrooms.

As a result of these and many similar alternative teacher-education efforts, including those of Teach For America and the teacher group known as TNTP, the number of teachers of color is growing at a faster rate than that of white teachers. In fact, between 1988 and 2008, the number of teachers of color increased by 96 percent, compared with a 41 percent increase in white teachers, according to researchers Richard M. Ingersoll and Henry May.

But how do we retain our teachers of color? According to the NCES, the turnover rate among all teachers in their first through third years is approximately 23 percent. For teachers of color, attrition rates are equally concerning. So much so that Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. May refer to this retention problem as “the revolving door.”

The reasons for attrition among teachers of color vary. Many dislike the idea of top-down management and minimal faculty input, which they encounter particularly in urban, low-income schools. Some face isolation. Others are cast in stereotyped roles. For example, school administrators and teacher colleagues often ask male teachers of color to serve as school disciplinarians, with the assumption that they are better suited to “handle” students of color.

Boston is committed to addressing the attrition problem head-on. With a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Wheelock College Aspire Institute, a national center whose mission is to improve education and social policy and practice, is collaborating with the Boston schools to launch a fellowship program for teachers of color in the next three years. The initiative will enhance the professional experience of 20 new teachers—in their second to fifth years—by fostering supportive, culturally responsive work environments in collaboration with school principals; connecting them with retired educators of color who will serve as mentors; developing cross-school support networks to decrease isolation; and offering professional, leadership, and self-advocacy skills training.

Source: Education Week

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Racial Shift

The Racial Shift In The Class Of 2026

The racial makeup in American schools is shifting toward majority-minority. Is what we’re leaving to the Class of 2026 something we should be proud of?
By | September 3, 2014

Dana Redd, Paymon Rouhanifard, Chris Christie

(Elementary school students raise their hands to ask New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, seated left, a question, as Camden Mayor Dana Redd, seated center, and Camden schools superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, seated right, look on, during a meeting at Riletta Twyne Cream school in Camden, N.J.)


As American students head back to school this year many teachers and parents will likely not notice a subtle change in the makeup of the nation’s classrooms. Last year, approximately 51 percent of America’s public school students were white, while blacks, Hispanics, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and children of mixed-race couples constituted 49 percent of all students.

However, this year the inevitable has finally occurred and the mix has flipped — today whites make up just 49.7 percent of the nation’s public schoolchildren, while the rest, for the first time, collectively make up the majority.

A 0.6 percent difference doesn’t seem like much, but this gap will widen in the coming decades, hitting a 10-point gap by 2022 — just eight years from now. Then, less than a decade hence, the Department of Education has forecast that 45.3 percent of public schoolchildren will be white, while 54.7 percent will collectively represent the “majority-minority.”  Four years after that, in 2026, that first majority-minority national class will be ready to graduate and vote.

To get a sense of what that means, consider that this Class of 2026 will, between now and their graduation, see seven congressional elections and three presidential elections — 2016, 2020, and 2024 — come and go. Between now and then, technology will continue to advance and climate change will continue to worsen as more as more carbon gets pumped into the air. These students will only distantly remember — and probably only if their elders point it out to them — that the United States once possessed the largest economy in the world.

What will these students think of the country they are about to inherit? Will they be hopeful? Proud? What will their concerns be? How will they judge those who inhabited and ran the country before demography turned the country from a majority-white country to a majority-minority one? Most importantly, will the new America these children are creating by their very existence be one that we will be proud to bequeath to them?


A view to the future…

At the moment, things don’t look terribly great on this last question. While legal segregation ended more than a generation ago, de facto segregation has nonetheless reasserted itself, and many American communities and schools today are as or even more segregated than they were in the 1960s. The city of Ferguson, Missouri, is a case in point. There, an elderly white power structure keeps in place a punitive, discriminatory police department that occupies the majority-black community like an army.

Then there is the issue of class. Middle-class incomes have more or less stagnated since the 1980s, and the economic inequality that has built up in our society as a consequence shows no sign of abating. Continued technological advancement and globalization will — by all accounts — make today’s winner-take-all society even worse than it is today. Since class is so very much correlated with race in America, the implication will be that as time goes on, the U.S. will become even more rigidly stratified in terms of race than it is today.

America, then, may very well begin to look something like a mix of Japan, where the old rule, and Brazil, one of the most racially diverse yet unequal societies on Earth.  Only in our case, our upper class will be old and white, while the lower class will be young, brown, and black. Will these two Americas be able to coexist in the years ahead when, in between one shuffling off to its final reward and the other coming fully into its inheritance, they will be forced to live and work alongside one another? Will they recognize their mutual dependence upon one another, or will they see each other as inherently alien and hostile? Will power, wealth, and influence all be peacefully ceded by one to the other as this first generation of majority-minority schoolchildren goes to the polls in future years?

One hopes so, but our first experience with what this new era in American life will entail has not gone entirely smoothly. America’s first black president has seen unprecedented political resistance to nearly all of his initiatives, all while many continue to question not just his politics but his legitimate rights to U.S. citizenship. The Republican Party, also known as the party of old, rich, white people, has enacted barriers to voting that smack of Jim Crow and have explicitly been put in place to deny minorities and Democrats — the party that most select to represent them — access to the ballot box.

Then there are states like Arizona and Alabama, which have bitterly contested not just the right of our first black president to govern the country, but the very right of non-whites to walk around freely, engage in commerce, or pursue any other activity that a peaceful, law-abiding citizen might engage in. This over-policing of our non-white fellow citizens often produces little beyond violence and a wide-ranging distrust of legitimate authority that creates distance not just between our increasingly diverse communities and the police and government, but also from one another.


Civil scoliosis

This, in turn, undermines faith and confidence in the social and political institutions that are necessary to bind together a country as huge as ours. Without that faith in the basic fairness and legitimacy of these institutions, people become cynical and — with good reason — they seek alternatives to traditional means of voicing discontent and airing grievances. Societies have a choice in how they resolve disputes, and when electoral ballots and legal briefs are seen as — at best — rigged processes that preserve an entrenched and oppressive status quo, people stop using them. Indeed, in the U.S., voter turnout continues to slowly decline year after year.

All this makes for a very sick democracy, and it creates the impression that all our political system is capable of producing is gridlock and shambolic policy-making that does very little solve the everyday problems of most Americans. Politics in America, it must seem to average people, benefits very few — a fact confirmed by scholarly research that now suggests America is much more akin to a political oligarchy than a democracy. With social mobility collapsing, wages falling flat, distrust in our institutions growing, and animosity between America’s haves and have nots expanding, what will politics look like for the Class of 2026? Will they still believe in Ballots and Briefs, or will they turn to the third and fourth “B”’s of political conflict: Battles and Bullets?

A deadline for democracy?

It’s important to note, however, that this is not a purely American question. Across the world the institutions of political democracy are becoming calcified and abandoned by more and more people. In the rest of the West, voter turnout is, like in America, on the decline, while in the developing world, many countries that were once democratic or democratizing have abandoned liberal democracy for either outright despotism or a form of elected dictatorship that keeps the outward forms of democracy but hollows it out from within. Democracy, then, is in retreat, and the progress made on liberal reform that was seen in the late 20th century has now stalled as we move toward the quarter-century mark of the 21st.

There are many reasons why this has occurred. Globalization, inequality, technological change, shifts in demographics, cultural change, the “War on Terror,” the decline of the West — these factors all seem to be working together to sap the strength of liberal democracy both at home and abroad by sowing distrust between diverse, unequal groups and by preventing democratic politics from actually solving crippling, long-term problems. The question is whether supporters of democracy can keep those forces at bay long enough to find a solution to democracy’s problems before it is too late and we give up hope in it altogether.

How long do we have before malaise and despair in the status quo truly set in to dangerous levels? Take a look at the schoolchildren who represent America’s first majority-minority national classroom. They start voting in 12 years. If we haven’t made meaningful progress on bequeathing to them a system that can actually solve their problems and address their concerns, we have failed them. Democracy has a deadline, and time may very well be up by the time they graduate.

Source: Mint Press News


Majority in K-12

Hopefully, we will see that more demographics include the multiracial population in the future. -Susan

A New Majority in K-12

The 2014-15 academic year is projected to be the first in which African-American, Asian, Latino, and Native American students together will outnumber non- Hispanic whites in K-12 public schools. Growth in the Hispanic population is expected to propel the trend of a rising share of nonwhite students through the next decade.

Related: View our entire story package on the changing demographics of America’s schools.

New District Demographics

School districts representing every region of the nation have transitioned to majority nonwhite in recent years, but the nature of the demographic shifts varies community to community.


Aberdeen, Idaho

Became majority nonwhite in 2009

2011 Enrollment: 823


Denison, Iowa

Became majority nonwhite in 2008

2011 Enrollment: 2,108


Utica, N.Y.

Became majority nonwhite in 2007

2011 Enrollment: 9,619


Roebuck, S.C.

Became majority nonwhite in 2011

2011 Enrollment: 10,658

Race and Schools

A New School Year, a New Racial Landscape

More than half of all public school students this fall will be Hispanic, Asian, African American, Native American, or multiracial.



Sixty-two percent of the total U.S. population was classified as non-Hispanic white in 2013. And when public schools start this fall, their racial landscape will reflect a changing America.

According to a new report by the National Center for Education (NCES), minorities—Hispanics, Asians, African American, Native Americans, and multiracial individuals—will account for 50.3 percent of public school students. To break this down by grade levels, minorities will make up 51 percent of pre-kindergarteners through 8th graders and 48 percent of 9th through 12th graders.

(Pew Research Center)

This change in enrollment comes amidst a growth in the percentage of U.S.-born Hispanics and Asians in the overall population. Between 2012 and 2013, the Hispanic population grew by 2.1 percent and the Asian population grew by 2.9 percent. And reflecting these numbers, public schools will see big hikes in Asian and Hispanic students between 2011 and 2022. Hispanic students will rise by 33 percent, Asian/Pacific Islanders by 20 percent, multiracial students by 44 percent, and African Americans by 2 percent between 2011 and 2022. Meanwhile the number of Caucasians is projected to decrease by 6 percent and that of American Indian/Alaska Natives to decrease by 5 percent.

(National Center for Education)

Hispanics and Asians are also forecast to produce the biggest increase in high school graduates: between 2009-2010 and 2022-2023, there will be an increase of 64 percent in Hispanic graduates and 23 percent in Asian/Pacific Islander grads.

However, this demographic change raises some concerns. Hispanic, black, and Native American students tend to academically fall behind (pdf) their white and Asian counterparts. And Hispanic and black students tend to live and attend schools in areas of greater poverty than whites. Leaders in education need to tackle some key issues regarding academic and economic disparities between minorities and whites, not to mention racial division and resource availability.

 City Lab

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,

“Majority-Minority” Schools

Dept. of Ed. projects public schools will be ‘majority-minority’ this fall


Teacher Haiti Johnson helps her first grade students with learning about the rhomboid shape during class.  Credit: Getty Images
Teacher Haiti Johnson helps her first grade students with learning about the rhomboid shape during class. Credit: Getty Images

A milestone is expected to be reached this fall when minorities outnumber whites among the nation’s public school students for the first time, U.S. Department of Education projections show. This is due largely to fast growth in the number of Hispanic and Asian school-age children born in the U.S., according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

A steady demographic change over the years has resulted in a decline in the number of whites in classrooms even as the total number of public school students has increased. In 1997, the U.S. had 46.1 million public school students, of which 63.4% were white. While whites will still outnumber any single racial or ethnic group this fall, their overall share of the nation’s 50 million public school students is projected to drop to 49.7%. Since 1997, the number of white students has declined by 15%, falling from 29.2 million to 24.9 million in 2014.

Racial demographics of U.S. public school students over time

While the number of white students has declined, there have been large enrollment increases of Hispanics and Asians, two groups that have seen overall population growth. Since 1997, the number of Hispanic students nearly doubled to 12.9 million, and the number of Asians jumped 46% to 2.6 million. The number of black students expected in schools this fall, 7.7 million, has been relatively steady during this time.

Most of the growth is driven by U.S.-born Hispanic and Asian children rather than immigrant children. The number of Hispanic and Asian school-age children born in the U.S. has boomed, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data. The difference in growth between U.S.-born and immigrant children is most dramatic among Hispanics. From 1997 to 2013, the number of Hispanic children ages 5 to 17 born in the U.S. jumped 98%, while the group’s immigrant population of the same age declined by 26%. Among Asians of this age, the number of U.S.-born Asians increased 50% during this time, and the immigrant population increased a more modest 9%.

Young children are on the leading edge of the demographic shift. Minorities this fall are expected to make up 51% of public school students in grades pre-K through 8th grade and 48% of those in grades 9 through 12. Young Latinos alone accounted for at least 20% of public school kindergartners in 17 states, up from just eight states in 2000.

The composition of the private school student population is markedly different. In 2009, about seven-in-ten (73%) of the estimated 4.7 million children enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 in private schools were white.

While those born in the U.S. are driving growth, immigrants are still having an impact in the classroom. Across the country, school districts have had to boost English language instruction for students who are not native speakers. This is because seven-in-ten school-age children who are immigrants or have immigrant parents speak another language other than English at home and will likely be provided English language instruction upon entering school.

It’s not certain that minorities will become the majority this fall in the nation’s classrooms because government enrollment data — as opposed to enrollment projections — won’t be available for a few years. Altered projections can throw off landmark demographic moments. This summer, for example, the Census Bureau reversed an estimate from 2012 that declared minority births had exceeded white births in the United States. Due to a sharp decline in U.S. births after the Great Recession, white births today still slightly exceed minority births.

Source: Pew Research

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,

Money for American Indian Tribes

Obama Administration Announces $2.5 Million for Tribes to Take Over Schools

The Obama administration is moving ahead with its plans to improve the federally funded schools that serve tens of thousands of American Indian students with an announcement of $2.5 million in grants to entice tribes to take more control over educating their children.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell—whose agency is responsible for the 47,000 students who are enrolled in Bureau of Indian Education schools—announced the competitive grants.

Thumbnail image for pine-ridge-loneman-500px.jpg

Last month, President Barack Obama rolled out his vision for a new and improved BIE, a long-troubled agency that directly operates 57 schools for Native American students and oversees 126 others run under contract by tribes. That “Blueprint for Reform” lays out steps to reorient the BIE from an agency that operates schools from Washington to a “school improvement organization” that provides resources and support services to schools that are controlled by tribes.

The competitive grants are the first concrete step in that direction.

Ranging from $100,000 to $200,000 per fiscal year, the grants are meant to assist federally recognized tribes that want to assume control over BIE schools that operate on their reservations. Interior Department officials said the grant funds will help tribes develop school reform plans that are tied to goals for improving academic achievement and operational efficiencies.

Tribal education departments that have three or more Bureau of Indian Education schools on their reservations are eligible for the grants. The administration’s overall plan to improve BIE faces strong skepticism in some parts of Indian Country, where distrust toward the agency runs deep among tribal leaders and educators.

Tribes won’t have long to put their proposals together. The deadline for the first grant cycle is Sept. 14.

Source: Education Week

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Civil Rights Investigation

Civil Rights Office Investigating School Closures in Houston

The  civil rights office in the U.S. Department of Education is looking into a complaint that the closures of two predominantly minority Houston schools—Jones High School and Dodson Elementary School —discriminated against black and Hispanic students.

The complaint was filed by Charles X. White, of the Sunnyside and South Park neighborhood group, according to the Houston Chronicle.

School closures—primarily schools in minority neighborhoods— have been a lightning rod of debate in recent years. Urban school districts have responded to population losses and rising operating costs by consolidating and/or closing neighborhood schools and opening charter schools. But many parents in those neighborhoods have objected to the closures, arguing that they disproportionately affect minority students.

In May, the Washington, D.C.-based Advancement Project  filed three complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights division, contending that the closures and privatization in Chicago, New Orleans, and Newark, N. J., violated  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act because they heavily primarily affected African-American and Latino communities.

The Houston Independent School District board voted in March to close Dodson Elementary School and turn Jones High School into a specialty vocational school.  The superintendent had proposed closing five schools, but that number was whittled down to two.

The civil rights office confirmed the investigation to the Houston Chronicle and has sought more information from the district. The school district says it is taking the complaint very seriously and is cooperating with the department’s request for information.

“We believe that once the OCR has all the information it needs, HISD’s intent of providing the best schools for all children will be clear,” the district told the paper.

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,