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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Minorities Make Majorities

This article appeared in today's Seattle Times about the rise of minority populations at districts in the Puget Sound area. From the article:

"But this past school year the Kent School District became the seventh Seattle-area district in which the majority of students are minorities, joining Seattle, Tukwila, Highline, Renton, Federal Way and Tacoma."

This follows an overall trend in the U.S. where minority populations will become the majority of the U.S. population by somewhere around 2040 (it had been placed earlier at about 2030 but recently got put further out).

From the article:

"With the exception of Seattle and a few small districts, all the school districts in King and Snohomish counties have a higher percentage of minority students than they did five years ago.

Tukwila, which had the highest percentage of minority students in the 2003-04 school year, has even more now — a nearly equal mix of whites, Asians, Hispanics and blacks. Earlier this year, The New York Times called it the most diverse school district in the nation.

Kent — the state's fourth-largest district — has undergone the most rapid change among Puget Sound districts, from about one-third minorities five years ago to about 51 percent this past school year.

No one tracks exactly why that's occurred, but district officials mention the efforts of area churches and businesses to bring immigrants to the area, the availability of low-cost apartments and Kent's reputation as having good schools."

Two school districts have hired Hispanic superintendents, Bellevue and Kent.

This, along with the recent Supreme Court ruling on special ed students being allowed to go to private schools after they are unable to get the services they need in public schools (paid for by public schools), has tremendous implications about how services will be delivered.

9 comments:

Reader said...

Funny how the conservative court finds this special education case as the place to promote privitization of education, even if it is under the guise of special education. It's pretty much of a nit though. So few private option exist for special education students that it really isn't worth talking about. Didn't the special ed review claim that less than a 10 special education students in Seattle were served privately? And even then, where would that be? Pretty much a non issue around here. And in the case before the court, the student's family tried over and over again to get services, only to be repeatedly denied by the school district. School staff refused to diagnose. What else was the family to do? That doesn't sound like some big problem to me.

uxolo said...

Many districts contract with local private schools for special education services. Seattle historically waits for a lawsuit before placing students.

TechyMom said...

Maybe I'm being dense, but... How does the color of students' skin have "tremendous impact on how services are delivered"? Special Ed could, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some specialized private schools open up serving students with disabilities whose parents might not have been able to afford it before.

Charlie Mas said...

While quickly reading the comments I got the two stories mixed and I got the idea of the Court deciding that school districts must pay for the private education of minority students after families determine that the school district's public school offerings prove unable to serve their students. Weird, eh?

uxolo said...

Easy to be confused. Look at the number of children of color who are deemed in need of special education. Look at the number of whites and compare. Look at the number of children of color who remain in special programs that set low expectations, don't ensure an education that leads to a high school diploma, college entry, etc.

Reader said...

But even in the Supreme Court Case, the family still has yet to win any back tuition. They've simply won the right to sue the district to recoup the costs of the tuition for the education their own district failed to provide. They're really only half way there. Getting their tuition will take many more years of expensive litigation. And then, they could very well lose. I don't think that prospect is particularly motivating for very many. Only extremely wealthy families have the means to pursue this type of litigation. Nor is it much incentive for the private sector to open up such schools.

But maybe, school districts will think twice when families try to improve the education for their kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What I meant by tremendous implications is the need for more bilingual services, teachers (not always easy to find), etc. Arizona just lost a court case over not providing enough services to Spanish-speaking students.

sped said...

Race and special education are completely linked. Minorities are over-represented in all special education categories. Furthermore, blacks are especially over-represented in the EBD and Mental Retardation categories. And then there's the "type of service" question. Has anyone ever seen a black student in an inclusion program? I heard there was one at North Beach a few years ago. The occurrence is so rare it's newsworthy. You might think moving to an "integrated services delivery model" will change all this. But look at what's really happening. All the self-contained (largely minority) programs are staying completely intact. It's the inclusion programs that are being gutted and discontinued. I wouldn't count on seeing lots of minorities in the new programs: the ICS programs, that is. Instead of getting rid of the programs with low-no expectations and low-no academics and low-no outcomes, they want to get rid of the programs that actually work.

The disproportionality is even more over-represented than reported when you consider the fact that white kids attend private school at a rate of about 50% in Seattle. None (or very few) of these private school attendees are disabled.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One thing I left out of the article was this:

"And as he has done at his past districts, Vargas plans to send every Kent kindergartner on a field trip to a college campus, just to get them thinking about higher education early on.

"It's important," he said, "to put that belief in their head and drive in their heart."

I absolutely agree with this superintendent except that I would instead (1) require all teachers to put a copy of their college diplomas up in the class room and casually mention it from time to time starting in kindergarten and (2) take the 5th graders to a college campus. They'd likely get more out of it and middle school is a good time to get them motivated.

This guy has the right idea.