Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Good art project for kids - take something ordinary and fit it into a miniature world.

What a sad way to end Black History month with not one but two disturbing stories.
First up -  Betsy "Get Her a Clue" DeVos was with the president, meeting leaders from historically black colleges and universities.  From the Washington Post on DeVos' remarks:
HBCUs “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education,” the statement read. “They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution.”

“HBCUs,” it continued, “are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality.”
Well, it's more like Jim Crow laws and trying to have ANY option, Betsy.  This story also features a photo many of you may have seen of Kellyanne Conway, senior advisor, with her feet on a couch in the Oval Office as all these higher ed leaders look on.  Let's say it together, "Get your feet off the couch."  (Actually her shoes are not even in front of the couch so I guess you can assume it was her feet in her shoes on the couch.)

The other story is about an assault at a high school in Idaho where three white football players attacked the only black student at their high school - who was developmentally disabled and thought they were his friends - and shoved a hanger into his ass.  A judge gave no jail time to one of them and said the attack was neither sexual nor racial. Via NPR:
On Friday, as he issued the final sentencing, he also discounted testimony of racist remarks toward the black player and concluded that the assault was not racially motivated.
But you know what this attack was - without a doubt? An attack on a person with disabilities who was deliberately targeted. This attack was one that all parents of students with disabilities fear.

What's on your mind?


Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The email I received from the superintendent in celebration of Black History Month, which is a short version of his blog entry where he seems to urge the following steps to eliminate opportunity gaps (presumably for students of color):
• Identify students who struggle
• Have a clear plan to support students who struggle
• Review student data and monitor progress
• Provide supports to teachers to better meet student needs
• Having caring adults who nurture students
• Welcome every student as a learner
• Expand schools' focus on social and emotional learning
• Promote culturally responsive teaching

The district should already be doing all these things for all its students. If this is all they plan to do, I think historically underserved students may continue to be underserved.

I do love that the superintendent wore kente. While it's just a gesture, I find that one to speak louder than promising to do all the same stuff for black students that the district is already supposed to do for all students.

What else could the superintendent have mentioned? How about:

1. How he's going to increase racial diversity among teachers.
2. How the district promises to make sure that any history texts the district selects for all students will include African history as an important and integral part of world history. How the history of slavery and emancipation and Jim Crow and the civil rights movement will not be overlooked in social studies or history classes. Because this history is not just important to black students, but to all students.
3. What efforts have been made to fight institutional racism within SPS. How are staff trained with regard to implicit bias? Again, this affects all students.
4. How has the district addressed over-punishment of students of color?
5. Why doesn't the superintendent of our schools' email about "Optimism for Every Student" say anything about black students excelling academically? Did I miss that section? Wait, let me read through it again--struggling students, meet student needs, care about students... hmm.

He DOES say educators should be empowered "to create safe/inclusive schools that promote students' beliefs that they will succeed." Early on in his blog post he says, "our district has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation for our students of color. This is not our children’s fault. It is ours." So, the gap isn't the students' fault and it will be fixed by students believing they will succeed? I mean, seriously, did I hear that right?

What is the district doing to help historically underserved students succeed academically?

One district started doing universal screening for their gifted program and increased gifted assignments among F/RL by 180 percent, among Latinos by 130 percent, and among blacks by 80 percent. Why doesn't the superintendent do that?

Why didn't the superintendent tell us about how Garfield's Honors for All program is closing our nation's fifth largest achievement gap right now? Why didn't he break out the test scores for students at Thurgood Marshall Elementary and show us how district's efforts to close the achievement gap for historically underserved students have improved academic outcomes among the non-HCC portion of the student body?

I'm glad he wore the kente and its nice that he sent the letter and wrote the blog post. I'm glad he has The Underground Railroad and The Life of W.E.B. Du Bois on his bookshelf. But I am afraid that some historically underserved students are still being underserved in Seattle Public Schools and I want him to fix that.

dan dempsey said...

School funding in Kansas ruled insufficient.

Echoing McCleary in the NY Times - Kansas Supreme Court on School Funding