Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Detroit School Board Sues Michigan Again Alleging Financial Mismanagement and Poor Conditions

The Detroit Public Schools announced last week that it is again suing the State of Michigan in a class action suit under Section 1983, this time alleging that the appointment of  emergency managers has resulted in financial and academic mismanagement and deteriorating building conditions. This suit follows DPS's suit last year alleging that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's administration was trying to privatize the school district. The latest suit, Paulding v. Snyder, alleges that the state's failure to adequately fund education and improvements to DPS schools violates the civil rights of the district's 58,000 students. The suit lays much of the blame for DPS's financial problems (the legislature recently passed a bill for $48.7 million in emergency funding to keep the DPS open through the end of the school year) on the Emergency Manager Law. In January, the Detroit Federation of Teachers also sued the state alleging that then-emergency manager Darnell Earley failed to address deteriorating buildings. The Detroit Free Press has posted a copy of the suit here.

April 13, 2016 in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation

Matthew Delmont's book, Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation, is now available in paperback.  The promotional materials offer this synopsis:

In the decades after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, busing to achieve school desegregation became one of the nation’s most controversial civil rights issues. Why Busing Failed is the first book to examine the pitched battles over busing on a national scale, focusing on cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York, and Pontiac, Michigan. This groundbreaking book shows how school officials, politicians, the courts, and the media gave precedence to the desires of white parents who opposed school desegregation over the civil rights of black students.
 
This broad and incisive history of busing features a cast of characters that includes national political figures such as then-president Richard Nixon, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, and antibusing advocate Louise Day Hicks, as well as some lesser-known activists on both sides of the issue—Boston civil rights leaders Ruth Batson and Ellen Jackson, who opposed segregated schools, and Pontiac housewife and antibusing activist Irene McCabe, black conservative Clay Smothers, and Florida governor Claude Kirk, all supporters of school segregation. Why Busing Failed shows how antibusing parents and politicians ultimately succeeded in preventing full public school desegregation.

Slate.com recently published a nice interview with Delmont.  The following two exchanges were particularly insightful:

Jake Blumgart: Throughout the book you quote black activists or politicians who argue that busing is just a nice term for opposition to integrating our public schools. Why did the media fall so hard for the rhetoric of anti-integration activists in the 1960s and 1970s?

Matt Delmont: For two reasons. They had a very limited understanding of what was going on with civil rights in the North. Looking back at their coverage and how reporters talked about history afterward, they consistently thought of civil rights as a Southern story. They just couldn’t believe that school and neighborhood segregation could be intentional in cities like Chicago and Boston.

Desegregation is also really complex to get a handle on. To really get into the nitty-gritty reality of how these schools came to be segregated took a lot of research, more than most reporters or television journalists could do. Most places, especially television, would drop in for a day or two for the story and then fly back out. They were compelled by these anti-busing activists who were able to make really persuasive sound bites and visible protests that resonated powerfully. Anti-busing activists were really savvy in how they framed they story. The pro-busing side, the case they were trying to make, was much more complicated.

When we think of the relationship between TV and civil rights, almost everyone thinks of the 1950s and 1960s and the really positive role television played in bringing Little Rock, Selma, and Montgomery to a national audience. I think that’s largely a true story. Television news really forced Americans to confront what was going on in the Jim Crow South. But that same medium played almost the exact opposite role when it came to school segregation. It framed those anti-busing activists in a very positive light.

What was the nadir of school desegregation after Brown v. Board?

The 1964–1974 period is really what casts the die in terms of what’s possible for school desegregation. The reason I titled the book Why Busing Failed is because when I would tell people I was working on a book about the history of busing, most would shake their heads and say, “It’s too bad that policy failed.” I think after Boston it became very difficult to get people to think seriously about this as a politics that could succeed on a large-scale level. There were a number of school districts that had success with it, in part because they received less attention and things worked on a local level without it exploding the way that Boston did.

When asked about the future of school integration, Delmont's response is similar to the one voiced on this blog over the past two years: surprisingly, integration has returned as part of the national conversation.  He pays special homage to Nikole Hannah-Jones' story on This American Life.

April 13, 2016 in Racial Integration and Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do America's Schools Perpetuate a Racial Caste System?

Daniel Kiel's response to the question is yes.  In his new paper, No Caste Here? Toward a Structural Critique of American Education, Penn State Law Review, Vol. 119 (2015), he offers this perspective:

 In his famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, Justice John Marshall Harlan argued that in the United States, there was “no caste here.” Justice Harlan was rejecting the idea that American society operated to assign preordained outcomes to individuals based upon classifications, including racial classifications. This Article questions whether Justice Harlan’s aspirational assertion accurately reflects contemporary American education. Identifying: (1) multiple classification mechanisms, all of which have disproportionate racial effects, and (2) structural legal, political, and practical impediments to reform, the Article argues that the American education system does more to maintain the nation’s historical racial hierarchy than to disrupt it. This is so, the Article suggests, despite popular agreement with the casteless ideal and popular belief that education can provide the opportunity to transcend social class. By building the framework for a broad structural critique, the Article suggests that a failure to acknowledge and address structural flaws will preclude successful comprehensive reform with more equitable outcomes.

Download the full article here on ssrn.

April 13, 2016 in Racial Integration and Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Fool's Errand: Reforming Discipline without Also Addressing School Quality

When districts attempt to reduce suspensions and expulsions, the message many teachers hear is "no more suspensions."  Whether that it is the unstated and implied policy in some districts is unclear.  I heard from a reliable source that this was the unwritten but stated policy a few years ago in a major district that had come under investigation by the Office for Civil Rights (given my inability to confirm this, I will keep the district's name to myself). The more likely and prevalent explanation, however, is that school leaders and teachers are missing the all-important aspect of implementing new discipline policies.  No doubt, severely reducing suspensions and expulsions is the goal of discipline reform, but that goal cannot be appropriately and responsibly achieved without changing teachers' and principals' orientation toward discipline.  This, of course, does not happen overnight and does not happen simply by stating a new goal.  It requires resources, training, practice, and a cultural shift.  In the absence of those changes, teachers think they are simply being told to tolerate egregious behavior.  And maybe they are.  Take this story in the NY Post this week:

Under pressure from Obama educrats, public school districts are no longer suspending even violent students; but now, under pressure from Black Lives Matter, they are suspending teachers who complain about not suspending bad kids.

In St. Paul, Minn., a high school teacher was put on administrative leave last month after Black Lives Matter threatened to shut down the school because the teacher complained about lenient discipline policies that have led to a string of assaults on fellow teachers.

Last month, two students at Como Park Senior High School punched and body slammed a business teacher unconscious, opening a head wound that required staples. And earlier in the year, another student choked a science teacher into a partial coma that left him hospitalized for several days.

In both cases, the teachers were white and the students black.

Theo Olson, a teacher at the school complained on Facebook about new district policies that fail to punish kids for fighting and drug-dealing. Like dozens of cities across the country — including New York — St. Paul adopted the policies in compliance with new discipline guidelines issued by the Obama administration. The Education Department has threatened school districts with lawsuits and funding cuts wherever if finds racial “disparities” in suspensions and expulsions, arguing such disparities have created a “school-to-prison pipeline” for African-Americans children. The agency claims such disparities are the product of racism in schools.

The danger in these conversations is pitting students and teachers against one another. If it is the case that schools are not supporting and training teachers in the transition to new discipline systems, then teachers become victims, of a sort, as well.  I have little doubt that under-supported discipline systems are the norm in many places where the education system is abysmal as a general matter. Take Philadelphia, for instance.  The school district has been woefully underfunded by the state for years, is bleeding students to charter schools, suffers from a problematic reimbursement system by which it must send large amounts of money to charters, and was on the brink of collapse during the recession when the most basic of staff and resources were eliminated.  More recently, the entire state's education system faced shut downs because the state could not/would not pass a budget.  Under these circumstances, one wonders how much serious attention and how many resources are devoted to training school staff on discipline and providing positive behavioral supports for students and teachers. In the absence of these resources, it is no surprise that Philadelphia Teachers' Union was livid about the district's insistence that suspension and expulsion rates drop precipitously.

As the foregoing suggests, the missing link in districts' strategies and teachers' perception is school quality itself. Social science increasingly demonstrates that discipline rates are a function of school quality and vice versa.  In other words, low quality educational opportunities lead to discipline problems, and discipline problems lead to low quality education. Thus, one cannot be fixed without the other.  Equally important, discipline systems matter for more than just the "misbehaving student."  They matter for "innocent bystanders."  When schools fail to invest in pedagogically sound discipline practices, they harm all students, not just the so-called bad apples. And by harm, I mean reduced educational outcomes and achievement.  In this respect, the solution to our discipline problems is the solution to our education quality challenges.  I flesh out a full explanation of this social science and argument here.

 

 

April 12, 2016 in Discipline, School Funding | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Survey Finds Parents Do Not Believe Public Schools Are "Really Trying to Educate" Students of Color

The Leadership Conference Education Fund (the non-profit, non-partisan arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights) has released a new study analyzing the attitudes of families of students of color regarding education.  The study refers to families of color as the "new majority," as recent reports have demonstrated that racial minorities (African-American, Latino/a, Asian, and others) are now the majority demographic population in our nation's schools.  The results of the study, although not necessarily surprising, are very troubling. They reveal that families of color do not believe their public schools provide equal opportunity, nor that they are committed to the success of their children. Even if opportunities were equal, these perceptions themselves could provide another barrier to success. The report's major findings include:

  • New majority parents and family members overwhelmingly see racial disparities in school funding. More than four-out-of-five African Americans (83 percent) and 61 percent of Latinos reject the notion that their communities receive as much funding as schools in White communities.
  • Racial inequality is seen in the quality of education as well, particularly among African Americans. Two-thirds of African Americans (66 percent) reject the notion that students in their communities receive as good an education as White students do. Although this sentiment is not quite as strong among Latinos, parents and family members in this community are as likely to believe that Latino students do not receive as good an education as Whites do (45 percent) as they are to believe that they do (45 percent). Among both communities, those with children in schools that are mostly low-income are even more likely to see racial disparities in the quality of education.
  • The lack of funding is seen as the biggest driver of racial inequities in American schools, but racism and a lack of quality teachers are also cited as factors. Among those who see racial disparities in education quality, both communities cite a lack of funding as the biggest cause. Low quality teachers and racism are seen as the next biggest culprits, especially among African Americans.
  • These disparities lead a majority of African-American parents and family members to rate U.S. schools negatively when it comes to educating Black children. By an 11-point margin, African Americans believe U.S. schools do not do a good job preparing Black students for the future (42 percent positive / 53 percent negative) and are nearly four times as likely to say that schools do a poor job (22 percent) than an excellent one (5 percent). A third of African-American parents and family members (33 percent) are especially critical, and believe that U.S. schools are not even “really trying to educate Black students.”
  • New majority parents and families see quality teachers as the most important element of a great school. In response to an open-ended question about the most important characteristic of a great school, majorities of both African Americans and Latinos volunteer teacher quality. No other element exceeded even 16 percent.
  • School qualities related to academics are prioritized.
  • New majority parents and families overwhelmingly believe that students should be challenged more in school. Nine-out-of-ten African Americans and 84 percent of Latinos disagree that students today work hard enough and instead believe that students should be challenged more to help ensure they are successful later in life.
  • Both communities believe that when low-income students succeed in school it is much more likely due to support from family than from school. When asked to choose the most important factor to a low-income student’s success from three options: support from family, education from school or the student’s own hard work, both African Americans and Latinos are most likely to cite support from home as the key factor.
  • Black and Latino parents recognize their power to help change schools in the U.S.
  • But they also believe that government at all levels needs to step up to address funding and other inequities that hold Black and Latino students back.

April 11, 2016 in Equity in education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Class Action Suit Filed Against NYC Schools For Failing to Protect Students From Violence

We have not seen the complaint yet, but the New York Times reports that the pro-charter group, Families for Excellent Schools, along with eleven students, have filed a class-action lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) claiming that incidents of violence and bullying in public schools deprive students of their constitutional right to an education. Cribbled from Reuters: "The federal complaint, filed in Brooklyn on Wednesday, asserted that the "staggering" level of violence in city schools disproportionately affected minority students. "The violence knows few boundaries, except that, on average, white and Asian students encounter far fewer incidents of school violence than black and Hispanic students," the lawsuit said. It also claimed that younger students, disabled students and gay, lesbian and transgender students are targeted more frequently for abuse." The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief to requires the NYCDOE to enforce already-existing procedures to keep students safe and to investigate acts of violence in schools. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has refuted allegations of widespread violence in city schools, pointing out that such incidents are on the decline. The group that has joined the plaintiffs, Families for Excellent Schools, was recently profiled in the Nation after its record-setting spending in recent state legislative campaigns and lobbying efforts.

April 7, 2016 in News, State law developments | Permalink | Comments (0)

Special Issue on 50th Anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

 

University of Georgia College of Education Professor Elizabeth DeBary and University of Southern Mississippi College of Education and Psychology Assistant Professor Ann E. Blankenship have published Volume 3 of the Education Law & Policy Review, serving as Guest-Co-Editors-in-Chief for this special double issue.  The Education Law & Policy Review is a publication of the Education Law Consortium (ELC) in cooperation with the Education Law Association (ELA), the premier international education law professional association founded in 1954.   It is a peer-reviewed law and policy journal providing scholarly reviews and commentary on national and international issues in education law and policy in K-12 and Higher Education, publishing leading law and policy research and analysis for use by scholars, policymakers, judges, lawyers, and educators. 

This special double-issue of the journal is dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015.  As scholars with backgrounds in policy and law, DeBray and Blankenship challenged both the education policy and law fields to generate fresh proposals for the ESEA reauthorization − to make recommendations for legislative changes that were grounded in research that could lead to improved educational practice. Preeminent scholars in education law and policy responded with thoughtful responses to the dramatic changes in ESSA and provocative ideas for improving education through incentivizing equity, strengthening mandates, and building capacity.  All of these are viable strategies for attempting to leverage improved educational outcomes for students. 

The issue is available electronically here and in print through Amazon.  This issue features scholarship by Gary Orfield (UCLA and The Civil Rights Project), Jack Jennings (founder and former CEO of the Center on Education Policy), Megan Hopkins (University of Illinois-Chicago), Christine Malsbary (Vassar College), P. Zitali Morales (University of Illinois-Chicago), Emily Hodge (Montclair State University), Erica Frankenberg (Pennsylvania State University), Christopher Suarez (Williams & Connolly, LLP), Tina Trujillo (UC Berkley), Kara Finnigan (University of Rochester), Jennifer Jellison Holme (University of Texas at Austin), Nicholas Triplett et al. (University of North Carolina, Charlotte), and Benjamin Superfine (University of Illinois-Chicago).

April 7, 2016 in ESEA/NCLB, Federal policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Taking Action on School Diversity

Fifty years of research show that diverse schools can benefit all students. It's time to take action. Join the Century Foundation on April 19th at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. for a conversation about the future of school integration and promising strategies for increasing diversity in public schools. The event's keynote address will be delivered by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr.  Register here.

Education policies of recent decades have largely ignored the advantages of diversity, and socioeconomic and racial segregation in our schools has risen. But there may be reason to hope for a new wave of school integration.

According to new research from The Century Foundation, more than 90 school districts and charter schools across the country have begun efforts to increase socioeconomic integration in their schools. The U.S. Department of Education has also proposed a new federal program that would support voluntary efforts to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools.

This event will discuss these developments and ask the important questions about bolstering school diversity efforts.

Additional speakers include:


• Mohammed Choudhury, Director of the Office of Transformation and Innovation, Dallas Independent School District
• Tanya Clay House, Deputy Assistant Secretary for P-12 Education, U.S. Department of Education
• Donna Harris-Aikens, Director of Education Policy and Practice, National Education Association
• Richard D. Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation
• Monique Lin-Luse, Assistant Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
• Halley Potter, Fellow, The Century Foundation
• Kimberly Quick, Policy Associate, The Century Foundation
• Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Sociology and Education, Columbia University

April 6, 2016 in Racial Integration and Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Every Student Succeeds Act, Equity of Opportunity, and Addressing Barriers to Learning

The National Center for Mental Health in Schools in the Department of Psychology at UCLA has released its new report analyzing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and how it does or does not address the barriers to learning and re-engaging disconnected students.  It offers this summary:

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recognizes that significant numbers of students require supports to successfully meet challenging state academic standards. This brief (1) analyzes the act to assess how it addresses the nature and scope of supports to address barriers to learning and re-engage disconnected students and (2) presents frameworks and prototypes for improving how schools provide student and learning supports.

The analysis finds the legislation clearly underscores that student and learning supports permeate efforts to enable every student to succeed. At the same time, the act muddies the nature and scope of such supports by scattering references to them throughout the various Titles, Parts, Subparts, and Sections. That is, by addressing barriers to learning in a piecemeal and mostly indirect manner, ESSA conveys a fragmented picture and a lack of coherence with respect to essential supports.

The shift to more local control is discussed as an opportunity for state and local stakeholders to escape the limitations of the federal act and move away from existing fragmented and marginalized approaches for dealing with factors interfering with student success. As aids for systemic change, the brief highlights frameworks and prototypes for developing a unified and comprehensive system for addressing barriers to learning and teaching – with an emphasis on enhancing equity of opportunity for success at school and beyond. *This report is from the national Center for Mental Health in Schools

Its conclusions include:

• The legislation clearly underscores that barriers to learning need to be addressed so that many more students will be able to meet challenging state academic standards.

• At the same time, the act addresses such barriers in a piecemeal and mostly indirect manner.

• As a result, ESSA conveys a fragmented picture and a lack of coherence with respect to essential student and learning supports.

• Student and learning supports need to be unified and developed into comprehensive system if they are to significantly enhance equity of opportunity as an essential component in enabling every student to succeed.

• If states and LEAs are to move away from existing fragmented and marginalized approaches for dealing with factors interfering with student success, they will need to use the transition to local control as a time to plan beyond the limitations of federal formulations.

It then proposes that policymakers begin "thinking out of the box" to produce "transformative system change. From this perspective, the report also highlights frameworks and prototypes that can be used as planning aids and guides in developing a unified, comprehensive, equitable, and systemic approach for addressing barriers to learning and re-engaging disconnected students."

 

April 6, 2016 in ESEA/NCLB, Federal policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Shirley Hufstedler, The Nation's First Education Secretary, Dies at 90.

Shirley Hufstedler, the nation's first Secretary of Education, has died in California, according to media reports. Huftstedler, who was also one of the first eight women appointed as Article III judges, resigned from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1979 to serve as Secretary for the newly-created Department of Education. On her decision to accept President Carter's appointment to the cabinet post, Hufstedler said:
By taking a [c]abinet post . . ., I gained power to effect change, but I also traded the relative independence and security of a judge for a very different set of legal and political restraints. I can no more rewrite the federal role in education to advance women's rights than I could make up statutes [when I was] a judge.
Mary L. Clark, One Man's Token Is Another Woman's Breakthrough? The Appointment of the First Women Federal Judges, 49 Vill. L. Rev. 487, 525 (2004). After serving as Education Secretary, Hufstedler helped convince the Reagan administration to keep education as part of the cabinet.

March 31, 2016 in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Implications of the Use of Parental Choice as a Legal “Circuit Breaker”

Julie Mead and Maria Lewis have published a new study in the American Educational Research Journal titled The Implications of the Use of Parental Choice as a Legal “Circuit Breaker.”  The article explores laws "that result in taxpayer subsidies to religious education, perpetuate racially identifiable schools, provide public single-sex schools, and allow instances where children with disabilities do not receive needed special education and related services."  They examine the United States Supreme Court's reliance on parental choice as a "circuit breaker" that permits what would otherwise be unconstitutional state action.  Their abstract states:

This study explores four instances where parental choice has been employed as a legal “circuit breaker”: (a) First Amendment Establishment Clause cases related to public funding, (b) Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection cases regarding race-conscious student assignment, (c) Title IX regulations concerning single-sex education, and (d) a provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) related to parental refusal to consent to initial special education services. In each example, while the end result would not be legally permitted if directed by some governmental decision maker, the presence of parental choice produces a permissible indirect path to the same policy outcome. This study traces the legal underpinnings of each example and discusses their implications for policymakers and practitioners.

The paper concludes that in each of these examples,

a new legal boundary that hinged on the relevance of parental choice in legal analysis was set with respect to permissive educational policies. As this examination shows, those shifting boundaries both free policymakers in some instances (e.g., the creation of private school vouchers; single-sex education) and constrain them in others (e.g., race-conscious policies to further integration, challenging parents’ refusal to permit special education).

Analysis of these instances of circuit breaker logic also raises important public policy questions that illustrate the implications of these legal boundary shifts and the importance of understanding them. Will continuing or increasing use of parental choice as a legal circuit breaker alter the value traditionally placed on equal educational opportunity? Will continuing or increasing use of parental choice as a legal circuit breaker result in situations in which parents’ rights and children’s rights are in tension with each other? Will continuing or increasing use of parental choice as a legal circuit breaker modify the principle of parens patriae as applied to education? In short, the use of parental choice as a legal circuit breaker raises questions about the values held dear by a society and the role public education plays in that society (Goodlad & McMannon, 1997; Minnow, 2010; Ravitch, 2010; Superfine, 2013). Whether the uses of parental choice as a legal circuit breaker outlined here signal a shift in those values remains to be seen. What is clear is that the application of the circuit breaker metaphor bears watching by all with an interest in education.

March 31, 2016 in Charters and Vouchers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Scholarship: Connecting School Discipline Reform To The Right To Education

Education Law Prof Blog co-editor Derek Black (South Carolina) has posted Reforming School Discipline (Northwestern University Law Review, forthcoming) on ssrn this week.  (March 30, 2016). In his article, Professor Black proposes a novel legal framework to connect school discipline reform efforts to the affirmative education rights and duties found in state constitutions. Below is the abstract:

Public schools suspend millions of students each year, but only five percent of suspensions are for serious misbehavior. School leaders argue that these suspensions ensure an orderly educational environment for those students who remain. Social science demonstrates the opposite. The practice of regularly suspending students negatively affects misbehaving students as well as innocent bystanders. All things being equal, schools that manage student behavior through means other than suspension produce the highest achieving students. In this respect, the quality of education a school provides is closely connected to its discipline policies.

Drawing on the connection between discipline and educational quality, this article pits harsh discipline as the enemy of good schools and debunks the narrative of bad students as the enemy of good ones. It also argues that this evidence, combined with the affirmative education rights and duties found in state constitutions, can be used to demand that states substantively reform discipline.

First, because students have a constitutionally protected individual right to education, suspensions and expulsions should trigger heightened scrutiny. Heightened scrutiny would not bar suspensions, but it would force states to justify the efficacy of suspension. The practical result would be to prompt states to adopt pedagogical sound approaches to student misbehavior. Second, discipline practices that undermine educational quality violate states’ constitutional obligation to provide equal and adequate educational opportunities to all students. In these instances, state constitutions should obligate states to intervene with reform.

A link to the full article can be found here.

March 30, 2016 in Discipline, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Study Suggests Voucher Programs May Fuel Segregation

The Southern Education Foundation has released a new report on private schools, race, and their rapid growth of vouchers in recent years.  The report demonstrates that new programs are concentrated in the South.  It also notes that there have been increased efforts at the federal level to use federal funds for vouchers.  Those efforts have only failed by narrow margins.  The point of the report is to signal the segregative threat that the expansion of these programs may pose.

In 2012, for instance, African American students were 15.8% of the public school population, but only 9.2% of the private school population.  Conversely, whites were 51.7% of the public school population but 72.1% of the private school population.  One might simply write this off to socio-economic disparities, but the report emphasizes that private schools in the south have historically been a reaction to integration and that over the past fifty years, the South's share of the nation's private school population has risen from less than 15% to over 30%.  And when we look at the demographics of private schools in southern states, the disparities between public and private schools is even more shocking.

In Mississippi, whites were a slim majority in public schools in 1998, but were 90.8% of the private school population.  In South Carolina, whites were 58.7% of the public school population, but 90.1% of the private school population.  The most telling data point, however, was the variation among states.  While the gap between white enrollment in public and private schools was significant in all but one southern state, the gap itself seemed to be a reflection of the how large the white majority was in public schools.  The higher the percentage of whites in public schools, the lower their percentage in private schools.  In other words, where whites were a stronger majority in public schools, there seemed to be less incentive to enroll in private school.  Similar trends existed in 2012, although not as obvious. The report also includes similar data analysis for Hispanic and Asian students.

The report also focused on individual schools and what it calls virtual segregation:

The third measurement of this study examines more deeply patterns of over- and under-representation of students by race and ethnicity within each school in 2012 by identifying the private schools in the 50 states where white students comprise 90 to 100 percent of total enrollment. These rates and patterns are compared with the numbers for virtual segregated public schools in the states and regions.

In 2012, white students were far more likely to be educated in virtual segregation in private schools than in public schools. Forty-three percent of the nation’s private school students attended virtually all-white schools in contrast to 26.9 percent of public school students. Among the 50 states, South Carolina’s private schools had the largest disparity in segregated education between private and public schools: 63 percent of white students in private schools in South Carolina in 2012 were taught in segregated schools in comparison with only five percent of the state’s public school students. Mississippi had almost as large a gap – a difference of 56 percentage points. Seventy-one percent of white students in Mississippi private schools attended segregated schools, while 15 percent of the public schools’ white students were attending segregated schools.

It also identified virtual exclusion:

The final measurement quantifying and comparing racial and ethnic patterns in private schools identifies the numbers of white students attending schools with only 10 percent or less of under-represented students of color – African American, Hispanic, and Native American students combined. In one sense, virtual segregation can be understood as a measure of the extent white students are extremely “packed” into schools, and virtual exclusion as a measure of the extent under-represented students of color are extremely absent or excluded from school enrollment. The analysis also compares rates of virtual exclusion between private and public schools by state and region.

Nearly two-thirds of white students attending private schools across the 50 states were in schools that virtually excluded African American, Hispanic, and Native American students. The rate was 41 percent in public schools. Racial exclusion in South Carolina’s private schools exceeded the rate among its public schools by the largest margin among the 50 states. Eighty-four percent of the white students in South Carolina’s private schools were in racially exclusionary schools in 2012. This rate compared to 11 percent in the state’s public schools – creating a private school disparity of 73 percentage points. Private schools in Delaware had the nation’s second largest disparity in exclusionary schooling: 72 percent of all white students in Delaware’s private schools were in virtually exclusionary schoolhouses, but only four percent of the state’s public schools’ white students were in such schools.

Seven of the ten states with the largest measures of racial exclusion in private schools were in the South. Six of those seven states were the Deep South’s “freedom of choice” states. The percentage of white students in private schools in the 15-state South exceeded the percentage in the public schools by 37 percentage points – close to twice the disparity in racially exclusionary schools for white students elsewhere in the nation in 2012. 

Get the full report here.

 

March 30, 2016 in Charters and Vouchers, Racial Integration and Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Disturbing Data on School Counselors Versus Security Officers

The extremely high rates of school discipline and referrals to the juvenile justice system by school officials, along with racial disparities in both, are well documented.  The social science consensus is that harsh discipline and a heavy police presence in school are counterproductive. Schools would be far better served to adopt positive behavioral supports and restorative justice models, both of which would include more dispute resolution and counseling.  That is what makes new data gathered by The74 so disturbing.

The news outlet gathered data on the nations largest school districts and found that four out of ten were had more security staff than counselors.  In fact, New York City and Chicago had about twice as much security staff as counselors.  Miami Dade had nearly three times as much security staff.  Get the full story and data here.

March 30, 2016 in Discipline | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ACLU and Lambda Legal Challenge N.C.'s Anti-LGBT Law; State AG Says His Office Will Not Defend It

Yesterday, plaintiffs sued North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, challenging the constitutionality of a newly-enacted House Bill 2 that prohibits cities and counties from adopting their own anti-discrimination ordinances and instead established a state anti-discrimination that does not include transgender persons as a protected class. In the complaint, Carcaño v. McCrory, the plaintiffs allege that H.B. 2 violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses because it discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and is an invasion of privacy for transgender people. The plaintiffs further allege that the law violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex by requiring transgender persons to use bathrooms by the gender on their birth certificates, rather than their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, with the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU of North Carolina representing the plaintiffs. Today, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office will not defend the constitutionality of H.B. 2. Cooper has opposed the state's efforts in other anti-LGBT measures such as the state's same-sex marriage provisions, saying last month that the state "has gone off the tracks." The ACLU of North Carolina applauded Cooper's stance that House Bill 2, saying in a statement that the law is "not only incompatible with the state's constitutional and legal obligations but also our shared values as North Carolinians. We’re grateful the Attorney General stands on the on the right side of history with the many cities, states, businesses and individuals who have come out against this harmful measure." The complaint is here.

March 29, 2016 in Cases, Discrimination, Gender, State law developments | Permalink | Comments (0)

Education Law Center Asks State to Comply with Law and Address Lead in Newark Schools

 

The Education Law Center issued this press release yesterday:

Education Law Center today sent a request to Commissioner of Education David Hespe and Schools Development Authority (SDA) CEO Charles McKenna for their respective agencies to immediately assess the elevated lead levels found in dozens of schools in the State-operated Newark Public Schools (NPS) and to fund and undertake any emergent repair projects to water supply systems necessary to eliminate this hazardous condition.

The ELC letter underscores the elevated levels of lead recently found in drinking water in NPS schools and the fact that this constitutes “a condition that, if not corrected on an expedited basis, would render a building or facility so potentially injurious or hazardous that it causes an imminent peril to the health and safety of students or staff.”

As the letter notes, the NJ Department of Education (DOE) and the SDA are mandated by NJ Supreme Court rulings in the Abbott v. Burke litigation and the state school construction law to fund, undertake and complete all repair projects to school buildings in NPS when faced with conditions that pose an imminent threat to health and safety. Put simply, DOE and SDA have a constitutional and statutory obligation to act to remedy any potential harm to the health and safety of school children discovered in NPS facilities.

ELC’s letter requests that DOE and SDA immediately initiate a Potential Emergent Projects (PEP) program to assess the extent of the lead contamination problem in all Newark schools, the building repairs that are needed, and the cost of such repairs, and to establish a schedule for undertaking and completing all repairs to alleviate the problem.

“Given the serious harm from ingesting lead, the Christie Administration must act, and act now, to protect Newark school children from exposure,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “The DOE and SDA are legally obligated to fund and undertake all building repairs, on an emergent basis, to ensure the health and well-being of children attending NPS schools.”

ELC has also notified State District Superintendent Christopher Cerf so that NPS officials can facilitate the SDA and DOE effort. ELC also informed Mayor Ras Baraka and State Legislators representing Newark so that they can assist in holding SDA and DOE accountable for meeting their obligations to NPS children.

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24

March 29, 2016 in School Funding | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bankrupting Higher Education

Matthew Bruckner has posted his new paper, Bankrupting Higher Education, to ssrn.  He offers this abstract:

Many colleges and universities are in financial distress but lack an essential tool for responding to financial distress used by for-profit businesses: bankruptcy reorganization. This Article makes two primary contributions to the nascent literature on college bankruptcies by, first, unpacking the differences among the three primary governance structures of institutions of higher education, and, second, by considering the implications of those differences for determining whether and under what circumstances institutions of higher education should be allowed to reorganize in bankruptcy. This Article concludes that bankruptcy reorganization is the most necessary for for-profit colleges and least necessary for public colleges, but ultimately concludes that all colleges be allowed to reorganize in chapter 11.

March 29, 2016 in Higher education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 28, 2016

One of Nation's Most Successful Districts Acknowledges Shortfalls in Diversity and Inequality, Makes Plans to Consider Reforms

Earlier this month, Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland released a study of their school choice and special programs.  Montgomery County has long had one of the nation's strongest public schools.  Included in its strength has been its commitment to diversity and equal access.  Like most, its implementation is rarely perfect, but this new report and its response to it indicate it is continuing to strive to do better.  The report acknowledges that its current policies have not resulted in the integration and diversity the district seeks.  In fact, it names of some hot-button policies and targets them for reform: admissions criteria to special programs, sibling preferences, and feeder patterns.  Among the most poignant findings and recommendations are:

  • Key Finding 2: Information and communications about MCPS’s wide variety of choice and special academic programs are not filtering to all segments of the community equally, which is impacting equity of access to the programs. MCPS has developed and implemented a wide variety of communication tools to share information about the programs with parents and community members. These include printed materials that are mailed to MCPS households in seven languages; information on the district’s website and PTA listservs and webpages; informational meetings at local schools in English and Spanish; program-level Open Houses; and outreach through school-based counselors, staff, and principals. Despite these efforts, data on program applications and from focus groups indicate that information about these programs is not reaching some segments of the community, namely Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, non-English-speaking, and low-income families as well as they are to other groups. . . .
    • Recommendation . . .: Develop and implement new strategies for communicating, outreach, recruitment, and sharing information with underrepresented or hard-to-reach families within MCPS. These strategies should include, but not be limited to: Streamlined communications in easily-understood language; Revision of existing communication tools for cultural validity; Outreach to families at community events or locations; More opportunities for one-on-one or in-person communications with and recruitment of families; and Additional materials and events held in languages other than English.
  • Key Finding 3: There are significant racial and socioeconomic disparities in the enrollment and acceptance rates to academically selective programs, which suggest a need to revise the criteria and process used to select students for these programs to eliminate barriers to access for highly able students of all backgrounds. Data on applications and acceptances to elementary centers and secondary magnet and application programs show that Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, Limited English Proficient (LEP), special education, and low-income students are less likely than White, Asian, and higher income students to be selected and enroll in these programs. As a result, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, LEP, special education, vi and low-income students are underrepresented in academically selective programs when compared with districtwide enrollment data. These data are found despite direct efforts by MCPS to increase representation of all groups in the elementary centers and the secondary magnet and application programs. The district utilizes multiple indicators in the selection process that include, in addition to cognitive assessments, teacher recommendations and other school-based input, report card grades, unique student profiles, demographic data such as eligibility for free and reduced-price meals (FARMS), and the lack of an intellectual peer group at the home school. Yet, the lack of diversity and underrepresentation of some student subgroups in these programs suggests that the process may rely too heavily on one or more indicators or may need to consider additional measures of student ability. These indicators may include broadening the definition of gifted to include noncognitive measures such as motivation and persistence, using group-specific norms that benchmark student performance against school peers with comparable backgrounds, offering automatic admissions for students in the top 5-10% of sending elementary or middle schools in the district, or using other methods that are outlined in the report and utilized in other districts across the country. Furthermore, these data also suggest that the district should use additional programs or tools, such as expanding the existing MCPS’s Young Scholars Program to identify students from underrepresented groups in early grade levels for academically selective programs. These programs would serve to increase the applicant pool of underrepresented students and encourage greater levels of participation.
    • Recommendation 3a: Implement modifications to the selection process used for academically competitive programs in MCPS, comprising elementary centers for highly gifted students and secondary magnet programs, to focus these programs on selecting equitably from among those applicants that demonstrate a capacity to thrive in the program, that include use of non-cognitive criteria, group-specific norms that benchmark student performance against school peers with comparable backgrounds, and/or a process that offers automatic admissions to the programs for students in the top 5-10% of sending elementary or middle schools in the district.
    • Recommendation 3b: Invest resources to expand and enhance early talent development programs for students of underrepresented groups in order to bolster participation of a broader segment of the MCPS student population in academically selective programs.
  • Key Finding 4: The district’s implementation of some provisions in the current Board Policy JEE, Student Transfers, does not fully align with MCPS’s goal to provide equitable access to choice and special academic programs. Specifically, the Board’s current Policy includes two provisions that have been implemented in ways that do not fully support equitable access: 1) currently students are automatically admitted to an elementary language immersion program if they have an older sibling who currently attends the program; and 2) students who attend a vii particular middle school may continue in that school’s feeder pattern high school, without regard to programmatic reasons. . . .
    • Recommendation 4a: Consider revisions to Policy JEE, Student Transfers, to clarify that the sibling link for immersion and other choice programs is not automatic; while siblings of applicants should be able to attend the same school where the special academic program is located provided that there are available seats, those siblings should be required to participate in the application process, such as the lottery for immersion programs to earn a seat in the program.
    • Recommendation 4b: To the extent that the district considers revisions to Policy JEE, Student Transfers, to alter the automatic articulation from middle school to high school within the cluster feeder pattern or consider approvals for programmatic requests, MCPS should analyze the impact on both school capacity and its efforts to promote diversity and avoid racial isolation.
  • Key Finding 5: The placement of special academic programs within local schools has increased the diversity of those schools’ student populations; but, in the absence of targeted mechanisms to integrate the program participants and non-participants, it has created conditions of within-school separation. . .

March 28, 2016 in Racial Integration and Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 25, 2016

The School Facilities Funding Gap

The 21st Century Schools Fund, U.S. Green Building Council, and the National Council on School Facilities have released their 2016 report on the state of the facilities in our nation's public schools.  The report finds that we should be spending $145 Billion Per Year to meet the maintenance and expansion needs of our schools.
Using industry standards adapted to K–12 public school facilities, we estimate that the nation should be spending about $145 billion per year to maintain, operate, and renew facilities so that they provide healthy and safe 21st century learning environments for all children. Applying a 3 percent of current replacement value (CRV) standard for M&O, districts need to spend $58 billion annually to maintain and operate the 2014 inventory of public school facilities so they are clean and in good working order. On the capital side, the nation should be spending an estimated $77 billion per year (4 percent of CRV) to regularly upgrade existing facilities’ systems, components, fixtures, equipment, and finishes as they reach the end of their anticipated life expectancy; systematically reduce the backlog of deferred maintenance that has accumulated; and alter existing facilities to respond to changing educational requirements. In addition, projections suggest at least another $10 billion per year is needed for new construction to accommodate growing enrollments over the coming decade. That brings the total annual facilities requirements to $145 billion per year.

Unfortunately, states are currently spending $46 billion less per year than these projected requirements.

The nation’s current system of facilities funding leaves school districts unprepared to provide adequate and equitable school facilities. Comparing historic spending against building industry and best-practice standards for responsible facilities stewardship, we estimate that national spending falls short by about $8 billion for M&O and $38 billion for capital construction. In total, the nation is underspending on school facilities by $46 billion — an annual shortfall of 32 percent. Gaps vary by state and local district, depending on investments by local communities and the structure of school facilities funding at the state level. Nevertheless, investment levels in all states but three will not meet the standards.

March 25, 2016 in School Funding | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

North Carolina Blocks Transgender Persons' Access To Public Facilities That Reflect Their Gender Identities

The state legislative trend continues to require transgender persons to use public facilities that align with the biological gender on their birth certificates rather than their gender identity. We've noted several state legislative efforts in this direction, most recently about Tennessee's law creating a lock-in exclusion for transgender students because another state law prohibited the state from recognizing sex changes on birth certificates. Yesterday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (H.B. 2), which requires that multiple-occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools and government buildings be used by persons only according to their biological sex. The new law also blocks local governments from enacting ordinances to allow transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their gender identities -- targeting Charlotte's anti-discrimination ordinance passed last month that allowed people to choose restrooms corresponding to their gender identity. When the Charlotte ordinance was passed, Gov. McCrory commented that the law was a threat to public safety, so the swift response by the N.C. General Assembly was expected. Responding to H.B. 2's passage, Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, stated on the ACLU website,  "We are disappointed that Governor McCrory did not do right by North Carolina’s families, communities, and businesses by vetoing this horribly discriminatory bill, but this will not be the last word." More on the new law here.

March 24, 2016 in Gender, News, State law developments | Permalink | Comments (0)