Monthly Archives: August 2012

Intergrate Public Schools And They Will Be Fixed

Making Schools Work


AMID the ceaseless and cacophonous debates about how to close the achievement gap, we’ve turned away from one tool that has been shown to work: school desegregation. That strategy, ushered in by the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, has been unceremoniously ushered out, an artifact in the museum of failed social experiments. The Supreme Court’s ruling that racially segregated schools were “inherently unequal” shook up the nation like no other decision of the 20th century. Civil rights advocates, who for years had been patiently laying the constitutional groundwork, cheered to the rafters, while segregationists mourned “Black Monday” and vowed “massive resistance.” But as the anniversary was observed this past week on May 17, it was hard not to notice that desegregation is effectively dead. In fact, we have been giving up on desegregation for a long time. In 1974, the Supreme Court rejected a metropolitan integration plan, leaving the increasingly black cities to fend for themselves.

A generation later, public schools that had been ordered to integrate in the 1960s and 1970s became segregated once again, this time with the blessing of a new generation of justices. And five years ago, a splintered court delivered the coup de grâce when it decreed that a school district couldn’t voluntarily opt for the most modest kind of integration — giving parents a choice of which school their children would attend and treating race as a tiebreaker in deciding which children would go to the most popular schools. In the perverse logic of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., this amounted to “discriminating among individual students based on race.” That’s bad history, which, as Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in an impassioned dissent, “threaten[s] the promise of Brown.”

To the current reformers, integration is at best an irrelevance and at worst an excuse to shift attention away from shoddy teaching. But a spate of research says otherwise. The experience of an integrated education made all the difference in the lives of black children — and in the lives of their children as well. These economists’ studies consistently conclude that African-American students who attended integrated schools fared better academically than those left behind in segregated schools. They were more likely to graduate from high school and attend and graduate from college; and, the longer they spent attending integrated schools, the better they did. What’s more, the fear that white children would suffer, voiced by opponents of integration, proved groundless. Between 1970 and 1990, the black-white gap in educational attainment shrank — not because white youngsters did worse but because black youngsters did better.

Not only were they more successful in school, they were more successful in life as well. A 2011 study by the Berkeley public policy professor Rucker C. Johnson concludes that black youths who spent five years in desegregated schools have earned 25 percent more than those who never had that opportunity. Now in their 30s and 40s, they’re also healthier — the equivalent of being seven years younger.

Why? For these youngsters, the advent of integration transformed the experience of going to school. By itself, racial mixing didn’t do the trick, but it did mean that the fate of black and white students became intertwined. School systems that had spent a pittance on all-black schools were now obliged to invest considerably more on African-American students’ education after the schools became integrated. Their classes were smaller and better equipped. They included children from better-off families, a factor that the landmark 1966 Equality of Educational Opportunity study had shown to make a significant difference in academic success. What’s more, their teachers and parents held them to higher expectations. That’s what shifted the arc of their lives.

Professor Johnson takes this story one big step further by showing that the impact of integration reaches to the next generation. These youngsters — the grandchildren of Brown — are faring better in school than those whose parents attended racially isolated schools.

Despite the Horatio Alger myth that anyone can make it in America, moving up the socioeconomic ladder is hard going: children from low-income families have only a 1 percent chance of reaching the top 5 percent of the income distribution, versus children of the rich, who have about a 22 percent chance.

But many of the poor black children who attended desegregated schools in the 1970s escaped from poverty, and their offspring have maintained that advantage. Of course desegregation was not a cure-all. While the achievement gap and the income gap narrowed during the peak era of desegregation, white children continued to do noticeably better. That’s to be expected, for schools can’t hope to overcome the burdens of poverty or the lack of early education, which puts poor children far behind their middle-class peers before they enter kindergarten. And desegregation was too often implemented in ham-handed fashion, undermining its effectiveness. Adherence to principle trumped good education, as students were sent on school buses simply to achieve the numerical goal of racial balance. Understandably, that aroused opposition, and not only among those who thought desegregation was a bad idea. Despite its flaws, integration is as successful an educational strategy as we’ve hit upon. As the U.C.L.A. political scientist Gary Orfield points out, “On some measures the racial achievement gaps reached their low point around the same time as the peak of black-white desegregation in the late 1980s.”

And in the 1990s, when the courts stopped overseeing desegregation plans, black students in those communities seem to have done worse. The failure of the No Child Left Behind regimen to narrow the achievement gap offers the sobering lesson that closing underperforming public schools, setting high expectations for students, getting tough with teachers and opening a raft of charter schools isn’t the answer. If we’re serious about improving educational opportunities, we need to revisit the abandoned policy of school integration.

In theory it’s possible to achieve a fair amount of integration by crossing city and suburban boundaries or opening magnet schools attractive to both minority and white students. But the hostile majority on the Supreme Court and the absence of a vocal pro-integration constituency make integration’s revival a near impossibility.

David L. Kirp is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives and America’s Future.”

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on May 20, 2012, on page SR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Making Schools Work.

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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Education News


Shot In The Head But He Finishes HS, Prepares For College 7 Months Later!

Detroit Teen Gets Shot In The Head But Finishes HS, Prepares For College 7 Months Later!
Aug 19, 2012 By NewsOne Staff

Back in January, a then 17-year-old Derrick Perry (pictured) was enjoying himself at a house party on Detroit’s westside when he took a gunshot to the head that almost took his life, Fox News 2 Detroit reports.

“It’s horrible. I don’t like it,” Perry said. “I don’t think it should have happened to me.”

He was rushed to a local hospital where he underwent a six hour surgery and rehabbed at a hospital for five months. This series of events would have devastated most young men to the point of defeat. But not Perry. He gets around in a wheelchair but is very much determined to walk on his own again.

And he did not allow his injuries to keep him from graduating from high school on time. He was even named prom king at his high school prom.

“He actually was able to take his test for graduation so that he could go across that stage,” Perry’s mother told Fox 2 Detroit. “It wasn’t given to him. He earned it.”

He also has acceptance letter to a local college where he plans to study physical therapy.

On Friday, a group of his closest friends and family threw a party for him to celebrate his 18th birthday and graduation from high school. But his party celebrates much more than that. It is the celebration of how a human being’s determination can turn a personal tragedy into national inspiration.

Fox 2 News Headlines

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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Education News


A School To Prison Pipeline

Feds flag Mississippi school-prison track
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — Officials in east Mississippi operate a “school-to-prison pipeline” that incarcerates students for disciplinary infractions as minor as dress code violations with a policy that affects mostly black and disabled children, the U.S. Justice Department said Friday.

The Justice Department said police in the city of Meridian routinely arrest public school students without determining if there’s probable cause when the school wants to press charges for a violation. Federal authorities said the students are then denied due process in youth court and on probation.

The Justice Department did not outline specific allegations of wrongdoing against the school district in a letter to state and local authorities. Instead, it appears from the letter that the problems begin once a student is arrested.

Once arrested, the youth court puts the students on probation, sometimes without prop-er legal representation, according to the letter. If the students are on probation, future school violations could be considered a probation violation that requires them “to serve any suspensions from school incarcerated in the juvenile detention center,” the department said.

That means if a student is on probation and gets suspended for a minor infraction such as “dress code violations, flatulence, profanity, and disrespect,” the student could have to serve that suspension in the detention center. “The students most severely affected by these practices are black children and children with disabilities in Meridian,” the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department made the allegations in a letter to Mississippi’s governor, attorney general and various officials in Meridian and Lauderdale County.

“These entities, working in conjunction, help to operate a school-to-prison pipeline that routinely and repeatedly incarcerates children for school disciplinary infractions,” the letter said.

The department said if the matter isn’t corrected soon it will sue the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services, a division of the state Department of Human Services. The Division of Youth Services is involved in the probation system.

“The systematic disregard for children’s basic constitutional rights by agencies with a duty to protect and serve these children betrays the public trust,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “We hope to resolve the concerns outlined in our findings in a collaborative fashion but we will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action if necessary.”

The police department referred questions to a city spokesman, who didn’t immediately return a call. The governor’s office, the youth court and DHS didn’t immediately comment on the letter. The school district superintendent didn’t immediately respond to a message.

The letter said the findings are the result of an eight-month investigation. The letter also said that Lauderdale County Youth Court Judges Frank Coleman and Veldore “Vel” Young pledged to cooperate in the investigation but “consistently denied DOJ access to information about the policies and practices” of the court and directed the city of Meridian to deny the department access to files concerning children.

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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Education News


Homeless And Headed To Harvard. kudos!!!

inspirational moment: 18 year old homeless boy receives full-paid scholarship to harvard!!

When David Boone attends Harvard University in the fall, he will finally have a place to live.

Boone is a homeless Cleveland student who earned a full scholarship to arguably the most prestigious university in the world. Boone somehow managed to get great grades while sleeping on benches in parks that were often populated with prostitutes, pimps and drug pushers. He survived the merciless winters and, equally astounding, he also somehow avoid the tremendous pressure to join one of the many local street gangs that populate his neighborhood.

Boone’s family split up after his eight grade year and he has lived on and off the streets for the past four years. In the end, Boone applied to 23 colleges and was accepted to 22 of them, including Ivy League powerhouses such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Boone was such a spectacular scholastic performer despite enduring the most adverse circumstances that, as a student at MC2STEM High School, he earned a Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will cover the whatever college costs that is not already being taken care of by his current financial aid.

David Boone had a system.

There wasn’t much the then-15-year-old could do about the hookers or drug deals around him when he slept in Artha Woods Park. And the spectator’s bench at the park’s baseball diamondwasn’t much of a bed.

But the aspiring engineer, now 18 and headed to Harvard University in the fall, had no regular home. Though friends, relatives and school employees often put him up, there were nights when David had no place to go, other than the park off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

So he says he made the best of those nights on the wooden bench.

His book bag became his pillow, stuffed with textbooks first — for height, he says — and papers on top for padding.


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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Education News


No Sexting in Troy, Michigan’s Schools

School District Aims to Put an End to ‘Sexting’
But some wonder if this well intentioned policy might be overreaching.
By Jeremy Greenberg

If you’re a student in Troy, Michigan, you’ve officially been warned that your school district will not tolerate ‘sexting’, the transfer of any sexually explicit material via a mobile phone from one student to another, according to The Washington Post. School officials have been given the green light to confiscate a student’s phone if there is any complaint that student has been sexting—no matter if it happened on or off campus. Offender’s phone will be turned over to local prosecutors.
It’s part of a recent ban enforced by the Troy Board of Education.

Of course, no adult thinks it’s acceptable for teenagers to waste their data plans sending each other dirty photos. But some question if this policy is also a bit lewd in its criminalization of an action which is really nothing more than a physical expression of poor teenage decision making.

Michael J. Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU Michigan, was quoted in the Post story:

“Usually, this is kids being irresponsible and careless and certainly not criminals, and they shouldn’t be treated that way.”

There is also a differing of opinion regarding how big of a problem sexting actually is among teens. Some studies, such as one conducted in 2011 by the Pew Research Center reports that 4 percent of teenagers had sent naked images of themselves, and that 15 percent had received them. However, a Journal Pediatrics study reduces the percentage of teens that have texted sexual photos to 1 percent.

Regardless of how much texting is going on in Troy, Michigan, this policy will probably end up reflecting positively on the school district. Kids need to be sent the message that their naked bodies should not end up as someone else’s desktop wallpaper. However, the teenage libido has been causing trouble since the beginning of time. Let’s hope the authorities also remember that it’s not a crime to be young and hormonally compromised.

Photo: Peter Glass/Getty Images

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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Education News