Tag Archives: education

#BlackGirlsMatter

I’m working on updating an older paper on high school feminism for publication, and stumbled across this report released in February of this year by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) called “Black Girls Matter: Pushed-Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected.”

Having heard about yet another murder of a young black transgender woman murdered in Florida this year, I wanted to give myself a refresher on this important study analyzing the intersections of gender, race, class, and age that shape young black women’s identities.  What can we learn from some infographics today?

Lesson 1: As exemplified by schools in New York, black girls are disciplined significantly more than other racial populations in proportion to their numbers of enrollment.

Lesson 2: Black girls are fifty-three times more likely to be expelled in New York City and ten times more likely to be expelled in Boston than white girls.

Lesson 3: Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls in New York.

And what about the rest of the fifty states?  What’s all of this lack of education and overpolicing do to impact the lives of young black girls across America?

Stereotypes that black girls are dumb, immodest, or belligerent cause young black women to struggle emotionally and economically.  In the words of Thahabu Gordon describing her experiences as a young African American girl,

“As long as I was ‘respectable,’ I was better than more urban girls. By seventh grade, I had internalized those concepts and avoided hanging around black girls who exclusively listened to rap and weren’t afraid of enthusiastically expressing their opinions. I was conditioned to think I was better than them. You would never have caught me in a tight dress or short bottoms because I was trying to distance myself from being volatile and hypersexual—aka, ‘that black girl.'”

Without full access to education, black girls become a nearly minuscule portion of the the black faculty, black STEM majors, black graduate students, black undergraduates, and black professional students that go on to be entrepreneurs, political leaders, and scholars.

By the way, there’s a real shortage of black girls represented in the world of infographics online…I’m going to work on this.  #BlackGirlsMatter

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Get Schooled Six minutes of segregation a day: Can it help black students?

Ok, so my spiel:

I went to a women’s college for my undergraduate – and I loved it.  I honestly felt that learning in a single-sex environment enabled me to better understand both sexism and feminism.  I wouldn’t trade my education for anything.

But I also wouldn’t force it on anyone.  I chose to go to a women’s college.  Despite the good intentions, these students are not choosing to be segregated, which in turn excludes them, others them, and reinforces how they are the “problem” minority.  Now, if white students were segregated and in their groups discussed white privilege, then mmaaayyybbee I could see how this situation might be beneficial.

But even then you get into identities.  Are we only excluding students by race because what about class?  gender?  sexuality?  religion?  location?  …  I’m all about learning about inequality and multiple identities, and in that consciousness-raising discussion learning about one’s own identity, privileges, and disadvantages, but you can’t force it on people.  What identities do you choose and is everyone else discussing these same issues in their own groups?

So ultimately, while it may help black students find support, recognize injustice, and study harder, is this segregation challenging patriarchy, capitalism, and white privilege?  No.

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By Maureen Downey at the Atlanta Journal Constitution

A Pennsylvania high school has begun to segregate black students for daily homeroom to address the lower academic achievement, build mentoring relationships and explore stereotypes and challenges unique to African-American students.

Good idea?

Before you judge, take a look at this story about McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa. It is clear that this unique response came out of good intentions — an effort to see whether grouping students homogeneously both by gender and race even for a brief period each morning provides a backdrop to discuss tough issues and give teens personalized attention.

I hate to be wishy-washy for two blogs in a row — I am also torn on the punishment given to the mom who lied about residency  — but this is another story where I have mixed feelings. I first asked myself whether the school could accomplish its goals without resorting to segregating the students. I would think it could.

But I also have to point out that the premise behind the program — that you can talk more honestly to kids and motivate them when they share similar situations and face the same problems — is what has led to the resurgence of single gender schools and classrooms.

But I have to admit queasiness over this idea.

According to Lancasteronline.com

During a recent class period at McCaskey East High School, T’onna Johnson’s class discussed a film, learned about a college-visit trip, talked about designing a class T-shirt and was encouraged to sign up for a seminar on the importance of a good education.

This all happened during homeroom  — that fleeting period when teachers take attendance, principals make announcements and students, usually, don’t do much of anything.

Not at McCaskeyEast. Every junior at the school has been paired with an adult homeroom mentor who tries to squeeze as much information and activities as possible into six minutes each day and 20 minutes twice a month. The intent of the program, implemented in mid-December, is simple, principal Bill Jimanez said: “Let’s make these guys think for six minutes about their future.”

Every junior was matched with a teacher who already had a relationship with that pupil. But in the case of T’onna’s class, there are other ties that bind the homeroom. Every pupil is a black female. And their mentors are both female African-Americans. Across the hall, two homerooms of black male students are led by black men.

The all-black homerooms are part of an experiment to determine if grouping students homogeneously for a brief period each day will help them socially and academically. “At first I was kind of like iffy because why would we be in homeroom together?” T’onna recalled. “But we work together and we do problems together, so I like it. “Here we learn about how we can basically make a difference and how we don’t have to settle for less.”

The idea originated with Angela Tilghman, a McCaskey East instructional coach who was alarmed at the poor academic performance of the school ’s black students. Only about a third of McCaskey’s African-Americans scored proficient or advanced in reading on last year’s PSSAs, compared with 60 percent of white students and 42 percent of all students. Math scores were even worse, with just 27 percent of black pupils scoring proficient or advanced. {PSSA is the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.}

Research has shown, Tilghman said, that grouping black students by gender with a strong role model can help boost their academic achievement and self-esteem. She and fellow instructional coach Rhauni Gregory volunteered to mentor the African-American girls, and Michael Mitchell and Willie Thedford each took a homeroom of black males. No other students were divided by race, Jimanez said, although pupils enrolled in the school’s English language learners program were paired with ELL teachers.

Initially, some McCaskey East students and staff objected to separating out black students. Some juniors asked to go back to their old homerooms. Others complained that the experiment ran counter to the culture of McCaskey, long a melting pot of students and staff from many diverse backgrounds. But Jimanez said the academic data dictated the school take a different approach with its black students.

“One of the things we said when we did this was, ‘Let’s look at the data, let’s not run from it,’ ” he said. “Let’s confront it and see what we can do about it.” In all homerooms, teachers are tracking their students’ grades, test scores and attendance and encouraging them to engage in discussions around “goal setting and self-actualization,” Jimanez said.

Tilghman and Gregory’s homeroom, dubbed the Black Diamonds, has discussed books and movies that emphasize strong relationships between black women. Last week, the students hosted a group of female black professionals who talked about the importance of getting a good education. “This isn’t something we’re just trying to preach to you about,” Tilghman told the class. “This is the reality. Black women today need education.”

The mentors also have talked about common stereotypes about black girls — that they’re aggressive, combative, “cackling and confrontational” and more interested in pursuing relationships than academics, Tilghman said. According to research, black students tend to feel disengaged and alienated in school and “act out behaviorally because they don’t perform,” she said.

“Our first theme was sisterhood so we can get them to see that we’re here for each other and they have people they can rely on,” Tilghman said. The mentors also shared with students a detailed analysis of their test scores and grades.

Mitchell doesn’t agree with those who criticize grouping black students together. “I would have a problem if every class period was like that, but it’s six minutes most days and 20 minutes other days,” he said.

He has discussed with his students how the city’s unemployment rate is higher for African-Americans than for other ethnic groups, and Tilghman has talked about how statistics indicate that black males are three times as likely to spend time in jail as to earn a college degree.

“I see all too often when students give up far too easily these days, and parents will allow this to perpetuate itself, and then students think they don’t have to complete anything.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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Mother jailed for sending kids to nicer school district

and fined more than $30,000 and sentenced to probation for 2 years and prevented from ever getting that job she wanted as a teacher.

I’m for serious, this is crazy.

And why would a mother have to send her daughter to a better school district?  Mind you, race is never really mentioned as the issue – it’s class.

This case seemed strikingly similar to another in which a school district is abolishing its integration policy because it believes, “This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma, Alabama, in the 1960s – my life is integrated.”  Rich people don’t want poorer (non-whites) – like the children of Kelley Williams-Bolar – attending their rich public schools.  Their defense?  They believed that concentrating the problem of impoverished minorities would reveal how big the problem really is.  And when do we realize how bad this problem really is?  When they try to fraudulently send their kids to a better school district and get 10 days in jail for it?

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National Post News Services · Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

An Ohio single mother was released Wednesday after spending 10 days in jail for sending her children to school.

But it was the wrong school, authorities say.

Kelley Williams-Bolar registered her two daughters with the Copley-Fairlawn School District in the suburbs of Akron, Ohio, near her father’s home.

She and the children live in downtown Akron, where the school district has a much lower academic record and the neighborhood is plagued by drugs and crime.

The woman told CNN the family considered her father’s house one of their homes.

“My primary residence was both places. I stayed at both places,” she said in an interview at the Summit County Jail.

Her father, Edward Williams, said the children did live with him so he believed the family was within the law.

In addition, his daughter’s Akron neighborhood — where she lives in government-subsidized housing —isn’t safe.

“She had 12 police reports that her house had been broken in, so what am I supposed to do? Just leave them there?” Mr. Williams said.

“I mean, I can protect them better if they was with me.”

The woman — who is black — was caught after the school district hired a private eye, who videotaped her driving into the predominantly white district to deliver the children to school.

Then officials asked her to pay US$30,000, the estimated cost of the four years of schooling received by her children without her paying taxes.

When she refused, they went to court.

Ms. Williams-Bolar was indicted and convicted of falsifying her residency records.

“It’s overwhelming. I’m exhausted,” she told ABC News.

“I did this for [my children], so there it is. I did this for them.”

Brian Poe, the Copley-Fairlawn superintendent, said the district almost always resolves residency cases without involving the courts, but it couldn’t work out a resolution with Ms. Williams-Bolar.

“The way I look at it is, the bottom line, you need to follow the law,” he said.

“If you choose to step outside of the law, what’s going to happen at that point is you are going to have to face the consequences for that.”

He denied Ms. Williams-Bolar was singled out because she is black.

The case has upset many people in the area, including the judge who sentenced Ms. Williams-Bolar.

Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove said the prosecutor’s office refused to consider reducing the charges to misdemeanors during numerous closed-door talks to resolve the case outside court, the Akron Beacon reported.

National Post news services

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/Mother+jailed+sending+children+better+school/4174718/story.html#ixzz1CFQK1aVQ

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Washington Post – An education doesn’t grow on trees

I recently read Kevin Sieff’s article from The Washington Post about how two daughters of migrant workers struggle to keep good grades in school.  What a thought-provoking story about the nexus of undocumented workers, legal migrant workers, welfare, and education, and how our struggles for defining American citizenship affect children.

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