NAACP: Black students suffer daily abuse at Maryland school

NAACP: Black students suffer daily abuse at Maryland school

PASADENA, Md. (AP) — Following reports of a teacher calling a student a racial slur and a social media post targeting Black students, a local NAACP chapter says Black students at a Maryland high school are subject to daily abuse and humiliation.

Anne Arundel County NAACP President Rev. Stephen Tillett said at a press conference on March 13 that families have seen “a decades-long pattern of resistance to change and the creation of a hostile environment for children of color” at Chesapeake High School and feeder schools.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier told The Capital the school system wants to combat the system of intimidation Tillett describes. He said Chesapeake’s principal met with the NAACP March 13.

Investigators identified the threat’s poster as a Black student, but Tillett says the student’s identity doesn’t negate other experiences.

The post NAACP: Black students suffer daily abuse at Maryland school appeared first on Afro.

Students Across Nation March for Gun Control

Students Across Nation March for Gun Control

High school teachers from Maryland and Washington gathered in front of the White House to demonstrate to demand President Trump address the issue of gun violence in the wake of 17 killed at a mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. The students earlier marched to the Capitol to tell congressional leaders they want action to keep them safe from gun violence. PHOTO: Amiyah King/Howard University News Service

By Amiyah King

(Trice Edney News Wire/Howard University News Service) – Tens of thousands of high school students across America were marked with an unexcused absence Wednesday, but everyone knew where they were.

In the Washington area, high school students from DC. Public Schools and from public schools in Maryland marched to the Capitol and then to the White House to demand Congress and the president institute gun control legislation that will keep them safe. The march was organized by students from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Md., and Bethesda-Chevy Chase in Montgomery County, Md., in response to the recent shooting in Parkland, Fla.

It was exactly one week ago Wednesday that 19-year-olf Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 students and wounding dozens more. Cruz, who had been expelled from the school, was charged with 17 accounts of murder of his classmates, teachers and other school officials. The shooting was the 18th school shooting in the first two months of this year.

Student survivors at the school have launched a nationwide effort to focus attention on gun control in the wake of the shooting. Other student demonstrations were reported in Illinois, Florida and Texas.

Washington-area students walked out of their classes today at 9:30 a.m. where they followed each other in procession to Union Station where they joined other protestors who took public transportation from Maryland. From Union Station, thousands of high schoolers marched to Capitol Hill and later participated in a sit-in demonstration outside the White House.

During the sit-in, students gathered in a semi-circle to hear leaders talk about why they were there.
“No more thoughts and prayers,” said student leader Daniel Shepard. “If this isn’t the last school shooting, we’ll be out here every opportunity we get.”

In response to the speakers, students shouted, “No more silence and gun violence. Hey, hey. Ho, ho. the NRA (National Rifle Association) has got to go.”

Teachers and parents were mixed with the crowd of demonstrations either as chaperones or to provide support for their children and their cause.

“I don’t think they need my help,” said Mandi Mader, mother of three who attended the march in support of her children. “I’m just one more body to represent them here.”

Classmates, from left, Sally Egan, Emma McMillan and Avery Brooks are classmates display their signs seekingbetter gun control. There were similar student rallies across the nation. PHOTO: Amiyah King/Howard University News Service

Most students said they were advocating for the implementation of gun control laws in Congress as a solution to the crisis.

Talia Fleischer, a sophomore at her high school, said she hopes to see “a sign that something will be done in Congress.”

“Countries like Australia and England have great gun control laws, and they have no mass shootings,” she said.

In 1996, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement after a mass shooting in Tasmania in April of that year. In that incident, a 28-year-old man, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed 35 people, and injured 18 others<>, in what was known as the Port Arthur Massacre. Under the 1996 law, Australia banned certain semi-automatic, self-loading rifles and shotguns, and imposed stricter licensing and registration requirements.

Paul DeVries and his daughter, Brechje DeVries, were among the demonstrators. Brechje DeVries, 17, moved from the Netherlands to the United States a year ago and attends high school in Maine. Her father was in the U.S. for one of her sports activities in the Washington, and the two decided to attend the demonstration.

Brechje DeVries said mass shootings are almost unheard of in her country. Her country has experienced only one mass shooting in its history. She said she is stunned and frightened by their frequency in the United States.

“It’s scary,” she said. “There have been threats at schools near me, so it definitely comes close to me.”

Her father said he is worried for his daughter.

“I feel the frustration,” he said. “There are a lot of teenagers here. and I think that speaks for itself.”

Joseph Byler, a senior at his school, said the Florida shooting is what sparked him to attend.

“[I hope] the inability of Congress to pass gun control policies disappears,” Byler said. “I hope after today, we get universal background checks on gun purchases.”

Since the shooting in Florida, President Trump has flirted with the idea of proposing restrictions to purchasing guns, from more intense background checks for gun purchasers to the elimination of bump stocks, the tool the Las Vegas shooter used to kill more than 50 people.

Via Twitter, Trump said, “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!”

Trump, who received millions of dollars in support from the National Rifle Association in his run for presidency, until now has consistently backed away from any restrictions on guns.

Student protestor Steven Vasquez said his school has armed security and students feel relatively safe.

“But not right now,” Vasquez said. “Hopefully our kids dying will help the government see that they need to do something.”

Donna Edwards Vows to End ‘Unethical’ Campaign Contributions to School Board

Donna Edwards Vows to End ‘Unethical’ Campaign Contributions to School Board

Donna Edwards already has her sights set on cleaning up the Prince George’s County school board in her bid for county executive.

If elected later this year, the former U.S. congresswoman said she would ban the school system CEO and top-ranking school officials from donating campaign contributions to board members.

“Our education leaders are bold enough to put up political contributions that can influence their hiring and contracting decisions,” Edwards said Thursday at a press conference outside the school administration building in Upper Marlboro. “It may not be illegal, but it is unethical.”

Edwards’ comments were triggered by revelations that two school board members, Carolyn Boston and Sonya Williams, received such donations for their election campaigns.

According to finance reports, schools system CEO Kevin Maxwell donated $500 to Boston, the school board vice president who served on a committee to evaluate Maxwell’s performance.

Boston, who couldn’t be reached for comment, eventually returned the money.

Williams received $3,000 from Delegate Dereck Davis (D-District 25) of Mitchellville, according to campaign documents. The money from Davis, who is married to schools Deputy Superintendent Monique Whittington Davis, came from his terminated campaign from Congress two years ago, campaign records show.

“I’ve known [Davis] forever,” said Williams, a civil engineer who has served on the board since 2014. “It is not unethical or illegal for any politician to support another politician’s campaign. My goal on the school board is for us to be great by choice.”

Although the Maryland Ethics Commission monitors and approves regulations based on the legislature, state law allows school boards to manage its own ethic rules and committees.

Michael Lord, executive director of the state’s Ethics Commission, said Prince George’s received approval for its ethics regulations at least three years ago. He said any school complaints, however, are handled by the county, not the commission.

“It is all done on the local level,” Lord said.

The donations to Boston and Williams surfaced after two parents, Keisha Chase and Yolanda Rogers, wrote a letter last week to alert the state’s ethics commission.

“The culture of pay-to-play, kickbacks, you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours must end if we are ever going to provide a quality education for our children,” the letter said.

Chase and Rogers have children who attend DuVal High School in Lanham. Parents received letters from Maxwell last month informing them several staff members had been removed for violation of grading and graduation procedures.

The parents now plan to bring their concerns about the campaign contributions to the state Board of Education and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Baltimore’s Children Struggle in Toxic Environment

Baltimore’s Children Struggle in Toxic Environment

By Regi Taylor Special to the AFRO

AFRO — “Our society has treated the abuse, maltreatment, violence, and chaotic experiences of our children as an oddity that is adequately dealt with by emergency response systems… These services are needed and are worthy of support—but they are a dressing on a greater wound…   Later, in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood [affected persons will develop] behavioral, learning, social, criminal, and chronic health problems.” 

This is the assessment of Dr. Robert Anda, M.D., one of the principal investigators of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs), conducted by the Maryland State Council on Child Abuse & Neglect in its annual report presented to Governor Hogan and the state legislature in June 2017.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, “Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.  Research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), [which has] been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and early death.  As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.”

Regi Taylor (LinkedIn Photo)

This evaluation is nowhere more applicable than to children of Baltimore City, where there’s a strong case for an epidemic of ACEs.  Looked at through this prism the crises in education, delinquency, violence, crime and substance abuse come clearly into focus.  Reports last year that zero students at thirteen Baltimore high schools demonstrated math proficiency should be investigated for the likelihood that Adverse Childhood Experiences played a role in those results.

Many behaviors attributed to Baltimore youth mimic the symptoms displayed by military personnel returning from war zones, described as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  A case can be argued that the environment for too many of Baltimore’s children resembles a combat atmosphere. The unrelenting stressors encroaching these kids could be described as Contemporaneous Traumatic Stress Disorder, because it is felt 24/7 with no end in sight.

Low academic achievement, attendance and graduation rates, high delinquency, violence and incarceration rates, are not due to inherent susceptibility or natural predisposition of Baltimore’s children toward failure.  Not only do the city’s youth have their senses constantly bombarded with negative, painful, threatening stimuli from various sources inside and outside their homes, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are compounded when their savior of last resort, their government, is viewed as just another threat.

Like the children of Iraq and Afghanistan, who’ve lived through a generation of war, imagine the insecurity Baltimore’s children must feel living under a government, in the person of police, who, from their perception, torment and brutalize them, their families and community.  What are the emotions of kids who witness military-clad police with tactical weapons, gear and vehicles patrolling their neighborhoods in convoys, confronting their families and neighbors, and sometimes them directly, on top of the toxic social and cultural pressures stressing them daily?

For the children of Baltimore, epidemic rates of murder, assault, rape, gang activity, strong-arm police, child abuse, domestic abuse, substance abuse, overdose, illiteracy, extreme poverty, homelessness, malnutrition, undernourishment, lead poisoning, incarceration, inadequate heat, pest infestation and HIV, are not statistics.  It’s a day in the life.  Any wonder that test scores flop when more adversity than books are carried to school every day?

Regi Taylor is a native of West Baltimore and a writer.

Inside the ESSA Plans: What Are States Doing About Goals and Timelines?

Inside the ESSA Plans: What Are States Doing About Goals and Timelines?

By Stephen Sawchuk, Alyson Klein, and Andrew UjifusaEducation Week logo

EDUCATION WEEK — This week, Education Week is bringing its trademark analysis to the remaining state plans for fulfilling requirements of the Every Student Succeeds law. On Monday, we had a look at the states’ proposed “school quality” indicators, €”the required but nonacademic portion of each state’s plan to judge schools. Today, we’re going to take a look at states’ goals for raising student achievement and their timelines for doing so in the plans awaiting federal approval.

One thing we’ll keep stressing again and again this week: how far federal policy has moved since the days of the No Child Left Behind Act (ESSA’s predecessor). Read on.

So, what kinds of goals are states setting?

Some states chose fixed goals that aim for all students, and all subgroups of vulnerable students, such as those qualifying for subsidized school lunches or English-language learners, to reach the same target (such as 80 percent proficiency). What’s nice about this kind of goal is that it sets the same endpoint, making it easier to see over time how achievement gaps are expected to close. States in this category include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, (grades 3-8 only), Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Rhode island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Source: Education Week Politics K-12

Black students hit hard by for-profit college debt

Black students hit hard by for-profit college debt

By Charlene Crowell, (Communications Deputy Director, Center for Responsible Lending)

AMSTERDAM NEWS — Mounting student debt is a nagging problem for most families these days. As the cost of higher education rises, borrowing to cover those costs often becomes a family concern across multiple generations including the student, parents, and even grandparents or other relatives.

Today’s 21st Century jobs usually demand higher education and specialized skills to earn one’s way into the middle class. In households where educational loans are inevitable, it becomes an important family decision to determine which institutions are actually worth the debt incurred. Equally important is the institution’s likelihood of its students graduating.

Higher education institutions that do not provide its students and graduates with requisite skills and knowledge become money pits that lead to deeper debt and likely loan defaults.

New research by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) analyzed student debt on a state-by-state basis. An interactive map of CRL’s findings reveal on a state basis each of the 50 states’ total undergraduate population, for-profit enrollment, and the top for-profit schools by enrollment for both four-year and two-year institutions.

Entitled “The State of For-Profit Colleges,” the report concludes that investing in a for-profit education is almost always a risky proposition. Undergraduate borrowing by state showed that the percentage of students that borrow from the federal government generally ranged between 40 to 60 percent for public colleges, compared to 50 to 80 percent at for-profit institutions.

Additionally, both public and private, not-for-profit institutions, on average, lead to better results at a lower cost of debt, better earnings following graduation, and the fewest loan defaults.

“In many cases, for-profit students are nontraditional students, making sacrifices and struggling to manage family and work obligations to make better lives for their families,” noted Robin Howarth, a CRL senior researcher. “For-profit colleges target them with aggressive marketing, persuading them to invest heavily in futures that will never come to pass.”

CRL also found that women and Blacks suffer disparate impacts, particularly at for-profit institutions, where they are disproportionately enrolled in most states.

For example, enrollment at Mississippi’s for-profit colleges was 78 percent female and nearly 66 percent Black. Other states with high Black enrollment at for-profits included Georgia (57 percent), Louisiana (55 percent), Maryland (58 percent) and North Carolina (54 percent).

Focus group interviews further substantiated these figures, and recounted poignant, real life experiences.

Brianna, a 31-year-old Black female completed a Medical Assistant (MA) certificate at the now-defunct Everest University. Once she completed her MA certificate and passed the certification test, she found she could only find a job in her field of study that paid $12 per hour, much less than the $35,000-$45,000 salary that Everest told her would be her starting salary as a medical assistant.

She was also left with $21,000 in student debt. As a result, she has struggled since matriculation with low credit scores and cramped housing conditions for herself and three children. For her, public schools, according to Brianna, are “better in the long run” due to their lower cost despite having more requirements for attendance.

Teachers Union Calls for Closure of City Schools

Teachers Union Calls for Closure of City Schools

By Sean Yoes Baltimore AFRO Editor

Frigid temperatures in the Baltimore area over the last several days combined with a lack of heat in several Baltimore City Public School buildings has compelled the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU), to call for the closure of city schools, until the heating issues can be resolved.

On Jan. 3, a hand delivered letter was sent from Marietta English, president of the BTU, to Sonja Santelises, BCPS CEO.

“The past 36 hours have been quite difficult for our membership and the children they teach,” reads the letter sent by English.

“Our educators have been forced to endure teaching in classrooms with dangerously low temperatures, instructing students who have been forced to try to learn bundled up in coats, hats and gloves. Trying to provide a stable learning environment in these extreme conditions is unfair and inhumane, to say the least.”

Four schools were closed Jan. 3 due to lack of heat: Calverton Elementary/Middle School, Elementary/Middle Alternative Program, KIPP Harmony Academy and Lakeland Elementary/Middle School. Two other schools, Frederick Douglass High School and Cecil Elementary School, were forced to close early.

“I do realize that you and your staff are managing the best you can to rectify the issue in this record-breaking cold weather, however, doing so on the backs of our members and the children of Baltimore City is unacceptable,” state English. “Additionally, your expectation that our members and the children that they teach endure endure bursting boilers, drafty windows, frigid temperatures in classrooms, and risk getting sick in these “less than ideal” conditions, is utterly ridiculous,” English added.

Perhaps complicating the issue further, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory, (one to three inches of snow), in effect from 10 p.m. Jan. 3, to 11 a.m., Jan. 4, which could cause the school closures the BTU is calling for.

State ESSA Plans ‘Not Encouraging’ on Equity, Education Trust Says

State ESSA Plans ‘Not Encouraging’ on Equity, Education Trust Says

Do state plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act do enough to shine a spotlight on historically disadvantaged groups of students—and do they give schools the tools they need to improve outcomes for those children?

“What we are seeing so far is not encouraging,” concludes a report from The Education Trust, a Washington-based organization that advocates for low-income and minority students. “For all the talk about equity surrounding ESSA, too many state leaders have taken a pass on clearly naming and acting on schools’ underperformance for low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English learners.”

Education Trust, whose executive director, John B. King Jr., served as President Barack Obama’s last secretary of education, reviewed the 17 ESSA plans submitted to the department so far, as well as the 34 that have been submitted. It found that:

  • In general, states picked indicators that get at whether students are learning, including chronic absenteeism, college and career readiness, and on-track graduation. But some states picked so many indicators that it will be that there’s a “real risk” schools won’t have the incentive to improve on any of them, the advocacy group said. Example: Connecticut and Arkansas each have more than 10 indicators. Plus, some states, including Louisiana, have proposed indicators that aren’t ready for rollout yet…

Read the full story here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Betsy DeVos Team Critiques ESSA Plans for Georgia, Utah, and Puerto Rico

Betsy DeVos Team Critiques ESSA Plans for Georgia, Utah, and Puerto Rico

Georgia and Utah, as well as hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, have some work to do on their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, according letters published this week by the U.S. Department of Education. Each turned in its ESSA plan back in September. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team are just beginning to respond to state plans. (Maryland is the only other state that submitted this fall to receive feedback.)

Here’s a quick look at some of the issues the department sited in each plan. Click on the state name to read the full letter from the feds.

Georgia has proposed looking at whether schools are able to close achievement gaps as part of its academic achievement indicator. The department says that gap-closing can’t be used there, although it can figure in elsewhere in the state’s accountability system.

The Peach State has listed nine indicators of school quality or student success, but it hasn’t sufficiently explained how they would be measured, or how they will differentiate among schools, the department says.

Georgia needs to do a better job of explaining how much weight it is giving to different accountability indicators. ESSA says academic factors, like test scores, need to count for more than school quality indicators, like school climate. It’s not clear Georgia met that requirement, the feds say.

The state needs to provide more information to show that its plans for identifying low-performing schools and schools where certain groups of students are struggling meet ESSA’s requirements. And it needs to explain how it will ensure poor students get their fair share of effective teachers, the department says.

Where do state ESSA plans stand? Sixteen states and the District of Columbia submitted their ESSA plans this fall. So far, all but one of those states has been approved. (The exception is Colorado, which asked for more time to improve its plan.) Another 34 states submitted their plans earlier this fall. So far, Maryland is the only other state to receive feedback.

Keep track of state ESSA plans here.

Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Source: Education Week Politics K-12

US high school graduation rates rise to new high

US high school graduation rates rise to new high

The nation’s graduation rate rose again to a record high, with more than 84 percent of students graduating on time in 2016, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.

That is the highest graduation rate recorded since 2011, when the Education Department began requiring schools to report rates in a standardized way. The graduation rate rose by nearly a percentage point from 2015 to 2016, from 83.2 percent to 84.1 percent. It has risen about 4 percentage points since 2011, when 79 percent of students obtained a high school diploma within four years.

All minority groups saw a rise in on-time graduation rates in 2016, but gaps persist. Only 76 percent of black students and 79 percent of Hispanic students graduated on time, compared to 88 percent of white students and 91 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students.

The Obama administration considered the rise in graduation rates among its most important achievements in education, but experts have cautioned those rates can be a poor measure of how prepared young people are for work and higher education. Even as they are graduating at higher rates, students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test of reading and math achievement, is unchanged or slipping…

Read the full article here:

(c) 2017, The Washington Post. Written by Moriah Balingit.