By Elizabeth Primas, NNPA ESSA Awareness Campaign Program Manager
States are in the driver’s seat when it comes to improving their struggling schools. But how can we make sure they’re not taking the “path of least resistance” when it comes to this important work, risking the academic prospects for students of color.
Building on the work done by Bellwether Education Partners, which conducted independent peer reviews of all 50 states’ and the District of Columbia’s ESSA plans that were required to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for approval, the Collaborative for Student Success analyzed plans to see which states are taking advantage of new-found flexibility regarding equity in education. The new report, Check State Plans: Promise to Practice, found that just 17 states met its threshold for even having enough public information to review. The report notes that the results are “sobering” in that “more than 9 million students attend schools that do not meet anyone’s standard for what is acceptable.” This is particularly acute for students of color and who come from low-income families.
The fact is, achievement gaps between white and black students exist. We see this time and again in the National Assessment of Education Progress as well as on individual states’ annual assessments. Students who attend inner city public schools tend to fare worse than their peers in suburban public schools. The gaps are even more pronounced when we look at private schools that draw privileged students away from city institutions. These racial divides segregate communities.
A report from the Young Invincibles examines these divides and developed three main findings: (1) minorities disproportionately enroll in for-profit and community colleges, which can condemn them to a vicious cycle of debt; (2) college costs hit minority students harder than their white peers; and (3) the achievement gap is racially divided. While 36.2 percent of white students completed four years of college in 2015, just 22.5 percent of black students could say the same, according to the analysis. While that’s much better than the 1974 numbers in which just 5.5 percent of black students finished four years of college compared to 14 percent of white students, that progress leaves little cheer.
State education chiefs and their in-state partners at teaching and research institutions plus educators on the front lines have a real chance to make a difference for black students and other minorities. But do they have the courage to make the necessary changes?
The Collaborative’s report is a good starting point, and it provides a roadmap written by education and policy leaders who are displaying the courage necessary to create bold plans that prioritize equity. Low-performing schools must be identified as such and be given real plans with real accountability measures to improve. There have to be consequences for students who don’t make the grade, but for too long, our education system as a whole has punished students by not giving them the tools they need to succeed. We have to look at the institutions and root out systemic problems.
As such, the Promise to Practice reviewers evaluated state plans based on a rubric that included whether the state has a coherent vision for improving student outcomes, whether there is a strategic use of funding and alignment of resources, the use of evidence-based interventions, and how well state leaders engaged stakeholders. That last component is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of ESSA – federal lawmakers required states to gather input from a wide range of groups outside of traditional education. Civic groups, business leaders, parents and community activists were given a seat at the table.
We watched excitedly as several NAACP groups got involved from the very beginning, helping policy and lawmakers understand community and even neighborhood needs for the betterment of students. Still, it disheartening to learn that just 17 states are ready to identify and provide the kinds of supports that low-performing schools require. Other states can look at Colorado, which has developed a clear menu of school improvement items for districts to choose from, or Nevada where districts have to describe how their strategies for addressing equity gaps in funding applications. Nevada is also using equity-oriented data like behavior and attendance to understand schools’ challenges.
There’s so much anger and divisiveness in our society today, but the importance of education equity should be among the things on which we can all agree. Every single student in every single school, no matter where that school is located or what kind of home life the child has, must be given the tools and knowledge to succeed. We shouldn’t have to fight for this right – the right to an education. And yet we find ourselves year in, year out looking aghast at assessment scores that prove achievement gaps are still there. Thought-provoking analyses like that done by the Collaborative for Student Success will help close those gaps until they are well and truly gone.
Elizabeth Primas is an educator who spent more than 40 years working to improve education for children. She is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow her on Twitter @elizabethprimas.
After the unveil of explosive reportswhereU.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, openly considered allowing schools to use federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) funding, to purchase firearms and provide firearm training to educators, members of theLeadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (TLC) have stepped in with an open letterto the same administrator—in protest.
Comprised of over 200 national organizations working together to promote and protect civil and human rights of all people, the open TLC letter was released on Sep. 17, demanding that “the department immediately publicly clarify, that ESSA funds could not be used for weapons.”
“On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights… we write to share our significant concern regarding the Department’s reported contemplation of the use of Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants provided to states under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for purchasing firearms and firearms training for school staff,” the letter stated.
Questioning the department’s intent, the letter further went on to the explore the risks of increased violence that this option could potentially cause.
“The Department’s consideration of this use for the funding is inconsistent with both congressional intent and evidence-based educational practices, working against ESSA’s purpose to ‘provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close achievement gaps.’ Having more firearms in schools would expose children and school staff to a greater risk of gun violence and make everyone in schools less safe,” the letter continued.
Inher letter to Congress, DeVos stated that she would not take “any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff,” however, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and a member of TLC, reflected that an ‘option’ such as this, should have never even been presented.
“This is whole idea is just lousy and makes no sense,” Morial said. “ESSA money should be used to by books and give disadvantaged youth a chance at better education. African Americans already face large amounts of gun violence outside of school, so to even propose such an idea is an added insult to injury.”
“School should be a safe haven for students and there is not one scant of evidence that shows children are safer around guns. The National Urban League does not want or support this,” Morial continued.
“We simply cannot afford to use federal education dollars that are intended for teaching and learning to pay for weapons that will compromise our schools and communities,” New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia wrote.
In a report done by CNN, Black Americans (particularly males), were shown to be more likely to die and to be involved with gun violence over their White counterparts, a startling statistic that the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF), an legal organization devoted to fighting for racial justice,fears might spill into the classroom, should states actively pursue such an option.
“We need the department of education to immediately and publicly clarify, that ESSA funds cannot be used for weapons,” Nicole Dooley, a LDF general counsel member said. “The only thing that this option will do is place more students at risk, especially African Americans, who experience implicit bias daily. The purpose of ESSA is to improve educational opportunities, not to create more dangerous practices.”
With race relations and civil rights issues boiling in America, the Gary chapter of the NAACP is calling on residents to take action and become more active in their community engagements more than ever before.
The call comes as the branch prepares to hold its Annual Life Membership Banquet at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Genesis Convention Center.
Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the first Black woman to ever hold the position, will be among several distinguished guests to speak.
Lynch will share the guest speaker role with the Honorable Gonzalo P. Curiel, District Judge for the U.S. District Court of Southern California. Branch President Stephen Mays, and Indiana State Senator Eddie Melton, who serves as Honorary Chairman will also be in attendance. Dorothy R. Leavell, also an Honorary Chairperson and publisher of the Crusader Newspaper Group (Gary and Chicago) and Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), also will attend.
Making this banquet a Who’s Who event will be the President and CEO of NNPA, Benjamin F. Chavis. Earlier this year the NAACP and the NNPA made an unprecedented move to work together and pool their resources to step up the fight to advance and defend the interests of Black America.
The rights of Blacks and minorities in Gary and across the country are imperiled under President Donald Trump, whose populist message “Make America Great Again” has reignited racial tensions and threatened to roll back the civil rights gains that Black America has achieved in the past decades. With the heated mid-term elections in November, the new rules governing the U.S. Census count, the plight of Gary Schools and the state joining a lawsuit against Gary as a welcoming city, NAACP leaders are urging Blacks everywhere to turn up their involvement in politics, education and social issues that have torn apart the Black community in recent years.
With all 435 seats in the U.S. House up for reelection in November, Black voter suppression remains a serious concern in the wake of numerous reports of Russia spreading fake news in the Black community and meddling in the 2016 elections to help elect President Trump. The arrest of two Black men at Starbucks in Philadelphia has sparked a wave of 911 calls on people of color who are unsuspecting victims of racial profiling in restaurants, parks and schools.
“Now is the time to fight. We have come too far to allow decades of hard work, sweat and bloodshed to be vain,” said Leavell. “The Black Press stands by the nation’s oldest civil rights organization in calling on Black America to take their community activism and engagement to the next level. The future of Black America is at stake.”
“The NAACP must remain steadfast, unmovable and never silent about the things that matter,” said Stephen Mays, president of the Gary branch of the NAACP.
At the annual Life Membership Banquet, Lynch and Curiel are expected to address civil rights, immigration and other legal challenges the country is facing under President Donald Trump. Lynch became the nation’s most powerful attorney after her predecessor Eric Holder, the first Black U.S. Attorney General, stepped down in 2015. She was nominated to the position by former President Barack Obama.
Like Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Lynch has a bachelors and J.D. degree from Harvard University.
As head of the U.S. Justice Department, Lynch investigated the practices at several police departments across the country that were accused of racial profiling and police brutality. Days before she left the department in January 2017, Lynch’s department released a scathing report on the Chicago Police Department for its treatment of minorities in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case. Lynch also made headlines after she opposed then FBI Director James Comey, who called for an investigation into the personal emails of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton 11 days before the presidential election in November 2016.
Curiel gained national attention while presiding over two class action lawsuits against Trump University. The president’s university was accused of making “tens of millions” of dollars off its students who were promised a legitimate education and services. Both cases were eventually settled out of court for $25 million.
During his campaign for the White House, Trump repeatedly called Curiel a “hater” and described him as “Spanish” or “Mexican,” suggesting that Curiel was biased because of Mr. Trump’s calls to build a wall along the border to prevent illegal immigration.
Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana, the youngest of four children. His parents emigrated from Mascota, a small Mexican town near Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco. Curiel received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University in 1976 and his Juris Doctor from the Indiana University School of Law in 1979.
The NAACP is the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the country. The Gary chapter is one of the largest branches in Indiana.
The annual Life Membership Banquet is a premier event in the community and is expected to attract over 450 business, political, educational, civic and religious leaders in the region.
BALTIMORE, Md., May 18, 2018 /NNPANewswirePR/ The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s premier civil rights organization, issued the following statement regarding the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas:
The NAACP mourns the tragic and senseless loss of 10 lives on Friday, May 18 at Santa Fe High School in Texas. In addition to those killed, 10 individuals were also wounded. Nine of the 10 fatalities were students, studying subjects they loved and planning for their future. This is the 22nd school shooting of 2018, according to CNN. We cannot sit back and allow gun violence to continue to take the lives of our students. The NAACP sends our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victims and everyone whose lives they touched. Talk alone is not enough to address the issue of gun violence in our communities and schools; sensible gun reform must become a priority among our politicians and policymakers.
ABOUT THE NAACP
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.
On Thursday, May 17th, marked an historic milestone in American history. Regrettably, most Americans were totally unaware of the 64th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.
Leon D. Young
Brown v. Board of Education was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement and helped establish the precedent that “separate but-equal” education and other services were not, in fact, equal at all.
In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that racially segregated public facilities were legal, so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal. The ruling constitutionally sanctioned laws barring African Americans from sharing the same buses, schools and other public facilities as whites — known as “Jim Crow” laws — and established the “separate but equal” doctrine that would stand for the next six decades.
But by the early 1950s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was working hard to challenge segregation laws in public schools and had filed lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs in states such as South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware. In the case that would become most famous, a plaintiff named Oliver Brown filed a class action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in 1951, after his daughter, Linda Brown, was denied entrance to Topeka’s all-white elementary schools.
In his lawsuit, Brown claimed that schools for black children were not equal to the white schools, and that segregation violated the so-called “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment, which holds that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The case went before the U.S. District Court in Kansas, which agreed that public school segregation had a “detrimental effect upon the colored children” and contributed to “a sense of inferiority,” but still upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine.
When Brown’s case and four other cases related to school segregation first came before the Supreme Court in 1952, the Court combined them into a single case under the name Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Thurgood Marshall, the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, served as chief attorney for the plaintiffs. (Thirteen years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson would appoint Marshall as the first Black Supreme Court justice.)
At first, the justices were divided on how to rule on school segregation, with Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson holding the opinion that the Plessy verdict should stand. But in September 1953, before Brown v. Board of Education was to be heard, Vinson died, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower replaced him with Earl Warren, then governor of California.
Displaying considerable political skill and determination, the new chief justice succeeded in engineering a unanimous verdict against school segregation the following year.
In the decision, issued on May 17, 1954, Warren wrote that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” as segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” As a result, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”
Although racial minorities have made several educational advancements since Brown v. Board of Education, the decision failed in a wholesale dismantling of school segregation. In New York City, for instance, more than half of public schools are reportedly at least 90 percent Black and Hispanic, and in Alabama nearly a quarter of black students attend a school with white enrollment of one percent or less.
Many civil rights advocates even point to what they believe is a “resegregation” trend. According to a report issued by the Economic Policy Institute, low-income black children are currently more racially and socioeconomically isolated than at any time since the 1980s.
By Derrick Johnson (President and CEO, National NAACP)
“Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans. What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”
– Report by the Kerner Commission, 1968
Fifty years ago, the nation was rocked by the brutal and public assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Eerily echoing the title of King’s final book “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”, his murder sent a powerful shock wave through the soul of America resulting in urban rebellions springing up in over 100 cities and placing the nation at a political and social crossroads.
As cities burned with rage at King’s murder, most of America had already dismissed and forgotten the damning and prophetic report published only a month earlier by the presidential commission chaired by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. Officially called the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, the Kerner Commission identified systemic racism and poverty as the causes of the major Black rebellions in both Newark and Detroit the previous summer. The report warned that America was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal” and offered concrete suggestions for confronting immediately this “deepening racial division.”
However, the Kerner Report’s recommendations for reconciliation and progress were never heeded; in fact, they were actively disregarded. Despite commissioning the report, President Lyndon B. Johnson went out of his way to suppress the spread of its findings. The consequences have been severe: “Whereas the Kerner Commission called for ‘massive and sustained’ investment in economic, employment and education initiatives, over the last 50 years America has pursued ‘massive and sustained’ incarceration framed as ‘law and order,’ while the ‘war on drugs’ has failed,” says a new book, “Healing Our Divided Society,” co-edited by former Sen. Fred Harris, the sole surviving member of the Kerner Commission.
Today, many of America’s Black communities bear the sustained scars of physical and economic injuries.
Even in Baltimore, the headquartered home of the NAACP, communities are still reeling from the police-custody death of Freddie Gray. The deaths of Black Americans like Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, and, most recently, Stephon Clark—shot eight times by police in his own backyard—remind us we are still not seen as full-citizens by many in our nation.
In our recent Economic Inclusion Reports on Baltimore, Charlotte and St. Louis—three cities impacted by protests and revolts linked to police violence and misconduct—the NAACP noted “similarities between the past economic realities of African Americans during Reconstruction and legalized racism and the current economic realities more than 150 years after the abolition of slavery and promise of freedom.”
Our reports expose that African Americans are “still living in highly segregated communities and school districts, comprising the lowest median household income, highest unemployment rate, highest poverty rate, and ongoing barriers to the creation of small businesses.” For example, the mid-2000 housing crisis caused by Wall Street excesses led to trillions of dollars in bailouts and the decimation of major portions of African American wealth—wrapped up in their foreclosed homes. This recession removed huge swaths of intergenerational wealth and many families have yet to recover.
As the leader of the oldest and largest civil rights organization, I recognize the temporal connection between America’s past and present identities. Our country has let the pestilent wound caused by a continuing legacy of racism fester. This chronic condition is aggravated by the often-silent progressives who still cannot grasp the stark emotional reality of what partial freedom feels like to a full human being.
In his commencement address to Oberlin College in 1965, King said, “We must face the honest fact that we still have a long, long way to go before the problem of racial injustice is solved.”
Half a century after Kerner’s report and King’s assassination, our government continues to perpetuate an unacceptable level of systemic and structural racism, which permeates our communities and fuels our protest.
As we remember King and Kerner, we will not do so in solemn reflection, but instead with resolve. We commit to making the social and political healing America has continued to defer become a reality. The progress for which NAACP members fight rings in harmony with the Kerner Commission’s unapologetic condemnation of White America’s failure to make democracy real for all of us.
Derrick Johnson is the president and CEO of the NAACP, America’s largest civil rights organization. Follow him on Twitter @DerrickNAACP.
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.
School choice advocates seemed surprised earlier this year when the NAACP called for a moratorium on new charter schools. The need for school choice, according to many advocates, such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, stems from lack of choices and underperformance of public schools for low-income students and students of color. However, a new survey by the civil rights group The Leadership Conference asks black and Latino parents about their views on education. Instead of education advocates and policymakers presupposing that all parents want is choice, we should stop and listen to them.
Parents want changes that would provide fair opportunities to their students. Most of their criticism is centered around race-based inequalities in funding and resources, as well as biased treatment of their students. Some parents may use school choice to attain greater equality, but until every school provides a high-quality education, providing options alone isn’t enough.
The Leadership Conference surveyed 600 black parents and 600 Latino parents across the U.S., all with children ages 5-18. The margin of error for each group is 4 percent. In addition to ensuring that our education system hears the voices of all groups of parents, this survey is particularly important because it helps peel back the layers on why black and Latino students often lag behind in educational attainment. They also make up nearly half of the student population.
Surveyed parents overwhelmingly felt that schools in black and Latino communities received less funding than schools in white neighborhoods. Research from EdBuild, an organization that studies education funding, would back up that sentiment. Black parents whose children attended majority white schools were more likely to rate their school as excellent than parents of students at majority-black schools (61 versus 14 percent). If funding tends to follow white students, then minority students at majority-white schools would also benefit from better supported schools. Socioeconomic status may also play a role in this perception; black and Latino students are far more likely to attend high-poverty schools than white students.