America’s Failure to Educate Black Students* is Soft Genocide.

*For brevity’s sake I said Black students, but it applies to latinos, under resourced white kids and a plethora of other immigrant groups as well.

Did you know that certain governor’s base the number of prison beds on

3rd grade reading scores? The notion is, the worse the scores, the more beds will be needed.

Statistics show that a baby that doesn’t know how to read at 8yrs old/3rd grade,
will likely NEVER catch up.

I am obsessed with education.

Yall know that.

So when I came across an article this morning titled, Racism alive and well in S.F. schools – here’s proof, I knew it was about to be on and poppin’. The article actually represents a rare, candid discussion on public education.

Last spring, Cal graduate student Mandy Johnson wrote a paper looking at why parents picked certain schools in the choice-based San Francisco district.

The top factors correlated with low demand were the prevalence of low-income students and – here’s the really troubling one – race. Specifically, Johnson found, “as the percentage of African American students in the school increases, kindergarten demand decreases.”

Then it gets even more in the gristle and delicious:

Chris Rosenberg, principal of ethnically diverse Starr King Elementary, laid it out for me in clear terms.

“The bottom line is that many people do not feel comfortable sending their kids to a school with a lot of African American students,” says Rosenberg, who has been at Starr King for 12 years, four as principal. “It’s a crying shame. It’s terrible. But it is a sad and obvious truth in our schools. And no one wants to touch it.”

Nobody wants to read with the negros. Eh?

And here comes the big bad finance wolf:

With African American families leaving San Francisco, schools are losing black students. But as Sanchez says, when students leave those predominantly black schools, “nobody is willing to fill those seats.” The result is that schools in minority neighborhoods are continually threatened with closure because they are losing enrollment.

THIS. BLOG FAMILY. HAD.ME.ON.THE.FLOOR. I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE SAID, IT LET ALONE PRINTED IT.

Skeptics will say we are exaggerating the problem. After all, it may not be racial. Who wants to send their kid to a school in a bad neighborhood? Rosenberg admits that Starr King is not far from the Potrero housing projects.

“I get a lot of questions from parents about safety,” says Rosenberg, a white man who majored in African American studies in college. “But John Yehall Chin Elementary (on Broadway) is a really good school with a lot of strip clubs around it. Do you think they get asked about safety? The fact is, people don’t care so much about the environment when it does not include black people.”

Which brings me to Rudy Crew. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up his new book.

He is the former superintendent of schools for NYC.

On the cover he looks proud. The rich money green background contrast’s nicley
with his bronze tone.
BUT.

People are like books, its whats inside that matters.

After reading the table of contents and the chapters of interest, I came to the conclusion
that there was a fundamental problem with the book.

There was NO mention of the history of public education and how the school finance formula fundamentally screws urban schools.

Education is expensive. Right? Right!

Why else are property taxes high as h*ll in Jersey and Conneticut BUT families pay it
because they understand that a meaningful education COSTS MONEY.

The formula used to fund public education, mainly using property taxes on homes, automatically short shifts the hood.

Folks in the hood don’t own their homes, that makes for fewer tax dollars, which equals underfunded schools. Throw in hella apartment complexes full of kids and you
have an interesting prison situation.

A whole ‘lotta kids. And a little bit of cake.

In his book there was a great analysis of Demand Parents aka, those parents that demand things from their schools and their kids.

He gave valuable tips on how to become a demand parent.
He also gave examples of what happens when you are NOT a demand parent.
BUT.

He did not go into the economic or a historical analysis of the system,
which undermines his credibility.
How can an educator expect a parent to leverage power in an instution when the parent has no idea of the institution’s history, and how the institution funds itself?

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Are there any parents or teachers reading?
What has your experience been with No Child Left Behind?

What do you think of “Every Third Grader Will Read” as the alternate slogan?

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Comments

  1. M.Z. says

    Are their any parents or teachers reading?
    ===================================
    Sorry to keep pointing out your your spelling/context (their/there) errors, but they bug me. I let it slide a few posts ago.

    Skeptics will say we are exaggerating the problem. After all, it may not be racial. Who wants to send their kid to a school in a bad neighborhood?
    ===================================
    If the school is good enough they will. When I was in middle school, two of the best schools were smack dab in the hood. I attended one and it was a mix of neighborhoood and bussed in (whites and middle class minorities(me)). Same for the best high school.

    What do you think of “Every Third Grader Will Read” as the alternate slogan?
    ==================================
    Slogans are nice, but results are better. It would be better if that was one of the main points of no child left behind.

  2. The Minority Reporter says

    “He did not go into the economic or a historical analysis of the system”

    This failure to only look at the problem at hand and blame minorities for their (is this right MZ lol) immediate position without analyzing it with historical accounts of residential segregation & other instances of institutional racism creates more of a blame game for “failing” minorities without ANY accountability from society. We (minorities who have “made” it and other well to do whites) tend to analyze the “failures” by the bootstrap doctrine…expressing our vantage points through racial lenses while not recognizing the systmatic abuse of racism in the equation

    Individual analysis without historical social analysis irks me in the same way their/there drives M.Z. 😉

  3. M.Dot. says

    Sorry to keep pointing out your your spelling/context (their/there) errors, but they bug me. I let it slide a few posts ago.
    ========
    n/p.
    Its takes a village to “teach” an m.dot.

    However, it makes me wonder how your “habit” impacts your dating life.

    Slogans are nice, but results are better.
    =========
    Well duh.
    This would never happen b/c reading scores are SO measurable.

    How do you measure being “left behind.”

  4. M.Dot. says

    This failure to only look at the problem at hand and blame minorities for their (is this right MZ lol)
    =========
    Moooooo. < <<<------ 10/7/07. We Unstoppable. I brought that^^ sh*t up to SJ and he was like...ummm "I only correct people when I am trying to bring them down a notch, or put them in their position. Thats that Trillion. I was like ummm. hmmmp. <<-says it like you.

  5. Matthew says

    yo i’ll push a step further and say that folk got to understand the historic founding of schools in a way that is much broader than how they are funded. funding, no doubt is important, but schools were never established to aid working class folk in any real meaningful way that did not benefit their employers even more so. schools were set up to keep european immigrants from destorying the america yankees had creeated. it simply served to socialize. in a country as steeped in racism as the us is, schools ain’t never going to do work we all think that they are supposed to do.

  6. M.Z. says

    How do you measure being “left behind.”
    ===================================
    Honestly all kids are being left behind now, because they are being taught to pass proficiency tests and not actually to remember what they use to pass the tests.

    I think a good way to improve reading scores is make kids read an hour a day in school. We did that at my elementary school and by fourth grade, according to reading tests, I was reading on a “12th” grade level. By that time I was reading books like Jurassic Park. Hell, I read more then I do now. But I can still knock a book out pretty fast.

    Since you guys seem to read alot, could you make a list of suggesitons for me? I might look into this book.

    This failure to only look at the problem at hand and blame minorities for their (is this right MZ lol)
    =========
    looks good to me. Don’t feel bad ya’ll. I may have to start calling out Gotty more too. I’ve corrected him in the comment section a few times recently too. It doesn’t irk me as much as it just catches my eyes. I always find em.

    Lastly, I’m mad my hometown paper (Columbus Dispach)gave a front page article to the Soulja Boy dance. They’re getting a letter too!

  7. Stephen says

    Don’t feel bad ya’ll.
    ****
    That made me smirk…

    There was NO mention of the history of public education and how the school finance formula fundamentally screws urban schools.
    ****
    Really, I think you should go back further, to Horace Mann and the reason common schools were created, particularly b/c of the way our current environment tends to mirror the environment in which common public schooling was created.

    A whole ‘lotta kids. And a little bit of cake.
    ****
    See D.C.

    Money isn’t *always* the answer.

    And I need to send you a chapter out of “Teaching the New Basic Skills” (ISBN 0684827395), in which the authors talk about our sister organization’s work in Austin, and how parental involvement provided the basis for a school turnaround.

    (Of course, that was 1993 and before NCLB…)

    One final note, the Wash Post took the input of some educators on what needs to be done going forward on NCLB. I used to volunteer at the KIPP school mentioned by the final writer, Tracy McDaniel.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/
    2007/09/09/AR2007090901247.html?wpisrc=newsletter

  8. anonymous from UCSC says

    this shit hits reaaaal close to home for me. I used to live on Hyde next to Ghirardelli in between Galileo and the projects that got torn down to make the Hyatt (gentrification incarnate, yafemme?), but I was an unruly little shit when I was younger; though I looked straight Aryan my best friend was a samoan/black kid named Trevor from the apartment across the street, I didn’t learn to read -until- I was in third grade, and the Bush Man at the wharf was my homie.

    My parents wanted the best for their lil’ white children, I don’t blame them for choosing to move. I think I, at six years old, called the admissions director at SF Day school a “trick bitch,” I wasn’t getting into any private schools in SF. So we moved to Marin, where the property values are high and the education A-1. And nearly everyone is white.

    They call this “white flight.” The Supreme Court -very- recently just struck down the use of race as a tiebreaker or criterion for regulating diversity in public schools in Seattle and the Kentucky School Districts. They had been using a three-tiered choice system, with most applicants getting either their first or second choice and a maximum discrepancy of 5% between the numbers of ‘minority’ students at each school. Chief Justice John Roberts, in the majority opinion, said that the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to “stop discriminating on the basis of race.” < --- dead the whole conversation, about as effective as burying words, imo.

    okay, but if we \stop/ using race as a factor in regulating school diversity, wouldn’t we be unable to find these correlations between personal choice in schools and the school’s ethnic composition? (on that double negative hype, yee!) In other words, aren’t we just tacitly supporting implicit racism by denying the connections? Me and hella others prove that public schools demonstrate the connections we don’t wanna believe, location = financial situation = race; nullus on the white privilege.

    as for Demand Parents… does he really believe all black parents need to do is start demanding more from their schools? As if black \people/ haven’t been demanding shit for years, and not getting it. Seems the height of cynicism to on the one hand say folk have to speak up and then, whenever folk -do- manage the gumption, caricature the motherfuckers on some “angry black man / mad black woman” tip.

  9. M.Dot. says

    Man.

    Between my day in frisco.

    My innerview.

    The card SJ sent me on Friday.

    And these F*cking comments.

    I am on
    cloud
    nine.

    I can’t wait to respond.

  10. M.Dot. says

    funding, no doubt is important, but schools were never established to aid working class folk in any real meaningful way that did not benefit their employers even more so.
    =====

    Point well taken.

    Glad to see you back.

    How is your ahem, class, youn’g?

  11. M.Dot. says

    Since you guys seem to read alot, could you make a list of suggesitons for me? I might look into this book.
    =======

    My book list is 4 pages long and has about 8 subcategories.

    What exactly are you interested in?

    My favorite sub cats are:
    1. Be a Better Person
    2. Black Fiction
    3. Make a Better World
    4. About Cash

  12. M.Dot. says

    I think I, at six years old, called the admissions director at SF Day school a “trick bitch,”
    =========

    I applied to SF Day school and University.

    Small world.

    Nawww. That demand parent shit is tril.

    He was basically on some LISTEN you have to get involved, meet the teachers at the beginning of the year, go to PTA, let the teachers know that you will be in your kids ASS. Basically on some Chinese Momma shit. Chinese Mommas don’t give a f*ck. They stay up in they kids @ss and the schools @ss as well.

    Thats that trill.

  13. M.Dot. says

    I used to volunteer at the KIPP school mentioned by the final writer, Tracy McDaniel.
    ======

    You and that power to the people shit is HOT.

  14. M.Z. says

    What exactly are you interested in?
    ===================================

    I’ll take the whole thing. I liked the tipping point, but truthfully I’m open to pretty much anything. Hopefully you still have my e-mail address, right? Cause I’m hitting up Barnes and Noble tomorrow. I need the new XXL.

  15. Moniker says

    I dig this post.
    Mainly because I am a student and I live this shit one hundred and fifty some odd days of the year.

    I know you asked parents and teachers about “No Child Left Behind”, but let me explain to you my experience with it being a student: it’s a joke. It doesn’t promote education, it promotes statistical benchmarks.
    What the system does is require “accountability” through a series of tests. And because the teachers in the “hood” careless about education than the paycheck they receive bi-weekly, instead of teaching the material in depth and explaining around the subject, they briefly cover the material and give the tests to get them out of the way.

    I had a teacher that would present brand new information and give a test over that same information that very day. She would do less actual teaching than she would give these “state/federal mandated” tests.

    And to be honest, in my part of the city, the white teachers that DO teach here LIVE in another part of a city. I remember hearing this poem on Def Poetry that had the lines something similar to “teachers come to my hood to work and go back to their neighborhoods and talk as if they’ve been through the trenches of war”–something to that extent, and it reminded me of the schools around here. The white woman that smiles in your face come parent-teacher conferences and gives glowing reviews of how well your son Jimmy is doing or how he’s needing a bit of help in class? Yeah, that same woman goes back to her gated community, sits at her table during dinner and makes YOU the topic of discussion as she passes around peas and cauliflower. She talks about the “crazy thing that nigger Jimmy did in her class today”. In my city, the fact of the matter is that the “white” schools typically have a higher standard for teachers and pay more. Therefore, the qualified teachers go to those schools and we, “the hood”/”inner city”, get the left overs. I’ve met very few teachers that give a damn about education.

    To be real, the most fucked up educators choose to teach elementary students. And in turn, by them being fucked up, they fuck up their students, and by the time those students get to High School, they’re so far behind where they really need to be that they don’t have the time (or tools) to catch up.

    Schools in the hood are fucked up. Ceilings falling, old textbooks, dirty hallways, run down walls. But I have a hard time believing if the schools had more money to spend, they’d spend it in the hood (where it’s needed most). What they would do is take the money they make and take it out West where the white folk live.

    And lets not get it fucked up, this problem is everywhere in the black community. Don’t let the media full you and have you thinking it’s only in so-called major “urban” cities with a “dense black population”. This shit is not just in Philly, Chicago, or Atlanta. In fact, it’s worse for students in states that are constantly neglected. Pay more attention to the Mississippi’s, Nebraska’s, Arkansas’, and Louisiana’s.

  16. M.Dot. says

    Moniker said…

    I dig this post.
    ========

    Aye bay bay.

    This is a great compliment that made my ALREADY fly day this much ”

    ” better.

  17. the prisoner's wife says

    OOOOOOH! i will have to get up with this after class. I am busy trying to figure out what I’m teaching tomorrow & how I have to pull an all nighter writing this damn paper on teaching. Ugh!

    but i want to jump into this convo cuz it’s so hip hop!

    bless.

  18. the prisoner's wife says

    YIKES @ moniker…what the hell school did YOU go to that has you so twisted? damn.

    you said…
    What the system does is require “accountability” through a series of tests. And because the teachers in the “hood” careless about education than the paycheck they receive bi-weekly, instead of teaching the material in depth and explaining around the subject, they briefly cover the material and give the tests to get them out of the way.

    i must say that i take offense to the statement…”teachers in the hood care less about education than the paycheck they receive…” I am one of those hood teachers you are referring to and i care a hell of a lot more than receiving a paycheck. if i wanted to get rich, i wouldn’t be teaching. although you may have some valid points, your generalizations are killing me. my school is a hood school. we are a Title 1 & Program Improvement (P4) school. We’ve had low test scores, high-teacher & admin turn-over rates and our kids come from some VERY troubling circumstances. HOWEVER, last year (06-07) we implemented several intervention programs, teachers (black, white, asian, latino) busted our asses and our API went up to 600. so we care…we are just facing a myriad of circumstances that aren’t working in our favor.

    NCLB is a joke. it leaves damn near everyone behind, especially city kids. i agree with whomever said that teachers aren’t able to really “teach” in the manner in which they used to, offering kids a full spectrum of opportunities to learn new things. we are forced to keep up with strict standards (which are cool but…) and pacing plans that constantly remind us where we SHOULD be. i hate giving out district mandated assessments, because i know that some kids are just not very good test-takers. i feel that high stakes testing is unfair, but if we must be real & want our kids to succeed, then we have to try to prepare them (like the more affluent schools) on HOW to take these types of test, not just try to jam the material into their head.

    blaming the teacher or the system is easy. ok…it HAS to be somebody’s fault, right? but as a teacher AND a parent, i know that the two must work together to help kids be successful. everybody’s parent isn’t a “demand” parent. hell, a lot of my kids don’t even have parents (group homes), so who is demanding the best of them? once again it falls to the teacher to be the motivator, the mother, the mentor, the friend….yes we need more GREAT teachers, but the system also needs an overhall.

    i agree, it’s sad he didn’t go into how schools are funded. in my district, the 2nd largest, we have DRAMATIC differences in the quality of schools (the actual buildings/supplies/etc) simply because of the funding. so we need to realize that in any debate on education, we must remember that the playing filed STILL isn’t equal.

  19. the prisoner's wife says

    Also….

    you said…

    Schools in the hood are fucked up. Ceilings falling, old textbooks, dirty hallways, run down walls. But I have a hard time believing if the schools had more money to spend, they’d spend it in the hood (where it’s needed most). What they would do is take the money they make and take it out West where the white folk live.

    see…i disagree with you again.

    if the SCHOOLS (particularly needy schools) had the funds, then i believer they WOULD spend it to fix up their schools, update equipment, books, supplies, etc. the problem many urban (and rural) schools experience is that their DISTRICT gets the money, AND THEN filters it down to the schools…the DISTRICT decides where the money is spent, and it partly based on the property taxes, etc.

  20. the prisoner's wife says

    just a lil bit…lol

    i’m just not a fan of blanket statements. they make me get my screwface on.