Articles tagged with diversity

National survey of high schools shows wide discipline disparities

 

A comprehensive survey of more than 72,000 K-12 schools serving 85 percent of the country has found that nearly one out of every five black male students received at least one out-of-school suspension during the 2009-10 school year — a rate three and a half times that of their peers.

The report, released this week by the Discipline Disparities Collaborative, headquartered at Indiana University, added more data to support the $200 million, five-year “My Brother’s Keeper” project, which was announced by President Obama last month to address the multiple problems facing young black men. At the same time, it highlighted what a number of forward-thinking schools and school districts across the country are doing to reduce the number of students they suspend and expel.

“When you suspend a student, what you’re basically saying is, ‘You’re not entitled to receive instruction,’” said Ramiro Rubalcaba, principal of Azuza High School northeast of Los Angeles, who spoke Thursday at news conference on the report.

Years ago, when he was a high school administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Rubalcaba was a self-described “skeptic” of disciplinary alternatives who once suspended 600 students in one year. But over several years at LAUSD’s Garfield High School and now at Azuza, Rubalcaba has helped change disciplinary policies, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of out-of-school suspensions. Last school year at Azusa High School, for example, there were more than 70-out-of-school suspensions: So far this school year there have been three.

“Schools have the power to change these rates of suspension and expulsion,” said Russell Skiba, director of Indiana University’s Equity Project, of which the collaborative is a part. He and other experts emphasized that the higher suspension rate of black students – as well as Hispanics, disabled students, Native American students, and LGBT students – is not because of higher rates of infractions by these groups. “The research simply does not support this belief,” he said.

NSBA is taking a leading role in the effort to reform school disciplinary procedures and reduce out-of-school suspensions. Last March NSBA  and its Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) — along with its Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native caucuses — issued Addressing the Out of School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members.

“School boards must take the lead in ensuring that out-of-school suspension is used as a last resort in addressing violations of school codes of conduct,” NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, said in the report. He also noted that school boards were already in the forefront of addressing these issues.

The collaborative’s report made several points about school discipline reform. The first is that improving schooling overall does not necessarily lead to a reduction in disciplinary disparities. Indeed, as Dan Losen, director UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies said at the news conference releasing the report, “You can’t close the achievement gap unless you close the discipline gap.”

NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members hosted a webinar in November 2013 titled Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline. On April 7, at NSBA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans, the caucus will also be hosting a breakout session titled We Can Do Better: Reforming School Discipline and Accountability. The session will highlight the work of Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools and the Broward County Public Schools in Florida.

Lawrence Hardy|March 14th, 2014|Categories: CUBE, Discipline, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, High Schools, School Reform, School Security, Uncategorized, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

NSBA webinar to explore Common Core challenges for English language learners

Join Patte Barth, executive director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education, and Rosa Aronson, executive director of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., (TESOL) for a webinar 2:30 -4:40 p.m. Wednesday, titled  The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and English Language Learners: Challenges and Opportunities for Academic Success.

As school districts begin adjusting their programs to meet the expectations of the CCSS, they need to ensure that English Language Learners get the curriculum they need to meet the CCSS’s requirements and achieve academic success.

The webinar will outline the benefits and challenges of CCSS and provide practical solutions to these challenges for teachers, administrators and policymakers.

The webinar is sponsored by NSBA’s National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members.

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat here.

 

Lawrence Hardy|January 7th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Student Achievement, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Federal court overrules ID checks on immigrant students

A three-judge panel of 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a portion of Alabama’s strict immigration law that required public schools to check the legal status of students.

In a friend-of-the-court brief late last year, NSBA, the National Education Association, and the Alabama Education Association said the law was trying to use “fear and intimidation to drive undocumented immigrants from the state.”

The law had put public schools in a difficult position –on one hand, required by federal law to serve all children in the state regardless of their immigration status; on the other, being thrust to the front lines of a highly partisan battle over illegal immigration.

NSBA released a guide for educators last year, “Legal Issues for School Districts Related to the Education of Undocumented Children,” that discusses legal questions related to undocumented students that are commonly asked by school officials.

The main federal law is 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe held that undocumented students have a constitutional right to attend public elementary and secondary school for free, although there are other conflicted lower court rulings and many issues that the Plyler decision did not address, according to the guide.

Nevertheless, “The law of the land still requires that schools provide an education for undocumented students,” said NSBA’s General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr.

Numerous states have debated the fates of undocumented students in recent years, and the issue has reemerged with the Obama administration’s recent announcement that they will defer the deportations of thousands of young adults who came to the United States as children.

Read a legal analysis of the decision in Legal Clips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawrence Hardy|August 22nd, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Council of School Attorneys, Diversity, Immigrants, School Law|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

NSBA backs University of Texas in diversity case

The National School Boards Association, the College Board, and 11 other national educational groups today filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court strongly supporting the University of Texas’ use of race as one of multiple factors in admission decisions.

In January, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously for the defendants in Fisher v. University of Texas. The plaintiffs then appealed to the Supreme Court, which accepted the case in February, thereby signaling its willingness to revisit diversity law. Legal experts say that a high court reversal of the earlier decision would represent a profound change in affirmative action law and a serious setback to school districts and universities seeking to diversity their programs.

“I think it’s ominous,” Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, told the New York Times earlier this year. “It threatens to undo several decades of effort within higher education to build a more integrated and just and educationally enriched environment.”

The case is being closely watched by public school leaders as well. Among those groups joining NSBA in today’s brief are the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Texas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance Fund.

“The National School Boards Association is committed to the principle that diversity promotes the educational achievement of all students,” NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant said today. “Preserving the ability to develop sound, academically driven diversity policies is in the best interests of all students in our public schools and beyond.”

Bollinger was president of the University of Michigan in 2003, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Grutter v. Bollinger that the university’s use of race was constitutional as long as it was part of a “holistic” assessment of candidates that included other factors. It was that decision that has guided the University of Texas and many other educational institutions as they try to diversity their academic programs and prepare a workforce for the 21st century.

Under a 2004 state law, all Texas high school seniors in the top 10 percent of their classes are automatically admitted to the Texas state university of their choice — a requirement that accounted for 81 percent of the 2008 freshman class at the University of Texas, according to a recent College Board report. (The university limits out-of-state residents to 10 percent of the freshman class.)

The remaining in-state candidates are then evaluated on both academic and personal achievement indexes. Among the personal achievement indexes – which include socioeconomic status, and family status and responsibilities – is race. “No element of the personal achievement score is considered separately or given a separate numerical value,” the report said.

The College Board report was written by attorney Arthur L. Coleman, who wrote the court brief filed today. Coleman also collaborated with Katherine E. Lipper and NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón Jr. on the 2011 publication Achieving Educational Excellence for All: a Guide to Diversity-Related Policy Strategies for School Districts.

 

Lawrence Hardy|August 13th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Diversity, School Law, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA’s General Counsel shows strategies to address school bullying

“The one common thread from the many perspectives on school bullying is that advocates on all sides care deeply about kids,” National School Boards Association (NSBA) General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. writes in a blog for “Transforming Learning.”

Negrón discusses a recent guide that shows ways to host and facilitate respectful discussions and recognize other individuals’ and groups’ differences without engaging in bullying. The guide, “Harassment, Bullying and Free Expression: Guidelines for Free and Safe Public Schools,” is a project of the American Jewish Committee and the Religious Freedom Education Project/First Amendment Center, which collaborated with NSBA and other education, civil rights, and legal advocacy groups.

The issue of school bullying is fraught with emotion and also can lead to lawsuits and legal action against school officials. It’s important that teachers and school recognize forms of bullying, but also know how to use those instances as teachable moments for all students, Negrón notes.

Transforming Learning is a project of the Learning First Alliance and is hosted by Education Week, the nation’s leading education news source.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 2nd, 2012|Categories: Bullying, Reports, School Law, School Security|Tags: , , , |

Thirty years after Plyler, immigrant students still face obstacles

If you want to see how the nation’s views on undocumented immigrants have hardened in recent years, you don’t have to read the majority opinion in Plyler vs. Doe, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that said public schools must educate all children regardless of their immigration status.

 Just read the dissent.

 “Were it our business to set the Nation’s social policy,” dissenting Chief Justice Warren Burger began, “I would agree without hesitation that it is senseless for an enlightened society to deprive any children — including illegal aliens — of an elementary education.” 

Burger goes on to say, however, that whatever “folly” may have existed by the State of Texas’ decision to refuse to educate undocumented children, that decision was not unconstitutional. Such sentiments are a far cry from the prevailing view in the 2011 Alabama House Bill 56, part of which requires school districts to report the number of undocumented children in their schools, said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Saenz was one of six speakers at a Washington forum Monday titled Plyler v. Doe at 30 years: Keeping Public Schools Open to All of America’s Children. He said he wants people to read both Plyler’s majority opinion and the dissent to get a sense of the values expressed at the time. Also speaking at the event, sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, was Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, the U.S. Justice Department’s chief civil rights enforcement officer, who was a keynote speaker the Council of School Attorneys (COSA) School Law Seminar in Boston.

Before Plyler could take effect, the justice department, joined by civil rights and religious groups, succeeded in securing a temporary court injunction on the part of the law that concerns school reports on students’ immigration status. But by then, Perez said, the damage had been done. Hispanic students were missing school and dropping out.

“We must never lose sight of the fact that this is about real people with real dreams,” Perez said.

That fact was underscored by William Lawrence, principal of Foley Elementary School in Foley, Ala. Soon after word of the new law reached Hispanic families, there was tremendous fear in the community that they would be targeted.

“The scene at the school was chaos,” Lawrence said. “There was crying and wailing” both from the Latino students and their non-Latino friends. Within weeks, 64 students would be withdrawn.

Ironically, 96 percent of the Hispanic students at Foley Elementary were born in the United States, Lawrence said. 

“It became clear to me that these children — American-born, U.S. citizens — were facing the brunt of the law,” said Lawrence, “a lifelong conservative Republican” who was nonetheless distraught over the measure that Alabama’s Republican majority pushed through the state legislature. 

If Lawrence’s political affiliation was ironic, there was irony in the actions of the Obama administration as well. Laura W. Murphy, the event’s moderator and director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, praised Perez and Russlynn Ali, the U.S. Department of Education assistant secretary for civil rights, for their work on behalf of immigrants’ rights. But she said that if an official from the Department of Homeland Security had addressed the group, the reception would have been much different.

Last October, the Obama administration reported nearly 397,000 people were deported over the past 12 months, the third straight year of record deportations. Although the administration has initiated reviews of more than 410,000 deportation cases over the past seven months, fewer than 2 percent have been closed, leaving immigrant rights groups frustrated, according to the New York Times.

Perez’s office and the Department of Education have taken a much different course, investigating cases in states such as Indiana, North Carolina, and Alabama, where immigrant students have encountered roadblocks to school registration. In most instances, Perez said, school districts have been helpful.

“When we work with school districts, we explain the dos and don’ts,” Perez said. “They’ve been very receptive, because teachers want to work with kids.”

Lawrence Hardy|June 12th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Council of School Attorneys, Diversity, Immigrants, School Board News, School Law|Tags: , , , |

The week in blogs: Making elementary school feel safe for all

By its very title, the report suggests that playgrounds, as well as other places in elementary schools, aren’t viewed as  “safe” by many students.

Titled Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States, the report was released this week by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. (GLSEN). It found, among other things, that 75 percent of elementary school students “are called names, made fun of, or bullied with at least some regularity.”

“Most commonly this is because of students’ looks or body size (67%), followed by not being good at sports (37%), how well they do at schoolwork (26%), not conforming to traditional gender norms/roles (23%) or because other people think they’re gay (21%),” the report said.

Along with the report, GLSEN also released Ready, Set, Respect! a toolkit for helping teachers understand bullying, gender nonconformity, and family diversity. Board members should also see NSBA’s extensive information on bullying and visit Students on Board, which recommends that school board members get critical information from some of the best sources around – students themselves.

“Honest conversations with students can be the quickest way you can move toward practical steps to sustain or improve school climate,” the Students on Board website says.

Also of interest this week is the National Journal’s Education forum on the push for more comprehensive education in civics. And NSBA’s Center for Public Education looks at a comprehensive study showing that teacher evaluations based on multiple criteria  – including well-designed and regular classroom observations – can be highly effective and accurate.

Lawrence Hardy|January 21st, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Bullying, Data Driven Decision Making, Diversity, Educational Research, Teachers, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , |

The week in blogs

The College Board didn’t make a big deal about falling SAT scores when it released the annual results this week: It chose, instead, to emphasize that nearly 1.65 million students had taken the nationwide test, the largest and most diverse group in history.

“The good news is we have more students thinking about college than ever before,” James Montoya, a College Board vice president, told the Washington Post. “Anytime you expand the number of students taking the SAT and expand it the way that we have — into communities that have not necessarily been part of the college-going culture — it’s not surprising to see a decline of a few points.”

Still, the headline on the Post’s story – SAT Reading Scores Drop to Lowest Point in Decades – was pretty stark. Was this mainly the result of the expanding pool of test-takers or evidence of a more general decline? Bloggers were all over the map on that.

Still blaming poor SAT scores on test-takers?” wrote Robert Pondiscio on the Core Knowledge Blog. He said that argument “was effectively dismissed by E. D. Hirsch [Core Knowledge’s founder] when scores were announced last year.”

“What changed,” Hirsch wrote back then, “has less to do with demographic data than with “the anti-intellectual ideas that fully took over first teacher-training schools and then the teachers and administrators they trained.”

Bill Tucker, of the Quick and the Ed, had a different take on the data –and the response. He called the latter “SAT score hysteria” and pointed out that the College Board itself said, in a news release, that “a decline in mean scores does not necessarily mean a decline in performance.”

Perhaps the most measured approach to the data was from Jim Hull, a policy analyst with NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

“No matter the reason, the drop in SAT scores over the past several years is a cause for concern,” Hull wrote. “Yes, more students are taking the SAT than ever before — which is a good thing — but that can cause scores to drop. Yet, more students are also taking the ACT and those scores have increased. With no clear national explanation, it is important for districts and individual schools to examine their own ACT and SAT results to gain a better understanding of how prepared their students actually are for college.”

Other important postings this week included the Post’s Valerie Strauss on new national statistics showing that 22 percent of American children are living in poverty, and a telling graphic of what it really costs a poor family to eat in This Week in Education. (In short: Just because you have a refrigerator, doesn’t mean you’re not poor, as some commentators have claimed.)

Also on Strauss’ site, read a guest post by Dana Smith, a member of the board of directors of the New York State School Boards Association, on what it was like to be bullied in school.

Lawrence Hardy|September 16th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, School Boards, Student Achievement, Uncategorized, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , |

Magna Award highlights California district’s strategies to improve elementary school

Each year American School Board Journal’s Magna Awards, sponsored by Sodexo School Services, honors school districts that show exemplary examples of innovation and excellence in school governance.

For the past 17 years, the Magna Awards panel of independent judges has reviewed programs that showcase school district leadership, creativity, and commitment to student achievement. Magna nominations are judged according to three enrollment categories (under 5,000 enrollment; 5,000-20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment) with one Grand Prize Winner in each category that receives a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo.

This year’s deadline to nominate your district is Oct. 31, and only nominations made online using the online Magna Nomination form will be considered.

Here is an example of one of last year’s Grand Prize Winners, Moreland School District in San Jose, Calif.

In 2006, Moreland School District’s Anderson Elementary School was the lowest performing elementary school in Santa Clara County, Calif. The school’s Academic Performance Index (API) score was nearly 200 points below the California goal of 800, and far below the district’s highest-achieving school’s score of 915. Anderson’s student population was 81 percent Hispanic, 87 percent socioeconomically disadvantaged, and 78 percent English language learners. The school board and Superintendent Glen Ishiwata asked Anderson’s leadership to create a new approach to the schools’ teaching strategies to improve student achievement. Academic excellence for all students was the aim. With support from the board, administrators, and the community, Anderson’s leaders embraced the challenge. They developed an approach that uses current data to make decisions and trains teachers to use a standards-based method for instruction.

Anderson’s administrators use benchmark assessments to collect data to shape classroom instruction. The principal and assistant principal worked collaboratively with teachers to establish a system to analyze classroom data and identify concepts to address. To support this new system, the board approved the request to purchase an electronic assessment management program. Teachers then created curriculum maps to guide their instruction. This initial work with data and standards provided a focus for all future professional development and decisions about instruction, which is at the core of this program. Developing a testing cycle and feedback loop allowed teachers to get instant feedback about their students’ progress before moving on. By using flexible groupings, and small group instruction coupled with targeted intervention, teachers were able to address the deficiencies highlighted in the testing cycles. Using their community contacts, board members reached out to volunteers to support the small-group work. In additional to being a highly effective program for low performing subgroups, it has proven to be effective at raising the academic achievement of students of all levels.

The first goal of the district’s strategic plan is to close the achievement gap while raising the achievement of all students. After the 2006 API scores were released, the board made it clear that an all-hands-on-deck approach was necessary to transform student achievement at Anderson. The first step was to make staffing switches to support the aggressive goal, including hiring a new principal and assistant principal. Next, the board directed resources to support new methods, including additional professional development time and the purchase of targeted instructional programs. The board backed up its directive by frequently putting updates on the board agenda and scheduling site visits to see the new methods and talk with teachers.

By listening to Anderson teachers, board members heard the need for classroom volunteers. Using their role as community leaders, they reached out and found volunteers to support the small-group instruction in the classroom. The program consists of residents, retirees, church members, and district parents. It provides more than 80 volunteers annually who work up to three hours a week.

Learn more about how these programs dramatically boosted student test scores for Anderson.

Also, don’t forget to take a look at our new, searchable Magna Awards Best Practices Database, where you can browse through past Magna winners and other high-scoring programs for innovative best practices, proven and practical solutions, and new ideas.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|September 6th, 2011|Categories: Diversity, Professional Development, School Board News, School Climate, Teachers, Uncategorized|Tags: , |

The week in blogs

In school board circles — you might say, “school board lore” — it’s known simply as “The Blueberry Story.” But for our purposes, we’ll call it “The Blueberry Question” and add that any audience query that backs a public speaker into a corner (a rightfully deserved corner, some might say) “A Blueberry Question.” This week, in a Washington Post blog, Mary Fertakis, a board member for the Tukwila (Wash.) School District, describes a classic “Blueberry Question” she asked Education Secretary Arne Duncan last winter during NSBA’s Federal Relations Conference.

More on that later. But first, the original. In case you haven’t heard it, here it is, very briefly: Many years ago, Jamie Vollmer, an ice cream entrepreneur and public school critic who wanted schools run more like businesses, was questioned by a polite veteran English teacher after one of his lectures. She asked if he makes great ice cream, and, as he would later describe, he fell into “the trap.” After he raved about the quality of his ice cream and all its premium ingredients, she asked what he did if he got an inferior shipment of blueberries.

“I send them back,” he said, already sensing that he was a goner.

Then the teacher gave an eloquent speech about schools not being able to send back their blueberries – the blueberries, of course, being children, who arrive at school rich or poor, speaking English or not, well-adjusted or troubled. Vollmer thought about that, and soon thereafter his attitude shifted ’s 180 degrees and he became a champion for the public schools.

So, what was Fertakis’ “Blueberry Question? As she describes it in the Post’s Answer Sheet blog, her question to Duncan was this: “Should children have to compete for their education?” and of course, his answer, indeed anyone’s answer, had to be “no.” But then he was left to explain why Race to the Top, which Fertakis says pits small, rural, and disadvantaged school districts against larger, wealthier ones, is good policy.

Duncan’s no Vollmer (I’m talking pre-Blueberry-Question Vollmer) and he’s doing all he can to help close the achievement gap. But Fertakis column is an eloquent account of what it’s like to lead what the New York Times once called the “most diverse school district in the United States.”

There was a lot more in the national press this week, including a National Journal experts’ blog on bullying. The forum takes, as its starting point, NSBA’s recently launched Students on Board initiative, which encourages board members to get a better understanding of their schools through talking directly to students.

Also, see the sobering report Kids Count, from the Anne E. Casey Foundation, which found that child poverty increased 18 percent between 2000 and 2009. And nearly 8 million children in 2009 were living with at least one parent who was unemployed but looking for a job.

 

 

 

 

 

Lawrence Hardy|August 19th, 2011|Categories: Diversity, School Boards, Student Achievement, Uncategorized, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , |
Page 1 of 212