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Articles tagged with diversity

NSBA in the News: “Should children have to compete for their education?”

Mary Fertakis, a member of the Tukwila, Wash., school board and president-elect of the Washington State School Directors’ Association, wrote a column for the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog this week discussing competitive federal grant programs and the disadvantages many students and school districts face.

Fertakis posed the question, “Should children have to compete for their education?” to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at NSBA’s 2011 Federal Relations Network conference in February. Read the column and be sure to leave your comments.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 18th, 2011|Categories: FRN Conference 2011, Rural Schools, Educational Finance, School Reform, Race to the Top (RTTT)|Tags: , , |

NA webinar: Population shifts dramatically impact schools

In a recent webinar for National Affiliates, a leading researcher showed how school districts can use the 2010 U.S. Census data to project enrollment trends in their areas.

Ron Crouch, director of research and statistics for the office of employment and training for the Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet, showed how the data could be used to identify the ages of different areas and how those demographics could impact school enrollments.

Nationally, the data showed an uptick in the nation’s population in the past decade, particularly among Hispanic and Asian residents, but regional differences varied widely.

For instance, when looking at population trends through a map of the United States, Michigan was the only state to lose population from 2000 to 2010. Many southern and southwestern states saw population increases of 5 to 15 percent or more.

But when the data was analyzed by looking at counties, it was clear that many areas were losing residents, even in the states with increasing populations. Many of those areas were rural.

Crouch used demographic data to show how some counties have younger populations—for instance, the Seattle area has had a boom in residents age 25 to 34 who haven’t yet had children. In other areas, there are growing numbers of young workers who are having children, and race and ethnicity made a big difference in the number of children getting ready to start school.

“All the growth that’s really going on in this country is the Hispanic population,” Crouch noted. Many Hispanics tend to have larger families; and while the Asian population is also increasing at significant rates, Asians tend to have fewer children, he said.

The Asian population, for instance, tends to be more concentrated in areas on East and West Coast, while the Hispanic population is more widespread. And while there was still a great concentration of Hispanics in California and the Southwest, some are now moving into other regions, particularly the South.

In addition, more children are being identified as being of two or more races, he added. Demographic data showed that the vast majority of residents identified as two or more races was concentrated in young children and teenagers categories.

The webinar will be archived for National Affiliates at Crouch will also be presenting at NSBA’s 72nd Annual Conference, held April 21 to 23, 2012, in Boston.

A searchable analysis of the county-by-county Census data is available at the New York Times website.


Joetta Sack-Min|August 5th, 2011|Categories: Rural Schools, Immigrants, School Board News|Tags: , |

The week in blogs

Here are two unsettling statistics on school discipline, based on an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas secondary school students: Nearly 60 percent of these children were suspended or expelled over the course of the six-year study, and African-American students were disproportionately disciplined for infractions that the researchers described as “discretionary” — that is, the school had the option of not suspending or expelling the student but chose the harsher path.

As it turns out, it’s not as much the behavior of the students that leads to vastly different kinds of discipline, says the study by The Council of State Government’s Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. It’s the policies of school leaders.

“The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, told the Washington Post. “School superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact.”

To that list we should also add school board members, who hire the superintendent and, through their policy-making decisions, have significant authority over the way schools handle discipline.

The day after that report was made public, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder issued a new Supportive School Discipline Initiative that aims to dismantle the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” that pushes students into the juvenile justice system for school infractions that could be handled in other ways.

Citing the Texas report and the high number of suspensions and expulsions it found, Holder said, “I think these numbers are kind of a wake-up call. It’s obvious we can do better.”

In yet another critical look at school discipline, journalist Annette Fuentes, in her new book, Lockdown High, examines the heightened national concern about school safety – and its negative consequences – since 9/11 and Columbine.

“The Columbine scenario is terrifying, but the odds of it occurring in your hometown are about one in two million,” Fuentes told the Post.

In a later interview, she makes another point that is well known to most school board members: School is among the safest places for children and young people to be.

So how about those ultra-safe playgrounds, with nothing too high or too hard, too fast or too rickety? Not good for kids, says Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University of Norway. Yes, they may prevent a few physical injuries (and even that is open to debate) but the psychological toll – in children becoming more fearful because they’re not given the chance to adequately explore their world — outweighs the benefits, she says in a New York Times article.

So too safe is bad – psychologically. What about too extravagant, for example, the $248,000 playhouse a former CEO built for his grandchildren? Not a great idea, notes the Post’s Ruth Marcus. Could make for overly indulged, uncreative kids. Imagine that?

At least that’s one problem cashed-strapped school districts don’t have to worry about.

Lawrence Hardy|July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized, Teachers, Week in Blogs, School Security, School Climate, Reports|Tags: , , , , , , |

The week in blogs

Not only is it lonely at the top, it’s stressful too. You have to watch your back and fight off challengers.

Yes, of course, we’re talking about baboons.

According to fascinating new research described in today’s New York Times, it’s not all that bad to be a beta male. In fact, it may help you live longer and perpetuate the species.

“After all,” says the Times, “when the alpha gets into another baboon bar fight, who’s going to take the girl home?”

And what does all this have to do with K12 education? Wait, I’m thinking… Yes, here it is: Who’s better equipped to survive those interminable school board budget meetings without burning out? Who’s more skillful at collaborating, finding consensus, and “speaking with one voice?”  Who not only “talks the talk,” or “walks the walk,” but truly “walks the talk?” (Answer: Beta males? And females?  It must be true; it’s in the New York Times.)

In other education news — actually, on a more serious note — read the Times’ Michael Winerip on Matthew, a young student with an attention problem who was allegedly “fired” from a New York City charter school because he didn’t fit in.

“Matthew’s story raises perhaps the most critical question in the debate about charter schools,” Winerip writes.  “Do they cherry-pick students, if not by gaming the admissions process, then by counseling out children who might be more expensive or difficult to educate — and who could bring down their test scores, graduation rates and safety records?

Also see Joanne Jacobs on “Why Math Tutors Prosper,” Yong Zhao’s provocative call to “Ditch Testing” in light of the Atlanta cheating furor, and Charlotte Williams of the Learning First Alliance on desegregation during the Obama years.

Lawrence Hardy|July 15th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized, Charter Schools, Week in Blogs, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , |


296-1244490483sgKzI’ve never really followed soccer … to be honest, I’ve really never followed any professional sport or team with much regularity.

Perhaps it’s our country’s growing fondness for “futbol” or maybe my expanding network of international friends, but it seems like the countdown and the inevitable Friday finale to the World Cup is all I seem to hear about lately.

I must admit, there is something to be said about the excitement and energy that can engulf a community when teams duke it out in a championship game. It actually reminds me of an ASBJ story I wrote a few years back on, of all things, diversity and immigration and how each impacted schools.

Naomi Dillon|July 7th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Athletics, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , |

A new role for the Office of Civil Rights

Photo courtesy of Stockvault

Photo courtesy of Stockvault

It’s been more than 10 years since I visited the small city of Perry, Iowa, to do a story on how its public schools were adapting to a large influx of Hispanic students. There had been friction in this little railroad town over the new immigrants, but the schools were a refuge for all.

I remember how impressed I was by the dedication of the superintendent, the principals, and the ESL teachers: They were truly committed to giving the newcomers from places like Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala the very best education they could provide.

I wrote a pretty glowing story — and rightly so. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to some of these foreign-born students in a few years, especially those who had come to Iowa as middle or high schoolers with limited English skills. How many of them would graduate and go on to college or decent-paying jobs?   

Lawrence Hardy|March 10th, 2010|Categories: Curriculum, Diversity, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |

Attorneys: Don’t Run From Diversity Policies

More than two years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious student assignment policies in the Seattle and Louisville public schools, many other districts are needlessly avoiding strategies that can increase diversity and boost student achievement, NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negron Jr. said Saturday.

“Most school districts are simply going to run from diversity policies because of fear of litigation.” Negron said Saturday at a break out session titled “Diversity: Dead or Different?”

But running scared is a mistake, said Negron and Arthur L. Coleman, managing partner for EducationCounsel L.L.C. Within decades the United States will be a “majority minority” nation. Global economic competition will continue to increase. The most successful students will be those who can thrive in a diverse environment. And one way to prepare them for that future is to continue seeking diversity in public schools and classrooms as an academic goal.

“Race and diversity are very much in play,” Negron said. “But you have to do it the right way…. It has to be part of a broad academic policy.”

That means districts not under court-ordered desegregation plans cannot seek to diversity as a means of redressing past discrimination; their efforts must instead have a broad academic purpose, Coleman said. He said the high court emphasized in its rejection of the Louisville plan that only about 3 percent of the district’s students would benefit from its race-based student assignments — hardly a prescription for broad academic benefit.

Districts interested in diversifying schools can use things like geographic boundaries, socioeconomic status, designation as English language learners, and other demographic criteria, but not if these are proxies for race, Negron said. And they should look to stakeholders outside the district, including businesses and community groups, to validate their actions, something the University of Michigan did in the wake of its own 2003 Supreme Court case concerning undergraduate admissions. In fact, Coleman said, looking at the policies of colleges and universities can benefit school districts as well.

“Who are the external validators who can come in and say, ‘This is important to our success?'” Coleman asked. “And this is exactly what the University of Michigan did.”

He added: “Frankly, there is more abundant higher education consideration of race than in the K-12 setting,” Coleman said.

Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor, Publications

Lawrence Hardy|January 30th, 2010|Categories: School Law, Leadership Conference 2010, School Board News|Tags: , |
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