Christina school board needs to fire those who victimized black students

Justice now rests with Christina and state officials Written by Jea P. Street

And now, the district has been found guilty of discrimination in discipline practices at all school levels. To date, no member of the Christina Board or any district official expressed any regret for the discriminatory policies, practices and acts. The agreement with the OCR was made for the sole purpose of compliance. What is and has been lacking is concern and commitment.

Please read the entire article by Jea Street because I don’t want to copy and paste the lengthy article that crosses-over from disparities in student consequences to the issue of re-segregation. So I’ll just quote a few paragraphs.  

I’d like to take things one-step further than Jea Street. The civil rights of “children” have be violated and an apology or remorse by the school board doesn’t take these social criminals out of our schools. The federal report fails to identify the individual teachers and administrators who appear to harbor racism. The Christina school board needs to review the report and roundup those adults guilty and terminate them along with urging the state attorney general to demand these individual lose all teaching credentials and keep them out of our schools.

Page 17 of the OCR’s findings states: “[T]he evidence further revealed that schools located in the city of Wilmington, (Bancroft ES, Elbert Palmer ES, Stubbs ES, Pulaski ES and Bayard MS) accounted for a significant portion of the harsher penalty assignments made for the highly subjective categories of inappropriate behavior and disruption of the educational process.”

Well here is a dilemma, many of these school noted had school leaders who were African-American. Can we honestly call African-American administrators and teachers who were involved racist? I know somebody is going to jump in here and accuse Kilroy equating everything to racism. Folks the issue at had is clearly a concern of racism. It would make no logic sense to suggest an African-American administrator is a racist because he or she punished an African-American student more harsher than a white student. But is there some social-code that gives African-American passes when their actions defaces civil rights against children of their color? 

While it confirmed some of the allegations in my November 2005 federal complaint against the district and my November 2009 state complaint against the district, I find no joy in confirmation of the harm done to African-American children.

Yes harm has been done to African-American children and this should support my call for the district to find and fire those involved. I am sure the federal report and testimony of Jea would defend the district against any labor lawsuit.

While it confirmed some of the allegations in my November 2005 federal complaint against the district and my November 2009 state complaint against the district, I find no joy in confirmation of the harm done to African-American children.

Jea Street didn’t hide when he filed these complaint in 2005 and 2009. So why didn’t Christina’s superintendents take action and make recommendations to the school board? If a teacher witness abuse against a student by another teacher and didn’t report it that teacher could be charged. So why didn’t Christina’s superintendent take action upon Jea’s complaints? The current Christina board needs to expose the truth and stop protecting adults within the district. Surely some of these involved administrators and teachers are employed in the district or other districts, Well one thing for sure is, a real test of civil rights will be to see if any African-American school board member makes a motion to call for a major inquiry to  identify those involve and purge them out of the system and away from children. Sorry to say we’re going to see a major cover-up by the current sitting board. Kilroy may offend a few Christina board members who visit here and who are leading bloggers in Delaware with national outreach. However, the truth must be revealed and those who victimized children need to be exposed,

The findings of discrimination, now assigned Christina, is just one of the pathologies that exist in our segregated charter and traditional public schools. Today, no child from outside Wilmington has to go to school in the city and Wilmington officials have no authority over educational funding or the education destiny of its own children. State and school officials have promoted these outcomes since the 1996 after the lifting of the court ordered desegregation.

Sorry old friend, I must say, here lies the failure of those in Wilmington and the state who are the watchdogs of civil rights and many sit like dogs seeking a pat on the head from the Governor. They run home and proudly display photographs of themselves and the governor. The empowerment is in the people and when the men in the community fail to grab that empowerment they are not men! I was there with those who marched hand and hand ending up at the base of the governor’s Wilmington office with the bullhorn pointed up! So who got dinner with Markell to clam up? The march was the rally-cry for action and no action followed. I am hopefully change will come in regards to these issues but I foresee the leadership being at the hands of a sister. My bitching at Charter School of Wilmington a “charter school” for concerning lack of diversity may have not been the motivator for change but I do see change with this years freshman class of 27 African-American students. But without unity we have no community! Without fathers leading the way children will never become leaders.  

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21 responses to “Christina school board needs to fire those who victimized black students

  1. http://www.econ.rochester.edu/people/Kinsler/understanding_black_white.pdf
    The difference between black and white discipline appears to be between schools and not between white and black teachers and students within schools. That will make it tougher to find the “offenders”. So maybe the difference in behavior is actually there? Maybe there is a perception that it is there?

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    • Or, as I posted before in response to your link to this interesting study, maybe the challenges of maintaining discipline at high-poverty schools are such that teachers and admin. feel compelled to take harsh measures. I don’t say this to excuse their behavior–but that’s what the study that you cite shows. In the heavily-black schools that the author looks at (in N. Carolina), ALL students, black or white, are punished more harshly than in the whiter (and more affluent schools). As I recall, the author doesn’t speculate as to why this is so–he just notes that the harsher discipline is school-based and in that sense not racially motivated (by the administrators, etc.).

      Remember that high-poverty schools = high poverty classrooms. If you have a 20% low-income school, then 5-6 kids per room come from economically challenged families (often stressful, often with poorly educated parents–hence the difficulty obtaining better-paying work). If you have a 70% low-income school, 18 or so kids per classroom come from such environments. That tips the cultural balance, in terms of discipline, to a degree that teachers may enforce harsh penalties to maintain order.

      Again, they shouldn’t be permitted to do that, to the detriment of the kids who are unduly punished. But we could help them out by strategizing ways to decrease the concentration of poor kids in their classrooms. The kids are here, and the poverty is real, so we’ll have to deal straightforwardly with that. Models like what Dickinson is doing (IB in a high-poverty high school) vs. what CSW is doing (1.6% low income in a high-poverty district) are a good start, in my view.

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    • Quick follow-up to above: obviously IB classes may themselves have few low-income students (unfortunately–but that’s probably true; we could check). However, a school like Dickinson that enrolls an SES range of students and thereby reduces low-income density across the school can, if it wishes, distribute teachers’ class responsibilities such that they are not continuously teaching classes of the most disadvantaged kids. I don’t know whether it is common for them to do that or not. But one can imagine that, at schools with 70, 80, 90% low-income students (most of whom, in this area, will be low-income minority students from tough neighborhoods) the teachers and admin. begin to feel under siege in relation to student behavior. Increasingly draconian disciplinary measures may well be a response to that. If the teachers have a mix of classes, some more easily disciplined, that might help to stem the tendency toward a siege mentality (teachers/admin. vs. unruly kids) & unduly harsh discipline in response.

      Perhaps there is another study that speaks to this; the one linked above does not, as I recall. It’s a useful study on its own terms, though.

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  2. I assume you want all school boards in Delaware to open such an inquiry and to fire all teachers and administrators in Delaware that engaged in this behavior. Surely you do not wish to only get rid of those identified in a report, but all of them.

    Also, what about the discipline records of daycare/early childhood centers receiving federal RTTT early childhood monies. We need to go after them too!

    Lastly, Jea’s love fest with RTTT is embarrassing, for him. He clearly hasn’t even read it.

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  3. kilroysdelaware

    “I assume you want all school boards in Delaware to open such an inquiry and to fire all teachers and administrators in Delaware that engaged in this behavior. Surely you do not wish to only get rid of those identified in a report, but all of them”

    Yes indeed 100% However, other school district administrators will say there is no evidence that our district or charter school has this problem.

    As far as school board and accountability, one would think the super and administration prepares discipline reports. It appears in Christina’s case the super failed to take proactive action. I suggest that all school board require monthly discipline reports breaking-down the data. Setting a policy is fine but monitoring response is more beneficial. But I must say if we’re going to go down this road that is warranted we may see more civil rights complaints in regard to labor lawsuits. Jea might have a problem working both sides of the fences because surely a more detail report will reveal African-American staff involvement. Lawyers can defend the the victim and those who victimizes.

    I am sure Red Clay and other district will review polices to spare them the embarrassment of such an investigation.

    . .

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  4. I think we may be at the cutting edge on this. It was started under Dr. Lyles, I believe. Also, the data is collected by race, income, teacher, principal, etc, but not published by those fields. That said, the dashboards are useful enough, that anyone who cares or says they care as much as Councilman Street certainly could be coming to meetings and asking questions. As you can tell, taking pot shots in the paper after the fact is easy, doing the monthly work is hard.

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  5. Kilroy – If CSW had an influx of minority students in its freshman class, was that a function of effort to increase minority admittance or a function of full preference being given to Red Clay students? In other words – did CSW try to increase it’s minority population or did the population increase b/c CSW stopped rejecting admitting higher scoring non-minorities from outside Red Clay

    You might call it splitting hairs, but the answer is more telling than the question…

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    • Excellent question, Elizabeth. The answer would speak to whether Red Clay has increased its recruitment of minorities or not. (Again, the minority students that they are getting are not low-income; it is a racial improvement for sure, but not a social class improvement. There are, happily, a decent number of middle class African-American and Latino kids in our county, even though the majority of children in those demographics remain low-income.)

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    • meant to say, “whether CSW has increased its recruitment…”

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  6. As I said previously, until we know the exact circumstance behind each and every punishiment how can you authoratatively state any real answer. The report says more inner city schools had higher levels of punishment. And since those schools are made up of mostly black staff and students how is that racism? Or is it the staff seeing possible worse issues in these kids lives and are hoping that amore stringent punishment wil wake someone up? WE DONT KNOW. And Kilroy, for you to take such a hard stance on STATISTICS is amusing. Arent you the one constantly spouting that the numbers can be manipulated anyway possible? IN the course of actual teacing statistics is a sall contributing factor. The interpersonal relationships and ‘getting through’ are much more important.

    So now everyone wil jump on the racism bandwagon becaseu its an easy target instead of really looking to see what the real issue isand trying to fix it.

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    • kilroysdelaware

      The overall fact supports the findings. However, the finer details as to administrators / teachers handing out punishment isn’t there. Could it be the same administrator or teacher for the greatest number of incidents? We need to know the details!

      “So now everyone wil jump on the racism bandwagon becaseu its an easy target instead of really looking to see what the real issue isand trying to fix it.”

      Riddle me this, is it racism when the teacher or administrator is black and the student is black? If not race isn’t the issue and rather methodology towards discipline might be the concern.

      Once the findings are detailed enough should consequences for white staff be greater than that of back!

      “Arent you the one constantly spouting that the numbers can be manipulated anyway possible?”

      Come on now that spouting is ranting an I like to push the conversation to peel back the onion. Call Kilroy’s the virtual kitchen table!

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  7. But Kilroy we can agree that any report from any government agency will be fraught with holes and will raise more questions than answers.

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    • kilroysdelaware

      Indeed! And lets see the finer details ! I am sure the perception is white on black civil rights infractions when it could be mixed. Either way we don’t need these “individuals” working with children. I think Christina and other districts should lose sight of that!

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  8. Again, until we know the reasons behind the punishments we are castigating staff and schools without real knowledge. If its reported that you have 48 speeding tickets that looks bad. But what if each ticket was for 56 in a 55? The initial stats make you seem like a horrible and irresponsible driver, but until we know the depth we really cant judge.

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  9. I have not read the complete OCR report so can somebody who has tell me if there is a breakdown school by school for the discipline data? I think that would be very telling.

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  10. Interestingly, the report notes disparate penalties for “inappropriate behavior.” Even the report acknowledges the subjectivity of this category; indeed, such could range from chewing gum in class to telling a teacher to “F*** off.” Now, are these offenses of similar severity — even though they both would fall under the category of “inappropriate behavior”?

    Would you, as a teacher/administrator, mete out the same punishment … even if it was a first offense? Not to mention, the official referrals may not have indicated “off the record” interventions that may have taken place prior to the write-up.

    I’m not saying this was the case in CSD’s case, although I’d be willing to bet it played a role.

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  11. Hube – as a board member, my personal opinion is that OCR found a critical flaw within our code. We need to thoroughly define “inappropriate behavior.” This particular offense now appears to have been used as a catch all category. Appears. I can’t say with 100% certainty that that is what happened. But, the lesson is clear – we need return to our code and more vividly define it so that errors such as the ones that led to the OCR investigation do not repeat. That is one particular takeaway that I will want to see addressed as we begin the heavy work assigned to us (and fully accepted) by OCR. As I have said before – these findings are a beginning, not an ending. Those of us who long suspected that disparity was occuring finally have an independent and sanctioned tool with which to compel the changes that need to occur. Whether the whole of CSD agrees that these disparities exist(ed) is now moot. I’ve been accused of having an agenda for no other reason than the fact that I ran and was elected to the BOE. The reality was that the agenda was never mine – I have always put the needs of our children first – but I do have a road map for mitigating the legacy left to me by the failings of those who preceded me. And OCR has now created access to the more robust tools needed to extinguish an institutionalized behavior and to redevelop our district’s culture as it pertains to discipline.

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  12. Oh please. The teachers/administators will only grieve the punishment Kilroy, and then the district is still stuck with them. No, you write a new page of rules and guidelines. And THEN you hold their feet to the fire. Don’t make John Boy and Elizabeth Walton’s job any more complex and futile.

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