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Integration

A racist promposal goes viral, but it should be the least of our worries in the face of an anti-black education system

Today’s episode of racial stupidity in public schools has us visiting Sarasota, Florida where 18-year-old Noah Crowley, a high school senior at Riverview High School, is collecting hell fire from the internet gods for a leaked Snapchat photo of his racist “promposal.”

As you might expect, the story lit up social media timelines, and all the predictable crisis management tactics were executed.

The school put out a statement saying:

“We want to make everyone aware of a student’s social media post that has caused a very concerning situation. It involves one of our seniors and his ‘promposal’ to another student. It was racial in nature and administration became aware of it last night.

Many who saw the post are understandably upset with its contents as well as the subsequent commentary to the post. Riverview High School absolutely does not condone or support the message conveyed in this post.

The student’s post is under investigation by administration; the parents of the students involved have been contacted and appropriate action will be taken based on the investigation. We are focused on ensuring that Riverview High School provides a safe and secure environment for all of our students and that all students feel welcome and understand the value that they all bring to our school community. Our guidance counselors and administrators are available for any student who wish to speak to someone regarding the issue.

Riverview High School has a wonderful student population and we know our school will use this incident as an opportunity to have productive conversations about respect for one another. We look forward to the start of a new week and know that together, we will demonstrate our pride in the spirit of our school through caring for each other. Thank you.”

Crowley issued the standard apology that horrified white parents buy from publicist when their children become internet famous for racism.

What’s interesting about his apology is it makes his actions seem accidental or spontaneous, but the sign is pretty damn neat. The meticulous lettering looks like it took a while (albeit, with a stencil). It looks like he had ample time while creating it to ask himself “is this stupid”?

He said:

“I want to sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone with the picture going around. That was not my intention. Anyone who knows me….knows that that’s not how we truly feel. It was a complete joke and it went too far…After reading the texts and Snapchat’s I truly see how I have offended people and I’m sorry.”

And what racial incident would be complete without an obligatory meeting with the local NAACP?

Yes, the Sarasota school district is working with the civil rights organization to show a good faith attempt at investigating and resolving their problem with the color line.

Great. Good stuff. Unfortunately, is solves nothing.

All of the racial theater aside, the problem here isn’t Crowley, his message, the hurt feelings of overly precious children, or existence of racism among American youth. God help any individual cognitively impaired enough to be surprised by anti-black racism or endemic white supremacy. Those properties are like air for birds, water for fish, or lies for Trump.

It just is what it is.

But, being the education hawk that I am, there is something important about this story that won’t be told.

Here’s a picture of it:

Riverview High School is 69% white, and 31% non-white, which by definition is that elusive “integrated” school so many of my colleagues and peers in education commentary fawn over.

Old integration plans from days long gone capped “minority” student populations to 30% because it was the golden ratio of white to minority numbers that made everyone better educated.

By golden ratio I mean 30% was the high rate of non-minority in a school that could exist before good white people would bolt for less integrated schools.

As you can see by the picture above, there are problems with that theory. In fact, Riverview’s black students scored so poorly on state tests they might as well be at the blackest, poorest school in the country.

Here’s a better picture:

Every student population in this school is outscoring their state at-large, but only 23% of black students are proficient in reading – at the high school level – as compared to black students statewide who are at 33%.

White Riverview students are at a laudable 73%.

We can have long discussions about why those disparities exist. Obviously parents and culture and family income will be summoned as contributors. For some, school funding and class size will explain everything.

But one thing is certain: we will never improve outcomes for black students if we are perpetually distracted by the facile outrage of the day, or by romantic versions of alternative reality where racial integration fixes everything.

Let’s be intelligent people capable of rigorous thought.

Change will only come if we focus less on the picture above of Crowley’s dumb promposal, and focus more on the two other pictures above that illustrate the glaring disparities in education that are killing black minds everyday.

Pursuing the power of self-sovereignty and personalized learning to create secure citizens and abundant communities. #TheOppositeOfSchool #AllPowerToThePupil

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Integration

White progressives have a lot of work to do, and I’m not here to help

When I ran for school board it was former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges who was the first elected official to endorse me. She asked me a lot of questions, offered some straight talk about the political system, and spoke very clearly about what it takes to win in a whiter than white town like Minneapolis.

Later, after winning a seat on the board and facing white parents who came for my head and demanded I resign, Betsy was the first to call me and offer more advice. I can’t share what that was, but it was about standing firm in the good fight.

I hear echoes of her voice from back then in new a piece she wrote for the New York Times.

It opens with this:

Democrats have largely led big and midsize cities for much of the past half-century. Yet the gaps in socioeconomic outcomes between white people and people of color are by several measures at their worst in the richest, bluest cities of the United States.

That opening might as well be the preamble for a report my organization released early this year that showed racialized inequities in public schools are worse in the top “progressive” cities than in the top “conservative” ones. As proud as progressive democrats are of their hometowns, they are citadels of inequity.

I’m happy to see Facebook liberals accepting the message from Betsy because when our report dropped more than a few education lefties on Twitter hated on it. They challenged the methodology, the motives behind it, and it’s usefulness.

What they didn’t do is show the slightest curiosity as to why wealthy, college-educated enclaves like San Francisco and the Twin Cities were hosts to terrible gaps in education, home ownership, and economics for people of color when compared to whites. And that, in my eyes, was (and is) the actual problem. Liberal white people who subscribe to all the right periodicals, vote for the wokest sounding political candidates, and give money to causes that surely prove their stellar virtues also suffer from colossal blind spots that hide their contributions to the perpetuation of racial inequity.

That’s why it’s satisfying to say this in her piece:

As the mayor of Minneapolis from 2014 to 2018, as a Minneapolis City Council member from 2006 until 2014 and as a white Democrat, I can say this: White liberals, despite believing we are saying and doing the right things, have resisted the systemic changes our cities have needed for decades. We have mostly settled for illusions of change, like testing pilot programs and funding volunteer opportunities.

These efforts make us feel better about racism, but fundamentally change little for the communities of color whose disadvantages often come from the hoarding of advantage by mostly white neighborhoods.

In Minneapolis, the white liberals I represented as a Council member and mayor were very supportive of summer jobs programs that benefited young people of color. I also saw them fight every proposal to fundamentally change how we provide education to those same young people. They applauded restoring funding for the rental assistance hotline. They also signed petitions and brought lawsuits against sweeping reform to zoning laws that would promote housing affordability and integration.

She is speaking mostly about policing in Minneapolis, but she was there to see firsthand white parents who talked endlessly about social justice online organize privately to sabotage plans to change school boundaries and integrate our schools.

There were many parents who declared their principled support for public education until they didn’t get their way in a policy battle and then threaten to put their kids in private schools. (Those same parents, ironically, also railed against school choice – especially when it meant people of color might take their per pupil income from Minneapolis’ chronically failing schools that the city’s white families had abandoned years earlier to culturally-affirming charter schools).

I lost faith in white “progressives” so long ago that I scantly remember having it. Every now and then I go back and read the emails I received as an school board member just to remind myself how truly awful fauxgressives can be. As the target of their social violence on many occasions, as an audience to their massive eruptions of privilege, and as a witness to their duplicitous hypocrisy during a decade of negotiating with them, I’m tapped out. I’m not alone. Many people of color are tapped out. Disgusted. Tired.

I hope to see more Betsy’s take up the battle of finally confronting their friends, neighbors, and family to see their part in keeping too many faces at the bottom of the well.

I won’t hold my breath for an unlikely awakening, but I will cling to the nominal hope a merciful God put in my heart for these things.

 

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Integration

Everyone knows that magnet schools work. Except when they don’t.

An editorial in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch about that city’s magnet schools takes issue with the pervasive claim that “integration is the only thing that has ever worked at scale.’

It didn’t work. Feel free to keep saying it though.

This is where you point me to this or that book or report by this or that professor (or “journalist”) who attended white schools and feels they’re the best thing since round wheels. To which I’ll tell you to look at the outcomes in all the centers of integrationist policy and tell me which one is working?

Hartford?

Hardly. That district’s magnet are discriminating on the basis of race, cherry picking students, and making the traditional schools that the left behind kids suffer in more segregated classrooms.

Louisville?

Come on man, we’ve talked about this before. Not Wake County, Charlotte, or anywhere else.

All of them have whopping achievement gaps.

Looking at the decaying city schools where major desegregation efforts happen you have wonder if the billions of dollars spent in those communities to build systems of exclusive magnet schools are better off. Look at this example from St. Louis.

With all the problems magnet schools cause, why are there no calls for moratoriums?

But, when it’s magnets, no such demand. Why?

Here’s the heart of the editorial:

If desegregation and diversity are the goals, then the school district has failed. Clear disparities persist, and instead of attracting students from around the city, magnet schools tend to reflect the racial profile of the communities where they are based.

These schools, which require students to apply, are designed to provide training in subjects such as military preparation, visual and performing arts, or science and technology. The idea is to provide advanced education to students who can’t afford a private education. Students normally have to meet a grade-point average threshold, submit essays, and even conduct interviews, depending on the school’s requirements. Once the students qualify for their desired schools, they are then entered into a lottery.

St. Louis Public Schools says the magnet program strives for “area-wide desgregation” with a “goal of being racially integrated.” The reality is that the schools in the largely black areas are dominated by black students. The schools in white areas have higher percentages of white students. And the few schools with more diversity, all of which are in south St. Louis and the Central West End, have the highest performance scores.

According to the City Parents League of St. Louis, all three magnet high schools in north St. Louis were over 85% black. Based off of numbers collected by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch School Guide, the highest performing north St. Louis high school was Soldan, which in 2017-18, only 31.95% of whose students tested proficient or advanced in English, math and social studies. Students at Northwest Academy of Law, the lowest performing school, were only 15% proficient or advanced.

On the diversity scale, the City Parents League ranks schools as either lacking, somewhat or highly diverse. Only three magnet schools ranked as highly diverse, and all three had white student enrollment of 30% or more and are located in south St. Louis or the Central West End. Among those three schools, the lowest performing school was Collegiate, near St. Louis University, whose performance rating was 76.6% proficient. That is more than 40 percentage points higher than the top north St. Louis school.

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Integration

White teacher, black student trade blows in school district famous for integration

Here’s the short story: A teacher in Louisville, Kentucky asks a student to put his cell phone away. He angrily refuses. They face off. The teacher shoves him to the ground.

A rowdy cage match ensues.

The local teachers union says this incident is a result of taking police officers out of the schools. And, now, they need more resources. And, of course, there student trauma is an problem that produces superpredators.

But, most importantly, it’s all about having more cops in the classroom – again.

As a side note, labor unions in Louisville were literally at the front lines of opposition to racial integration.

See this description of local hostilities from a NBC Nightly News story in 1974:

In other parts of the school district where anti-busing sentiment is not so great, white attendance was somewhat better. Although, overall, half the white students were absent. Black students did not seem to be boycotting. At schools where they were bused in, they were most often greeted with curiosity, seldom with hostility. There were no attempts to keep them away. But at mid-morning, in defiance of the federal court order, several thousand anti-busing demonstrators marched through the downtown area, blocking traffic.

Most of the marchers belong to labor unions. They carry cards identifying themselves as pipe fitters and electrical workers. They say that they’re on strike today because they don’t believe forced busing is constitutional.

The wildcat strike was so large it caused three factories in Louisville to shut down for the day, and another to cut back production. The march was peaceful for almost an hour, but then police moved in to enforce the court-ordered ban on demonstrations. Nine people were arrested, most were charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly. There were no serious injuries. In contrast, at the schools where students were bused today, there were no incidents. Instruction began as usual and classes were dismissed routinely. The only problems today took place off school grounds. Mike Jackson, NBC News, Louisville.

Back to today. The teacher-student fight could be seen as a long-standing reality beneath the integration idealism. For me, it’s a sign that racial Rousseauism is dangerous. We should strive for peace among people but we’re mugged by history and outmatched by the vigor of its darkest inclinations. The teacher and student in conflict here are not merely individuals in a random dust-up, but bubble-ups from days past who will face off again (and again and again….).

Also, nowhere is that problem more predictable than common schooling delivered by your government even in the school district considered the most successful with racial integration programs..

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