Institutionalized Racism Through Education

This post, Why Aren’t We Talking About This? by Emily Talmage speaks of the institutionalized racism contained within our system of education, especially in the charter school setting.

She states:
“When I was twenty-five, I interviewed at a charter school in Brooklyn.

Before I sat down to talk to the dean, I observed a kindergarten class that looked nothing like any kindergarten class I had ever seen: just shy of thirty children sitting in rows on a carpet, each with legs crossed and hands folded, all completely and utterly silent.

. . . I took the job – foolishly – and soon found out what this “hard work” meant: scholars, as we called them, were expected to be 100% compliant at all times. Every part of the nine-hour school day was structured to prevent any opportunity for deviance; even recess, ten-minutes long and only indoors, consisted of one game chosen for the week on Monday.

. . . There weren’t any white children at the school, but there I was – a white teacher, snapping at a room full of black children to get them to respond, in unison, to my demands.

. . . Everyone in the nation is talking about our racist history, but do people know what type of racism is happening today, beneath our noses, under the banner of education reform?

. . . With useless, commercial junk-tests as justification, we have been told, for years now, that we must serve up our low-income schools – those schools filled mostly with children of color – to profiteers, who are then free to experiment on children in whatever ways they see fit.

. . . Why aren’t more people demanding that these racist institutions and policies be taken down?

. . . It’s modern eugenics: the molding of children’s personalities, starting from preschool, to suit the needs of our Wall Street masters.”

The most racist aspect of our current system of education is the “achievement gap” which juxtapositions every child against “white males”. This is a norm that no child can achieve except white males.

Every child has the right to be considered gifted and talented regardless of socio-economic status, color, gender or health.

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Ignorance Is A Condition Of Lack Of Education Not Poverty

On Sep 13, 2016 this blog, We Have a Poverty Crisis in Education by Kristina Birdsong was posted and was recently sent out again.

In it Ms. Birdsong states:

“What is the impact of poverty on students?
Students living in poverty struggle in ways most others do not. They face a plethora of issues, including but not limited to the following:

Increased risk for behavioral, socioemotional, and physical health problems
Decreased concentration and memory
Chaotic home environment
Higher rates of suspension, expulsion, absenteeism, and drop out
Poor hygiene and malnutrition
Lack of preparedness for school

Additionally, schools in poor communities are ill-equipped and suffer more staffing issues and lack of grant funding for more diverse and special programs, including extracurricular opportunities. Due to higher attrition rates, even the most well-intentioned teachers in low-income schools often lack the experience and tools required for narrowing the gap.”

Ms. Birdsong equates the ignorance associated with ill-equipped schools to poverty thereby making the assumption that children who are considered to be impoverished are slow witted, dirty, hungry and suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

This is the general attitude of many who consider poverty to be an issue in education. Yes, these conditions exist for some children but not because they are poor, it is because their parents are ignorant.

There are middle class and wealthy children who suffer the same maladies due to ignorance as well.

Being poor does not mean your family is dysfunctional it means your family does not meet the economic conditions of being considered “middle income”.

Being ignorant means your family has never been taught to live a healthy lifestyle regardless of their socio-economic status.

Poor families may not have money but that does not assume that they also do not have any sense of health and well-beingness or that having money automatically makes you cognisant of how to live a healthy life.

The Beverly Hillbilly’s may have been a television show but it was an important commentary on how money may change your socio-economic status but may not change your attitude toward life.

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Eliminate the Gap To End The Poverty

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) sent this e-mail:

2017 Test Boycott Numbers Remain High; Parents from all Demographics Continue to Reject Test & Punish System

It states:

” Over 225,000 parents across the state, including tens of thousands of first-time refusers, rejected the state’s test-and-punish system, as evidenced by a third consecutive year of opt out numbers hovering near 20%. This is remarkable given that NYSED and local districts continue their attempts to squelch opt out by distributing misleading information and threatening dire consequences that create an environment of confusion and fear for families.

While Commissioner Elia would like to portray students who boycott the state ELA and math tests as ‘white students in rich or average wealth districts’, the data says differently. Only 8% of public school districts even met the required 95% testing participation rate, demonstrating how parents from all districts and demographics are boycotting the testing regime.”

“. . . Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent, Long Island Opt Out founder and founding member of NYSAPE said, “While State education officials and corporate-reform lobbyist interests debate and interpret the assessment results and opt out numbers using the usual rhetoric, we see parents from all school districts including first-time refusers, overwhelmingly rejecting this test and punish system. Not only have they chosen to protect their children, but they have also joined our community of parents committed to advocating for whole-child policies in our classrooms. This network of hundreds of thousands of advocates will continue to grow and develop strategies to fight against those who wish to profit from our children.”

“. . . Eileen Graham, Rochester public school parent and founder of the Black Student Leadership organization, expressed, “I would like to see more realistic efforts towards meeting the needs of children and not making our children testing ‘lab rats.’ I’m extremely angry that we keep obsessing over testing; instead of partnering with teachers and parents to ensure our children discover their greatness and learn the brilliance they bring to their schools and the world.”

Until we remove the conditions that create the “achievement gap” in education the system will not change.

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Will We Ever Learn?

The article “Rochester City School officials say despite disappointing test results, they will stay the course” by Randy Gorbman quotes Superintendent Deane-Williams as saying, “We are going to stay the course. We are going to continue the strategies that we put in place this year, which include additional focus on improving reading, writing and mathematics proficiency. We know that we can do better, and are committed to doing whatever it takes to improve results for District children.”

“The Rochester City School School District saw some improvement, up .9 percent for ELA and up .7 for math.”

Rochester School District accountability Officer Ray Giamartino said, “Our hope is that with some additional time for teachers to focus very specifically on mathematics skills and ELA literacy based strategies, we’ll have a better opportunity to provide our students and families an assurance that improvement will continue.”

From what other subjects will this “additional time” be taken?

“Rochester school district officials say they are increasing the emphasis on literacy at all grade levels, including hiring 31 additional reading support and intervention teachers in schools across the district for the upcoming school year.”

Once again, the district proves that it is in the business of hiring adults not educating children.

The district is going to say the course of failure by ignoring the multitude of data on how children learn best while continuing to administer the common core curriculum and testing proceedures that have been proven to fail our children educationally.

They have admitted that our current system of education is institutionally racist yet those concerns are not addessed.

Mr Giamartino also said, “we’ve got unbelievable teachers and administrators and a very supportive board” which alludes to the belief that by hiring more reading support and intervention teachers, it is our children who are the problem, not the system.

When will we learn that our children’s failure fuels their funding stream that supports a budget of over one billion dollars?

Staying the course means promoting more failure, hiring more adults to teach our uneducable childen and the proliferation of charter schools.

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From The Federal Register

Reopening; Applications for New Awards; Personnel Development To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities-Early Childhood Personnel Center

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education.

On April 19, 2017, we published in the Federal Register (82 FR 18447) a notice inviting applications (NIA) for the Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Early Childhood Personnel Center competition. The NIA established a deadline date of June 5, 2017, for the transmittal of applications. This notice reopens the competition until September 11, 2017.

No applications received in response to the NIA were funded because the applicants did not adequately address the selection criteria for the competition.

[Which states: Maximum Awards: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $2,000,000 for a single budget period of 12 months.

Estimated Number of Awards: 1.]

Therefore, we are reopening the competition to allow applicants to submit or resubmit applications that meet the requirements in the NIA, in order to ensure that State Part C and Part B, section 619 programs receive the technical assistance necessary to implement high-quality Comprehensive Systems of Personnel Development.


We have eliminated the formatting and page-limit requirements specified in the NIA. Further, the specification in the NIA that the Secretary will not consider budgets above the maximum award amount is no longer applicable. However, we will only fund a successful application up to $2,000,000 for any single budget period of 12 months.

With only one grant being given, applicants should be able to adjust their proposals to meet the requirements outlined.

If budgets of more than $2 million dollars are being considered, will the applicants seek other federal grants to support their extended budget?

With eligible applicants being charter schools and nonprofit agencies is this a way for our government to use valuable tax dollars to promote the declination of public schooling?

Accountability for educational funding is imperative!

Spending $2 million dollars on one program assists a small number of children. Wouldn’t that money be better served by aiding public school programs that already exist to actually improve the services and results for all children?

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Will Rochester “Say Yes” For Its Students

This article, Buffalo shows turnaround of urban schools is possible, but it takes a lot more than just money
Black and Latino students have seen the most dramatic improvements, significantly narrowing the graduation gap with their white peers
by Amadou Diallo states:

“BUFFALO, N.Y. — When 18-year-old Karolina Espinosa looks back to her freshman year at Buffalo’s Hutchinson Central Technical High School, graduation seemed like a long shot. “At the time,” she said, “both of my parents were incarcerated. I had trouble with reading, and I had problems with attendance.” But in May, sitting in the office of her school’s family SUPPORT specialist, Joell Stubbe, Karolina talked excitedly about going to Buffalo State, where she’s been accepted into the class of 2021.

Karolina credits the turnaround to her relationship with Stubbe. “She’s like my older sister,” Karolina said. “I don’t really talk about my problems … or deal with my emotions with people. I don’t even talk to my [real] sister about them or cry in front of her. And I do that with [Stubbe]. Without her I wouldn’t even be in school, honestly. I would have been a dropout.”

As an in-school family support specialist, Stubbe serves as a liaison between students, families and a number of health, legal and academic support services provided by local community organizations. Stubbe has a counterpart in every public school in the city, yet neither she nor her colleagues are employees of the Buffalo Public School system. Their positions were created by and are funded through Say Yes to Education Buffalo, a local chapter of a New York City-based nonprofit.

In Buffalo, a Rust Belt city still grappling with high poverty and an under-educated population, the results of the Say Yes program have exceeded expectations. Since its launch in 2012, the city’s high school graduation rate has climbed 15 points, to 64 percent, according to New York State education department figures, the highest rate the city has achieved in more than a decade.”

All children need someone they can trust and rely on.

This program provides students with the guidance they need.

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Less Is Not Always More

This article appeared in the Rochester Business Journal: City Skills brings STEM experiences to city youth by Gino Fanelli

“Amid a small crowd of city school youth at the Rochester MUSEUM and Science Center, Mayor Lovely Warren stands close to Douglass student Smiley Samuel, the pair carefully manipulating construction paper into a makeshift windmill. Eventually settling on the right blade positions, the pair place their creation in front of a set of billowing fans. It remains still, the Mayor plucking it back up and moving back to the drawing board.

Samuel and her fellow classmates are part of a pilot program dubbed “Technology and Careers in Rochester Powered by AT&T,” a program aimed at inspiring youth into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Financed heavily by AT&T, the program is a collaboration between the museum, the Rochester City School District, the Finger Lakes STEM Hub and the Seneca Waterways Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Included in the project is the City Living course; a five-week program immersing 12 students who are one science, math or elective credit shy of graduation into STEM-based field trips and hands-on experience.

“What we can do here is build curiosity and interest in STEM fields,” said Director of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Joe Marinelli. “This gives students a chance to gain hands-on experience in construction, manufacturing and energy power in Rochester.””

This is a heavily financed collaboration between Strong Museum, RCSD, Finger lakes STEM hub and the Boy Scouts of America.

Is it a good program, absolutely.

However, this type of learning used to take place in schools at the elementary level of education serving entire classrooms of students.

Xerox engineers worked with students at the Fourth grade level serving hundreds of students until becoming a summer camp and Saturday school program for just a few.

Hands-on, experiential learning should begin in kindergarten along with art and music and continue throughout the educational experience. Waiting until middle and high school to shore-up the educational success of a few does little to benefit all children.

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