Something Evil Lurks In School …

  1. San Antonio, Texas – 29 March 2016 – Officer Joshua Kehm intervened after two female students became verbally aggressive toward each other. A video, which was posted to YouTube shows the officer struggling to restrain a female student, identified by her mother as 12-year-old Janissa Valdez, as other students stand on either side of the pathway, some frowning, others smiling and laughing, using cellphones to record the incident. Some students can be heard urging the girl to “chill,” then the officer suddenly throws her down. Kehm was put on paid administrative leave and the administration as well as the district’s police department are investigating.
  1. Beaumont, Texas – 08 April 2016 – Mary Hastings, a 63-year-old geometry teacher at Ozen High School, was filmed attacking a student who reportedly asked about a grade. The teacher reportedly threw a stack of papers at the student, slapped him five times, called him an “idiot ass”, and mocked his speech. Interestingly, students who were interviewed after the fact, described Hastings as generally ‘cool’, caring and laid-back.  Hastings is on administrative leave pending evaluation of her contract, and was released from jail on $2,500 bond.  98% of students at Ozen High School are minorities.
  1. Undocumented children have the legal right to enroll in school. And under federal law, schools cannot discriminate against children based on their immigration status. However:
  • After 16-year-old Juan made the journey from Honduras to the United States, he tried to enroll at a school in Texas. But the principal — concerned that Juan wouldn’t be able to pass state standardized tests, which would reflect badly on the school’s averages — initially wouldn’t let him. Although Juan was ultimately able to attend school, he received little to no guidance to help him navigate his courses in English. He eventually dropped out.
  • wacoA 12-year-old African-American girl in a predominantly white school in Waco, Texas, was helping to swing the other kids before stopping to watch. The next thing she felt was the rope going around her neck from behind before it pulled against her neck. The girl fell to the ground and was tugged backward. None of the students helped her, the girl added, and so she removed the rope, only to find small pieces embedded in her neck. When she looked back, the girl said that she saw three boys, all of them white, who she claimed had been bullying her before.
  • Texas school officials also barred an undocumented 14-year-old girl who wanted to live with her 18-year-old sister rather than the sponsors the government placed her with when she arrived in the United States, saying her sister couldn’t be a caretaker because she was also enrolled in school.
  • Some Texas schools declined to enroll children because parents weren’t able to present the necessary residency documents on the day that they attempted to enroll, even though families are legally allowed a 30-day grace period to submit the required documentation while their children attend school. In several instances, school officials told family members who weren’t proficient in English that they didn’t have enrollment documents translated into Spanish, even when those Spanish-language forms did exist in the district.
  • Even after immigrants in Texas were able to enroll in schools, some were placed in alternative programs meant for students who had prior involvement in violent behavior and gang affiliation. Many families reported that they weren’t given a choice about whether their kids would be enrolled in these alternative schools.

Granted, Texas is not the only state where racism is on the rise in schools.  Texas is ranked the 3rd most racist state in the nation, behind Mississippi and Alabama.  Texas also ranks 47th nationwide in state government expenditures per student.  Other recent cases I researched but have not presented here tell of minority high school students finding nooses and hate notes on their cars, consistently having racial slurs aimed at them, and only nominal punishment, if any, for the perpetrators. However racism exists in schools across the nation.  Some statistics from around the nation confirm racism in our schools:

  • Black students accounted for 18% of the country’s pre-K enrollment, but made up 48% of preschoolers with multiple out-of-school suspensions.
  • Black students were expelled at three times the rate of white students.
  • American Indian and Native-Alaskan students represented less than 1% of students, but 3% of expulsions.
  • Black girls were suspended at higher rates than all other girls and most boys.
  • American Indian and Native-Alaskan girls were suspended at higher rates than white boys or girls.
  • Nearly one in four boys of colour, excepting Latino and Asian American students with disabilities received an out-of-school suspension.
  • One in five girls of colour with disabilities received an out-of-school suspension.
  • A quarter of the schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students did not offer Algebra II.
  • A third of these schools did not offer chemistry.
  • Less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students had access to the full range of math and science courses, which consists of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics.
  • Black and Latino students accounted for 40% of enrollment at schools with gifted programs, but only represented 26% of students in such programs.
  • Black, Latino and Native American students attended schools with higher concentrations of first-year teachers (3%-4%) than white students (1%).
  • Black students were more than three times as likely to attend schools where fewer than 60% of teachers meet all state certification and licensure requirements.
  • Latino students were twice as likely to attend such schools.

There is no single thing that will ensure the future success of our nation and its citizens more than providing each and every young person a solid education.  Yet today’s schools, particularly in some southern states, are not doing that job.  42 states have adopted Common Core, a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.  But what is the value in that if we have schools where less than 60% of teachers meet certification and licensure requirements?  How can a child learn in an environment where he is treated with hostility and discrimination?  How likely is a child to take an interest in his own education, if the schools, teachers and administrators do not take an interest in him?  We need well-educated adults to remain economically competitive, to provide effective governance, to teach future generations, etc.  We cannot have well-educated adults in a decade or two, if we do not provide our children an effective education in a safe, non-discriminatory environment today.  Think about it.

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State  % High school graduate Rank  % Bachelor’s degree Rank  % Advanced degree Rank
Wyoming 91.8% 1 23.8% 40 7.9% 39
Minnesota 91.5% 2 31.5% 10 10.3% 18
Alaska 91.4% 3 26.6% 24 9.0% 28
New Hampshire 91.3% 4 32.0% 9 11.2% 13
Vermont 91.0% 5 33.1% 7 13.3% 6
Montana 90.8% 6 27.4% 21 8.3% 37
Iowa 91.4% 3 25.1% 34 7.4% 43
Hawaii 90.4% 8 29.6% 15 9.9% 21
Utah 90.4% 9 28.5% 19 9.1% 27
Maine 90.2% 10 26.9% 23 9.6% 23
North Dakota 90.1% 11 25.8% 27 6.7% 48
South Dakota 89.9% 12 25.1% 35 7.3% 45
Nebraska 89.8% 13 27.4% 22 8.8% 30
Wisconsin 89.8% 14 25.7% 28 8.4% 35
Kansas 89.7% 15 29.5% 16 10.2% 19
Washington 89.7% 16 31.0% 11 11.1% 14
Colorado 89.3% 17 35.9% 2 12.7% 9
Oregon 89.1% 18 29.2% 17 10.4% 16
Massachusetts 89.0% 19 38.2% 1 16.4% 1
Maryland 89.0% 20 37.3% 3 16.0% 2
Connecticut 88.6% 21 35.6% 4 15.5% 3
Idaho 88.4% 22 23.9% 39 7.5% 42
Michigan 87.9% 23 24.6% 36 9.4% 25
Pennsylvania 87.9% 24 26.4% 26 10.2% 19
Ohio 87.6% 25 24.1% 38 8.8% 32
Delaware 87.4% 26 28.7% 18 11.4% 12
New Jersey 87.4% 27 34.5% 5 12.9% 7
District of Columbia 87.1% 48.5% 28.0%
Missouri 86.8% 28 25.2% 33 9.5% 24
Indiana 86.6% 29 22.5% 43 8.1% 38
Virginia 86.6% 30 34.0% 6 14.1% 4
Illinois 86.4% 31 30.6% 12 11.7% 10
Oklahoma 85.6% 32 22.7% 42 7.4% 43
United States 85.3%   27.9%   10.3%  
Florida 85.3% 33 25.3% 31 9.0% 28
New York 84.7% 34 32.4% 8 14.0% 5
Rhode Island 84.7% 35 30.5% 13 11.7% 10
North Carolina 84.3% 36 26.5% 25 8.8% 31
Arizona 84.2% 37 25.6% 29 9.3% 26
Georgia 83.9% 38 27.5% 20 9.9% 21
Nevada 83.9% 39 21.8% 45 7.6% 41
South Carolina 83.6% 40 24.3% 37 8.4% 35
Tennessee 83.1% 41 23.0% 41 7.9% 39
New Mexico 82.8% 42 25.3% 32 10.4% 16
West Virginia 82.8% 43 17.3% 50 6.7% 48
Arkansas 82.4% 44 18.9% 49 6.1% 50
Louisiana 82.2% 45 21.4% 46 6.9% 47
Alabama 82.1% 46 22.0% 44 7.7% 40
Kentucky 81.7% 47 21.0% 47 8.5% 33
California 80.6% 48 29.9% 14 10.7% 15
Mississippi 80.4% 49 19.6% 48 7.1% 46
Texas 79.9% 50 25.5% 30 8.5% 33

Above data obtained from United States Census Bureau  (www.census.gov)

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