A new report by the Shanker Institute brings attention a major problem in education: while the percentage of students of color has been rising, the number of teachers of color has failed to keep up. For black educators, the situation is even worse. Over the past decade, the number of black educators has declined in all the cities surveyed in this study. In some places, like New Orleans and Washington, D.C., that drop has been huge.
Despite fair funding recommendations, parents speaking out, and even state-wide bus tours, Pennsylvania is still without a budget that guarantees fair funding for education—in fact, the entire state budget remains unresolved. Now districts, teachers, and students are beginning to feel the effects. In the Chester Upland School District, teachers have decided to work without pay to keep schools open, and recently received even more bad news. Because of their long-term lack of funding and continually worsening financial situation, they have now been placed under review for a possible debt rating downgrade.
Walter H. Dyett High School is the last public, open enrollment high school in its historic Chicago Black neighborhood, and its community, led by education organizers and advocates, are rallying to save it. After the high school was closed due to low enrollment and performance, the community came up with a carefully designed plan to turn Dyett into a Global Leadership and Green Technology high school that would continue to serve both its students and its neighborhood. However, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointees at Chicago Public Schools have thus far refused to agree to this community-driven plan. Now activists are in the fourth week of a hunger strike, attempting to save their school.
There has been some good news recently for all supporters of community schools: the U.S. Department of Education has awarded 12 new grants to organizations developing full-service community schools. These 12 grantees will join the 30 others who have received grants from 2008 onwards. The awards total is close to $6 million, and will help districts and other groups develop and implement schools that can meet all of their students' needs.
The Alliance to Reclaim our Schools' new report, called Out of Control: the Systematic Disenfranchisement of African American and Latino Communities through School Takeovers, illuminates the undemocratic and unjust ways school takeovers shut these communities out of a voice in their own educational resources. When the state takes over a school district and replaces it with charter schools, they deprive parents and community members of a locally-elected school board and thus a voice in the process.
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the surrounding Gulf Coast, displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and communities. When the waters receded, the true story of Katrina's impact on the city and its future was just beginning: larger political and economic forces would reshape New Orleans and the lives of its residents over the next decade, often making public services like housing and education worse for the city's poorest and most underserved families.
In a recent op-ed, Kavitha Mediratta, lauds the progress made by New York City schools in challenging the school the prison pipeline through their efforts in school discipline reform. Although much, of course, remains to be done, she argues that recent moves by NYC Mayer, Bill de Blasio, herald a step in the right direction.
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and displaced hundreds of thousands of its residents. Now a new site by the Advancement Project and the group Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) has shown that although the city may be rebuilt, its recovery has not been an equitable one. In fact, they demonstrate how post-Katrina policies worked to push out Black families and communities from their homes, their schools, and their government.
The American Health Association released an informative new video about California's problems with healthcare and the prison system, and about the ways activists in the state have made progress to combat it. While the video centers on California, this is a must watch for anyone in the United States.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has a very different educational landscape, and it's one that many students, parents, and educators are unhappy about. A recent conference sent out a strong warning to other cities that "relinquishment" reform policies, in which the state takes over local school districts and replaces "failing" public schools with chartered ones, hurts children and communities—and, unfortunately, these takeovers are spreading rapidly across the country.
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