American Schools Are STILL Racist, Government Report Finds

American Schools Are STILL Racist, Government Report Finds

Public school students of color get more punishment and less access to veteran teachers than their white peers, according to surveys released Friday by the U.S. Education Department that include data from every U.S. school district.

Black students are suspended or expelled at triple the rate of their white peers, according to the U.S. Education Department's 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey conducted every two years. Five percent of white students were suspended annually, compared with 16 percent of black students, according to the report. Black girls were suspended at a rate of 12 percent -- far greater than girls of other ethnicities and most categories of boys.

At the same time, minority students have less access to experienced teachers. Most minority students and English language learners are stuck in schools with the most new teachers. Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.

Such discrimination lowers academic performance for minority students and puts them at greater risk of dropping out of school, according to previous research. The new research also shows the shortcomings of decades of legal and political moves to ensure equal rights to education. The Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling banned school segregation and affirmed the right to quality education for all children. The 1964 Civil Rights Act guaranteed equal access to education.

"This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. "In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed."

Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder plan to announce the survey results on Friday. The information, part of an ongoing survey by the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights, highlights longstanding inequities in how schools leave minority students and students with disabilities at a disadvantage. For the first time since 2000, the new version of the survey includes results from all 16,500 American school districts, representing 49 million students.

"Unfortunately, too many children don’t have equitable access to experienced and fully licensed teachers, as has again been proven by the data in this report," said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union. "This is a problem that can and must be addressed."

Daria Hall, K-12 policy director at the Education Trust, an advocacy group, also called for action. "The report shines a new light on something that research and experience have long told us -- that students of color get less than their fair share of access to the in-school factors that matter for achievement," she said. "Students of color get less access to high level courses. Black students in particular get less instructional time because they're far more likely to receive out of school suspensions or expulsions. And students of color get less access to teachers who've had at least a year on the job and who have at least basic certification. Of course, it's not enough to just shine a light on the problem. We have to fix it."

Though 16 percent of America's public school students are black, they represent 27 percent of students referred by schools to law enforcement, and 31 percent of students arrested for an offense committed in school, according to the survey.

Students with disabilities make up one-fourth of students referred to law enforcement or arrested, although they represent 13 percent of the student population. Students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended out of school than peers, with 13 percent of such students being sent home for misbehaving. One of four boy students of color who have disabilities and one in five girl students of color who have disabilities were suspended. Students of color include all non-white ethnic groups except Latino and Asian-American.

These numbers will likely add pressure to dismantle the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, which feeds troubled students into the justice system. The push to ease discipline sometimes causes tension with schools' efforts to beef up security after school mass shootings, like the one in Newtown, Conn. Last week, a set of reports 26 academics pointed to a few local studies that found that disparate discipline outcomes did not happen as a result of certain ethnic groups acting out more than others.

According to the new data, disparities begin as early as preschool. Black students make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but they comprise 48 percent of preschool students receiving more than one suspension out of school. White students, representing 43 percent of preschool students, only receive 26 percent of out-of-school suspensions more than once.

Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers union, noted that despite a recent Education Department Equity and Excellence Commission report calling for measures to remedy discrimination, little has been done. "It is shameful that not a single recommendation has been implemented," Weingarten said. "We don’t need more data to tell us we need action."

Before You Go

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In between producing megahits like "Timber," rapper Pitbull opened a charter school in the fall of 2013. His school, based in Miami, is called the Sports Leadership And Management Academy (SLAM), and it educates children on core subjects with an emphasis on sports and sports management.

"If sports is what you love, one way or another, it's a business you can get involved with ... whether you're a therapist, an attorney, a broadcaster," the singer said in a 2013 NPR interview. "They're already labeling me 'Mr. Education.'"
Jalen Rose
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In 2011, former NBA player and current sports broadcaster Jalen Rose founded a Detroit-based charter school called the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA). The new school is still evolving, though. After one year, the school hired a completely new staff, adopted a more rigorous curriculum system and lengthened the school day.

"My goal at JRLA is to provide a private school education in a public school setting so that a student's ZIP code doesn't dictate the education they receive," Rose wrote in a 2013 blog for The Huffington Post. "I am humbled by the opportunity to help further the education of our youth as well as be able to create jobs for my community."
Latin American sensation Shakira has been an advocate for education causes. Using funds from her nonprofit organization, she has opened eight schools in her native country of Colombia. She has also lobbied Latin American leaders to support early childhood education.

Her schools -- the most recent was scheduled to open in February 2014 -- serve needy children in disadvantaged communities.

“I want to demonstrate ... how we can change the lives, not only of the children who come to school, but also their families. Entire communities can be transformed when you have a school that functions properly,” the singer told Billboard.
Andre Agassi
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In 2011, tennis champion Andre Agassi partnered with Canyon Capital Realty Advisors LLC to create the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund. By December 2013, the fund, which is designed to invest in the building of charter schools, had established 23 schools. In 2001, Agassi founded the Las Vegas-based Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy.
Deion Sanders
Former NFL star Deion Sanders founded Prime Prep Academy in Texas in 2012. However, the charter school has already seen its share of challenges. Sanders, a coach for the school, was fired from his job in October 2013 for allegedly assaulting an employee. Although he was quickly rehired, he was fired again in December. Additionally, the Texas Education Agency is currently investigating the school for a number of allegations, including the misuse of funds.

Prime Prep has been plagued with administrators who don’t have the expertise or experience that it takes to have the institution we want it to be,” Prime Prep Board President T. Christopher Lewis said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
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Oprah Winfrey opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007. While the school has suffered from its share of controversy -- a school employee was accused of sexually abusing several students -- it is still up and running. The media mogul has also donated heavily to American charter schools. In 2010, she gave $6 million to charter schools across the country.
Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
Actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith opened a private elementary school, the New Village Leadership Academy, in 2008. However, the school, which reportedly had ties to the church of Scientology, was closed in 2013.

Although the school reportedly used teaching methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, school leaders denied that it was anything but secular, according to the Associated Press.

"We are a secular school, and just like all nonreligious independent schools, faculty and staff do not promote their own religions at school or pass on the beliefs of their particular faith to children," New Village Academy director Jacqueline Olivier told the Los Angeles Times in 2008.
Angelina Jolie
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Notorious humanitarian and actress Angelina Jolie opened an all-girls school in Afghanistan in 2013. The school was funded by proceeds from Jolie's jewelry collection, Style of Jolie. She reportedly hopes to use further proceeds to build more schools in impoverished areas, according to Forbes.
Magic Johnson
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Former NBA star and sports analyst Magic Johnson has opened several alternative high schools for students who have dropped out or are at-risk of dropping out of school. Currently, there are four Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in Georgia, two in Illinois, one in New Jersey, one in North Carolina and eight in Ohio.

According to the Bridgescape Acadmy website, the alternative schools' "student-focused program provides an opportunity to earn a high school diploma at a pace suitable to their schedule, lifestyle and learning needs."
Kevin Johnson
Before he became the mayor of Sacramento, Calif., this former NBA star founded a charter school network called the St. HOPE Public Schools, which has a center for early childhood education, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school. Johnson is also married to education reform powerhouse Michelle Rhee.
Tony Bennett
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Legendary singer Tony Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto, founded the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in 1999. The performing arts school is one of New York City's few audition-only schools. It's currently located near Bennett's childhood home in Astoria, Queens.

"We're the opposite of instant fame," Bennett said of the school, according to USA Today. "We want to teach the students quality and to do things that will last forever."
Serena Williams
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In 2008, tennis superstar Serena Williams opened up The Serena Williams Secondary School in Kenya with funds from the Serena Williams Foundation. As explained on the Serena Williams Foundation website, in Kenya, kids have to pay $1 a week to attend school, a sum that is unaffordable for some families. The Serena Williams Secondary School allows kids to attend school for free. Several years later, the athlete opened another school, the Wee Secondary School.
Petra Nemcova
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In 2011, Czech model Petra Nemcova opened a school in earthquake-ravaged Haiti with funds from her Happy Hearts Fund. She built the school after going through the Thailand tsunami of 2004 that took the life of her then-fiance. Nemcova, who only survived the tsunami after clinging to a tree for eight hours, said that during that time, she heard the voices of suffering children.

"I was not able to help those children," Nemcova told ABC News in 2011. "You heard them screaming for help and after some time you couldn't hear their voices anymore."
In 2013, Madonna opened several community schools in Malawi. According to the Associated Press, her work there provided classrooms for thousands of students who were previously learning outdoors.

"I love Malawi, I am committed to help end poverty here," she said at the time, according to the outlet.

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