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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


A Conversation With Black Parents, Teachers and Students

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What happens when you get Black teachers, parents and students in a room with no talking points, no filter, just honest conversation? Well, as a Black baby raised in the ’90s would say, “it got real.”

We recently invited more than 40 participants to share the joys and frustrations of being Black in America’s public schools. Their conversations were moderated by a few education advocates we invited from around the country.

I’m a big believer in taking the conversations that happen behind closed doors and letting everyone else in on the real scoop. It’s the only for-sure way to know what people are really thinking and why they do the things they do. So, with the consent of the participants, we just let the cameras roll. We weren’t sure what we’d get, but we knew it would be, well, real.

Below is a series of short videos based on the themes we heard over and over again in all three groups:

The Belief Gap

Imagine being told, your kind won’t amount to anything.

When we fail to believe in the potential of students simply because of their skin color or income level, it’s called the belief gap. In every group of participants—teachers, parents and students—this concept was painfully familiar.

Finding the Right School

Some Black families go through some pretty insane experiences before they finally find the right school for their kid.

Hear from a parent who has gone through seven or eight schools before finding the right one. A parent who moved into a studio apartment in another neighborhood just so their kid could attend school. The fear of not knowing whether your child was on track for passing third grade.

Role Models

Black teachers know what they’re signing up for when they enter a classroom. It goes beyond simply spouting information at students throughout the day. Teachers told us that they contemplate every part of themselves—their wardrobe, the words that leave their mouths, their belief in what their students are capable of—in order to be the best role models possible for the kids in their care.

Black Teachers 

You don’t have to tell Black teachers how rare it is to see another teacher of color in their schools. They know all too well. More than 80 percent of America’s public school teachers are White, yet these students said that when they see a Black teacher—or many Black teachers—in one building, it changes their world.

School Discipline

Many schools in urban environments have found success with stricter discipline and so-called “no excuses” policies. Not only did parents and teachers tell us they generally favored this approach—so did the students.

Parent Responsibility

Participants emphasized that parents need to be involved in their child’s education, but many are not—and it’s not because they don’t care. They talked of parents who feel unwelcome in the school building, and of parents who feel the teachers and school leaders pass judgment on them.

District Deeds Synopsis:

To honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day tomorrow, we felt it would be great to give all of our readers access to some incredible insights by black parents,  teachers and students.   The videos and transcripts of the full conversations are provided through this link.

These videos should be mandatory viewing for the clueless San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Superintendent Marten, Senior Staff and the Board of Education.  Maybe then they would begin to understand how their negligence to understand is the reason why many SDUSD black students are struggling, why many black parents are moving their children to charter schools and the positive impact of recruiting and retaining black teachers.

Refusal: A Large Number of Kids Just Say No to School

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It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many kids experience school refusal. A common statistic cited by organizations that advocate for increased mental health awareness say school refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-age children.

According to Dalton, part of the problem with school refusal is that the research is done by so many different disciplines that define it in different ways, so there is no universally agreed upon definition of what school refusal actually is. For example, he says truancy is different from school refusal–which is anxiety or mental health related–but some studies conflate the two and overestimate how many students are affected by school refusal. In fact, the rate at which student are affected ranges from 1 to 28 percent in different studies.

“What I’ve seen is that the three-month prevalence rate is about 2 percent–meaning about one in 50 kids in any three month period refuse to go to school due to anxiety,” Dalton said. “It’s remarkable how common it has become.”

District Deeds Synopsis:

Chronic absenteeism is a huge problem in the SDUSD.  This article exposes “Refusal” as a cause for chronic absenteeism that we have never heard in any SDUSD Board Meeting, SSC, Governance, DAC, DELAC, Tiger Team, training, or seminar or mentioned by any Superintendent, Board Member, Area Supt., Principal, Counselor, Psychiatrist, Special Educator, Teacher, or Staff Member in the SDUSD in over 15 years as a Parent, Community Member or Volunteer.

It seems more than a coincidence that the SDUSD chronic absenteeism rate is eerily similar to the “2-5 percent of school age children” refusal rate.

It is about time that Refusal is fully investigated and addressed as a cause of chronic absenteeism in the SDUSD.

The Middle School Plunge

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We find that moving to a middle school causes a substantial drop in student test scores (relative to that of students who remain in K–8 schools) the first year in which the transition takes place, not just in New York City but also in the big cities, suburbs, and small-town and rural areas of Florida.

Further, we find that the relative achievement of middle-school students continues to decline in the subsequent years they spend in such schools.Nor do we find any sign that the middle-school students catch up with those who remained in the K–8 environment once all of them have entered high school. On the contrary, students entering a middle school in grade 6 are more likely not to be enrolled in any Florida public school as 10th graders (despite having been enrolled in grade 9), a strong indication that they have dropped out of school by that time.

District Deeds Synopsis:

In our research for this article we discovered that the elimination of middle schools is actually being proposed in Boston.  Again, according to another article in EducationNext:

“Superintendent Tommy Chang presented a plan to the Boston School Committee that would eliminate middle schools and change the grade configuration of other schools in Boston so that students only have to change schools once during their education, James Vaznis reports in the Boston Globe.”

Here is the Boston Globe article: BPS Plan Would Eliminate Middle Schools

We doubt that the current SDUSD Superintendent and Board of Education have even heard, let alone considered, the option of eliminating Middle Schools as a way to not only improve student educational performance and dropout rate but to save millions of budget dollars though site consolidation.

Once again, inexperience and ignorance by SDUSD leadership injures the neediest of students AND the budget!!!

Here is the Quote of the Week:

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” – James Baldwin

Have a great week!!!



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