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NCLB Outrages

How Black and Hispanic Families Rate Their Schools

Comments from Annie: This press release is a reminder of the horrible conditions in schools with high “minority” student populations. It is also a reminder of the school board and superintendents’ priorities. Have the problems changed that dramatically under NCLB? I think so.

It is sickening to note that the basic needs of student safety, health and well-being are sacrificed while millions of dollars are spent on tests.

In the urban schools, the physical conditions can often be a nightmare. And in the suburbs, the physical conditions in the schools have deteriorated too. It is a matter of money and demographics; where there is affluence and power, the schools fare better.

The conditions in our public schools vary but the change in the suburbs goes something like this (in our case): Our county council fully funds a third IB program in our high schools, they allot growing portions of funds to major test companies, they spend huge sums of money on the standardization of textbooks and auxiliary academic programs, they support a large, highly paid administrative staff including a superintendent with a salary and benefits package worthy of a king, but during the sweltering heat and humidity of summertime temperatures, several schools are closed daily and in many of our aging schools, which are so called “air conditioned,” the temperatures soar with faulty and ancient cooling systems in “modern” schools built largely without windows to open.

Our teachers still are unable to provide Literature classes with the books they need. We are asked to buy numerous books and pay numerous fees for studio and lab classes. Our children are required to buy their own calculators at over a hundred dollars a piece and our children’s cafeteria serves, for $2.00 a piece, meals of such poor quality that the cost of a free lunch is barely worth the money.

Yes, the priorities have changed.

Violence, in the shape of bullying and abuse has even reached our doorstep in the suburbs. In another local article, the principal of our local middle school avoids the press in the wake of a parent’s protest over concern for his child’s safety at school.

Meanwhile, the county council has cut half of the so-called school security budget recommended after an expensive and controversial security study.

The quality of a public education and the quality of our schools overall have both suffered with a new priority on a certain, federally-endorsed style of spending. No surprises in the following survey.

* Reality Check 2006:
How Black and Hispanic Families Rate Their Schools

It's not the kind of atmosphere most adults would
find helpful if they needed to study and learn: high
dropout rates, profanity and disrespect, fighting,
drug and alcohol abuse, schools short on money.
Yet these are "very serious" problems in schools,
according to surprisingly large numbers of the nation's
black and Hispanic students surveyed in the latest edition
of Public Agenda's 2006 Reality Check study.

According to the student survey, about three in ten black
youngsters report very serious levels of disruption and
unrest in their schools -- not just "somewhat serious,"
but "very serious." Black students (40 percent) are twice
as likely as white students (18 percent) to say that
"schools not getting enough money to do the job" is a very
serious problem in their community. Nearly a third of
black and Hispanic youngsters say that "only some"
or "very few" of their teachers give students extra help
when they fall behind, compared with one in five white students.

These are not the speculations of adults who rarely visit
schools and sometimes base their judgments on newspaper
headlines and what they see driving by the local high school.
Instead, they are first-hand reports from young people who
are in schools and classrooms on a regular basis. And even
at a young age, these middle and high school students seem
to sense that the schools they attend do not serve them well.

Minority parents are also more likely to report serious
academic and social problems in their schools. Half of black
and Hispanic parents say that it is a very serious problem
that local schools are "not getting enough money to do a good job,"
compared to a third of white parents. Minority parents are
also twice as likely as white parents to say fighting and
weapons are very serious issues and are more likely to
question whether local school district superintendents do
enough to ensure that schools are safe and orderly. Teachers
in minority schools are more likely to complain about large
classes, poor teaching conditions and lack of parental support.

This edition of "Reality Check" does include some particularly
heartening findings. Majorities of all students, black, white
and Hispanic, report that they have had a teacher who was able
to get them interested in a subject that they hadn't really liked
before. Additionally, most parents, across racial and ethnic
groups, believe their children's schools are better than the
ones they attended when they were young.

— Public Agenda Alert
Public Agenda


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