Monday, September 25, 2017

Segregation lingers in US schools 60 years after Little Rock

Segregation lingers in US schools 60 years after Little Rock:

Segregation lingers in US schools 60 years after Little Rock


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Among the most lasting and indelible images of the civil rights movement were the nine black teenagers who had to be escorted by federal troops past an angry white mob and through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Sept. 25, 1957.
It had been three years since the Supreme Court had declared “separate but equal” in America’s public schools unconstitutional, but the decision was met with bitter resistance across the South. It would take more than a decade before the last vestiges of Jim Crow fell away from classrooms. Even the brave sacrifice of the “Little Rock Nine” felt short-lived — rather than allow more black students and further integration, the district’s high schools closed the following school year.
The watershed moment was “a physical manifestation for all to see of what that massive resistance looked like,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“The imagery of these perfectly dressed, lovely, serious young people seeking to enter a high school ... to see them met with ugliness and rage and hate and violence was incredibly powerful,” Ifill said.
In this Sept. 4, 1957, file photo, students of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., including Hazel Bryan, shout insults at Elizabeth Eckford as she calmly walks toward a line of National Guardsmen. (Will Counts/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP, File)

Six decades later, the sacrifice of those black students stands as a symbol of the turbulence of the era, but also as a testament to an intractable problem: Though legal segregation has long ended, few white and minority students share a classroom today.
The lack of progress is clear and remains frustrating in the school district that includes Central High. The Little Rock School District, which is about two-thirds black, has been under state control since 2015 over the academic performance of some of its schools. The district has seen a proliferation of charter schools in recent years that opponents say contributes to self-segregation.
Ernest Green still remembers the promise of the era that put him and the eight other students on the front line. After reading about the May 17, 1954, Brown v. Board of Education decision in the local newspaper, he recalled: “I thought to myself, ‘Good, because I think the face of the South ought to change.’”
He and his classmates came face-to-face with Southern opposition after integrating Central. The first day of school was only the beginning of the hardships they would endure.
Green described the experience as “like going to war every day.” Threatening phone calls came to their homes nightly. Students threw acid on them at school.
Nationally, the numbers are similarly stark. The average black student nationwide in 1980 went to a school that was 36 percent white. In the 2014-2015 school year, a black student would have gone to a school that was 27 percent white.
Overall enrollment in public schools has been declining, and the racial gap has widened, according to NCES. In 2004, 58 percent of students enrolled were white, compared to 17 percent black and 19 percent Hispanic. In 2014, public schools were 49.5 percent white — less than half for the first time since such data was first collected — 16 percent black and 25 percent Hispanic.
Additionally, while nearly two-thirds of black and Hispanic students attend schools with at least 75 percent minority enrollment, only 5 percent of white students are enrolled in similar schools. While public schools are indeed more diverse, that diversity is including a decreasing share of white students.
Community leaders have vented over the “Reflections of Progress” theme that’s been attached to the slate of events marking the 60th anniversary of Central High’s desegregation, saying it doesn’t acknowledge the backslide they’ve seen the district undergo. They’re using the milestone to call attention to the state takeover of the district, comparing it to Gov. Orval Faubus’ efforts to block integration in 1957.
“They’re coming back to visit and to see what? They can visit any number of schools where there isn’t any hint of desegregation,” state Sen. Joyce Elliott, a Democrat from Little Rock, said, referring to the eight surviving members of the group, now in their 70s, who will return to mark the day. “For the Little Rock Nine to come back to the same place where they started and the schools are under state control now by the state Board of Education, I think that is something that is the ultimate embarrassment for the state. That is not something to be celebrated, and it is not something to be remotely proud of.”
Some trace much of the current public school debate over school choice to what began in the wake of the Brown v. Board decision as segregationist academies, and later Christian academies, opened throughout the South in response to desegregation.
“There has never been a moment where there has not been vociferous resistance to desegregation,” Jeffries, the historian, said. “They used to couch it in explicitly racist terms. Now, it’s this sort of colorblind language, but the desire remains the same.”
Civil rights lawyer Catherine Lhamon, who now serves as chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, noted that while meaningful integration happened across the country during the mid-1960s and 1970s, it was only through aggressive federal enforcement. As integration became less of a political priority in the 1980s, re-segregation emerged.
“Local control has never resounded to the benefit of black students,” Lhamon said. “More often than not, it has been a means to mask discrimination and a failure to offer meaningful opportunity to all. It takes federal intervention now, too. That is something Congress promised us and that we have been able to rely on.”
Efforts by Sen. Elliott and others to stem the growth of charter schools in the district so far have had little success in the Republican state. The Arkansas Board of Education approved three new charter schools in the district earlier this month, despite a request from the district’s superintendent to hold off.
“I would say pause for two years and allow the existing charter seat expansions that have already been approved to take place, allow what’s going on in the Little Rock School District to play itself out, because we have really positive things going on with our academic scores,” Superintendent Michael Poore said before the three charter schools were approved.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he believes the district is showing it can innovate and compete with the charter schools.
Ifill said the unlearned lessons of Little Rock remain, and that the 60th anniversary cannot only be about lamenting re-segregation.Segregation lingers in US schools 60 years after Little Rock:

For more on the Little Rock Nine, including historical stories and photos, and video interviews with people who lived through the era, visit .

Monday, September 18, 2017

Education Research Report: Confidence in U.S. Public Schools Rallies

Education Research Report: Confidence in U.S. Public Schools Rallies:

Confidence in U.S. Public Schools Rallies

Americans' confidence in the nation's public schools edged up in 2017. The 36% of U.S. adults who express "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public schools is a six-percentage-point increase from 2016 and marks the highest confidence rating in eight years.

Graph 1

Gallup has measured Americans' confidence in public schools since 1986. Confidence hit its lowest point in 2014, when about one in four U.S. adults (26%) expressed confidence in the nation's public schools. This low was nearly half the high mark of 50% in 1987.

In the first three years that Gallup measured views of public schools, about half of Americans expressed confidence. But significant dips in 1989 and in 1991 suggested that confidence would not quickly return to the high levels initially measured. From 1995 through 2006, the confidence rating for public schools remained fairly stable, hovering near 40%. From 2007 to 2014, with the exception of a significant bump in 2009 -- the year that many states committed to the development of the Common Core State Standards -- and a smaller uptick in 2013, confidence declined incrementally.

The boost in public school confidence this year is part of an uptick in the average confidence rating (35%) across all institutions that Gallup measures. Public school confidence ranked second in positive year-over-year change among 15 institutions tested in the June survey. Eleven institutions received a confidence boost from 2016, largely attributable to rising confidence among Republicans, which might be ascribed to the election of President Donald Trump.

The upswing in confidence in public schools from 2016 to 2017 is evident among both Republicans (up nine points) and Democrats (up five points). The tendency for Democrats to be more confident than Republicans in public schools has been generally constant over the past nine years, and is evident this year, with 41% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans confident in public schools.

Graph 2

The 11-point spread between Democrats and Republicans is much smaller than the 23-point gap in partisan confidence in "colleges and universities" measured in a separate poll in August. The wider party gap in ratings of higher education appears to reflect Republicans' perception that a liberal political agenda is driving what is taught in colleges -- a perception that apparently has not spread to their views of public schools.

This year's bump in confidence in public schools parallels the increase in Americans' satisfaction with public school education as measured in Gallup's annual Work and Education survey, conducted in August. Nearly half of U.S. adults (47%) say they are "completely" or "somewhat" satisfied with the quality of education for K-12 students, up four percentage points from 2016 but still trailing the high mark for satisfaction (53%) that occurred in 2004.

Graph 3


While U.S. public schools have struggled to boost their national image in the past decade, there is a hint of progress. The six-point improvement in confidence in public schools from 2016 to 2017 matches the largest year-over-year positive change for schools in Gallup's trend.

Some recent education successes may be helping to nudge confidence in schools upward. The Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan measure signed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, provides increased autonomy and flexibility for state and local education agencies to steer innovation and accountability measures -- and Gallup research suggests that Americans are more trusting of local than federal government. Additionally, the U.S. graduation rate is now at an all-time high of 83%, and the dropout rate is down.

Gallup research shows the nation's public school leaders are likewise optimistic about their school systems. A recent poll of U.S. superintendents shows a significant majority (85%) are excited about their district's future. However, there is clearly more work to be done to improve the quality of education and how it is perceived. Just 32% of these school leaders say they are excited about the future of U.S. education generally -- a percentage that aligns closely with the 36% of Americans expressing confidence in the nation's public schools.

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