Monday, April 13, 2015
If Black Teachers Should Get 20 Years In Prison for Helping Students Cheat on Tests in Atlanta, How Much Time Should Bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Education and various State and District Boards of Education Get for Cheating Black Children Out of a Decent Education for 150 Years? "Don
't Hate the Playa--Hate the Game!" - Brittney Cooper
America is criminalizing Black teachers: Atlanta's cheating scandal and the racist underbelly of education reform Our educational system stacks the deck against Black children -- now we're throwing their teachers in jail
By Brittney Cooper
April 8, 2015
Last week, an Atlanta jury convicted 11 teachers and school administrators of racketeering in a system-wide cheating scandal. Yes, you read that correctly. Teachers and administrators inflating student scores on standardized tests is now considered "organized crime" in this country, and is punishable by more 20 years in prison, in these cases.
I am an educator. I am a Black woman who may someday mother a Black child. I have taught other Black mothers' children. Much of my educational success in elementary school is directly attributable to high performance on standardized tests that caused my white teachers to notice me and intervene on my behalf to get me "tracked" into higher-achieving classrooms. I believe all children deserve access to a good, high-quality,public education.
Therefore, I don't have to condone cheating in any form (and I don't) to assert that what has happened in Atlanta to these teachers is a travesty. The pictures that emerged last week of handcuffed Black schoolteachers being led out of Southern courtrooms in one of the country's largest urban Black school systems were absolutely heartbreaking.
Scapegoating Black teachers for failing in a system that is designed for Black children, in particular, not to succeed is the real corruption here. Since the early 1990s, we have watched the deprofessionalization of teaching, achieved through the proliferation of "teacher fellow" programs and the massive conservative-led effort to defund public education in major urban areas throughout the country. There is no longer a consensus that a good public education - a hallmark of American democracy - should be considered a public good.
Black children have for generations been the primary victims of this continuing social mendacity about the national value of education. More than 51 percent of children who attend public schools live in poverty. In Georgia, the percentage of Black children living in poverty hovers right around 39 percent. For Latino children, the number is consistently over 40 percent. Nationally, the number for Black children is 39 percent, according to most recent data, and 33 percent for Latino youth.
Eighty percent of children in Atlanta Public Schools are Black. Eleven percent are white and 3 percent are Latino. However, only 50 percent of children in Atlanta's Gifted and Talented programs are Black, whereas 40 percent are white. More disturbingly, 98 percent of all students expelled from Atlanta public schools during the 2009-2010 academic school year were Black.
These numbers taken together paint an abysmal picture of students who are disproportionately poor, over-disciplined, and systematically "tracked" out of high-performing classrooms. And yet we expect teachers to work magic in conditions that are set up for failure.
But now we are expected to believe that prosecuting these teachers as racketeers is an act of justice. Nothing is just about making Black women sacrificial lambs of an educational system hellbent on throwing Black children away. The images of their handcuffed Black bodies being led in shame from the courtroom gives Black parents angry about the miseducation of their children a convenient target for their angst and outrage over a failing system.
Meanwhile, the real racket - privatization and defunding of public schools, diversion of taxpayer resources away from education, and increasing political clout and payouts for school reformers proselytizing the false gospel of high stakes testing - gets obscured. And white children still get educated well, either in private schools or in suburban schools funded through a solid property tax base.
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Monday, April 6, 2015
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015
|ABC is the worst|
Every night tens of millions of people across the country tune in to the local news to find out what's happening in their communities. But our newly-released report — the ColorOfChange News Accuracy Report Card — shows how local news stations in New York City play a harmful role in shaping the narratives that exacerbate a dangerous and hostile climate for Black communities.
Our partners at Media Matters for America monitored hours of footage over a 20 week period from the four largest New York City network outlets and came to a shocking conclusion: every major network affiliate is disproportionately focusing their crime reporting on Black suspects, and inaccurately exaggerating the proportion of Black people involved in crime—on average, by 24 percentage points.1 Our new report is focused on NYC but make no mistake, similar practices are taking place on television screens across the county.
For far too long the police have been given a pass — and even at times praised — for over targeting, harassing and brutalizing Black communities. New York for decades has been ground zero in the movement against police violence and harassment, calling into question the very legitimacy of the NYPD’s arrest rates.
Though many of our communities have come to fear law enforcement, media has played a crucial role in perpetuating the harmful narratives that shape the implicit or explicit biases of their audiences. We then see this play out in discriminatory hiring practices, biased treatment in courtrooms, and the kinds of brutal treatment by police that took the lives of unarmed Black people like Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Akai Gurley. The result is that our communities are being put in double jeopardy, first by over zealous police and then by news stations serving as PR firms by proxy.
What's more, these stations are simultaneously under-reporting crimes perpetrated by white suspects, which only further cements the implicit biases of viewers.
These images also hurt Black youth by contributing to a warped, inconsistent self-image. Research shows repeated exposure to the kinds of negative, dehumanizing stereotypes displayed on a nightly basis by local news stations are demoralizing and reduce the self-esteem and self-expectations of our young people.2
Our ColorOfChange News Accuracy Report Card examines the harm their crime coverage is doing to our communities. The results are not pretty: While WNYW/FOX5 received a “B”, WNBC and WCBS each received a “D”, denoting “Dangerous Coverage;” WABC got a big, fat “F”, denoting reporting that is “Outright Hostile” towards Black people.
Currently we are in communication with local stations as we seek to open up a candid dialogue with network executives that will result in lasting systemic changes. Among those changes: an end to the disproportionate targeting of Black people in crime coverage, transparency regarding the diversity of newsroom staff, and a greater systemic analysis and diversity of perspectives in their crime reporting.
Please read and share our report about the irresponsible and dangerous local news crime coverage in New York City.
The impact of these practices extends far beyond New York. As the largest media market in the world, local NYC news has the power to influence a wide and populous audience — a metro area of nearly 20 million people. Commitments on the part of these stations to better reporting practices would not only impact a very large number of people, it could also have a cascading impact on crime coverage at affiliates across the country. We urge these stations to show leadership here, and usher in a fairer, more accurate era in crime coverage nationwide.
ColorOfChange is ready and willing to guide the stations toward a basic standard of decency, and away from the inaccurate reporting practices that are harming Black folks. But the first step is getting these stations to admit they have a reporting problem, and commit themselves to correcting it.
Join us in making New York City a safer place for Black people, and check out the ColorOfChange News Accuracy Report Card.
Arisha, Rashad, Matt, Brandi, Dallas and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
1. “REPORT: New York City Television Stations Continue Disproportionate Coverage Of Black Crime,” Media Matters for America 03-23-15
2. “Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys,” The Opportunity Agenda