Omarosa claims Betsy DeVos wants to ‘replace public education with for-profit schools’ — and that Trump calls her ‘Ditzy DeVos’

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This article was first published on www.washingtonpost.com

A new book about President Trump by one of his former senior advisers, Omarosa Manigault Newman, claims that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants “to replace public education with for-profit schools” and that Trump has called her by the nickname “Ditzy DeVos.”

The book, “Unhinged,” describes Trump during the years that Manigault Newman has known him, stretching back to when she was a contestant on his reality show, “The Apprentice,” nearly a dozen years ago. Manigault Newman, who served in the administration for less than a year as assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, portrays Trump as a bigoted misogynist.

The White House has slammed the book, saying it is filled with lies. Trump, in a tweet Tuesday, called the author “a crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog.” The Education Department did not respond to a request for comment about the book.

In the latter part of “Unhinged,” Manigault Newman alleges that DeVos wants to eliminate public education in the United States, which many of DeVos’s critics have long contended. DeVos has supported alternatives to public education for decades and has called public schools “a dead end” but has never said she wants to eliminate them.

Manigault Newman writes:

Her plan, in a nutshell, is to replace public education with for-profit schools. She believes it would be better for students, but the truth is, it’s about profit. She’s so fixated on her agenda, she can’t give any consideration to building our public schools, providing financing for them, particularly their infrastructure needs.

Manigault Newman writes that she accompanied DeVos on a trip to Florida in 2017 and that DeVos was booed while giving a graduation speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Florida. Graduating students heckled DeVos in large part because a few months earlier, she had called historically black colleges and universities — which were created because blacks couldn’t attend white schools — “pioneers” of school choice. Manigault Newman writes:

There is no way she should be the secretary of education. Once I returned and told DJT about what had happened, he shook his head in disgust. He said, “She is Ditzy DeVos, what do you expect? In a very short period of time, I will get rid of her. Believe me, believe me. “

Trump commonly uses derogatory nicknames for people around him.

DeVos has appeared several times before Congress and has been unable to discuss basic education policies when questioned by lawmakers.

Decades after civil rights gains, black teachers a rarity in public schools

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This article was first published on usatoday.com

WASHINGTON — After a semester spent wrangling preschoolers, Ricardo Carter has learned one important lesson: Never say no.

“I don’t use the word ‘no,’” he said recently during a break at Aiton Elementary School in Washington’s Deanwood neighborhood. “I like to say ‘not right now.’”

Carter, a soft-spoken 20-year old who graduated from high school just seven months earlier, is part of a bold, if small, experiment here. Last fall, the school district began placing the first of 10 young African-American men in preschool classes citywide, hoping they’ll fall in love with the work and eventually train to be teachers.

Part of the city’s Empowering Males of Color initiative, the effort is an attempt to crack a particularly tough nut in American education: a stubborn racial imbalance between teachers and students.

Nearly 63 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case kick-started racial integration in schools — and six decades after a group of African-American students had to be escorted by federal troops as they desegregated Little Rock’s Central High School — students nationwide are taught by an overwhelmingly white workforce. Even as the proportion of black, Latino, Asian, Indian, African and other “non-white” students grows inexorably, the teachers these children encounter are nearly all white. And the racial mismatch, in many places, is getting worse.

The dilemma is, in part, a little-known and unintended legacy of the Brown decision. Because most white communities in the 1950s and 1960s preferred white teachers over black ones, court-ordered desegregation often ended the teaching careers of black educators. One historian, Emory University’s Vanessa Siddle Walker, has said the culture of black teaching “died with Brown.”

Six decades later, D.C. city schools are actually statistical outliers. In a city where more than nine in 10 public school students are non-white, it has by far the lowest percentage of white teachers: 26%, according to federal statistics.

But nationwide, our schools look very different. At last count, about 82% of teachers were white, down from 83% eight years earlier. While the percentage of non-white students in U.S. schools rose 6 percentage points between the 2003-2004 and 2011-2012 school years, from 39.6% to 45.7%, the percentage of non-white teachers rose just 1.2 percentage points, from 16.9% to 18.1%.

In the 19 states with the largest gains  in non-white students during this period, only five — Arkansas, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and Washington state — saw similarly large gains in non-white teachers. In two of the states — Kansas and South Dakota — the percentage of non-white teachers actually dropped.

Among other findings:

— In 24 states, more than 90% of teachers were white in the 2011-2012 school year;

— In 17 of those states, more than 95% of teachers were white, even as the percentage of non-white students grew in all but two;

— In those 17 states, non-white students accounted for 18.4% of students, on average. But just 3.3% of teachers were non-white.

Put another way: Even in schools located in the USA’s whitest 17 states, each class typically contains four or five non-white students. But just 1 in 33 classrooms has a non-white teacher.

U.S. schools have made “very little progress” in recruiting and retaining minority teachers over the past three decades, said Anna Egalite, a researcher at North Carolina State University’s College of Education. When she began looking at the statistics, she said, “one of the most stunning things” was just how little had changed since 1987, when the proportion of white teachers was 87%.

Egalite got interested in the topic after she and her husband, an African-American middle school science teacher, moved from Arkansas to Boston. They began having conversations about how rare it was to see male teachers of color in the schools there. Existing research, she knew, showed modest academic benefits for students who shared their teachers’ ethnic profile. But new research was beginning to show something more important: Non-white teachers had higher expectations for students of color.

“If you have low expectations for someone, you’re not going to push them so hard,” Egalite said.

Low expectations begin a vicious cycle, starting with lower achievement, which eventually means a student is less likely to go to college. That means he or she doesn’t have access to a career like teaching, which means the next generation once again sees fewer teachers of color.

Egalite’s own research has shown “small but significant” positive effects in math and reading, especially in elementary school, when black and white students are assigned to teachers of the same race. Low-performing students seem to get particular benefit, she and colleagues noted in 2014. All of which shows that the USA’s teacher/student racial disconnect isn’t just a curiosity. It’s holding back millions of young people.

“It’s a problem for students of color because it’s important for them to see mentors and role models,” said John King, Education secretary in the final year of the Obama administration. “But I also think it’s a problem for white students. I think there’s a real benefit for white students in having diverse teachers, because ultimately we’re trying to prepare all kids for a diverse world.”

A USA TODAY analysis of 2013-14 federal data shows a hidden benefit along the lines of Egalite’s findings: In 203 cities where at least 10% of the teaching force is black, African-American public school students are better represented in gifted and talented programs. In cities where black teachers made up less than 10% of the teaching force, black students, on average, were only 3.3% of gifted and talented enrollment. But in cities where black teachers were represented in double-digits, the percentage of black students in gifted and talented programs was five times higher.

The difference was most pronounced in 195 cities — many of them in the South — where both the black teaching force and black enrollment was at least 10%. In those cities, nearly one in five gifted and talented students was black.

The analysis also shows that black high-schoolers who made up at least 10% of enrollment were slightly more likely to take the SAT and ACT college entrance exams in cities where black teachers were at least 10% of the teaching force. Southern cities had the highest rates in this area as well.

But while black students might fare better academically in schools with more black teachers, the analysis suggests they also are disciplined at higher rates in that environment: In cities where black teachers were less than 10% of the teaching force, blacks made up about 16% of the student population with one or more in-school suspensions. In cities where black teachers were represented in double-digits, black students made up more than half of those suspended.

The same pattern held for expulsions. The black expulsion rate was about three times higher in cities where the black teaching force was 10% or higher.

The data cover 638 cities represented in the 2010 U.S. Census Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) report, which lists total workers for occupations such as public school teachers by race. The EEO data were paired with school district reports compiled by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which summarize student disciplinary actions and performance by race.

Recent research has found that the teacher recruiting problem starts in college. The U.S. Department of Education last year found that students of color are underrepresented in teacher preparation programs, occupying only 1 in 4 seats, even as non-white college students make up 38% of postsecondary enrollment.

Recruiting more teachers of color isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Researchers found a “completion rate gap” between white and minority students majoring in education: Among whites, 73% earn a degree, compared with just 42% of black students. The gap between white and Hispanic students is comparable: 73% vs. 49%.

“There are gaps at every step of the pipeline,” said King, who is African-American and Puerto Rican. “There are gaps in graduation rates, there are gaps in students choosing education as their major. There are gaps in students graduating from college. There are gaps in entering the teacher workforce, and then gaps in retention. So it’s really at every stage. And it is a big challenge.”

Once they enter the profession, King said, minority teachers face what he calls an “invisible tax” in the form of extra work that leads to higher attrition rates. African-American male teachers have told him that they’re expected to mentor and support all of their schools’ struggling African-American boys, for instance. Latino teachers often find themselves serving as translators for a school’s non-English-speaking parents.

“That may be something folks are willing to do,” King said, “but it is an additional responsibility and ought to be recognized as such and supported as such.”

He noted that a few nonprofit groups such as Teach For America have successfully diversified their teacher corps, but only because they applied “focused effort” to the problem.

“They will describe very intentional efforts to focus their recruitment, and also to build networks of support so that their teachers of color feel connected to other teachers, feel a sense of community,” he said.

In Washington, D.C., where 45% of students are males of color — and only 60% graduated from high school last spring — school officials found that just 18 males of color were teaching in early childhood classrooms. They resolved to focus there.

“It’s become a cycle,” said Jen Nelson, who helps coordinate the Empowering Males of Color program. “Because it’s been so rare for them to see a male teacher, then, in their brain, ‘This isn’t a career path that I want to pursue.’”

The early childhood program trains 10 “fellows” as literacy tutors and offers a $5,000 scholarship to pursue undergraduate study when they’re done. They also get help with college applications and applying for financial aid, take part in college visits and attend academic conferences.

Carter, the early childhood trainee, remembered just one black male teacher, in sixth-grade science. That tracks with national statistics that find only 2% of the USA’s more than 3 million teachers are black males.

Antwan Perry, who runs the program with Nelson, said the fellows “were not used to seeing a man of color in the classroom.” At most schools, such men were either disciplinarians, custodians or cafeteria workers. “So being in the actual classroom for them is just new territory,” he said. “They can be a male presence in the classroom, something that they really didn’t see.”

One fellow made the issue soberingly real: He told Perry that if he’d had just one black male teacher as a child, “I just wonder how much farther along I would be.”

Contributing: Brad Heath. Follow Greg Toppo on Twitter: @gtoppo; Follow Mark Nichols on Twitter: @nicholsmarkc

Black with Kids: We Have to Build Up Our Black Children Because the World Won’t

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On Sunday, my husband, our boys, and I spent time at his uncle and aunt’s home after church for a family dinner. Typically, when my husband’s mother’s side of the family has dinner, it takes place at his uncle and aunt’s home. This dinner was special. It was the back to school encouragement, affirmation, and prayer dinner.

All of the children in school from elementary through college sat on the floor and the rest of the family circled around them. You didn’t have to be family; if you were in school and were there, you were included. Each of us gave the students in the family words of encouragement and advice. Being that I am an educator, I was asked to start the circle. I reminded my cousins, a cousin’s boyfriend, and my niece to have fun in school but I also told them this:

I heard D.L. Hughey say that the most dangerous place for a black person is in a white person’s imagination. Because I have seen it, I would also add, the most dangerous place for you could be in your teacher’s imagination. Your teacher may not believe in you, but you have to believe in yourself and keep working hard.

As we continued around the circle, each adult shared part of his or her story in school and the lessons they wanted to impart. A few people shared they quit college or thought about quitting. We spoke about failing a class and being treated unfairly by teachers. We talked about standing up for yourself and the appropriate ways to advocate for yourself. We talked about depression and anxiety. We were transparent about our stories and didn’t sugar coat any part of our stories. Most importantly, we wanted them to know that even though it is hard to exist while black in this world, that someone in the family was always available for support and willing to come alongside them and help them. Last, we prayed over them.

It is hard to be a person of color; we are criminalized for just existing and participating in everyday activities. This is why it is important to encourage our black youth and let them know to be proud of who they are and remind them they can make it in this world and in school. There are plenty of negatives voices in the world, so we have to continue to speak positivity into our black youth and affirm them.

This post was written by Shawnta S. Barnes and originally ran on the Indy Education Blog

The Latest Residency Fraud Controversy Reminds me of the History of Racism at Duke Ellington

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I promise you that I am not the guru on all things that happen in D.C. However, it seems that recently I do have experience with or information about current news events. Call it a coincidence or activities in my life coming full circle. Either way, I find myself connected to recent stories.

And here’s another one: the ongoing accusations of residency fraud at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, my alma mater. My old stomping grounds. The place that, as a native Washingtonian traveling across the city every morning from Anacostia, made you proud to say you go to school in Georgetown. Because back then Georgetown was pretty much as it is now – predominately white and rich. And probably still filled with people who want Duke Ellington for themselves and their kids only.

They, the residents, used to hate seeing us get off of the bus from either the 30 bus line or the D bus line and walk two blocks to school in the morning. We could tell they hated it because they would roll their eyes. They would call the school as soon as we walked past their homes and describe what we are wearing to the school secretary and saying we were being “disruptive” as we walked to school. We were “loud” and, clutching my pearls, “laughing.”

They simply didn’t like us.

It wasn’t just the residents, some of the people working in the neighborhood businesses didn’t like us either. I remember a group of us went to Pizza Hut on Wisconsin Avenue for lunch one day and the waitress boldly confessed “I don’t wait on niggers. They wait on me” and refused to serve us.

Needless to say, lunch was free that day and no one dared to patronize that establishment again. It’s out of business now. It could be because Black money is also green money and you need that to survive in the world, and in Georgetown.

So, I’m not surprised Jay Mathew’s article in the Washington Post mentions assumptions of Georgetown residents wanting Duke Ellington for themselves and that perhaps this residency fraud thing is a political ploy to somehow get the school to close and reopen as Western High School, a zoned DC public school that once occupied the space where Duke Ellington is now. Western would serve the student population in Georgetown and the immediate area. Right now, according to the article, “Ellington’s student body is 77 percent black, 11 percent Hispanic, 7 percent white, 2 percent Asian and 3 percent multiracial. Most students are from low-income families. Applicants have to audition.”

So, Duke Ellington not a zoned-school. It’s a school that’s opened to all D.C. residents. You just have to audition to get in. If Duke Ellington was to become Western High School again, those student demographics would surely completely change. Low-income Black and brown kids would be forced to stay on their side of the city.

Residency fraud is not anything new with any of the D.C. public schools, as one comment said in response to the article. Yes, it’s real here just as it’s real in other school districts across the country. The “aha” takeaway here should be that parents are being forced to lie about where they live in order to find quality educational options for their children.

I could get on a school choice soap box here, but I won’t. I will just point you to story of Kelli Williams-Bolar, a mom in Ohio who was arrested for sending her kids to a school in the zoned area where she used to live with her father. Her father was arrested as well on charges of helping her lie. He died while in jail.

This thing is real. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea of the residency fraud issue at Duke Ellington being a political ploy. As the article suggests, this comes up every few years or so for this school. Here’s what I do know, as a Black student who rode the bus for an hour every morning leaving southeast D.C. to go to school, to get back on the bus to go home when school ended at 5:30 pm each day, the hatred for us being there was real. The stares, the comments, the advocacy to get rid of us was real. And honestly, I really don’t think anyone has the authority to refute personal experience – especially from behind the desk at city hall or a newspaper.

It’s not every day I agree with the union. But today I do.

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By Tanzi West Barbour

It’s not often that I agree with the teachers union, especially when I see them protecting adults who absolutely have no business being in the classroom. Working as part of a Superintendent’s cabinet in a large urban school district, I have seen and unfortunately, worked next to, teachers who were accused of harming children – physically, emotionally, and academically. 

Every day that an ineffective teacher stands in front of a classroom and “teaches” is an additional day that a child is harmed.

But that wasn’t the case with Jeff Canady, a D.C. Public School teacher, who, according to this Washington Post article, was fired nine years ago and has been fighting for his job ever since. 

Some of you may remember former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the firing spree she went on during her 3 ½ year tenure ultimately letting go 1,000 teachers. Canady was in that number. After 18 years of being in the classroom, Canady was let go, and from his point of view, wrongfully so.

He fought his dismissal saying he was wrongfully fired and “the city was punishing him for being a union activist and for publicly criticizing the school system.” This is where I support him. Any and everyone should have the right to say whatever they want to say – even if it’s against the very system they are working in simply because this is America and we have rights and protections under the United States Constitution. And that very first Amendment says we can talk. It’s called Freedom of Speech.

I do not agree with firing someone who, by the accounts of his school leaders and unions – was an effective employee, simply because he spoke out against the injustices of his workplace. If we were to be honest with ourselves and each other, I think we’ve all been the disgruntled employee a time or two. What makes Canady any different? He’s not.

I’m happy he had his union to back him up and support him. The article said he has been without a job and/or income for nine years. That’s a long time to fight without any resources. But he knew his truth and for that, I applaud him. As activists, that’s what we’re called to do – stand up, speak out, don’t back down, keep going until the victory is won. 

Canady did. He fought for his rights and he won. That too, is America.