Wednesday, August 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Three steps forward, why step back?

SchoolRaceEthnic.fh10

By
From page A15 | October 30, 2011 |

Three steps forward and…

Is it inevitable that the next phrase of this sentence be: “two steps back?” I say emphatically, no, especially when it comes to Davis schools and inequality in schooling outcomes.

I present four illustrations of how far we have come in the past decade addressing together how differently our “high-performing” schools are serving and are experienced by Davis children, in part dependent on race, ethnicity and economic class. There is encouraging news here.

Opportunities to continue on our largely positive trajectory emerge from this brief and incomplete slice of what we have done as educators, public officials, parents, community members and, of course, youth, the latter often in the vanguard of change.

Before beginning, let me state that the Native American category is included so as not to lose track of the existence of this population. Students are almost certainly misclassified, which is one reason why this group’s data vary so much from year to year.

Graph No. 1 depicts an impressive decrease in the number of students suspended each year in each racial/ethnic category. The comparison starts from when student-committed hate crimes publicly and embarrassingly confirmed suspicions that many Davis students were experiencing a dysfunctional school climate (2002-03). Check out the Davis documentary, “From The Community To The Classroom,” on YouTube.

Since we began our painful community and school change, the percentage of Asian and white students suspended has been cut in half, and the percentage of Latino students suspended has decreased by threefold. Davis educators are to be congratulated for finding alternative ways to respond to and redirect students.

These data should more stridently drive us to look for reasons and remedies as to why the percentage of black students suspended has decreased by only 25 percent over this time span. African-American students were suspended three times more often than white students in the 2009-10 school year.

Over the decade, many, including students and I, have collected and reported these data publicly. I have been disappointed by how many months it takes district officials to compile a report in response to my request for public information, only because I would think these data would be at someone’s fingertips, being monitored and reported back to administrators several times a year.

I fear the annual mandatory reporting to the federal government is the only time these data are seen. Suspension rates and disparities are even higher at our junior high schools.

Graph No. 2 demonstrates that proportionately fewer African-American and Latino students make up the student population of King High School, our district’s “continuation” high school.

In the five years before “community change” (1998-2002), the percentages of African-American and Latino students at King High were 2.5 and 3.3 times as high as the percentages these groups made up at Davis High School, our top-ranked, flagship, conventional high school.

In the past five years, the percentage of African-American students at King High was less than the percentage of African-American students at Davis High. Educators are again to be congratulated for their innovations, including a new support class for 10th-grade English students and the founding of the Academic Center.

Moving forward, we need to understand and remedy why Latino students remain so disproportionately represented at King High.

Graph No. 3 offers data from before and after the district required both a third-grade parent and the private evaluator to sign a form stating that their student had been tested only once in a 12-month period. Students from groups (African-American, Latino, low-income or low parent education) who score close to the cut-off point to qualify as GATE-identified are retested by district staff using an alternate test known to be less culturally biased than the test administered during the universal testing of third-graders.

It is still unclear to me why we allow private testing for GATE qualification, especially when there are such marked racial and income disparities in those who qualify by this method.

The final graph shows that there has been little change in the racial/ethnic disparity of Davis High School graduates who qualified to apply to the California State University or University of California. If our schools are as excellent as we say, we should be able to move kindergartners forward together as a cohort, emerging in 12th grade with roughly the same possibility of taking advantage of our public universities.

Could we make the A-G pre-requisite the default graduation requirement for our high schools? Students could “opt-out” with parent permission, but would not be tracked out without scrutiny.

San Jose Unified School District adopted this “A-G for All” policy in 1997 with impressive results, according to the March 2007 issue of “Colorlines”: The percentage of African-American and Latino students completing A-G requirements doubled, while the percentage of black students dropping out was cut in half.

Making this bold statement about what future choices should be available to every student and what our district expects to develop in every student would indeed be a step in a positive, more equal direction.

— Jann Murray-García, M.D., M.P.H., is a Davis parent and pediatrician. She shares this monthly column with Jonathan London. Reach her at jmurgar@comcast.net

Comments

comments

Jann L. Murray-Garcia

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Summer jobs aren’t always in the bag

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Arts Center gets a new look, thanks to Brooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    More details emerge in Woodland officer shootings

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Report details the face of hunger in Yolo County

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Taking on a Specktacular challenge

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Students can practice safe bike routes to junior highs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    ‘Monsters University’ to be screened in Central Park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    California regulators approve PG&E rate hike

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    America’s ‘it’ school? Look west, Harvard

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: B3

     
    School board preps for new academic year

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

    The big moveout, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sunder campaign will be at Farmers Market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Classic car show slated in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Davis Art Garage honored; bench dedication set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Woodland historical award winners announced

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Can’t understand this change

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Bravo! The road diet works

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

     
    Support water bond in November

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Relay for Life team says thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Hard hoops schedule features defending national champs at UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Crisp’s big hit helps A’s

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie QB is back to pass … Touchdown, Tina! Tina?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sacramento scores early to snap skid

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

     
    Unplayable? Cubs, rain hand Giants a loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    UCD roundup: Aggie gymnasts are awesome at academics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Food that travels well for cooking out

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

     
    Visit Crawfish and Catfish Festival in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Artists invited to paint at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Goldberg, Milstein to play at Village Homes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    The voice on the CD comes alive at Music Together concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Crowd funding campaign offers support for Art Theater of Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Railroad museum will host Aberbach memorial

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6