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New Lawsuit Accuses NY School System of Segregation in Gifted Programs

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In New York City, students apply to high school during their 8th-grade year.

What We Know:

  • A group of NY students is filing a lawsuit against the largest public school system in the U.S They are accusing the system of perpetuating racism by using a flawed admissions process for selective programs that favor white students. One of the lawsuit’s stipulations asks a judge to order the school system to eliminate its current admissions screening process. The segregated programs include the more academically rigorous middle and high schools and gifted & talented programs.
  • The plaintiff in the lawsuit is IntegrateNYC, which is a youth-led non-profit devoted to integrating the school system. Several civil rights attorneys brought the lawsuit to state court in Manhattan. Minority students are often denied the opportunity to gain access to more selective programs from elementary to high school.  The “rigged system” begins sorting children academically when they are as young as four years old.
  • After going through the application process, minority students are typically ushered into failing schools that emphasize existing inequalities. The city and state education departments are being listed as defendants in the case. Other defendants of the lawsuit are being listed as Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Two years ago, de Blasio attempted to eliminate the admissions exam for elite specialized high schools, but the state legislature rejected the proposal. No defendants have issued any comments regarding the lawsuit.
  • Other accusations detailed in the lawsuit include fault the school system’s curriculum. The lawsuit argues that students of color are taught history from a Eurocentric point-of-view.

The lawsuit asserts, “Nearly every facet of the New York City public school system operates not only to prop up, but also to affirmatively reproduce, the artificial racial hierarchies that have subordinated people of color for centuries in the United States.”

  • In 2019, students attending NYCiSchool and Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School staged weekly protests demanding action on school integration.

It appears as though young students have taken matters into their own hands by speaking up about issues that impact them as well as NYC students in the future.

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Coronavirus

Schools Are Disciplining Kids With Virtual Classes, Advocates Say That Could Violate Their Rights

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Advocates are calling these actions the “new face of denial of access to public education”.

What We Know:

  • A six-year-old named Raynardo Antonio Ocasio has been banned from his classroom since September. Raynardo was banned from in-person learning for failing to wear a mask. The school, Zeta Charter School in Manhattan, has stated that pushing Raynardo out was necessary to keep teachers and students safe during the pandemic. Administrators and other schools across the country made similar decisions during the reopening process.
  • Raynardo has a speech and language impairment that makes it challenging for him to comply with instructions. He had difficulty expressing himself while wearing a mask. A psychologist was brought to the school in order to support Raynardo, but after numerous efforts, his school decided to send him home for virtual classes. The decision to send Raynardo home wasn’t intended to be permanent.
  • Student advocates in six states informed NBC News that they’re working with students impacted by these actions. Critics argue that removing students because of their behavior is a violation of students’ rights. Federal law requires public schools to provide all students with the support they need to succeed. This could entail bringing in a counselor or working with parents to improve a child’s behavior.
  • Advocates argue that the students they’ve seen removed from in-person classes are the same ones who’ve traditionally been more likely to be removed from class. These kinds of students include children with disabilities, those with a hard time following some rules, and Black or Latino children who are more likely to be punished for their behavior than their white classmates. Those students were already more likely to struggle in school than their peers according to civil rights and educational justice advocate, Lorraine Wright.

Raynardo has been attending school virtually for more than seven months and advocates say what happened amounts to an informal removal.

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Education

Idaho Legislature Passes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory In Classrooms

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The state’s senate approved a bill on Monday that would ban public schools and universities from teaching critical race theory, which examines how race affects American society.

What We Know:

  • The bill passed in the Idaho Senate with a vote of 27-8. Included in the measure is a language that forbids educators from teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.” In addition, the bill also bans teaching that members of certain groups (race, sex, ethnicity, etc.) are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by members of that same group.
  • Supporters of the measure claim those teachings are often found in critical race theory and that students are being “indoctrinated” by it. Opponents say teaching critical race theory will only divide students. Idaho Senator Carl Crabtree said students need a learning environment “free of prejudice,” according to CNN.
  • However, detractors of the legislation say the bill is looking for a nonexistent problem. “The bill could stifle free speech in the classroom on topics related to race and sex,” said Democratic Senator Ali Rabe to Fox News. Another lawmaker criticized the bill for using vague and undefined concepts that would allow parents to sue over anything they find offensive.
  • The legislation comes during a time when many states are seeking to reform the education systems to become more inclusive. Teaching critical race theory is used as a way to shed light on the history and long-term effects of White supremacy.

With the bill passed in the Idaho House and Senate, it now goes to Republican Governor Brad Little to be signed into law.

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Education

Michigan Father Angry As Teacher Cuts Bi-Racial Child’s Hair

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The father moved his daughter into a different school after a classmate and teacher cut the young girl’s hair on separate occasions.

What We Know:

  • Jimmy Hoffmeyer, who is biracial himself, is the father of 7-year old Jurnee Hoffmeyer. Hoffmeyer stated he was considering taking his daughter out of Mount Pleasant Public Schools and enrolling her into a private one instead. Mount Pleasant is about 150 miles northwest of Detriot, and less than 5% of its residents are Black.
  • The incident occurred on March 25th when Jurnee came home from Gainard Elementary School with most of the hair on one side of her head cut. She told her father that a classmate had cut her hair on the bus home using scissors. Two days after this, Jurnee came home with the hair on the other side of her head cut as well.
  • Hoffmeyer said his daughter was crying, afraid that she would get in trouble. Hoffmeyer told his daughter not to let any other student touch her hair, but Jurnee told him it was a teacher this time. The teacher had apparently tried to even her hair out, but Hoffmeyer hasn’t accepted any of the excuses offered by the district.
  • Hoffmeyer said the school’s principal told him the most that would happen to the teacher involved was a note in her work file. The principal repeatedly asked Hoffmeyeer what she could do to make it go away. The district’s superintendent called and offered to have “I’m sorry” cards mailed to the family, but Hoffmeyer said he “got mad and hung up.”
  • In a statement, District Superintendent Jennifer Verleger stated, “Regardless of their good intentions, these actions were unacceptable and show a lack of judgment on the part of our two employees.” Verleger personally apologized to Hoffmeyer’s family as well.

Hoffmeyer has two other daughters besides Jurnee, aged 8 and 4. Hoffmeyer filed an incident report with the police but has not received a follow-up to his complaint.

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