What is The “Invisible Tax”?: Educator Diversity


The “Invisible Tax” on Teachers of Color: A Philly Point of View

Fellowship Bringing together Black male teachers and principals and building a network of learning, support and empowerment is essential, relevant and necessary not only for Black male students, but for all students. This is the essential mission of The Fellowship, a Philadelphia-based group that was founded to support current and aspiring black male educators through advocacy, engaging policy makers, expanding the teacher pipeline, and quarterly professional development opportunities called, “Black Male Educators Convenings” (BMEC).

In November 2015, members of The Fellowship had the opportunity to share our work with Secretary John King. Secretary King spoke candidly and critically about the achievement gap and the need to do more for those most in need through equity and access to excellence. As a former inner-city student, teacher, and leader, King was able to articulate the importance of increasing teacher diversity. He knew well of the “invisible tax” that many African American and Latino male teachers silently endure for the sake of their schools’ students. The pressure of being the lone black or brown male educator in a school, while simultaneously charged with being the main mentor, disciplinarian, and relationship guru for all students who share similar backgrounds, can be overwhelming.

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Sharif El-Mekki, co-founder of The Fellowship, moderating Q&A, during Town Hall with Secretary John King in Philadelphia. Photo by Rashiid Coleman

In a school district in which Black males have a four-year graduation rate of 24 percent, Philadelphia is a city with an urgent need for support that targets this population. The Fellowship aims to do just that through a mission to support schools in the recruitment, retention, and development of current and aspiring Black male educators in the Greater Philadelphia region. Studies show that having more role models within the school system can have a positive impact on Black children. We also believe that more Black male teachers can also have a positive effect on all students, not just the students we share a cultural identity with.

In January 2016, in Philadelphia, Secretary King reiterated his urgent message of addressing the stark racial disparity between America’s students and teachers in a town hall meeting with teachers and leaders representing charter, private and traditional district schools. He once again affirmed not only the need to do more for our students, but to do so in a spirit of community and collaboration.

Members of The Fellowship have been able to continue our work of diversifying the teacher pipeline through the Teach to Lead initiative. Through the support we received from the U.S. Department of Education and other critical organizations, we were able to craft a strategic plan for our three-pronged approach to support Black male educators to provide professional development and networking opportunities, advocacy, and expanding the pipeline.

The Fellowship has committed to ensuring such excellence through the targeted efforts to create a teacher workforce that better reflects the faces of the students we serve. Secretary King not only supports these efforts, but also continues to affirm the work of all educators committed to ensuring that our students are given the best opportunities for success, including ensuring equitable educational opportunities for all students.

Dr. William Hayes is a founding member of The Fellowship and the founding principal of Mastery-East Camden Middle School. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard University and recently received his PhD in Education Leadership from Vanderbilt. Dr. Hayes and The Fellowship can be found on Twitter: @SpeakHayes & @BMECFellowship.

Is it wrong to recognize a valedictorian? One school says yes. – CSMonitor.com

blk stu

Naming valedictorians at high school graduations is unhealthy, according to one North Carolina school board that has done away with the tradition.

According to a new policy awaiting final approval on June 7, principals in Wake County, N.C., can no longer name valedictorians or salutatorians: the two seniors with the highest and second-highest grade point averages, respectively.

Instead, starting in 2019, the district will use Latin honors designations for all students who attain a certain weighted grade point average, or GPA. The highest, “summa cum laude,” is reserved for graduates with at least a 4.25 weighted GPA. Students who finish high school with a weighted GPA of 3.75 to 3.99 would be designated cum laude, and a GPA of 4.0 to 4.249 would be magna cum laude.

The district determines GPA using a weighted scale to reward course difficulty. Earning an A in an honors or Advanced Placement (AP) class is worth five points, for example, instead of four points for a normal class. Theoretically, a student could have a 5.0 GPA, if not for certain mandatory classes that cannot be weighted.

School board members voted unanimously in favor of the policy on Tuesday, in hopes that the change would encourage students to take more classes of genuine interest to them. Many said students were taking certain classes only for the GPA boost.

If the policy is approved, North Carolina state law will still mandate that the high school record students’ class rank on their transcripts.

No one voiced opposition to the new policy during the meeting, but some have criticized the Wake School Board for being “politically correct.”

“We have heard from many, many schools that the competition has become very unhealthy,” Tom Benton, school board chairman, told the News & Observer. “Students were not collaborating with each other the way that we would like them to. Their choice of courses was being guided by their GPA and not their future education plans.”

The new policy would recognize more students for their accomplishments, while abating some competition. Benton said this new system is better, especially in large schools with up to 600 graduating seniors, whose failure to earn a valedictorian or salutatorian title could come down to a thousandths of a decimal point.

“We think it’s much healthier to set high expectations and high requirements for magna cum laude,” he said. “The students now have a target that they can shoot for and if they achieve that they’re recognized for that.”

Class rankings are just one method of measuring academic performance, the new policy states: “The Wake County Board of Education also recognizes other means of evaluating student achievement, including grade point average, courses completed, level of rigor of curriculum, results of tests and assessments, and recommendation letters.”

Still, there’s some debate as to whether children today receive too many awards. Is the learning culture of “everybody wins” really that effective?

“There are competitions that you can measure very correctly and they do spur people on to bigger and better things,” said Benton. “There are competitions that are much harder to have objective measurements and grading falls into that. You’ve got the subjectivity of grades being determinate.”

By Madison Margolin, Correspondent

P.S.: What do you think? Is it a good idea?

Finding Success with Afterschool Physical Education Programs | ED.gov Blog


Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say school-age children should be physically active at least one hour a day. Most 9- to 13-year-olds do get their daily dose of physical activity, with more than three-quarters exercising throughout the week. But that percentage significantly declines as children grow older. In 2013, less than a third of high school students met the one-hour mark or attended physical education classes during an average school week. As children become more sedentary, their risk grows for developing chronic health problems down the road. The problem is especially acute for children from low-income families.

How do we make sure every young person — no matter where they live or their family’s income — has the opportunity to be active and healthy every day? We believe schools are an important part of the answer. Simply put: children go to school five days a week, so schools are in a unique position to help kids exercise regularly. Plus, physical activity helps kids concentrate on classroom tasks and improve their standardized test scores. That means schools have a vested interest in keeping kids active so they’ll do better academically.

Unfortunately, many school districts lack the resources to offer robust physical education programs. There are lots of reasons schools have had to cut back on physical education classes and recess: not enough funding, few safe spaces to play, the need for more classroom time to make sure every child is given educational opportunity. The number of things schools have to accomplish every day is enormous.

And that’s where the U.S. Soccer Foundation comes in.

Recently leaders from our organization met with staff at the Department of Education to discuss our partnerships with schools across the country, especially in underserved communities. We offer proven youth development programs, build fields where children can play safely, and supply much-needed athletic equipment. Afterschool programs like ours not only give students a physical outlet, they also increase the effort kids put into school, keep them from skipping class, and boost their academic confidence.

An independent evaluation of our Soccer for Success afterschool program found that 89 percent of children who started the program overweight or obese left it with improved or maintained aerobic capacity. When it came to school, 89 percent of students said they tried harder as a result of the program, and 85 percent said they tried harder to avoid violence and fighting.

We love talking to teachers about how our programs turn their students around. To enhance our children’s academic performance and help them feel more engaged in the classroom, we as a community have to do more to bring physical activity and academia together. We look forward to hearing from schools and educators about your vision for ensuring that every young person has the chance to live a full and healthy life.

Wylie Chen is Vice President of Programs and Grants at the U.S. Soccer Foundation.


via Finding Success with Afterschool Physical Education Programs | ED.gov Blog

On Racism and Race Relations: Poll Results


Today’s read from The New York Times series:


Chicago: Polls, Reality
Lilli Carré
Chicago is caught in a violent spiral. Homicides are up 52 percent over last year and most of the victims have been African-American, in neighborhoods already racked with poverty, poor housing and failing schools.
The Times has been zeroing in on Chicago all year (check out our explanation for why Chicago is more violent than New York) and this weekend a team of reporters and photographers will fan out across Chicago for a project we’ll send your way next week.
Many of you, our Race/Related readers, are already familiar with Chicago’s struggles. Warren Guthrie, a filmmaker doing long form video interviews about the violence, wrote in to tell us most of his subjects tell him, “I never expected to live past 21.”
We figured it was a good time, then, to take a deeper look at Chicago.
First up, Giovanni Russonello, who worked on our recent poll of Chicago residents, explaining just how hard it can be to measure racial bias.
– Damien Cave
Lilli Carré
What Polling Can and Cannot Tell Us
Here at The Times’ polling department, we often try to assess the state of race relations and discrimination in the United States. It’s a difficult task because conversations about race often rely on coded language or careful discussion, which means there are certain things we can know through surveys, and a lot we cannot quantify.
Some divisions are relatively easy to identify. For example, The Times’ recent poll of Chicago, conducted with the Kaiser Family Foundation, revealed that African Americans and Latinos are generally less satisfied than whites with police and city services, and they are markedly more likely to say that racial discrimination is a major problem. This tracks with historical trends, including our own national poll in July 2015.
But what makes polling on race so difficult, and so interesting, is that so-called “desirability bias” often takes hold: Many people know which kinds of responses will be seen as socially unacceptable or desirable, and that often shapes what they say.
In our Chicago poll, a surprising finding was hidden beyond the responses. When asked how diverse their neighborhoods were, 45 percent of polled Chicagoans said that most people living around them were of a different race. Yet a close analysis of U.S. Census data shows that the true number is just 30 percent. By double-digit margins, African Americans, whites and Latinos all overestimated the diversity of their neighborhoods.
Large swaths of Chicagoans, it seems, wanted to believe or wanted to tell us that they are living amidst more diversity than they actually are.
Most notably, just 49 percent of whites said that they lived around mostly white people. But in a city where housing segregation was official government policy for much of the 20th century, 72 percent of whites actually live in majority-white Census tracts (typically made up of a few blocks). All of which make you wonder: what else do people, especially whites, get wrong when they talk about race?
Lilli Carré
Counting Racists. No Easy Task.
Social science’s most ambitious attempt to measure bias and racial resentment is the General Social Survey — a rigorous study that has been conducted regularly by in-person interviewers since 1972.
It includes a battery of questions designed to test racial resentment. Respondents are asked whether African Americans ought to be able to lift themselves up by their bootstraps despite social challenges, whether they lack initiative, whether discrimination is responsible for racial inequity, and whether blacks are more hardworking, or less, than whites.
“We routinely ask questions about race, and we routinely find evidence of racial bias,” Vincent Hutchings, a professor at the University of Michigan and a member of the survey’s Board of Overseers, said in an interview.
And yet, the survey can only uses respondents’ answers to put them somewhere along a spectrum. That means we cannot provide a clean percentage of respondents who do and don’t harbor bias.
“What’s difficult is putting a point estimate on it,” said Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at Pew Research Center. “You can build a robust scale, you can pick up on people who are more prejudiced or less prejudiced on that scale — but it’s hard to say 40 percent of people hold prejudice on this issue.”
Lilli Carré
Good News and Bad News
Polling is much better at measuring change in racial attitudes over time.
That’s what Seth K. Goldman and Diana Mutz, of the University of Pennsylvania, did for their book, “The Obama Effect: How the 2008 Campaign Changed White Racial Attitudes.” Using a three-item battery similar to the social survey’s, Goldman and Mutz found that positive television exposure to Barack Obama and his family in the 2008 campaign caused an overall decline in racial prejudice — even when that coverage was on conservative programs critical of Mr. Obama.
Another sign of expanding tolerance can be found with a commonly used measure of racism — approval of interracial dating. Pew has asked since the mid-1980s whether people think it’s acceptable for members of different races to marry, and the increase in acceptance has been significant. More than seven in 10 white Americans agree that “it’s all right for blacks and whites to date each other” — up from less than half in the 1980s — and more than nine in 10 millennials feel that way.
But these trends alone do not necessarily reveal the broader direction of the country when it comes to racism. One of the most frequently asked survey questions nationwide regards the state of race relations, and it offers a confounding counterpoint.
Last July, the Times and CBS News conducted a poll on race in America, and it found that wide majorities of blacks and whites agreed that race relations in the country were “generally bad” — among the most negative data we’d ever seen on the question.
Just three years earlier, a nearly equal majority of both groups had said they were good.
And yet, despite the dire national picture, a wide majority of respondents last July still felt that within their local communities, race relations were mostly positive.
So how did we end up with that contradiction? As with so many questions on race, it’s hard to know. For those of us in polling, every new poll’s results lead us to contemplate what other kinds of questions we might ask to paint a fuller portrait of an increasingly diverse and complicated country.
– Giovanni Russonello