Opinion: Russlynn Ali: 'Stark inequity' in our schools demands attention
A survey done by the Dept. of Education showed that African-American and Latino students receive less resources in school.
March 15th, 2012
03:18 PM ET

Opinion: Russlynn Ali: 'Stark inequity' in our schools demands attention

Editor's note: Russlynn Ali is the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. She was a teacher, an attorney and worked at the Children's Defense Fund, and she has also taught law at the University of Southern California Law Center. Ali was appointed to the Department of Education by President Barack Obama in 2009.

By Russlynn Ali, Special to CNN

(CNN) – If a society based on the ideal of fundamental equality is to fulfill its promise, it cannot afford to look away when confronted with stark inequity. Last week, the Department of Education released a trove of data from Part II of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), a self-reported survey of more than 72,000 schools that serve 85 percent of the nation’s students.

The findings demand our attention.

This survey quantified how school resources are distributed in schools and districts; whether in teacher salaries, the assignment of experienced teachers, or access to college and career preparatory coursework like algebra, calculus or gifted and talented programs. And it showed that African-American and Latino students routinely receive less.

These disparities stand out even more when contrasted with the one area where African-American and Latino students are consistently overrepresented – discipline, including the rates of suspension, expulsion, and in-school arrests.

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As March Madness nears, new study confirms old trend
March 15th, 2012
11:34 AM ET

As March Madness nears, new study confirms old trend

By David Ariosto, CNN
(CNN) - As schools gear up for March Madness, a new study released Wednesday shows that race and gender gaps in higher education continue to plague college basketball players on the NCAA tournament teams.

The study found that the female players in the tournament continue to out-graduate their male counterparts, and that graduation disparities between blacks and whites persist but are considerably less pronounced among women.

"The women's teams always give us good news to report each year," said Richard Lapchick, the lead author of the report, which was produced by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

The study found that women student basketball players on the tournament teams graduate at a rate of 89%, compared with 67% for men.

In addition, a disparity of 8 percentage points exists between white and African-American women. That disparity jumps to 28 percentage points among male athletes, the report found.

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March 15th, 2012
06:25 AM ET

My View: Homeschooling: Marching to the beat of a different drummer

Courtesy Sue Coates By Joyce Burges, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Joyce Burges is the co-founder of the National Black Home Educators, an organization that empowers parents to educate their children for excellence. She and her husband, Eric, have been married for 35 years and have five children between the ages of 16 to 35.

It was a rainy afternoon. I was rocking my baby girl by the fire and enjoying a cup of hot chamomile tea. To me, life couldn’t get any better than this. Our three older children were in school, “getting a good education.” I received a call from my oldest son’s school. I was told that my husband and I needed to come to a school meeting. Unpleasant thoughts flooded my mind. But I was comforted because we were active in our children’s school. I was PTO president and chairman of the advisory board. So all was well, right?

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to hear at this meeting. We thought that being involved as parents assured our children of an excellent education. I was mistaken. When we had met with the teachers, they informed us that our son Eric Jr. was doing fine academically. His 3.0 GPA dropped to 2.8 during the first six weeks of school. To me, this was a workable issue because we were still in the first semester. At this latest meeting, we were informed that our son was “failing.” According to his counselor, this was a “blight” on this school’s reputation. The school gave us two choices: We could place our son in a school across town, or he would have to repeat this grade next year. These options left me feeling that there was no hope for our son. I pleaded and said that we would work with him to raise his grade point average. This would not do. The administration’s position was firm. I begin to cry. My confidence was shattered. I thought that we had failed our son, and that we were unfit to be a part of this school system.

We discussed this problem when we got home that evening. Something began to stir my heart - a vision of me keeping my children at home with me. I was tired of raising money for equipment when overburdened teachers were making copies of books for children in overstuffed classrooms, and I was exhausted with rising early in the morning to whisk my children away to school.

I heard that a family at our local church was homeschooling. We met one evening, and the rest is history. I was forced to rethink my children’s educational life. If my children were going to succeed, become excellent learners and have a chance to go college, I had to rally my courage and start right now.
I learned many things during the first years of teaching my children. I didn’t realize the pressure we were under until we were set free of the educational “mess” of which they were part: The prepackaged curriculum, the one-size-fits-all model, the bullying and the negative socialization. Homeschooling allowed us to discover and experience pure, superior learning and a customized learning environment.
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