Monday, April 23, 2018

Betsy DeVos Is Making It Easier for Schools to Send Black Kids—Like This 13-Year-Old Girl—to Jail – Mother Jones

Betsy DeVos Is Making It Easier for Schools to Send Black Kids—Like This 13-Year-Old Girl—to Jail – Mother Jones:

Betsy DeVos Is Making It Easier for Schools to Send Black Kids—Like This 13-Year-Old Girl—to Jail

“They want to give this harsh punishment for something that we could’ve easily resolved at the schoolhouse.”

Beside a highway in Bryan, Texas, tucked between a motorcycle bar and the county jail, stands a low-slung, sprawling complex with tinted windows, sandstone walls, and barbed wire lining parts of its roof. A roadside sign identifies it as the Brazos County Juvenile Justice Center.
One Friday afternoon last October, after an incident at nearby Arthur L. Davila Middle School, a police officer arrested 13-year-old Trah’Vaeziah Jackson and brought her to the juvenile detention facility. She cried as employees patted her down, cut off her hair extensions, and took her photo and fingerprints. She was served dinner—chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, and an apple in a styrofoam box with a carton of milk—but had no appetite.
In the shower room, guards applied thick anti-lice shampoo to Trah’Vaeziah’s hair. As she washed and combed it, clumps fell out. Afterwards, she reluctantly changed from her school clothes, a T-shirt and jeans, into the detention uniform, an orange shirt with matching shorts. Then she was locked in her cell, which contained a sink, a toilet, and, instead of a bed, a stuffed blue mat atop a brick base. High on the wall was a sliver of a window, but she wasn’t tall enough to see outside.
Only after 8pm was she permitted a phone call. She called her mother, and sobbed into the receiver. How could this accident have turned into a jail sentence?
Three decades ago, schools across the country began bolstering discipline to deter juvenile crime. Zero-tolerance policies were introduced, school law enforcement budgets swelled and suspensions, expulsions, and student arrests multiplied.
These punishments, though, are applied unequally. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of students of color, like Trah’Vaeziah, bear the brunt. Black students are almost four times as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension and twice as likelyto be arrested as their white peers, according to federal data. The pattern starts early: Even black preschool students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended from school.
Harsh discipline can backfire, especially when meted out arbitrarily. It may reinforce bad behavior, or encourage students to drop out, creating what sociologists call the “school-to-prison-pipeline.” A suspension increases the Continue reading: Betsy DeVos Is Making It Easier for Schools to Send Black Kids—Like This 13-Year-Old Girl—to Jail – Mother Jones:


Whistleblower: ECOT used software to get more state money

Whistleblower: ECOT used software to get more state money:

Whistleblower: ECOT used software to get more state money


COLUMBUS: Education regulators are reviewing a whistleblower’s claim that Ohio’s then-largest online charter school intentionally inflated attendance figures tied to its state funding using software it purchased after previous allegations of attendance inflation, the Associated Press has learned.
A former technology employee of the now-shuttered Electronic Classroom for Tomorrow said he told the Ohio Department of Education last year that school officials ordered staff to manipulate student data with software obtained following the state’s demand that it return $60 million in overpayments for the 2015-2016 school year.
The employee spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity for fear of professional repercussions for speaking out. His concerns were first raised in an Aug. 3 email to the state a month before it released its 2017 attendance review of ECOT.
The state challenged ECOT over how it claimed student time using the new software, called ActivTrak, after finding that it duplicated learning hours, according to Education Department spokeswoman Brittany Halpin.
Neil Clark, ECOT’s lobbyist and spokesman throughout last year’s review, dismissed the whistleblower’s allegations.
“I think most of this is made-up, ridiculous attempts to abuse a corpse,” he said. Clark said he no longer works for the school that abruptly closed in January.
Marion Little, the school’s attorney, said Monday that he was unaware of the man’s claims or that the Education Department had interviewed him. Messages were left with other school leaders seeking comment.
The whistleblower email and other department records, obtained by the AP through a public records request, show state officials waited until December to meet with the man about his concerns with the ActivTrak software.
Halpin said, “We appreciated hearing from this individual and will be taking into consideration the information for ECOT’s [next attendance] review.” That review will take place this summer.
In an interview, the whistleblower said that before he left the school last July he was in meetings where officials ordered staff to manipulate student data to reach desired outcomes.
“They would put a model in place, they would look at what it produced, then continue reading: Whistleblower: ECOT used software to get more state money:

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