Bullying By Race: Which Teens Get Picked On Most

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Asian American teens are bullied more than youths belonging to any other racial group, according to new data from the U.S. Justice and Education departments.

Teens aged 12 to 18 were interviewed for the study. More than half of the Asian American teens reported being bullied in classrooms, compared to almost one-third of white students. The disparity is even greater when it comes to cyber bullying; 62 percent of Asian Americans surveyed reported being harassed online once or twice monthly, while only 18.1 percent of whites were cyber bullied.

Classroom Bullying By Race

AFP reports on the findings:

Policymakers see a range of reasons for the harassment, including language barriers faced by some Asian American students and a spike in racial abuse following the September 11, 2001 attacks against children perceived as Muslim.

“This data is absolutely unacceptable and it must change. Our children have to be able to go to school free of fear,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday during a forum at the Center for American Progress think-tank.

Muslim Americans, many of whom are Asian American, are also facing increased institutionalized profiling by law enforcement since 9/11, recent reports indicate.

Battling Unemployment Among D.C.’s Low-Income, Black Youth

Many of D.C.’s young people who live way below the poverty line, aren’t in school or looking for work are black, a new report finds.

Researchers at The Brookings Institution examined these disparities in an effort to propose some solutions. About 28,000 D.C. residents aged 16 to 24 lack a bachelor’s degree and live 200 percent below the poverty line. And 22,000 of those young people are black.

Low-income D.C. black youth lacking bachelor’s degrees

The Brookings folks propose a few solutions, and among them is abandoning the “college for all approach.” But, as they note, there is a history of discrimination when it comes to who has been deemed worthy of higher education (emphasis mine):

Integrating employment and occupational skills into the high school and post-secondary curricula is often disparaged, with career and technical education (previously known as vocational education) seen as a dumping ground for students not deemed “college-ready.” The legacy of tracking, segregation, and discrimination in the educational system certainly provides support for that view— education can be a vehicle for upward mobility but it can also perpetuate inequality based on race and class.

Here are a few more recommendations in the report:

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Jobs Bill and D.C: How Locals Could Benefit from Obama’s Plan

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President Barack Obama in Detroit over Labor Day delivered a speech about creating jobs. He unveiled his jobs plan three days later.

While President Barack Obama is busy selling his jobs bill, D.C. could certainly use some help. The District faces an unemployment rate higher than the national average, and it’s at Depression era levels in the predominately poor and black wards of the city.

Here’s what may be in store for D.C., according to the White House, which has released state-specific provisions of the $447 billion bill:

  • Extending unemployment insurance for 5,500 District residents.
  • The establishment of the Pathways to Work fund to train and place low-income residents. It could benefit up to 400 adults and 1,400 youth in D.C.
  • Retaining or hiring 500 teachers and first responders using $45.1 million.
  • A possible $20 million to rehabilitate foreclosed and vacant District homes (which are concentrated in Wards 5, 7 and 8).

All of this is in addition to plans to cut business payroll taxes, intended to encourage hiring, and the infusion of $387 million to fund D.C. transit projects.

But before you get too worked up, keep in mind that the bill as it stands might not get passed. The White House wants the entire bill to get congressional approval, while Republican leaders have signaled they would support parts of the plan.

Do We ‘Demagogue By Demographics’ in School Debates?

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Why did the city shut down failing middle schools in mostly black neighborhoods in Ward 5, while parents in gentrifying Ward 6 successfully negotiated plans to improve and keep their schools open? Was it that working and middle class black parents gave up on these neighborhood schools and didn’t fight to improve them or keep them open?

Maria Jones, a black Ward 5 parent, says no; she argued during a  City Council roundtable on Wednesday that wealthier Ward 6 residents wielded their influence and power them in getting approval on a plan to improve and keep their schools open, the Washington Post reports. Meanwhile, Ward 5 still has no middle schools.

City Councilman Tommy Wells (Ward 6) said that Ward 5 deserves good schools, but the ones it had were failing students. “I don’t think it’s helpful when we demagogue by demographics each other’s wards” he told Jones, adding that Ward 6 has large segments of public housing and homeless families:

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Five Facts about High School Dropouts

Nearly a quarter of the nation’s teens don’t finish high school, and they go on to earn less money and require more public assistance than high school graduates. The problem is particularly pressing in D.C., which had a 68 percent graduation rate in 2008. Kids who skip school are more likely to eventually drop out, and the District’s truancy rate stands at 20 percent.

NPR is in the middle of a series about the cost of dropping out of high school. We’ve excerpted five of the most eye-opening facts about who drops out and why.

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Former Principal Speaks about White Families and DCPS

Wendy Carlson/Getty Images

A Washington Post profile of an outgoing D.C. Public Schools elementary school principal provides some insight into the racial divisions in school enrollment. Bill Kerlina left his post as principal of Phoebe Hearst Elementary School, located in the mostly white Ward 3, due to what he calls the dysfunction of the school system.

Hearst’s student body was comprised of mostly out-of-boundary black students. A few days before he quit, Kerlina received a positive evaluation from an instruction superintendent who asked him why there were not more white families at the school. Kerlina wrote back to the superintendent to lay out “a taxonomy of Northwest parents in an effort to show the hurdles to recruiting more neighborhood families:”

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A College Degree Doesn’t Mean You’ll Get a Job, Especially if You’re Black

The jobless rate for black men ages 16 to 19 is 45 percent. The Washington Post chronicles the job hunt of one black male teen, Kenneth Roberson of Memphis. The recent Booker T. Washington High school graduate was a top-ranked student at his school, which was described by President Barrack Obama as one of the nation’s most inspiring.

For Roberson, the implications of 45 percent are more immediate and more personal. It means a 45 percent chance he will have to borrow money for school or risk forgoing his partial scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; a 45 percent chance that he will be stuck without a car in a house with his mother and four siblings, sleeping on a futon in the room he shares with his brother; a 45 percent chance that he will go “crazy or something,” he said, “because I hate sitting in the house and having that feeling of just waiting around and being worthless.”

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

President Obama greets Christopher Dean during Booker T. Washington High School's May 2011 graduation ceremony. Obama called the school one of the country's most inspiring.

Roberson and his peers face an uphill battle in trying to find jobs to help pay for school. But what if he was a little older and already had his college degree — would finding a job be more difficult for him than for a white college graduate?

Colorlines has posted a number of illuminating graphics that indicate, yes: Jobless rates are much higher for black and Latino college graduates than their white peers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the jobless rate for black college graduates under 25 was 19 percent in 2010. For whites, it was 8.4 percent. Colorlines reports:

Even among those who’ve made the right choices—be it finishing high school or loading up debt to get a college degree—jobless rates are shocking. And the longstanding racial disparity among college graduates has grown markedly worse in the course of the downturn.

In D.C. as a whole, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in April, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But in predominately black Wards 7 and 8, it’s as high as 20 percent. And teens looking for work may be out of luck this summer, as the city’s summer jobs program faces funding cuts and will be accepting 8,000 fewer youth than last year.

A $26,000 Student Bus Pass

Art by a special education student from the Bronx.

Flickr: vanessastories

D.C. doesn’t have adequate programs to serve children whose needs cannot be met in an ordinary classroom, so we bus them elsewhere. At great cost, apparently:

The city has 4,000 special-needs students who are served by Individualized Education Programs, and must be bussed to schools around D.C. and as far as Baltimore. This year, the mayor requested $150 million for tuition to those private programs, which is a $7.8 million decrease from last year. And just to get them there, the budget includes $93.6 million for 74 bus lines–that’s $26,000 per student per year.

Which makes leased Navigators look like peanuts.

What can vouchers do for D.C.?

Flickr: NCinDC

Sidwell Friends.

Two weeks ago, Congress struck a last minute budget compromise to avoid a government shutdown. Part of that deal included restarting a voucher program in D.C. that had ended in 2009. Over at The New Republic, Matthew McKnight wonders if vouchers can provide a viable alternative to public schools–especially when the quality of private schools can vary dramatically:

Tuition at the city’s most elite, highest-achieving private schools are far too expensive for both the previous voucher allotments ($7,500 per year) and the increase proposed in the new bill ($12,000 per year). A smaller number of students were able to make up the difference from other funding sources in order to attend the more costly private schools. But, this means that most students with vouchers can only afford to attend private or parochial schools that, in many cases, are only marginally less bad than their public schools.

Lower school tuition for Sidwell Friends, the private school the Obama children attend, is nearly $32,000 for the 2011 school year. Sidwell offers financial aid to nearly a quarter of its student body–awarding an average of $20,965 to eligible students– but tuition is only the first hurdle to cross. McKnight interviewed an African American senior at the prestigious school who discussed feeling like an outsider who had to overcome obstacles like “sharp racial imbalances”…and that Senior wasn’t even a voucher student.

Private School Grads Fixing Public Schools

Flickr: TopRow

Maumee Valley Country Day School, Michelle Rhee's alma mater.

The New York Times points out something important about the school reform movement– those involved, including former D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee and President Barack Obama, did not attend public schools:

Those who call themselves reformers are a diverse group, men and women of every political stripe and of every race and ethnicity.

But there is one thing that characterizes a surprisingly large number of the people who are transforming public schools: they attended private schools.

Which raises the question: Does a private school background give them a much-needed distance and fresh perspective to better critique and remake traditional public schools? Does it make them distrust public schools — or even worse — poison their perception of them? Or does it make any difference?