Wednesday Reading List: If it's a pipeline issue, the pipeline is narrow because it was built with racist specifications

Let's start today with a question; Melinda Anderson wants to know where the Black principals are:

According to an April report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing school data, the percentage of black or Hispanic public-school principals has barely budged over the last 25 years. During the 1987–88 school year, 87 percent of public-school principals were white, 9 percent were black, 3 percent were Hispanic, and 2 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. More than two decades later, in the 2011-12 school year, the percentage of white principals had declined slightly—to 80 percent—while that of Hispanic principals inched up slightly (7 percent). The percentage of principals who were black or from another ethnic group showed no substantial change, at 10 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

This differential is striking, and one that matters for reasons practical, moral, and educational. Our leadership institutions remain far too white as the country becomes less so. Anderson makes the case that principals have to make constant judgment calls, and for plenty of good reasons, a principal who shares experiences with the community in which she or he leads is bound to have an advantage in making those assessments. Andrene Jones-Castro and David Johns from the White House make a similar, if broader, point about Black women:

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans works to highlight learning and workforce development opportunities and sources of support—to address persistent challenges facing African-American women and girls. Recent data from the Office of Civil Rights reveals that Black girls are underrepresented and have less access to high-level math and science courses, such as physics, chemistry, and Algebra II. Because these courses are gateway courses into STEM and technical careers, lower enrollment disadvantages Black girls from competing in the global marketplace. The Initiative promotes investments in high-quality educational programs that seek to increase the participation of girls and young women in science, technology, engineering, the arts and agriculture, and math (STEAM) as well as non-traditional careers and technical fields. The Initiative is also addressing school discipline and zero-tolerance punitive policies that disproportionately impact Black girls.

When I bring up "leadership diversity, inclusion, and representation" in mixed company, I'm often reassured that the dearth of Black and Brown faces in leadership is a "pipeline issue" not a "structural racism" issue.

Let's at least agree that it's both. Excluding young women from the critical prerequisite courses reveals a bias and mindset against their future performance. If it's a pipeline issue, the pipeline is so narrow because it was built with structurally racist specifications. In other news, the Center for American Progress has a calculator you can use to unearth the hidden costs of childcare. You have to click through to use it, but here's what it looks like:

Margaret Biser, who used to be a tour guide at a southern plantation house, wants us to hide less from our kids in history class:

I'd often meet visitors who had earnest but deep misunderstandings about the nature of American slavery. These folks were usually, but not always, a little older, and almost invariably white. I was often asked if the slaves there got paid, or (less often) whether they had signed up to work there. You could tell from the questions — and, not less importantly, from the body language — that the people asking were genuinely ignorant of this part of the country's history.

She goes on to discuss the most common misconceptions, which could be a good guide for teachers of American history. Finally, via Alexander Russo's prolific aggregation of cool news, here's a video of a robot that interacts with children with autism: