Timothy Loehmann, the police officer who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in 2014, got fired yesterday. Adam Ferrise of Cleveland.com has the story:
Timothy Loehmann's ouster from the department was not the result of November 2014 killing the child, but for his failure to disclose the fact that he was asked to resign from the Independence Police Department after a supervisor raised concerns about his ability to be an effective police officer ... The union that represents [Loehmann] filed an appeal of the discipline within hours of McGrath's announcement. Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis, whose public statements about Tamir's death often drew the ire of civil-rights leaders, said he is confident that an arbitrator will overturn the discipline. "This is nothing but a political witch hunt," Loomis said. "We're not going to stand for it. They didn't do anything wrong."
I don't know what makes me angrier: that Loehmann was fired for lying on his job application, and not for KILLING A CHILD; or that his union is calling this a "political witch hunt." For the Cleveland police department, it seems that resume accuracy is a more important value than the lives of Black children.
Monique Judge of The Root looks at another instance of specious concern for Black lives:
The Journal of Political Philosophy has come under fire for its June issue, which dedicates more than 60 pages to a three-author “symposium” on the Black Lives Matter movement that does not include any actual black voices. The journal has since apologized for not including the work of black philosophers, but as Inside Higher Ed reports, the incident has drawn attention to the fact that the journal has a poor record of including black scholars and, prior to the symposium issue, did little to include scholarship on issues of race.
Unfortunately, this kind of stuff happens all the time, and not a single person at the decision-making table says, "Hey, you know what might be a problem here?'
People have blindspots. White folks, in particular, often have a very particular leadership shortcoming, wherein they fail to understand the lasting impact of race on power structures within professional fields. The omission described above provides a uniquely poignant vignette about the downstream effects of that lack of awareness.
In other news, Caroline Preston of The Hechinger Report describes the academic consequences of a fragile foster care system:
As of September 2016, roughly 428,000 children were in foster care nationwide, a number that’s increased recently, in part because of the opioid epidemic. By the time youth in foster care reach their junior year, more than a third will have switched schools at least five times. The consequences for young people are significant. With each move, students lose an estimated four to six months of academic progress. The reasons for these low success rates are manifold — trauma from the abuse and neglect that foster children routinely suffer, the absence of dependable adults in their lives and a lack of financial support. Frequent, disruptive school moves compound the problem. Child welfare agencies have historically paid little attention to schooling when they move youths to and from foster homes.
While schools can work to accommodate students whose lives are interrupted by the foster care system, it's hard to see how schools alone can solve for challenges like these ... outside of having a radically top-down system of identical schools, wherein switching from one school to another would be inconsequential. But that's pretty much the opposite of American schooling. New federal rules require schools to provide transportation for students whose lives are driven by foster care placements, and despite the Trump administration's rollback of schooling regulations, these protections remain in place.
Finally today, Eric Gorski of Chalkbeat studied STRIVE Prep, a Denver charter school that is working to serve many more special needs students:
When STRIVE Prep Lake opened in 2010, Gibbons said STRIVE set out to build a school that was “truly of the neighborhood, serving all kids.” That meant not only serving students with disabilities or students who do not know English, but also taking a stand about “backfill,” an issue that divides charter advocates. Some charter schools across the country do not replace students who leave, avoiding a potential drop in test scores and the disruption of adding new students. But STRIVE Prep Lake decided to take students at mid-year and in all grades. That practice that has since spread to all STRIVE schools.
Read the whole article, as it confronts some of the academic and operational tradeoffs that are necessary when a school wants to serve all children. The best charter schools have done a nice job demonstrating their effectiveness in getting many more socioeconomically underrepresented students ready for college. If charter schools want to continue to thrive as a part of a robust public system of education, they must deliver on the promise of serving all children, particularly those with special needs.
Have a great day!