Wednesday Reading List: I'm BAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!

Did you miss me last week?


That's cool. I missed you too. I'm back, though.

Kyle Spencer is in The Hechinger Report, studying a school that serves a large population of homeless students:

Schools that provide low-income students with this kind of help — sometimes referred to as wrap-around services — are called community schools. Hundreds exist and hundreds more are opening. Their increasing popularity is based on the belief that students dealing with poverty and trauma at home simply can’t learn if their basic health and wellness issues aren’t taken care of first ... Despite its increasing popularity, the model has had mixed results. But the results at Broome Street, a community school on steroids, have been stunning. The six-year-old charter is located inside a community-based organization, a five-story teen crisis center known as The Door. Advocates say that placing a community school inside a community organization is rare. But educators here say the arrangement is the secret to Broome Street’s success. Last year, 72.4 percent of the 87 students who arrived in 2012 as freshmen graduated on time, nearly matching the city’s four-year graduation rate of 72.6 percent.

It's a small school, sure, but that's an amazing rate of graduation, given that the program serves students with exceptional needs. Moreover, it is notable that this school is both a public charter AND operates as a full-service community school. The unique governance structure of charters on the one hand, and the wraparound focus of community schools on the other, are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Elsewhere in New York City, a traditional public schools struggles with socioeconomic and racial integration ... part one billion. Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat has the a series of interviews with parents and community members who were involved in one proposed integration project this year, involving P.S. 191 and P.S. 199:

The rezoning battle was remarkable not just for its rancor, but also for how closely it mirrored the fight that erupted a half-century earlier when the city tried to integrate the same two schools. In 1964, the city proposed “pairing” the racially segregated schools so that students from their combined zones would attend 191 for the early grades and then transfer to 199. After opponents failed to block the plan, many white families abandoned the public schools entirely.

The first-person accounts are fascinating. Here's Stanley Becker, the principal of P.S. 191 during that earlier era:

Stanley Becker, P.S. 191’s principal from 1960 to 1980: You got the same situation with the pairing as we have now [with the rezoning hearings]. Parents from 199 got up at school-board meetings and said, “I bought this home for $200-, $300-, $400,000 dollars so I could watch my kid go to school and come home. I don’t want him on a bus going down to another school.”

Why does that sound familiar? Oh right, that's what ostensibly progressive White people say EVERY time school integration is on the table. The protection of property values is always at the core of privileged folks' anti-integration arguments. That argument is eerily similar to the way in which Jim Crow laws were structured, as I've written before.

In other news, Kevin Carey is in The New York Times wondering why U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is unwinding a federal policy that protects vulnerable students against ineffective colleges:

Despite strong evidence that the gainful employment rules are working as intended, Ms. DeVos has decided to tear them up and start from scratch, calling the regulations “a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools.” Both Ms. DeVos and the president of the for-profit college industry association, Steve Gunderson, have said that students should be protected from “fraud.” Many of the failing programs aren’t fraudulent, in the strict, legal sense of the word. They’re just extraordinarily ineffective: a waste of taxpayer money and student time. Bridgepoint Education, a publicly traded for-profit college corporation, offers an online associate degree in early education through Ashford University that costs almost $34,000 in tuition, fees and supplies, most of which students finance with debt. Fewer than half of students finish on time, and the median graduate earns less than $16,000 per year. If those results continue, the program will be cut off from aid under current rules.

Despite the fact that it seems counterproductive to roll back measures that protect student borrowers, this decision is remarkably consistent with the Trump-DeVos conception of public policy. In their frame, private interests ought to be left to their own devices, with minimal government interference. Other people, like me, think that government ought to play a role in holding both the public AND private sectors accountable for not screwing people over. Crazy, I know.

Finally today, some historical reading in honor of the celebration of the 4th of July holiday. On July 4th, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech to an anti-slavery society in upstate New York. That speech became known as "What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?" and it warrants rereading on an annual basis:

I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? ... What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

It is a remarkable speech. If you've never read the whole thing, read it for the first time. If you've read it before, reread it today. Have a great week!