Monday Reading List: Representation in College and Can State Takeovers of Schools Work?

Before the reading list, let me just get something out of the way real quick ...

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In other news, Kate Taylor of The New York Times wonders if the state of New York will do anything about the Hempstead school district on Long Island:

For almost 30 years, the district has been failing its students, most of whom are Hispanic and black. During most of that time, a badly divided school board has been at war with itself. Test scores and graduation rates have been among the lowest in the state. School buildings have deteriorated so much that they have closed while children went to school in trailers. And board members have been convicted of theft and fraud. Still, despite the decades of mismanagement, the State Department of Education has done little beyond issuing threats.

This situation sounds like an enormous mess, even within a field wherein dysfunction seems like the norm. The state could intervene, but that's no guarantee of improvement; takeover could end up being a recipe for additional acrimony. If the state does intervene in the district, however, they should go "all in" and make sure that they create the optimal conditions for swift, dramatic changes. At this point, half-measures will cost just as much political capital, while providing almost no chance of improvement.

Meredith Kolodner of The Hechinger Report looked at diversity and representation at major state universities and came away unimpressed:

A Hechinger Report analysis of national data shows that more than a third of U.S. states had at least a 10-point gap (including eight with a 20-point gap) between the percentage of their public high school graduates who are African-American and the percentage of their flagships’ freshman class who are African-American (in 2015, the most recent data available). For Latinos, 10 states had at least a 10-point gap. New York and Illinois were the only states that had double-digit gaps for both groups.

I'm baffled by people who don't think this is an enormous problem. You either believe that we should have a society wherein race and ethnicity should not be determinant of social outcomes, or you don't. There's no in-between. If some groups are systematically underrepresented in American institutions, based on race, that's racism. Period. If your response to this data is, "Well, maybe something else is at play ... "

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We don't need another "report" to tell us that systemic racism is real. We have all of the research we need; it's time to change things.

In case you need another reminder that racism has a way of infecting EVERYTHING, here's Dominique Jackson of Blavity:

Director Ryan Coogler, of the much anticipated "Black Panther" film, responded unfazed to a hate group who planned to sabotage the movie's success before it even hits theaters. Blavity reported that a Facebook group, Down With Disney's Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys, conspired and asked it's member to give the movie a low score on Rotten Tomatoes. Roughly 4,000 people were planning to participate. The page has since been taken down by Facebook. A spokesperson from Rotten Tomatoes said the company does not tolerate acts of hate.

This is why we can't have nice things. Do better, white people.

Have a nice week ...