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Resegregation and Purposely Failing Schools for Black Kids -Pinellas County, Florida

18 Aug

This one is jaw dropping. A County in FLorida which intentionally voted to re-segregate schools, and then intentionally denied basic benefits to the newly created poor schools.

This one is the New Jim Crow.

This Florida School District Is Failing Black Students at a Shocking Rate. That’s Exactly What It Chose to Do.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Times published a report of its sobering yearlong investigation of the Pinellas County School District, which is home to five of the worst elementary schools in the state, despite the county’s relative affluence. The school crisis in Pinellas County—on Florida’s west coast on Tampa Bay—is a familiar story of court-ordered integration followed in short order by devastatingly thorough resegregation.

But what happened in Pinellas offers an even more dramatic cautionary tale, and not just because the changes have taken place so precipitously: Just eight years ago, the school district voted to ditch integration by ending busing and reinstituting a “neighborhood schools” policy that amounted to de facto segregation. In the years since, the five elementary schools spotlighted went from good to middle-of-the-road to homogenously awful. One school that had had an “A” rating is now the second worst elementary school in the entire state of Florida. Students are failing at eye-popping rates, with 8 out of 10 kids failed at reading, and 9 out of 10 in math. Altogether 95 percent of black students are failing reading or math at these schools, which the story memorably labels “failure factories.” See also this powerful graphic account of “Why Pinellas County is the worst place in Florida to be black and go to public school.”

So what went wrong? Is it simply that Pinellas County—in particular the southern part of its largest city, St. Petersburg, which has been predominantly black since the 1930s, when discriminatory housing policies ghettoized minorities there—is afflicted with an irreparably poor, damaged student population? Not at all, and that’s precisely why this story is so disgusting, and so important. As the piece points out, while “there are places in Florida where deep generational poverty, runaway crime and rampant drug use make educating children an extremely difficult task,” Pinellas County isn’t one of them.

Statewide, Pinellas County is right in the middle when it comes to poverty rates, median household income, college graduation rates, and single-parent homes. More from the Times:

Poverty doesn’t explain Pinellas’ problems. One hundred eighty-four elementary schools are as poor or poorer than Pinellas’ worst schools. All but seven outperformed the Pinellas schools in reading and math.

The rate of failure in the five elementary schools is unlike anything that occurs elsewhere in Florida.

The reporters make a very convincing case that the kids in Pinellas are failing not because, as the school board members would have it, they’re trapped in a “cycle of poverty” but because the school district is setting them up for failure with at best do-nothing and at worst malevolent policies.

When the board voted to resegregate in December 2007, it vowed to pour more resources into what would become overnight-majority-poor and -black schools: more counselors and social workers, beefed-up after-school and summer programs. It did none of these things. Funding was erratic, and unlike other districts with high-poverty schools that have made efforts to invest in minority students (a computer tracking program in Broward County, a teacher-incentive bonus of up to $20,000 in Duval County), the Pinellas County board just shrugged off the plummeting scores and skyrocketing reports of behavior problems, and actively ended any attempts at intervention. More than half of teachers in the five schools requested transfers out in 2014, and some classes had up to 12 different teachers in a single year. The teachers who stayed were often the most inept and inexperienced.

Even after community calls for change, the school board members continued to attribute the abysmal state of their county’s black schools to the “cycle of poverty,” absent any influence from them.  “This is a nationwide thing, not just us,” the piece quotes school board member Peggy O’Shea, who voted for resegregation in 2007 and continues to defend her stance today, as saying. You get a good sense of her sympathies when she goes on to say, “We only talk about it in black schools, but we resegregated white schools as well.”…

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2 Comments

Posted by on August 18, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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2 responses to “Resegregation and Purposely Failing Schools for Black Kids -Pinellas County, Florida

  1. TongueLashin

    August 19, 2015 at 7:11 PM

    As a native Floridian I had some experience attending school. Please allow me to share my findings…
    When I was 4 years old my father came to the realization that segregation laws were forcing me to be shipped from our awesome apartment in Boca West Country Club to an impoverished neighborhood in Delray Beach for Elementary school (Spady Elementary). My father, absolutely irate that I was unable to attend classes at a predominantly white school only about a mile away from the gate of our neighborhood (Verde Elementary) moved immediately. My father sacrificed his dream home in his dream neighborhood and bought a house down the road that I may have a safe and academically viable school experience at Verde Elementary. I was privileged to go to school in a place where children were raised to be respectful. I never heard of anybody getting into a fight, being suspended, or expelled until I reached middle school. I received good grades and learned much.
    Things became difficult for my father financially after my parents divorced and my mother dragged him through the mud financially. My eighth grade school year I was not nearly so fortunate. I was forced to attend Omni Middle school on the border of Delray Beach and Boca Raton. I finally understood why my father would give up his dream home to keep me out of “brown town”!
    These children (mostly black) behaved as if they were raised by wolves or not raised at all. Packs of these people- for lack of a less politically correct word on my lips- would skip class and kick the doors of the classrooms where some of us were actually attempting to learn. There were no administrators with the courage to do anything about this. There were fights each and everyday it seemed like. Damn near all of the school supplies were destroyed by heathens. If you had a problem with 1 single person that was black- you had the entire bloody school following you around shouting and threatening you with bodily harm. When it happened to me I couldnt even believe it.
    The blacks of the school were defending this…thing (girl) that just came off a 30 day suspension for pulling a knife on somebody. Thank GOD there was 1 single black girl in the bunch that I played basketball with and she witnessed the horseshit I put up with from the knife bearer. Felicia (my only friend in the herd) convinced the other blacks that I did not deserve this abuse. Then the bell rang and I scurried my white ass to class before it was grass. The next day the knife bearer girl picks fight with me in first period (i guess she had enough school for that month and was time to get suspended again) and much to mine and my fathers shock and awe they suspended us both despite the fact I never hit the girl back.
    My father sat me down and told me if that ever happens again haul off and hit that girl til she doesn’t want anymore. I cannot believe my dad told me that! I thought he was a racist but it turns out that (many but not all) blacks are so very well-deserving of the stereotypes they receive. Out of the entire school there was only 1 black girl with a good heart and the courage to stand up for whats right- even if it meant supporting someone of a different race.
    I may discriminate to this very day when somebody approaches me saying “yo dog lemme git 50 cent”, but I will always have hope that I am speaking to the 1 out of 500 that is capable of kindness and loyalty to me. I will always hope that ALL kids are brought up in a loving home where education and respect is important. However, the evidence would suggest that is not the case in a predominantly black school. It must start at home… How can the 98% white school be SO MUCH BETTER ACADEMICALLY and SAFER than the predominantly black school? Is that my fault? I don’t create the school boundaries! I simply am reporting for parents that may not have had these experiences themselves. Do you care about your child? Move the hell to the right school district at any cost. Do it now!
    I regret to inform the black community that most of your children are ruining the scholastic experience for everybody within 30 yards of them. If you really do not care if your child gets an education-fine. Would you please keep these kids home and pretend to home school them? Please do not use school as an excuse to dump your disciplinary problem on teachers doorstep for 6-8 hours weekdays. I doubt the kids come out the way they are. They become this problem because you-THE PARENT-are failing. Stop blaming everyone else and look in the mirror!!!!!! The apple fell like 3 inches from the poisoned tree. Time to suck the poison out and learn to adapt to your surroundings! I realize its only been a hundred and fifty years since slavery ended -rolls eyes- but I think its time to take responsibility for your own actions. Cause and effect. When you stop acting like animals in a cage I will stop treating you like animals.

    (To the few black parents out there that teach their young morals, respect, the importance of a good education, and the right way to act in different situations: I apologize from the bottom of my heart you found this posting. Keep up the good work! Your children have a chance in this world… To everyone else either try harder, home-school that brat, or drop them at nearest police station with no questions asked). Thank you and sorry for the rant!

    Like

     
    • btx3

      August 21, 2015 at 10:35 AM

      I was waiting for one of my fellow bloggers to puncture the obvious hole in this one from my Stormfront visitor.

      As one who integrated an all white High School in 1963, a lot of this screed falls short. To my experience there certainly were some white kids who were unfriendly, and had racism o the brain. Some, specifically those whose parents were Military or had lived overseas were frindly. The great mass of kids was just in the middle, and became decidedly more friendly when we developed things to share. Whether it was common interests, books, clubs, sports or day to day classwork.

      If only one black kid in this school was friendly to this guy, I hate to be the first to tell you… The other kids weren’t the problem.

      Which raises the question of why make this story up?

      Like

       

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