Six minutes of segregation a day: Can it help black students?

A Pennsylvania high school has begun to segregate black students for daily homeroom to address the lower academic achievement, build mentoring relationships and explore stereotypes and challenges unique to African-American students.

Good idea?

Before you judge, take a look at this story about McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa. It is clear that this unique response came out of good intentions — an effort to see whether grouping students homogeneously both by gender and race even for a brief period each morning provides a backdrop to discuss tough issues and give teens personalized attention.

I hate to be wishy-washy for two blogs in a row — I am also torn on the punishment given to the mom who lied about residency  — but this is another story where I have mixed feelings. I first asked myself whether the school could accomplish its goals without resorting to segregating the students. I would think it could.

But I also have to point out that the premise behind the program — that you can talk more honestly to kids and motivate them when they share similar situations and face the same problems — is what has led to the resurgence of single gender schools and classrooms.

But I have to admit queasiness over this idea.

According to Lancasteronline.com

During a recent class period at McCaskey East High School, T’onna Johnson’s class discussed a film, learned about a college-visit trip, talked about designing a class T-shirt and was encouraged to sign up for a seminar on the importance of a good education.

This all happened during homeroom  — that fleeting period when teachers take attendance, principals make announcements and students, usually, don’t do much of anything.

Not at McCaskeyEast. Every junior at the school has been paired with an adult homeroom mentor who tries to squeeze as much information and activities as possible into six minutes each day and 20 minutes twice a month. The intent of the program, implemented in mid-December, is simple, principal Bill Jimanez said: “Let’s make these guys think for six minutes about their future.”

Every junior was matched with a teacher who already had a relationship with that pupil. But in the case of T’onna’s class, there are other ties that bind the homeroom. Every pupil is a black female. And their mentors are both female African-Americans. Across the hall, two homerooms of black male students are led by black men.

The all-black homerooms are part of an experiment to determine if grouping students homogeneously for a brief period each day will help them socially and academically. “At first I was kind of like iffy because why would we be in homeroom together?” T’onna recalled. “But we work together and we do problems together, so I like it. “Here we learn about how we can basically make a difference and how we don’t have to settle for less.”

The idea originated with Angela Tilghman, a McCaskey East instructional coach who was alarmed at the poor academic performance of the school ’s black students. Only about a third of McCaskey’s African-Americans scored proficient or advanced in reading on last year’s PSSAs, compared with 60 percent of white students and 42 percent of all students. Math scores were even worse, with just 27 percent of black pupils scoring proficient or advanced. {PSSA is the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.}

Research has shown, Tilghman said, that grouping black students by gender with a strong role model can help boost their academic achievement and self-esteem. She and fellow instructional coach Rhauni Gregory volunteered to mentor the African-American girls, and Michael Mitchell and Willie Thedford each took a homeroom of black males. No other students were divided by race, Jimanez said, although pupils enrolled in the school’s English language learners program were paired with ELL teachers.

Initially, some McCaskey East students and staff objected to separating out black students. Some juniors asked to go back to their old homerooms. Others complained that the experiment ran counter to the culture of McCaskey, long a melting pot of students and staff from many diverse backgrounds. But Jimanez said the academic data dictated the school take a different approach with its black students.

“One of the things we said when we did this was, ‘Let’s look at the data, let’s not run from it,’ ” he said. “Let’s confront it and see what we can do about it.” In all homerooms, teachers are tracking their students’ grades, test scores and attendance and encouraging them to engage in discussions around “goal setting and self-actualization,” Jimanez said.

Tilghman and Gregory’s homeroom, dubbed the Black Diamonds, has discussed books and movies that emphasize strong relationships between black women. Last week, the students hosted a group of female black professionals who talked about the importance of getting a good education. “This isn’t something we’re just trying to preach to you about,” Tilghman told the class. “This is the reality. Black women today need education.”

The mentors also have talked about common stereotypes about black girls — that they’re aggressive, combative, “cackling and confrontational” and more interested in pursuing relationships than academics, Tilghman said. According to research, black students tend to feel disengaged and alienated in school and “act out behaviorally because they don’t perform,” she said.

“Our first theme was sisterhood so we can get them to see that we’re here for each other and they have people they can rely on,” Tilghman said. The mentors also shared with students a detailed analysis of their test scores and grades.

Mitchell doesn’t agree with those who criticize grouping black students together. “I would have a problem if every class period was like that, but it’s six minutes most days and 20 minutes other days,” he said.

He has discussed with his students how the city’s unemployment rate is higher for African-Americans than for other ethnic groups, and Tilghman has talked about how statistics indicate that black males are three times as likely to spend time in jail as to earn a college degree.

“I see all too often when students give up far too easily these days, and parents will allow this to perpetuate itself, and then students think they don’t have to complete anything.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

79 comments Add your comment

Dr NO

January 27th, 2011
9:20 am

Oh no…segregation anytime or segregation none of the time. If research were to show white children performed better for 6 minutes with a white teacher and all white class the LEFT and Jesse, Al etc would be up in arms.

No way. Segregation anytime or segregation none of the time. This what civil rights is all about. Exceptions do not apply.

Obvious

January 27th, 2011
9:33 am

Agreed, it’s all or nothing. All this social experiment serves is greater divisiveness between student groups. It teaches children that ‘these’ are the people I must align myself with because only ‘these’ people understand me, it narrows minds. If these children’s best interest are to be served they need to be taught that in the real world they need to be able to embrace differences because they are not unique or special.

TenderRoni

January 27th, 2011
9:37 am

This is a very interesting blog topic. I’m a little torn. But I’m leading more towards, sterotypes can’t be broken with segregation. kids, no people, need to confront the sterotypes with those whom are sterotyping them. All should be educated on sterotypes, not just one gender group of people. Segregation = Separation. We need to tear down the “sterotype” wall together not separated.

TenderRoni

January 27th, 2011
9:46 am

@Obvious- I agree with you up to the “they are not unique or special” part. I strongly agree that they experiment is not providing understanding, but making it easy for them to have a narrow mind. But I do believe each person is unique and special in our own way, but we should never feel inferior because of our differences.

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a reader

January 27th, 2011
10:13 am

…And what homeroom do biracial students attend?

V for Vendetta

January 27th, 2011
10:14 am

Let us only identify with people who look like us. That will solve all the problems. Sure.

Dumb.

fred

January 27th, 2011
10:14 am

Just throwing this in the ring. a few years ago i taught 3 math classes, one all girls, one all boys and one mixed. there was virtually no difference in racial or educational make up in the three classes or in class size. all were 6th grade math classes on grade level. Although i had to adapt my teaching styles to the different groups (a good teacher should do that anyway) the 2 single sex classes out performed the mixed group. Maybe segregating by race would work the same. It would at least be interesting to try it.

V for Vendetta

January 27th, 2011
10:15 am

Racism is the lowest form of collectivism. This is about as collectivist as you can get.

Obvious

January 27th, 2011
10:27 am

@TenderRoni

Allow me to clarify myself- children in general are not unique or special. We are raising a generation that has been so shielded from failure by insipid parents telling them that they are great all the time. Thus, in adulthood, that generation thinks it is entitled to all the best things in life without making the investment or personal sacrifice.

Tony

January 27th, 2011
10:28 am

BAD IDEA!!!!

Corvair

January 27th, 2011
10:36 am

Not very difficult to imagine the furor that would erupt if the segregated group was white students. The lead story on every nightly news broadcast would be about the racist school administrators who excluded minorities from educational opportunities, etc. etc. etc. No, unless this can cut both ways it is wrong!

V for Vendetta

January 27th, 2011
10:36 am

Wait, I forgot, this would totally work. You know, because some races are biologically inferior to others. Right, Lee? Right, David?

Then the next logical step would be to train all of the inferior races to perform manual labor tasks–because that’s all they’re capable of, of course–which would free up the white/asian ruling classes to indulge ourselves in an endless revelry of gluttony and conspicuous consumption. Brilliant!

I can’t wait.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

January 27th, 2011
10:43 am

Let’s see how the kids’ attitudes toward school and their academic achievement improve over a year? or two?

If such a program helps kids, let’s utilize it.

KMM

January 27th, 2011
10:58 am

And what do the other kids do while the black kids get mentored? Does anyone else get a college prep talk? What about low-income white kids, who also happen to have lower graduation rates, lower numbers going on to collge, higher teen pregnancy rates? Do they get a mentor at the same time?

yagottabekiddingme

January 27th, 2011
11:00 am

Although I agree that students might at first be more open to discussion with a homogenous group, in the end, it’s all about crossing those “lines” in order to build discussion and understanding. 60/40 bad idea.

DeKalb Educated

January 27th, 2011
11:09 am

I think it is a great idea to assign teachers as mentors to students – all of them – not just the under-performing ones. HIGH SCHOOL SUCKS! For everyone. Your body changes over night. Things that were once simple become complicated. Hormones rush through your body causing havoc. Guys look at certain body parts on girls. Girls think of being with guys. Little education takes place with the turmoil of teenage angst. They are trying something. Thank Goodness. After teaching middle school, I think the best schools would be divided by gender – send girls to convents and boys to military academies! Maybe not but you get the idea. I think girls need a mentor to can lead them to options. Boys need mentors, too. Guys have been so dismissed by our school systems. The current school structure goes against nature – sit in a desk for six hours and all those large muscles fully loaded with testosterone have a lot of trouble focusing on lectures. Wouldn’t be great if all schools had the resources to craft programs to fit the unique needs of their student body? Give these guys up north for trying something new. If they get positive results, I hope they are rewarded because I suspect they will be blasted. Anyone remember Marva Collins in Chicago wo began an academy for all black students and her success?

Port in a Storm

January 27th, 2011
11:11 am

I’m with KMM…what do the non-black homerooms discuss? Is there a Latino homeroom? Does that room mix students of Mexican, Columbian, Peruvian or Brasilian heritage? How about special needs homeroom? Does that subgroup get targeted pep talks in the morning? When extrapolated out to other groups of people, it makes this experiment even more preposterous in a public school setting.

Dr NO

January 27th, 2011
11:11 am

Hormones…how silly of me not to consider hormones as a reason to exhibit racists behaviors within Public schools. Glory Bee!

Ashley

January 27th, 2011
11:41 am

Why is this even an issue in the 21st century ? Is this what Dr. Martin Luther Jr. enivisioned ? I think not. Education should be color-blind, What about the minority students who are there for the business at hand ? There are plenty of those who show excellent achievement skills . Why should they be single out in such a broad stroke fashion? I went to school in the late sixties and seventies, I have never known segregation in school . I attended school in Huntsville, Alabama. I owe a great debt to past civil-right movers and shakers. This was not what they intended , “until everyone is equal no one is equal”. Separating kids only makes them feel inferior and that should’nt be acceptable to anyone. From a knowledgeable black woman , ignorance is what breeds this type of behavior and intolerance.

sarahph

January 27th, 2011
11:47 am

City Schools of Decatur already does this for extra math instruction… at least at Glennwood – probably at some of the K-3s too. Last year they had a program for African American kids only… who were close to exceeds on the CRCT. Children of other races were not allowed into the program even if they met the other criteria. Not sure it it’s still in place this year b/c I don’t have a kid there anymore. It had a catchy name, but I can’t recall what it was.

Chuck

January 27th, 2011
12:05 pm

This actually works people. No, it is not PC and runs against the grain of thought. I taught at a school where kids were seperated by ability. The low class was all Mexican anchor babies. But guess what it was the smallest class where the most amount of help was issued. The largest class was the ’smartest’ kids (also all white), why? they needed less help and were more productive. Guess what each class thrived and nobody was short changed.

Dr NO

January 27th, 2011
12:08 pm

No chuck…without equality we ALL are short changed. Im sorry but this State sponsored segregation/discrimination cannnot be continued

Disgruntled Employee

January 27th, 2011
12:27 pm

I was an advisor for a program similar to this in California called the United Black Student Unions of California. The difference was that it was not gender segregated and not during academic time. Not all black students wanted to attend nor should they have. It was an organization for those that wanted to learn about their culture, discuss issues specific to the African-American experience, and develop leadership skills. It was also open to anyone who wanted to learn about these issues but tended to attract those who had drive and initiative and who wanted a space within the larger school but could not win popularity contests.

Programs like these would be great here but not during academic time. In DeKalb the schools are TOO segregated and often not only by race but by class. To assume as a middle class black man I have something in common with my black students who live in poverty besides a common history is just that an assumption. African-American students from impoverished backgrounds tend to improve academically when they are around students from different backgrounds economically and culturally and are given high standards of expectation.. We have too many schools that have students from the same socio-economic background and they feed off each other. Also at these same schools, the standards of expectation are extremely low, and often set by African-Americans themselves who are not from these neighborhoods. Learning about different ideas and expectations from others as well as those from your own racial background but a different social class creates much needed exposure from those that lack “cultural capital”. I think this idea mentioned in the article has good intentions but it will NOT improve academic performance and will NOT close any achievement gaps.

Snowbird

January 27th, 2011
12:29 pm

The operative words there are “WITH A STRONG ROLE MODEL” . Segregated or together, every student, every person, needs a strong role model. So many of our kids do not have anyone to look up to. Or they don’t even know they are supposed to. It’s not who is beside you, kids, it’s who you are looking up to!

another comment

January 27th, 2011
12:34 pm

I guess this is why my cousin’s kids go to Lancaster Catholic High School, in Lancater, Pa. This is how they self segregate to be high acheiving. Only thing is my Cousin has to work a second job on top of his Airforce retirement in able to be able to pay for the superior education at Lancaster Catholic.

Fed up

January 27th, 2011
12:59 pm

Once upon a time there was a small group of people who looked like you. Every day you would visit with these people at designated times and share your trials and tribulations about your experiences with people of other races, ethnicities, etc. The older members of the group would share their experiences and provide suggestions on how to understand and make sense of the world around you. Each day you would meet the role models of the group would provide you with all the love and support you needed to go on. It used to be called a “FAMILY”. SCHOOLS SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO DO IT ALL.
STOP HAVING CHILDREN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO INVEST THE TIME IN RAISING THEM!

Fed up

January 27th, 2011
1:00 pm

that should read “and they would provide you with all the love….”

tim

January 27th, 2011
1:06 pm

IS this any different than the NAACP? the conference of black mayors? the 100 black men of Atlanta.? the congressional black caucus? the sisters only fashion show? the ‘black only” group of wherever?

They’re just starting them out at an earlier age.

another comment

January 27th, 2011
1:14 pm

The 100 black men require a 10,000 buy in to join and they aren’t allowed to have a white wife. A friend of mine told me he was kicked out for the White wife part, but then they still asked him for a donation. He laughed in their face.

LF

January 27th, 2011
1:19 pm

Enter your comments here

Warrior Woman

January 27th, 2011
1:21 pm

If this is so effective, why is it only offered to African-American students? Don’t white Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, etc., deserve teh same opportunities?

McCaskey grad

January 27th, 2011
1:23 pm

Ahhhh stay classy McCaskey. The teachers really try hard to help and they really dont get enough credit; but the student majority at the school really just don’t care about education. When I went there 5 years ago it was still that stereotypical ghetto school with girls sitting on boys laps in the middle of the classroom and absolutely no discipline. Every teachers name was either “Mister” or “Miss”, and the we were all forced to wear IDs for our “security”.

I wonder how large these black homeroom classes are, blacks comprise 25% of average total school campus population of 3500 (thats roughly 875 black students at the school. In contrast, whites make up 25% and hispanics 50%)

Dr. Sloane

January 27th, 2011
1:24 pm

I live in Pa, and let me tell you.. This doesn’t surprise me that they would seperate people some way or another. I guess it’s not bad enough that people of color are put in the worse neighborhoods anyway. So why not do more damage to the youth.

The sad part is that this will not fix anything. It’s just a smack in the face.

why don’t people stop calling every colored person African American.. They are not from Africa. Not even Africans are black, if i can get technical for a second. Besides, I really hate hearing it…

And I am not Black. I am a tan color and Native American.(Thank you)

Ugh! I hope those students get their grades up higher so the Pa education system will see color does not depict how smart or stupid you are.

Knowledge is power…Even the strong get tired and finally SNAP!

Peace to you all:)

LF

January 27th, 2011
1:31 pm

It’s About Time!!
As a black male educator and one who was impressed by the many black male educators I was exposed to while a student, I see the positive side of this. Let’s face it. This needs to be done at the elementary level. Do you not know that prison needs are determined by 3rd grade reading scores? I would like to see this type of mentoring program implemented no later than 4th grade.
I recently taught the only single gender (male) class in my county for two years. The class was predominantly black. All had very low reading and math scores and most had poor behavior records.
The relationship that was developed combined with the intense instruction push these students to work harder and improve academically and socially. Ironically, I also have ties to corrections here and I constantly remind my black students that ” I am tired of seeing people who look like them in jail.” And what do most of them have in common? They have : No Good Male Role Models, Can’t Read on Grade Level and Can Barely Do Math!!! It’s about time!!! It may not be politically correct but it is what is ethical in my opinion!!.

lyncoln

January 27th, 2011
1:51 pm

I don’t see why this is so horrible. Every year, someone makes the point that students should be exposed to more positive role models. We wish that schools could hire more minority males as teachers because they act as such positive role models for the students of their race and gender.

No one would complain if one of these students was randomly assigned to a classroom with someone of their race and gender as their homeroom teacher. In fact, we’d be happy about the prospect of the student being exposed to a positive role model for the entire year.

So why is it so horrible for the school to expressly provide what might be a positive role model directly to the student?

A different point:
On this very blog, we’ve already pointed to the success story of an all-male, all African-American chater school in Chicago. We even asked: How can we copy their success?

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/04/27/an-inner-city-school-sends-all-of-its-graduates-to-college-how/

This school is experimenting to see if this type of separation (for 6 minutes TWICE A MONTH) will have any impact. Seems reasonable to give it a whirl for a year and see if it changes anything. If there’s no real change in the student’s academic outcomes you can just as easily go back to the old system.

Let’s see… 20 minutes, twice a month, 9/10 month school year. Oh no! At the high end these students are being segregated for a whole 6-7 hours in a whole school year! I doubt those 6 hours will overwhelm the teachings of the racially integrated existance that these high school juniors live for the remainder of the school year.

Dr NO

January 27th, 2011
2:14 pm

The role models could be white, black, hispanic, asian etc as there are many from each race. However to cordone off a section of society so they may be lectured by that same section of socieity is racist.

“Seems reasonable to give it a whirl for a year” No it doesnt. It seems like a group of bigots sponsoring same. What? Is a white, asian role model not good enough for the black community? The kids in Henry County were forced to listen to that role model IDIOT TI…LOL…and what a joke that was and WE knew that it was.

The black community wanted integration and now you have it. Yet still the excuses remain.

Society cant save everyone. Racism is racism and thats the bottomline.

SiDawg

January 27th, 2011
2:38 pm

So… when these kids go to college do they get a segregated timeout before class starts? What about in the work place? Separate business meetings? How is segregating preparing for anything?

No Teacher Left Behind

January 27th, 2011
3:17 pm

Maureen, was the word “segregate” used in the reference source you found this information on, or are you using it on this blog to make a point? As a minority, Latina, I see absolutley nothing wrong with this concept. Minority students needs are different from non minority students, and they also need exposure and contact with role models of their own race and background. But because Black and Latino students are struggling in America’s school systems, controversial strategies such as this one often go under attack, and by non minority people. Let us not forget that this country’s public school system was founded and still is driven by White middle class values—and it is the white middle class student that mainly succeeds or excels in school.

s

January 27th, 2011
3:32 pm

I think a lot of you are taking this the wrong way. i dont believe its meant to be racist. The program is designed to help these students talk openly and honestly about the problems they are facing. Black girls and boys do need strong role models from their own community instead of rappers and sports figures. As much as we dont want to believe it, white kids and black kids do grow up differently, even at a city school like McCaskey. They are still learning from each other for the majority of the day. This short period of time gives them the chance to share with each other and learn valuable lessons. I think the black community in this country needs to be re-energized, a resurgnence of pride. Seems to me that there is an obvious decline in the desire to achieve and do well. How does it make sense that the math and reading scores can be so low today, when years ago, when it was illegal to do so, Frederick Douglass taught himself to read and write. There is really something wrong with that picture. Now we have all the chances in the world and for some reason we dont all take advantage of them. I think this program is a good idea and i would say that if it were any other group. Our country needs to achieve more and we are only as strong as our weakest link. I’m a black man, so dont take that the wrong way. Thats my take on the situation

TimeOut

January 27th, 2011
4:14 pm

I don’t think the benefits outweigh the damage done by reinforcing the importance of our “differences.” Such racial profiling damages the individual and his society in myriad ways.

Dedicatedandtired

January 27th, 2011
5:04 pm

If the students are ailing to participate in the experiment, we should let it run it’s course and track their progress or lack there of. One question…has the school identified a control group for this study/experiment.

No Teacher Left Behind

January 27th, 2011
5:08 pm

Unless we embrace our “differences” we can not move on in this country or in education. The real segragation is already evident and visible in our school sytems. Why do you think Black principals are assigned to predominately Black schools, and the same with White principals. Now imagine assigning a White principal to a predominately Black school. Can anyone on this blog find me a White principal in a predominately Black school here in Georgia? Or a Black principal in a predominately White school?

David Sims

January 27th, 2011
5:18 pm

Both racial and gender segregation would help teenage students perform better academically. Gender segregation works because students in mixed-gender schools spend some of their time thinking about sex and social relationships instead of algebra and social studies. A male student eyeballs the behind of the pretty female student in the desk in front of him. A female student schemes on how to beat rivals for the prestige of dating one of the school’s sports heroes. Separating the genders puts a stop to most of that.

If you think about it carefully and logically, you’ll realize how stupid it was to integrate the schools as an attempt to get rid of racism. It didn’t do any such thing. Rather, it increased racial animosities to the point where police officers are now required to patrol many high schools. Shoving the races together affronts the tribal sense that may be stronger in teenagers than in persons of other age groups. Separating the races puts an end to most of that.

So forget six minutes. Try six hours.

Michael Meyers

January 27th, 2011
5:21 pm

CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP MAKES INQUIRY OF PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION AUTHORITIES ABOUT REPORTED RACIAL SEGREGATION OF BLACK HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, January 27, 2010…The executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, Michael Meyers, today sent an inquiry of Pennsylvania educational authorities seeking information as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of news reports that black students at McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, PA are being segregated by race in homeroom classes. The civil rights group also demanded to know whether it is true or false that black students are being separated from one another based on their gender, so that black male students and black female students are placed in separate homeroom classes with black male homeroom teachers for the black male students and black female homeroom teachers for black female students.

News reports have reported that the school’s principal, Bill Jimenez, has defended the alleged segregation by race (and gender) of black students in homerooms on grounds that “research” indicates that students with strong mentors do better in school, thereby seeking to justify the separation of black students in homerooms with black role models of the same sex. Mr. Meyers’ letter was e-mailed to the school’s principal earlier today and forwarded to the Acting Secretary of Education for the State of Pennsylvania, Ronald Tomalis, the CEO of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Michael Meyers’ letter suggested that he found even the reports of such openly admitted to racial segregation “incredible” and therefore he wanted to know directly from the educational authorities at the McCaskey East High School and of the State of Pennsylvania whether this practice was actually in effect and/or condoned by them in the guise of a “benefit” to black students.

The civil rights group director’s letter reminded the educational authorities that the deliberate racial segregation of students in public schools on the basis of race has long ago been outlawed by the United States Supreme Court and that the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act (Title VI) prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from separating children and/or staff on the basis of race and prohibits their differential treatment by school authorities on the basis of their skin color/race.

Michael Meyers’ letter to Bill Jimenez, the principal of McCaskey East High School, which was forwarded to Pennsylvania State education authorities, is pasted below. Mr. Meyers simultaneously made a Freedom of Information Law request for information about this reported separate treatment of black high school students through invoking Pennsylvania “Right To Know” procedures.

For more information, contact Michael Meyers at 212-563-5636.

January 27, 2011

Bill Jimenez
Principal
McCaskey East High School
Lancaster, PA

Dear Mr. Jimenez:

We don’t accept as gospel or as always accurate what we read in
newspapers; indeed, so much of what we read nowadays have an incredible
ring to it. In this connection, we have read about a supposed program at
your high school, McCaskey East High School, that reportedly places black
students in homeroom classes apart from students of other races. It is
also our understanding from these news reports that the racial segregation
of the students in such homerooms is further broken down by gender, so
that black boys are separated from black girls and vice versa.

It has also been reported that the homeroom teachers for these separate
homeroom classes are all black, i.e. black male homeroom teachers for
black boys and black women for black girls. The rationale, as we hear it,
is that the racial and gender segregation of the staffing in this manner
is to provide the black boys with black male “role models,” and the black
female students with black women role models.

It has been reported in one newspaper that the “idea [for the segregated
homerooms]is based on research that shows students with strong mentors do
better in school”. As we understand it, the segregation of the black
students in these homeroom classes lasts “6 minutes each day”–and “20
minutes twice a month.”

Is any of this correct?

If these reports are accurate, or in any way, inaccurate, please let me
know right away.

As you must know, the segregation of students and/or staff by race in a
public school or at any school that receives federal funding is unlawful;
it is a violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Moreover, the
United States Supreme Court as far back as 1954 ruled that intentional
segregation by race in a public school is unconstitutional. Indeed, the
Court ruled that “separate is inherently unequal.” By that pronouncement,
it may be concluded that segregation by race, even if offered in a
“benign” fashion or as an alleged “benefit” to minority students, is not
only constitutionally suspect but, we believe, blatantly unlawful.

No supposedly “compensatory” scheme, in our judgment, can save such a
flagrant segregation model from strict scrutiny or from legal challenge.

Please let me hear from you as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the news
reports we have heard about this program at your school, and whether it is
true that you are defending this separation of black students from all
others on the grounds that you have been quoted–that is, that the data
suggest to you that black students (for their academic success) require
black role models and separation from their peers of similar age and
qualifications by race, and from each other on the basis of their gender.

Thank you for your immediate attention and prompt response to this inquiry.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Meyers
Executive Director
NEW YORK CIVIL RIGHTS COALITION

6month-Levis

January 27th, 2011
5:29 pm

I’m truly not very surprised that Blacks in this state agreed to this as I find the average African American to be very servile and voiceless regarding racism.. That is highly unfortunate and points to the high level they truly encounter on a daily basis. Simply put, Black people in Pennsylvania are afraid to speak up about the discrimination they face. As for test scores, we need to find some way to increase them but segregating all Black students is a crappy model test from an even crappier study. What about the Black achievers? Lumped together no matter what…

wannabeteacher

January 27th, 2011
5:46 pm

I often sub at a school with ESOL homerooms for each grade. Seems to work great, and no one considers it segregation. The ESOL kids get what they need as far as mentoring, guidance, and announcements that apply specifically to them.

Cindy Lutenbacher

January 27th, 2011
5:49 pm

Thank you, LF, Lyncoln, No Teacher Left Behind, and s. Until racism is entirely a thing of history, there is a need for such efforts. That young folk who are marginalized by all institutions of power might benefit from time together that is supported by adults with similar histories is potentially very important and powerful.

David Sims

January 27th, 2011
5:56 pm

@No Teacher Left Behind. “Can anyone on this blog find me a White principal in a predominately Black school here in Georgia?”

Oddly enough, I can. Rita Harper, white female, principal of Stone Mill Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia. Student body demographics: 81% Black, 13% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 1% White.

DeKalb Principal Robbed Outside School
http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-principal-robbed-outside-588097.html
http://www.examiner.com/crime-in-atlanta/dekalb-principal-to-return-to-work

Ms. Harper was attacked by a black teenager who knocked her down, broke her arm, gave her a concussion, and then ran off with her purse and her cell phone. He was later arrested by the police while breaking into an apartment building.

Cindy Lutenbacher

January 27th, 2011
5:57 pm

Maureen, what was your conclusion about excising blatantly racist comments from your blog? Several overtly hostile, racist comments have appeared here and many more that are only slightly less flagrant.