Thursday, October 02, 2014

U.S. Education Department issues guidance on racial disparity in nation’s schools - The Washington Post

U.S. Education Department issues guidance on racial disparity in nation’s schools - The Washington Post: The Obama administration issued new guidance Wednesday to states and school districts aimed at reducing inequities in educational opportunity between students of color and their white peers.

“Even with all the good work that we see around the country, we also continue to see opportunity gaps that need correction,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. She said the country needs to end “the tired practice of offering students of color less than we offer other students.”

To that end, the department’s 37-page guidance reminds states and school districts that they are required by federal law to provide the same quality of resources — strong teachers, facilities, rigorous coursework and extracurriculars — to students regardless of color and income. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that while states and school districts do not have to provide the exact same resources to all schools, all students must have equal access to educational opportunity.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Prince George’s NAACP opposes schools for English-language learners - The Washington Post

Prince George’s NAACP opposes schools for English-language learners - The Washington Post: The Prince George’s County branch of the NAACP is opposed to the county school system’s plan to open two high schools designed specifically for recent immigrants and second-generation students, arguing that the concept might be unconstitutional.

Bob Ross, president of the county NAACP, told schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell and the Board of Education at a meeting Tuesday night that he thinks the plan to open schools for English-language learners next year is not in line with the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The landmark Brown ruling declared that separate public schools for black and white students violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“You risk having [Prince George’s] having a segregated school system,” Ross said. “I’m afraid we’re turning the bus around.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Interview: Jeff Hobbs, Author Of 'The Short And Tragic Life Of Robert Peace' : NPR

Interview: Jeff Hobbs, Author Of 'The Short And Tragic Life Of Robert Peace' : NPR: On a May night in 2011, a man was murdered — shot — in a basement just outside Newark, N.J. Cash and marijuana were found at the scene.

Given the circumstances, it might be easy to make assumptions about that man.

Reality, however, is more complex.

Robert Peace, a 30-year-old African-American, was a Yale University graduate and an almost straight-A student in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. He also dealt marijuana.

Peace's death and life is the subject of a new book, the result of over 300 hours of interviews with the people who knew him best.

Author Jeff Hobbs, who was Peace's roommate in college, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep that The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace started as a way for him to make sense of the many different sides of his friend.

Texas' New Public School Textbooks Promote Climate Change Denial and Downplay Segregation | Mother Jones

Texas' New Public School Textbooks Promote Climate Change Denial and Downplay Segregation | Mother Jones: The battle over Texas textbooks is raging once again. On Tuesday, hundreds of citizens turned out for the first public hearing on the controversial social-science materials now under review as part of the state's contentious once-in-a-decade textbook adoption process. During the all-day proceedings, activists and historians pointed out numerous factual errors and complained that the books promoted tea party ideology while mocking affirmative action and downplaying the science linking human activity to climate change. "They are full of biases that are either outside the established mainstream scholarship, or just plain wrong," Jacqueline Jones, who chairs the history department at the University of Texas-Austin, said from the podium. "It can lead to a great deal of confusion in the reader."

Other speakers raised concerns about the treatment of religion, especially the tendency of some books to play up the role of Christianity in our nation's founding. Kathleen Wellman, a professor of history Southern Methodist University, noted with dismay that a popular civics text was filled with references to Moses and claimed that the biblical prophet had inspired American democracy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Only One: A Talk With Shonda Rhimes : Monkey See : NPR

The Only One: A Talk With Shonda Rhimes : Monkey See : NPR: I saw Shonda Rhimes at a panel presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour this summer where she helped introduce How to Get Away with Murder, the new ABC drama she helps produce but did not create. I found her pleasantly (and a little amusingly) transparent in not loving some of the questions she was asked (including one about whether she was worried that #HTGAWM, which was printed on the promotional cookies ABC handed out, was an unwieldy hashtag), and I thought, "She is an interview for which you would want to be on your toes."

So when the Smithsonian Associates asked me to spend an hour talking to her on stage in front of 550 people at the Natural History Museum, I thought, "Hey, what's the worst thing that can happen, other than me looking like never mind let's not think about it sure OK let's do it."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Adding Color To 'The Great White Way' : Code Switch : NPR

Adding Color To 'The Great White Way' : Code Switch : NPR: Sharp observations about race, class and gender plus pure passion for the theater: That's what you get when you ask a distinguished panel of playwrights whether "The Great White Way" is still too white.

Award-winning dramatists David Henry Hwang, Lydia Diamond, Kristoffer Diaz and Bruce Norris are some of America's most critically acclaimed contemporary playwrights. Their work captures the tensions and aspirations of an increasingly diverse America, but they all acknowledged that it was a challenge to bring a more diverse audience to theaters.

Tony award-winning actor Stephen McKinley Henderson raised the curtain on the event, A Broader Way, at WNYC's The Greene Space. He began by thanking "playwrights everywhere, for actors everywhere."

It launched a night of memorable moments, but here are my top 5.

Coming Soon, a Century Late: A Black Film Gem -

Coming Soon, a Century Late: A Black Film Gem - For decades, the seven reels from 1913 lay unexamined in the film archives of the Museum of Modern Art. Now, after years of research, a historic find has emerged: what MoMA curators say is the earliest surviving footage for a feature film with a black cast. It is a rare visual depiction of middle-class black characters from an era when lynchings and stereotyped black images were commonplace. What’s more, the material features Bert Williams, the first black superstar on Broadway. Williams appears in blackface in the untitled silent film along with a roster of actors from the sparsely documented community of black performers in Harlem on the cusp of the Harlem Renaissance. Remarkably, the reels also capture behind-the-scenes interactions between these performers and the directors.

MoMA plans an exhibition around the work called “100 Years in Post-Production: Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History,” which is to open on Oct. 24 and showcase excerpts and still frames. Sixty minutes of restored footage will be shown on Nov. 8 in the museum’s annual To Save and Project festival dedicated to film preservation.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Examining Bill Cosby's Legacy As 'The Cosby Show' Turns 30 : Code Switch : NPR

Examining Bill Cosby's Legacy As 'The Cosby Show' Turns 30 : Code Switch : NPR: The Cosby Show celebrates its 30th birthday on Saturday.

It was a monster hit inspired by the comedy and life experiences of its star, Bill Cosby, as shown in the new biography Cosby: His Life and Times. In the book, author Mark Whitaker makes a strong argument that Cosby's comedic style and approach to race issues turned The Cosby Show into television's most quietly subversive program.

The Cosby Show rarely came off like a revolutionary situation comedy — especially because the situations, often centered on loving-yet-sardonic parents Cliff and Clair Huxtable, seemed so ordinary.

"I was a beautiful woman once, before the children came," Phylicia Rashad's Clair says in one scene to Bill Cosby's Cliff. "Do you think when they grow up I'll be beautiful again?"

Cosby delivered the punch line, speaking for many an exasperated parent: "I just hope they get out of the house before we die."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jacqueline Woodson On Being A 'Brown Girl' Who Dreams : Code Switch : NPR

Jacqueline Woodson On Being A 'Brown Girl' Who Dreams : Code Switch : NPR: The first time author Jacqueline Woodson says she really understood poetry — and loved it — was after reading Langston Hughes in elementary school.

"Until then, I thought it was some code that older white people used to speak to each other. I didn't know what was going on with the line breaks and the words," Woodson recalls. "Once the floodgates opened, they opened."

Woodson has made a career out of breaking down that "code" for young readers. She's published 30 books, and won three Newbery Honor Medals and a National Book Award. Her latest book, Brown Girl Dreaming, is a memoir in free verse. It is under consideration for a National Book Award for young adult literature.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stanford professor wins MacArthur 'genius grant' for racial awareness studies - San Jose Mercury News

Stanford professor wins MacArthur 'genius grant' for racial awareness studies - San Jose Mercury News: America is pushing forward in a post-racial society, blind to skin color. That's the conventional wisdom.

But the research of Jennifer Eberhardt, the Bay Area's newest and only recipient of the famed MacArthur fellowship, the "genius grants," has proved otherwise.

She has found that skin color prejudices the perceptions of jurors, police officers and even the ordinary student who volunteers in research at Stanford University.

Black people, especially those with very dark skin and kinky hair, are more likely to be linked to crime, handed stiffer punishments or even sentenced to death than lighter-appearing individuals, according to her research.

‘A National Admissions Office’ for Low-Income Strivers -

‘A National Admissions Office’ for Low-Income Strivers - Arianna Trickey was opening a piece of mail in her bedroom during junior year of high school when a pamphlet fell out of the envelope. The pamphlet seemed to offer the impossible: the prospect of a full scholarship to several of her dream colleges.

She went running out to her father, a house painter, who was sitting on the family’s porch in Grass Valley, a California city in the Sierra Nevada foothills. “You have to see this,” she told him. “This is the scholarship that will get me to the best schools in the country.”

The pamphlet was from a nonprofit organization called QuestBridge, which has quietly become one of the biggest players in elite-college admissions. Almost 300 undergraduates at Stanford this year, or 4 percent of the student body, came through QuestBridge.

Monday, September 15, 2014

BBC News - The photographer who rejected racism in the American south

BBC News - The photographer who rejected racism in the American south: At the turn of the 20th Century, life was incredibly difficult for the African-American community in the southern states of the US. But one self-taught photographer used his camera to challenge racial barriers and capture the diversity of the American South.

"I did not know my grandfather but I am very proud that he was able to capture these people in pictures - whether they were black or white, rich or poor, farmers or businessmen," says Martha Sumler.

In an era that was marked by growing racial discrimination and the introduction of what were known as the "Jim Crow" segregation laws, a relatively unknown photographer, Hugh Mangum, did a rare thing - he opened his doors to everyone regardless of their race, gender or how much money they had.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

For HBCUs, Investing in Education Abroad a Key to Marketplace Success - Higher Education

For HBCUs, Investing in Education Abroad a Key to Marketplace Success - Higher Education: The numbers show how under-represented students of color are when it comes to international experiences, but how can its increase also be connected to improving marketplace success?

Since 2000 according to the Institute of International Education, study abroad participation among U.S. college students has nearly tripled in the 2011-12 academic year, the latest available figures until November, to a new high: 283,332. The four largest groups: Whites (76.4); Asians (7.7); Hispanics (7.6); and Blacks (5.3). During the same period: 58.0, 5.8 and 14.4 percent of enrolled U.S. college students were represented by those same groups, respectively. Latinos and African Americans were virtually tied.

More than 310,000 students were enrolled at 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), yet only 48 were known to have gone abroad based on data from the leading source of funding for Pell Grant students, The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. Where African-American graduates are over-represented is in working minimum wage jobs when employed. As recruiters look for more candidates with global experiences, they cannot compete.

Army commanders: White men lead a diverse force

Army commanders: White men lead a diverse force: WASHINGTON — Command of the Army's main combat units — its pipeline to top leadership — is virtually devoid of black officers, according to interviews, documents and data obtained by USA TODAY.

The lack of black officers who lead infantry, armor and field artillery battalions and brigades — there are no black colonels at the brigade level this year — threatens the Army's effectiveness, disconnects it from American society and deprives black officers of the principal route to top Army posts, according to officers and military sociologists. Fewer than 10% of the active-duty Army's officers are black compared with 18% of its enlisted men, according to the Army.

The problem is most acute in its main combat units: infantry, armor and artillery. In 2014, there was not a single black colonel among those 25 brigades, the Army's main fighting unit of about 4,000 soldiers. Brigades consist of three to four battalions of 800 to 1,000 soldiers led by lieutenant colonels. Just one of those 78 battalions is scheduled to be led by a black officer in 2015

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rastafarian High School Student Sent Home From School For Ten Days For Having Dreadlocks | ThinkProgress

Rastafarian High School Student Sent Home From School For Ten Days For Having Dreadlocks | ThinkProgress: Legal experts are coming to the defense of a Rastafari high schooler in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, who was kicked out of class for having dreadlocks, arguing that school officials violated his right to religious freedom.

According to a letter published last week by the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a student — identified only as “John Doe” — was sent home from the first day of school at South Plaquemines High School on August 8th because his dreadlocks were too long. The student reportedly tried to return to school at least twice, but was repeatedly dismissed — even after he pinned up his dreadlocks to meet length requirements.

“Although the school has not given John Doe written notice of his suspension, the actions of the school and Superintendent Rousselle are the equivalent of an unlimited suspension,” the letter read.

Preserving Black History, Americans Care For National Treasures At Home : NPR

Preserving Black History, Americans Care For National Treasures At Home : NPR: In a hall inside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama on Saturday, long tables are draped with black linen. Experts are bent over tables, examining aging quilts, letters filled with tight, hand-penned script, and yellowing black-and-white photos tacked into crackling albums — all family keepsakes brought in by local residents.

It looks like the TV program Antiques Roadshow has come to town. But these are experts from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, here as part of a series of workshops around the country to help identify and protect items of cultural significance.

The relics and heirlooms of African-American families, the Smithsonian says, can help tell the story of America — and should be preserved. To that end, the museum is educating people about how to take care of their own history, making ordinary people collectors of the nation's heritage.

Sagging Pants And The Long History Of 'Dangerous' Street Fashion : Code Switch : NPR

Sagging Pants And The Long History Of 'Dangerous' Street Fashion : Code Switch : NPR: Mary Sue Rich finally had enough.

The council member from Ocala, Fla., was tired of seeing the young people in her town wearing their pants low and sagging, and successfully pushed to prohibit the style on city-owned property. It became law in July. Violators face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.

"I'm just tired of looking at young men's underwear, it's just disrespectful," Rich said. "I think it would make [people who wear sagging pants] respect themselves, and I would wager 9 out of 10 of them don't have jobs."

The rationale behind the ban enacted last year in Wildwood, N.J., was similar. "I'm not trying to be the fashion police, but personally I find it offensive when a guy's butt is hanging out," said Ernest Troiana, the town's mayor, after he announced that his city would very much be policing fashion.

Two Howard County students show up to school draped with Confederate flags - The Washington Post

Two Howard County students show up to school draped with Confederate flags - The Washington Post: Days after a Howard County student unfurled a Confederate flag at a football game, two high school students showed up at Glenelg High School on Wednesday with Confederate flags draped over their shoulders.

Rebecca Amani-Dove, a Howard schools spokeswoman, said the students displayed the flags on school property before the opening bell and were immediately told to remove them.

“They were asked to put them away, and they did,” Amani-Dove said. “It has been calm at the school.”

The incident at Glenelg came after a student displayed a Confederate flag while standing at the top of the stadium bleachers during the season opener between Glenelg and River Hill high schools on Friday night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music. : NPR Ed : NPR

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music. : NPR Ed : NPR: Musical training doesn't just improve your ear for music, it also helps your ear for speech. That's the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin. They found that playing music also helped kids' brains process language.

And here's something else unusual about the study: where it took place. It wasn't a laboratory — but in the offices of Harmony Project in Los Angeles. It's a nonprofit, after-school program that teaches music to children in low-income communities.

Two nights a week, neuroscience and musical learning meet at Harmony's Hollywood headquarters, where some two dozen children gather to learn how to play flutes, oboes, trombones and trumpets. The program also includes on-site instruction at many public schools across Los Angeles County.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

For Small Police Departments, Increasing Diversity Is a Struggle -

For Small Police Departments, Increasing Diversity Is a Struggle - MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — This working-class Cleveland suburb has changed markedly since its mayor declared in 1977 that he did not know “what a minority is,” going from a nearly all-white population to two-thirds black. But its police and fire departments have not: the Maple Heights police force today still has only two black officers out of 35; the fire department is 100 percent white.

Maple Heights is far from unique. Across the country, police departments still struggle to hire and retain minority candidates, a problem that has taken on new relevance since the fatal shooting of a young black man last month in Ferguson, Mo., where just four of the 53 police officers are black, according to the police chief.

Nationwide, the total number of minority police officers has risen, but they remain heavily concentrated in larger cities, with the numbers falling off sharply in smaller ones, like Ferguson and Maple Heights.

Minorities face disproportionate ‘Broken Windows’ enforcement everywhere — especially in white neighborhoods - NY Daily News

Minorities face disproportionate ‘Broken Windows’ enforcement everywhere — especially in white neighborhoods - NY Daily News: For some New Yorkers, there are broken windows wherever they go.

Critics of the NYPD's aggressive policing of quality-of-life offenses to prevent more serious ones — a strategy known as "broken windows" — say it has created a tale of two cities, one primarily populated by whites, where minor infractions like drinking on a stoop or smoking a joint are rarely punished, and another, primarily populated by blacks and Hispanics, where walking down the street could be cause for interrogation.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has said the disproportionate number of summonses for low-level offenses doled out in minority communities are a result of cops concentrating their efforts on "the most problematic areas of the city," riddled by crime and quality-of-life complaints.

“Very often times our enforcement activities in the communities, based on a study that we have out there at the moment about quality-of-life enforcement, are based on 311 and 911 calls, service requests, complaints that we receive,” he said at a City Council hearing on Monday.

Q&A: One Student's Educational Saga In New Orleans : NPR Ed : NPR

Q&A: One Student's Educational Saga In New Orleans : NPR Ed : NPR: This year, NPR Ed is reporting on the dramatic changes in the New Orleans school system.

Whitman Wilcox V attended kindergarten through fourth grade at a neighborhood public school in the Lower Ninth Ward. He had just started the fifth grade when Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. His family was forced to evacuate; he wound up at a Catholic school in Houston.

Back in New Orleans the next fall, he switched to a brand-new charter school, KIPP Believe, for middle school; started high school at another charter school, Sci Academy; then was homeschooled for a year.

Now, he's beginning his senior year of high school. This time at St. Augustine, an all-boys Catholic school famed throughout the region for its marching band.

Five schools in nine years. A generation of children who've lived through the storm and recovery have traced educational odysseys like this one.

Misty Copeland On Broadening 'Beauty' And Being Black In Ballet : Code Switch : NPR

Misty Copeland On Broadening 'Beauty' And Being Black In Ballet : Code Switch : NPR: For ballerina Misty Copeland, the role of the Firebird is a personally symbolic one. "It was one of the first really big principal roles I was ever given an opportunity to dance with American Ballet Theatre," she tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "It was a huge step for the African-American community."

And, she believes it's just one step in the larger direction that ballet is going. In her new children's book, Firebird, Copeland seeks to inspire other young African-American dancers. In a ballet company attempting to create an experience of uniformity, she says, "It's hard to be the one that stands out."

The book is dedicated to her mentor Raven Wilkinson, the first African-American ballerina to tour the country.

When white friends don’t believe what blacks go through, they’re not friends - The Washington Post

When white friends don’t believe what blacks go through, they’re not friends - The Washington Post: I still remember it perfectly, more than 10 years later. It’s terrifying to be stopped in your car and approached by first one and then two more white police officers with their hands resting on their holstered guns. I kept my hands in plain sight on the wheel while they inspected my license and registration. On second thought, I recall thinking during the 15-minute stop, perhaps the scruffy sweats and baseball cap that were perfect for my spin class weren’t the best choices when you’re African American and you’ve just bought a red car. (Why didn’t I pick the gray Camry?) I was given a written warning about running a stop sign that I’d actually stopped at, but I knew better than to argue.

“Forty-five percent of blacks say they have experienced racial discrimination by the police at some point in their lives; virtually no whites say they have,” according to a recent New York Times/CBS News nationwide poll.

Syracuse University Suspends Women’s Soccer Player for Slur - Higher Education

Syracuse University Suspends Women’s Soccer Player for Slur - Higher Education: SYRACUSE, N.Y. ― Syracuse University has suspended a women’s soccer player for using a homophobic and racial slur.

Hanna Strong, a senior from Monson, Massachusetts, was suspended indefinitely after she was identified as the person speaking toward someone else in a video posted on Instagram.

Athletic director Daryl Gross says in a statement such “intolerant and hurtful language, focused on both race and sexual orientation, is not part of the culture we seek to foster … and it has no place at Syracuse University.”

Gross says the university is investigating and results will be sent to the school’s Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities.

The school has made no statement regarding Strong’s status as a student.

Black Diversity in Higher Ed? We are Not There Yet - Higher Education

Black Diversity in Higher Ed? We are Not There Yet - Higher Education: Yearly, the U.S. becomes more culturally diverse than ever before. We are not just a nation of immigrants; we are the nation of immigrants.

More than any other nation in the world, the U.S. can and does boast of its diverse citizenry. Not only are we a nation of immigrants, we are also the most diverse country in the world due to slavery, specifically the enslavement of Africans, now known as Blacks or African-Americans.

The history of the U.S. as a nation and its educational system is unique, and such contextual nuances play out in higher education.

I have been a professor in higher education for over 20 years at four universities (public, private, semi-private). My goal has been to desegregate education at all levels. Reflecting upon these decades, I am sad and disheartened to say that progress seems limited and inadequate regarding the representation of Black students in predominantly White colleges and universities.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Black Women Find a Growing Business Opportunity: Care for Their Hair -

Black Women Find a Growing Business Opportunity: Care for Their Hair - Not much seems unusual about Judian and Kadeian Brown’s storefront in a tidy plaza off Church Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn, a neighborhood where every block seems to have its own African hair-braiding salon.

Posters of African-American women with long, sleek hair fill the window. Round jars of shea butter belly up to slender boxes of hair dye on the shelves. Wigs perch on mannequin heads.

What makes Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon’s visitors do a double-take is the skin color of the proprietors. “I go, ‘Look at all the faces on the boxes,'  ” said Judian Brown, recalling other shopkeepers’ and customers’ surprise when they realize she is not an employee, but the owner. “Who should be owning these stores?”

Sunday, September 07, 2014

This football season, let's wipe 'Redskins' from our vocabulary | MSNBC

This football season, let's wipe 'Redskins' from our vocabulary | MSNBC: Today, Americans will huddle around TV screens, don team colors and exchange competitive banter as we inaugurate a new season of one of the nation’s most beloved pastimes: football. Yet today, we are also reminded of another American legacy, with a far less positive connotation. As Washington’s football team takes the field, the escalating debate over the offense of the team’s name is once again pushed onto the national stage.

Native American advocates have been explicit in their insistence that the name “Redskins” is offensive. By definition, it is a pejorative. Defenders of the name have contested that it is a badge of pride, ignoring the community voices that object. Whether or not the name is intended to offend, it does. The usages of the name and logo transcend cultural appropriation to the ranks of explicit racial disrespect.

Interview: Laila Lalami, Author Of 'The Moor's Account' : NPR

Interview: Laila Lalami, Author Of 'The Moor's Account' : NPR: In the spring of 1528, a crew of 600 Spanish and Portuguese soldiers landed on the Gulf Coast of the United States, hoping to find gold. The expedition was an utter disaster; only four members survived.

Within a year, nearly all of the men involved in the Narvaez Expedition had succumbed to disease, starvation, drowning or violent death in fights with indigenous people.

The survivors made their way across the continent, living with the natives, until finally they reached the Spanish settlements on the western coast of Mexico.

That disastrous expedition is the inspiration for a new novel by the Moroccan-American writer Laila Lalami. The book, a fictional memoir called The Moor's Account, is told from the perspective of the expedition's most mysterious survivor: a Moroccan slave called Estebanico.

Slavery: Why the Economist panned my book (Opinion) -

 Slavery: Why the Economist panned my book (Opinion) - Edward E. Baptist, an associate professor of history at Cornell University, is the author of "The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism," published by Basic Books.

(CNN) -- One day two lifetimes ago, about 1825, a man from Maryland was standing outside a Methodist church after service, talking with his friends and fellow church members. William was enslaved. Parts of his life were very difficult. But he had also been able to create richness in other parts of his life. He probably had a family, and he was very active in the church. Yet as I explain in my new book "The Half Has Never Been Told," on that particular day everything suddenly changed for William.

William saw his owner approaching him with another white man. William might have never met this man before, but he had heard all about him. This was Austin Woolfolk, a slave trader who shipped hundreds of men, women, and children from Maryland down to New Orleans every year. And Woolfolk was carrying rope.

Crime, Bias and Statistics -

Crime, Bias and Statistics - Discussions of the relationship between blacks and the criminal justice system in this country too often grind to a halt as people slink down into their silos and arm themselves with their best rhetorical weapons — racial bias on one side and statistics in which minorities, particularly blacks, are overrepresented as criminals on the other.

What I find too often overlooked in this war of words is the intersection between the two positions, meaning the degree to which bias informs the statistics and vice versa.

The troubling association — in fact, overassociation — of blacks with criminality directly affects the way we think about both crime and blacks as a whole.

A damning report released by the Sentencing Project last week lays bare the bias and the interconnecting systemic structures that reinforce it and disproportionately affect African-Americans.

Scenes From The Ferguson We Didn't See On TV : Code Switch : NPR

Scenes From The Ferguson We Didn't See On TV : Code Switch : NPR: Before I went to Ferguson, Mo., to cover the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting, a friend who had already been there reporting joked that he was certain that every person in the town had already been interviewed. And sure enough, the media crunch on was intense on West Florissant, the main boulevard that was the site of protests and clashes with the police in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown.

During the middle of the workday, it sometimes seemed like there was a 1:1 ratio between protesters and members of the press. The demonstrators typically wouldn't come out in full force until the day went on; folks were either at work or waiting out the brutal humidity. Later at night, the people on West Florissant would get younger and rowdier, and it was those folks who were at the center of the skirmishes with the police we all saw on television and on social media.

What's Your Take On #NPRTheTalk? : Code Switch : NPR

What's Your Take On #NPRTheTalk? : Code Switch : NPR: In the weeks since the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., families across the country are discussing how they approach "the talk" — not the one about sex, but the talk about safety and how young people should conduct themselves in encounters with the police. This difficult conversation has been part of the black family experience for generations.

It's something that the guys in the Barbershop talked about on Tell Me More. All Things Considered host Melissa Block heard from Ferguson pastor Willis Johnson about "the talk" just after the Brown shooting. Steve Inskeep learned more about it on Morning Edition after Trayvon Martin's death. And we have already heard from hundreds of you via Facebook and Twitter.

Does It Matter That Rosie Perez Is The First Latina Co-Host Of 'The View'? : Code Switch : NPR

Does It Matter That Rosie Perez Is The First Latina Co-Host Of 'The View'? : Code Switch : NPR: he View just made history in naming Rosie Perez as a new co-host of ABC's daytime chat show.

ABC revealed Wednesday that Perez would join former GOP strategist Nicolle Wallace, teaming with stars Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg when The View's new season debuts Sept. 15.

In hiring Perez, a Brooklyn-born daughter of Puerto Rican parents, ABC did something new: It named the first Latina as a regular co-host in The View's 17-year history.

Which raises an important question: Will it matter?

For those of us who think representation is important, the answer is: lots.

At 11, Marquis Govan Has Some Things To Say About Ferguson : NPR

At 11, Marquis Govan Has Some Things To Say About Ferguson : NPR: The St. Louis County Council convened for a regular meeting on Aug. 19. It was only a day after a particularly turbulent night in Ferguson, one filled with protests, tear gas and many arrests over the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer.

Only a couple dozen people showed up to the council meeting. Three spoke during the public comment section. One was Marquis Govan.

He lowered the microphone to match his 11-year-old height before speaking.

"The people of Ferguson, I believe, don't need tear gas thrown at them," Marquis said. "I believe they need jobs. I believe the people of Ferguson, they don't need to be hit with batons. What they need is people to be investing in their businesses."

Wearing freshly-pressed slacks, a white shirt and a tie, Marquis implored the council, and the public, to look at the underlying issues — economics and the racial makeup of the police force.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Influx of African Immigrants Shifting National and New York Demographics -

Influx of African Immigrants Shifting National and New York Demographics - Threatened with arrest in 2009, Lamin F. Bojang fled Gambia after publicly contradicting its president’s claims that he could cure AIDS. Now 31, Mr. Bojang lives in Concourse Village in the Bronx with his wife and 2-year-old son and works as a receptionist at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, while working toward a bachelor’s degree in political science at City College.

With educational and professional opportunities in Gambia scarce for his generation, “the rest will have to find ways of leaving,” he said, “and African migrants here, just as previous migrants, are likely not going to return to their countries of origin.”

The Man Who Made The Spanish-Speaking World Laugh : Alt.Latino : NPR

The Man Who Made The Spanish-Speaking World Laugh : Alt.Latino : NPR: On Alt.Latino, we constantly ask what it means to be Latino. What do I, an Argentine woman, have in common with Felix Contreras, a Chicano from California? And what do we both have in common with, say, a Central American child who comes alone and undocumented to the U.S.? Poet Ruben Dario famously described Latin Americans as the loose pups of the Spanish lion. In the U.S., marketing teams and politicians alike are trying to find the answer — and in doing so, they frequently force definitions that feel awkward and even condescending.

This week on Alt.Latino, we discuss an icon who made sense to virtually all Latinos, even though his whole shtick was about making no sense at all. Mario Moreno was beloved by the Spanish-speaking world for playing the character of Cantinflas, a working-class Mexican who is goofy but incredibly witty, speaks in puns and nonsensical tongue-twisters, and is goodhearted but a little sly. He always bamboozles the rich and powerful, and he always got the girl. Last weekend, a biopic about his life — titled Cantinflas — premiered across the U.S., and is soon to open in Mexico.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Active Role in Class Helps Black and First-Generation College Students, Study Says -

Active Role in Class Helps Black and First-Generation College Students, Study Says - The trend away from classes based on reading and listening passively to lectures, and toward a more active role for students, has its most profound effects on black students and those whose parents did not go to college, a new study of college students shows.

Active learning raised average test scores more than 3 percentage points, and significantly reduced the number of students who failed the exams, the study found. The score increase was doubled, to more than 6 percentage points, for black students and first-generation college students.

For black students, that gain cut in half their score gap with white students. It eliminated the gap between first-generation students and other students.

Continue reading the main story

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The study does not explain the disparate benefits, and “a lot more work needs to go into looking at attitudes and behaviors,” said Kelly A. Hogan, one of the study’s authors. She is the director of instructional innovation for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Race Gap in America’s Police Departments -

The Race Gap in America’s Police Departments - n hundreds of police departments across the country, the percentage of whites on the force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve, according to an analysis of a government survey of police departments. Minorities make up a quarter of police forces, according to the 2007 survey, the most recent comprehensive data available. Experts say that diversity in the police force increases a department’s credibility with its community. “Even if police officers of whatever race enforce the law in relatively the same way, there is a huge image problem with a department that is so out of sync with the racial composition of the local population,” said Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University. Listed below are local police departments from 15 metropolitan areas, sorted so that departments with the largest percentage-point differences of white officers to white residents are at the top.

Diverse Conversations: Effective Fundraising for Higher Education - Higher Education

Diverse Conversations: Effective Fundraising for Higher Education - Higher Education: In these difficult economic times, fundraising is challenging across the board. In higher education, it is no exception. University presidents and chief advancement officers, those in charge of higher education fundraising, are having to get more and more creative to not only raise awareness about the support needed by higher education institutions but also to get funding in place through effective campaigning.

To discuss some of the ways higher education institutions can effectively fundraise, I talked with Anne-Marie Campbell, founder and principal of Hawk Mountain Strategies, a consulting firm focused on fundraising strategy, training and innovation. Campbell has been in nonprofit fundraising for over 15 years and has raised over $20 million for a variety of higher educational institutions including Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; the University of Notre Dame; and Skidmore College.

Gentlemen, Preschool Is Calling : NPR Ed : NPR

Gentlemen, Preschool Is Calling : NPR Ed : NPR: Glenn Peters knew he would be in the minority when he started training to teach preschool as part of New York City's rollout of universal pre-K, the largest such initiative in the country. But he didn't realize just how rare men are in the profession until he attended a resume-building workshop for aspiring pre-K teachers.

"They couldn't find the bathroom code for the men's bathroom, so I actually had to go to the women's room while someone stood guard outside the bathroom," Peters says. "I knew at that moment that I was a bit of a unicorn." Today is the first day of school in New York, and experts suspect that only a sliver of the city's roughly 1,000 new preschool teachers — hired to meet the demands of this expansion — are men. Nationally, barely 2 percent of early education teachers are men, according to 2012 labor statistics.
While numbers aren't yet available for these latest hires in New York, education researchers in the city expect the gender breakdown to be similar.

Jesse Jackson targets over diversity

Jesse Jackson targets over diversity: SAN FRANCISCO -- Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling on to release its work force diversity numbers.

The Seattle technology giant is one of the lone holdouts among major technology companies.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and other leading Silicon Valley companies have publicly disclosed the racial and gender breakdown of employees in recent months.

The reports have shown what many have long suspected, that the technology industry is overwhelmingly white, Asian and male.

Jackson said he telephoned CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday to reiterate his appeal that release its numbers.

Jackson first asked Amazon to publicly disclose its diversity statistics in a letter to Bezos in May.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

He Dropped One Letter In His Name While Applying For Jobs, And The Responses Rolled In

He Dropped One Letter In His Name While Applying For Jobs, And The Responses Rolled In: His name is José Zamora, and he had a routine.

During his months-long job search, he says he logged onto his computer every morning and combed the internet for listings, applying to everything he felt qualified for. In the Buzzfeed video above, he estimates that he sent out between 50 to 100 resumes a day -- which is, in a word, impressive.

But Zamora said he wasn't getting any responses, so on a hunch, he decided to drop the "s" in his name. José Zamora became Joe Zamora, and a week later, he says his inbox was full.

As he explains in the video, "Joe" hadn't changed anything on his resume but that one letter. But what Zamora had done, effectively, was whitewash it.

Although digital job applications would seem to be the ultimate exercise in colorblind hiring, numerous studies and applicants have found the opposite. Employers consciously or subconsciously discriminate against names that sound black or Latino, as reported by the New York Times. One much-cited study found that applicants with white-sounding names received 50 percent more callbacks than applicants with black-sounding names, a significant disparity.

Report Recommends Educational Policy Adjustments to Aid Minority Males

In an effort to improve the educational outcomes for boys and young men of color, a group of well-known education professors released a report yesterday, outlining a series of state and federal policy recommendations aimed at addressing the issue.
The report, “Advancing the Success of Boys and Men of Color in Education: Recommendation for Policymakers,” is authored by a group of male scholars who run research centers at their respective institutions that focus on researching the educational experiences of boys and men of color.
The joint report, which includes 15 policy recommendations, calls for “increasing the utilization of data, partnerships, training and evaluation” while suggesting that Pre-K through 12 schools and postsecondary institutions develop equity plans to improve the outcome disparities for boys and men of color.

Scholars: Proposed College Rating System Penalizes Minority-Serving Institutions

WASHINGTON — In order for the Obama administration’s proposed college ratings system to be fair, the system must take into account the differences in institutional resources and variations in the overall characteristics of different student bodies.
That was one of the key takeaways from a policy briefing staged on Capitol Hill Tuesday by The Civil Rights Project within the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA.
The briefing took on the form of a symposium and featured papers penned by several scholars who sought to illuminate the complexities associated with trying to develop standards by which to judge institutions of higher learning — particularly if those standards will be used to determine financial aid, as the Obama administration has signaled it wants to eventually do.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Minority students create college support systems

Minority students create college support systems: Less than nine of every 100 undergraduate students on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus identified themselves as underrepresented minorities during the spring semester, according to university data.

As a result, African-American, Hispanic, Latino and American Indian students have created programs to make the path smoother for their peers.

Friday marks the 10th anniversary of one such program established by Purdue alumna DaVida Anderson.

From 6 to 8:30 p.m. on the first Friday of every fall semester, you can find Anderson at the Black Cultural Center, 1100 Third St., making sure future generations have a strong foundation to succeed.

“I was the student everyone spoke to about the challenges women were facing on campus,” she said.

Duke students take "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" photo for Ferguson | The Chronicle

Duke students take "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" photo for Ferguson | The Chronicle: Several student organizations on campus are making efforts to rally support for the family of Michael Brown and show solidarity for people facing violence in Ferguson, Mo.

On Saturday, the National Pan-Hellenic Council invited students to take a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” photo on the Chapel steps, following many similar photos that have been taken in cities and college communities nationwide. The Duke event’s Facebook page promoted the gathering as a show of support for the people of Ferguson seeking justice.

“The purpose of the photo was to show solidarity with the non-violent protesters in Ferguson, the family of the late Michael Brown and with people all over the nation who experience injustice at the hands of police officers,” said NPHC president JT Ross, a junior, in an email Sunday night.

STEM-Focused Educational and Occupational Opportunities are Important for Latino Youth: Here's Why : Business : Latin Post

STEM-Focused Educational and Occupational Opportunities are Important for Latino Youth: Here's Why : Business : Latin Post: STEM-focused educational and occupational opportunities are vital for Latinos, who traditionally lag behind whites and Asians when it comes to science, technology, engineering and mathematical excellence.

There's a pressing need to drastically transform educational trends for Hispanics, as the group is disproportionately on the wrong side of the educational gap. Only 63 percent of Latinos graduate from high school, compared to 84 percent of African Americans and 88 percent of whites. And while numbers are on the rise, just a mere 14 percent of Latinos obtain a college degree.

To counter those statistics, whole communities must work toward eradicating obstacles standing in the way of young Latinos, and communities must encourage Latino youth to complete high school and college, as well as pursue internships, externships, graduate programs and entrepreneurship. suggests three basic missions in order to help young Latinos reach the nation's degree attainment goal: mend the college completion gap, increase the number of degrees attained and enhance initiatives and programs that assist and track Latino students on their roads to graduation.

Hands up: Howard U. photo of students in solidarity goes viral

Hands up: Howard U. photo of students in solidarity goes viral: A photo of black students with their hands raised is becoming a symbol of solidarity after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot by a police officer Saturday in Ferguson, Mo.

The photo was taken after Howard University students heard that alumna, Mya White, was shot in the head while protesting in Ferguson, reports WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.

Hispanic Network awards 27 scholarships

Hispanic Network awards 27 scholarships: Twenty-seven Napa County students, including 17 Napa-area high school graduates, will receive Napa County Hispanic Network scholarships at a gala banquet on Sept. 19 in Napa.

The banquet has raised more than $434,000 in scholarships for 310 Napa County students over the past 30 years.

The 17 students include nine from Napa High School, five from Vintage High School, two from Valley Oak High School and one from Justin-Siena High School.

Ten more scholarship recipients include four from St. Helena High School, four from Napa Valley College, one from American Canyon High School and one from Santa Rosa Junior College.

One recipient is Vintage High School’s Christian Zavala, who has never received a grade less than an A since middle school. At Vintage, he earned a grade-point average of 4.65 and an SAT score of 1860.

Holder tells Ferguson students he was a victim of racial profiling | TheHill

Holder tells Ferguson students he was a victim of racial profiling | TheHill: FERUGUSON, Mo. — Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday told a group of black college students that he had been a victim of racial profiling.

Holder, who is in Ferguson as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, relayed a story about being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, despite not breaking any laws.  “He told the story about how he was humiliated. They got him out of his car and searched his car,” said Bradley J. Reyford, a 22-year-old student who met with Holder.

Holder told the story to a group of students at Florissant Valley Community College, a predominantly black school.

He met with a small group of students to hear their concerns about policing tactics in Ferguson, where riots and looting have broken out over the past week, along with protests and demonstrations related to the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The attorney general wanted to “get a general idea of how police departments treat the community,” Reyford said

Latino Farmworker College Students Get Crucial Career Boost - NBC

Latino Farmworker College Students Get Crucial Career Boost - NBC Yonny Castillo, 21, began working in the fields with his family in Oregon when he was just eight years old. His family has picked blueberries, pears, and even cherries ever since he can remember.

But this summer, the Willamette University student has had a complete different experience. Instead of working all day in the heat and hand sorting fruit until sundown, Castillo put on a suit and tie and worked in Washington, D.C., meeting and interacting with professionals and Congressional representatives in Capitol Hill.

Castillo was one of four college students who recently completed this year’s National Migrant And Seasonal Head Start Association (NMSHSA) summer internship program. It provides these students, whose summers have been spent picking fruit and vegetables, with a chance to work with professionals and organizations and work toward a more professional and lucrative future.

L.A. School Discipline Reforms Praised By Latino Educators, Experts - NBC

L.A. School Discipline Reforms Praised By Latino Educators, Experts - NBC On Tuesday afternoon the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is announcing a major reform in school discipline procedures. The changes, which will go into effect this school year, mean that the LAUSD will no longer issue citations for most campus fights and other minor infractions. Instead, students will be referred to counseling, mental health services, or other school-based solutions.

LAUSD serves roughly 650,000 K-12 students, 73 percent of whom are Latino.

LAUSD is shifting away from suspensions, arrests, and citations – and toward a more progressive system known as restorative justice. Under restorative justice reforms, school districts try to work with troubled students, rather than removing them from campus. Already, school districts from San Francisco, California to Broward County, Florida have embraced such reforms.

"LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country. The fact that it made this commitment to make this change really should be a strong statement to every other district, including those that may continue to follow very heavy suspension expulsion practices," said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Inspiring Latino youth at MANOS | Mountain Xpress

Inspiring Latino youth at MANOS | Mountain Xpress: The years spent in middle school and high school are challenging for most youth. But for Latino youth, who are often the children of recent immigrants, the challenges can be overwhelming. Many Latino families face isolation due to language and cultural barriers, and many times these Latino middle- and high-school students serve as the connectors between their family and the community.

Norma Brown, the Latino Outreach Coordinator for Children First/Communities In Schools and students from the Bonner Leader Service Learning program at Warren Wilson College collaborated to create a new program called Mentoring and Nurturing Our Students. The name MANOS also refers to the Spanish word for “hands.” The program strives to offer Latino youth a safe and welcoming space, and it available to Latino students in eight grade & high-school students every Monday from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Each week Warren Wilson students lead the Latino youth in community and civic engagement activities, assist them with homework and help them prepare for college.

Along with the academic component, this program offers something much more subtle, and in some ways, more valuable: providing Latino youth a place to relax from the pressures and expectations of being a conduit between their families and the greater community.

Schools in Ferguson, Mo., Suspend Black Students at Higher Rates Than Their Peers - Rules for Engagement - Education Week

Schools in Ferguson, Mo., Suspend Black Students at Higher Rates Than Their Peers - Rules for Engagement - Education Week: Black people in Ferguson, Mo.—where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager Aug. 9—are more likely to be arrested by local police officers than their white peers. Those statistics have sparked a mistrust of the mostly white police force that added fuel to passionate protests that have followed the death of Michael Brown, 18.

Those racial disparities are also present in schools in Ferguson, where black students are more likely to face some forms of discipline than their white peers, federal statistics show.

The Ferguson-Florissant school district remained closed Thursday, a day after U.S. Attorney General visited the St. Louis suburb to check in on a federal investigation of Brown's death. As Holder arrived, a grand jury began hearing evidence to determine if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson should face charges for shooting Brown or if the shooting was a justifiable use of force.

Appleton suspends more black students than whites

Appleton suspends more black students than whites: African-American students are suspended at a much higher rate than their white counterparts in Fox Cities schools, state and federal data shows.

The most striking disparity is in the Appleton Area School District, where the latest federal data shows that 3.3 percent of black students in Appleton received multiple out-of-school suspensions — compared to 0.3 percent of white students.

That means black students are nearly 12 times more likely to serve multiple out-of-school suspensions than their white peers. The most recent federal data is from 2011. 

Last year, 10.7 percent of the district's black students were suspended, compared with 2.1 percent of white students, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. The figures don't distinguish between in-school and out-of-school suspensions.

About 5 percent of Appleton's 16,000 students are black. School officials say they recognize the inequity and are taking steps to improve the situation.

"The bottom line is it shouldn't be about what race or ethnicity a student is — it should be about behavior and providing a safe environment for every one of our students," said Ben Vogel, an assistant superintendent in Appleton.

For the first time this year, most public school students are nonwhite - Vox

For the first time this year, most public school students are nonwhite - Vox: Nonwhite students are projected to outnumber white students in the public schools for the first time this year. This chart from the Pew Research Center shows the dramatic shift in demographics since the late 1990s:

But that doesn't mean schools everywhere are rapidly becoming more diverse, or that the typical white student is likely to be a minority in his or her classroom. A more diverse group of public school students isn't making individual public schools much more diverse. Instead, it's intensifying patterns of racial isolation.

The rapidly changing demographics have collided with the end of federal desegregation orders and longstanding patterns of housing segregation. The result: Students nationally are more diverse than ever. But while white students are seeing slightly more diverse schools than in the past, most students are still going to public schools overwhelmingly with students of their own race. And black and Latino students attend less integrated schools than before.

Catholic Leaders Are Hoping Latinos Can Save Struggling Parochial Schools | Fox News Latino

Catholic Leaders Are Hoping Latinos Can Save Struggling Parochial Schools | Fox News Latino: NEW YORK – For more than 130 years, sitting just off Times Square, the Holy Cross School opened its doors to students looking for a Catholic education near “The Crossroads of the World.”

But as Times Square transformed from a gaudy and depraved hotspot of vice to one of the city’s main tourist attractions, enrollment at the school began to wane and in 2013 the New York Roman Catholic Archdiocese announced the closing of Holy Cross along with 24 other schools across the state.

The shuttering of Holy Cross is just one of hundreds of closings of Catholic schools across the country in recent years due to sagging enrollment and rising costs to maintain the schools. Some Catholic leaders, however, are now looking to one key demographic in the U.S. to come to their schools, and possibly be the key to save the institutions.

Latinos – making up 17 percent of the U.S. population and a group that is 40 percent Catholic – have been identified by some Catholic leaders as both a population underserved educationally and one of the Church’s best hopes for reviving schools on the brink of closure.

Black students receive majority of tickets in South Bend schools - South Bend Tribune: Education

Black students receive majority of tickets in South Bend schools - South Bend Tribune: Education: African-American students in South Bend schools are more likely than others to receive infraction tickets from school resource officers.

More than seven out of 10 citations issued during the past four school years went disproportionately to black students, who comprise just 34 percent of the district’s enrollment.

Lt. Eric Crittendon, safety and security coordinator for the school district and a South Bend police officer, said he isn’t sure to what to attribute the irregularity.

“When we do these (issue citations),” Crittendon, who himself is black, said, “…it’s the officer’s discretion. Maybe the officers have worked with these (students) and they’re coming back, repeat offenders,” he said. “We don’t look at (skin) color. We just deal with what’s brought to us.”

Report: 1 in 3 black students chronically absent from school : Wsj

Report: 1 in 3 black students chronically absent from school One in three black students was chronically absent from school during the 2013-14 school year, according to a Madison School District report.

Thirty-six percent of the district’s black students have an attendance rate lower than 90 percent. That corresponds to missing, on average, one half day of school every week, or 18 days during the year. The rate has remained steady for the past three school years.

Overall, 20 percent of students were chronically absent last school year, up from 19 percent during the two previous school years, according to the report, which was presented to the School Board on Monday. The district’s total attendance rate was 93 percent.

Nearly one in three students from low-income households was chronically absent compared to one in 10 students who didn’t qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Joint performance gives white, black students a lesson in race relations - Houston Chronicle

Joint performance gives white, black students a lesson in race relations - Houston Chronicle: Earlier this summer, as violence in a St. Louis suburb triggered memories of the nation's past racial tensions, students at two Houston area high schools were getting a different sort of education in the historical themes of bigotry and discrimination.

The students from predominantly white Memorial High School and mostly black Carver High School started rehearsals for a joint production of "Memphis," a musical set in segregated Tennessee in the 1950s. The story features backlash to an interracial romance, a drama performed by modern-day teens who say they are all but color-blind. They were in elementary or middle school when Barack Obama became the country's first black president.

"It's just hard to contemplate not having any justice," said Clayton Wells, 16, a Memorial student in the cast.

The idea for the schools to team up began with discussions between Nicole Morgan, the theater director at Memorial High in Spring Branch ISD, and Roshunda Jones, her counterpart at Aldine ISD's Carver High. The two have been acquainted for years; they've attended the same festivals and swapped stories about training teens for the stage.

SRJC lands federal grant to aid Latino, low-income | The Press Democrat

SRJC lands federal grant to aid Latino, low-income | The Press Democrat: Santa Rosa Junior College will soon roll out a new program to boost retention and graduation rates among its growing population of Latino students, who now comprise more than a third of the student body.

College officials said they can now go ahead with the program after securing a five-year, $2.65 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant is available only to colleges with an enrollment that is at least one-quarter Latino.

“As the population of our district has grown and shifted, there are many students who have nobody in their family who has gone to college,” said Ricardo Navarrette, the college’s vice president for student affairs. “For us, this is an opportunity to make a shift in families for generations to come by providing a pathway to college, then getting students to graduate or earn a certificate.”