There is a great blog that I check in on periodically, written by an elementary school principal right here in Savannah. He blogs about education in general and issues specifically pertaining to our school district, and I really enjoy his perspective. I had not checked in on him for a while, and there were lots of great posts from the past few months. Here are two I found particularly interesting. I know everyone keeps telling me to relax about Fletcher entering school, he’s smart and he will do great. And I believe them. Kinda. But the more I read and the more I see the more clear it becomes that boys and girls are NOT equal in school. It is hard to send my son into a system that I know is more likely to see him as a problem than not. Click the links below ot read the full posts.
Principal’s Office: I Kill For Blood: Boys Have It Rough At School I know
On the front page of the Savannah Morning News on Halloween Day was the truly horrifying story of a school boy who drew a picture of a vampire for a Halloween art assignment and ended up having to get psychological testing before being readmitted to school:
“However, when Jordan’s homeroom teacher, Melissa Pevey, saw the drawing, she found it disturbing. Pevey was concerned enough to contact assistant principal Valerie Johnson and Campus Police. But it wasn’t blood and gore that bothered Pevey. She believed the blood looked a lot like gang-related teardrop tattoos, and she thought the words “I Kill For Blood” could be tied to an infamous Los Angeles street gang known as The Bloods.”
While it’s easy for the public to be outraged with the seemingly clueless teacher (the whole teardrop tattoos connection seems a little overwrought, like she had just watched 4 seasons of The Wire back to back), it highlights the cultural plight of most boys–black, white, majority, minority–in public/private schools. Boys have it rough at school.
Thought Experiment On The Disproportionality Of Suspended/Expelled Students In Chatham County
I was at a workshop today sponsored by Savannah-Chatham County’s Exceptional Child Dept. that addressed the thorny issue of ethnic disproportionality in the district’s suspended/expelled students–specifically the special education population. Disproportionality is what happens when a higher percentage of one ethnic group is identified as special education, suspended, or expelled than what the system’s ethnic breakdown is. Our system is about 65% African-American, 25% white, and the rest Hispanic, multi-racial, or Asian. With that ethnic breakdown, suspended/expelled special ed students (and all students in general) should, according to federal regulations, match a school district’s ethnic breakdown.
Our system? Not so much. Right now, the number of students at Scott Alternative (which houses the system’s expelled students) is running 89.6% African-American with 58.7% of all expulsions being African-American boys. All told, 65% of all expelled students in Savannah-Chatham County are boys.
The Feds and the State of Georgia aren’t all that interested in why this is, they just assume that these numbers are due to inappropriate practices, policies, and procedures by the school system and require that a system that is disproportionate to provide Early Intervening Services.
And that was the substance of the workshop–putting into place a team at every school that would collect the behavior data and would create and implement school-wide discipline plan and activities to reduce our district’s disproportionality. As I sat there though, I took a look at some of the disproportionality right there in that room:
123 educational professionals
If you haven’t noticed lately, boys are having a tough go of it in school these days and the research shows it:
“Female teachers perceived female students more positively regardless of teachers’ race. White female teachers perceived White students more positively the same way that they perceived White male students more positively than Black male students, but Black female teachers made no distinction.”