Things That Matter

Latino Students Are Being Put Into School With Fewer White Students And That Often Means Schools With Fewer Resources

If you’ve been paying attention to the Democratic debates, you might be feeling some type of way about CNN’s repeated taking to task of Vice President Joe Biden for voting against busing to desegregate public schools in the 1970s. Some feel frustrated to hear this issue be brought up. One Twitter user lamented. “Good grief. Enough about busing. Focus people. We have a corrupt, racist criminal in the White House. Stop helping him.”

Meanwhile, Latinx journalists like Yamiche Alcindor are wondering out loud, “Why are we talking about busing 50 years ago when schools are segregated today? We need a conversation about what is happening now.” The research from three universities definitively conclude that Latino students in California public schools are more racially segregated from white peers than any other state. In fact, it’s only “intensifying.”

Last week, University of California Berkley released a study that concluded that, nationwide, Latino children are likely to enter elementary schools with fewer white peers than a generation ago.

@educationweek / Twitter

The definition of segregation in the case of the study isn’t by individual race or ethnicity, but rather by the obvious educational and funding benefits that white students receive over black and brown students. The authors of the research report that this matters because “”racially segregating students of color … often corresponds with unfair financing of schools, regressive allocation of quality teachers and culturally limited curricula.” It benefits minority students to be integrated with a white majority (read: better funded) school. 

In 1998, the average Latino student in elementary school found themselves in a student body where 40% of the students were white. By 2015, that number dropped to 30%, even though the population of Latinos in this country has skyrocketed.

The numbers just become drastically worse in urban areas.

@FDCSD / Twitter

Again, the problem isn’t inherent in a black and brown student body. It’s systematic racism that determines that implicitly implies that the more white students in the classroom, the better the funding and, therefore, education is going to be for everyone. Research shows that black students who attend integrated schools have higher rates of earning bachelor’s degrees and higher wages overall compared to black students who are effectively segregated.

In urban areas across the country, the average Latino finds themselves in a student body that is just 5% white. That reinforces class lines and prevents the diversity of ideas to be spread across those very lines.

The good news is that Latina mothers are progressively becoming more educated.

@kayashley_x / Twitter

UC Berkley’s research team produced an in-depth report on the intersection of education and the Latino community, which includes the impacts of segregation and beyond. Bruce Fuller is the lead researcher and a professor of education and public policy at Berkley. Fuller is happy to report that his “Berkeley-led team found that college-going rates of Latina mothers have climbed steadily since 1998. These women show little hesitation to assimilate, while enriching their bilingual skills, then moving into better jobs and suburbs that host integrated schools.”

The seemingly largest factor in Latino children having a better education is a result of their parents becoming more and more educated.

@latimes / Twitter

The research confirms our own personal anecdotes. As Latinos finally enter the middle class, families are moving to middle class neighborhoods with schools that are just likelier to be more integrated. In an interview, Fuller says that as young Latino families become more educated, it “allows for movement into more economically-integrated communities. Now [these communities] might still be predominantly Latino, but at least we’re achieving economic integration for many, many Latino kids.”

“If we can get poor kids in the same classrooms as middle-class kids,” Fuller said, “we’re probably going to see stronger educational outcomes.”

*Shocking* research that bilingual skills offer higher pay is also motivating schools to implement dual-language campuses.

It doesn’t have to be Spanish either. According to Fuller, “One popular elementary school immerses students in classes taught in both Mandarin and English, starting in kindergarten. It’s a “microcosm of the world,” Principal Darlene Martin said.”

Fuller’s research compares the demographics of various counties across the U.S. and tries to understand what policies allow for greater racial integration. “Part of this stems from differing patterns of housing segregation,” he reports. “Still, educators differ in their will to build magnet schools and dual-language programs, which white parents find rigorous and attractive.”

Fuller wants to see political leaders explain “how they aim to bring the nation’s kaleidoscope of children under one roof.”

@13Who_Gaga / Twitter

Fuller concludes his research with this powerful statement: “Let’s look forward and build from what works, recognizing that nurturing mutual respect grows from tender mercies each day in classrooms, not from polarizing squabbles over the past.”

This 13-Year-Old Boy’s Face Caught On Fire During A Science Class Demonstration

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This 13-Year-Old Boy’s Face Caught On Fire During A Science Class Demonstration

As a kid, one of the most exciting parts of science class is observing how certain chemicals react with each other—seeing how all the abstract information you’ve learned on paper manifests in real life. Of course, every school science lab is supposed to have an eye-wash station, a shower, a fire extinguisher, and other such safety tools in case something goes awry, and while accidents do happen, it is imperative that science demonstrations in the classroom be handled with extreme care. Although no hard evidence currently exists on how often school lab accidents occur—as no entity tracks them as a distinct category—scores of preventable incidents are reported every year.

Most recently, the case of 13-year-old Priest Rivera has been making headlines.

Credit: Instagram | CBSNews8

Rivera’s face and upper body were severely burned when his teacher mistakenly botched a science demonstration in June 2019, and his family has filed a lawsuit against San Diego’s Encinitas Union School District.

Last June, sixth-grade teacher Lori Feinberg fumbled a seemingly simple science demonstration called the “black snake experiment.” This experiment involves the mixing of baking soda, sugar, sand, and alcohol, which is then introduced to a flame in order to form of a “sugar snake.” (When the mixture of baking soda and sugar gets hot, it decomposes to create carbon dioxide gas. A lack of oxygen in the sugar from the combustion creates carbonate and water vapor; the carbonate is pushed out by the pressure from the carbon dioxide, and voila! A snake is born.)

“It wasn’t really working and the science teacher kept pouring more rubbing alcohol to make the flame build up more. It went wrong and blew up in my face,” Priest told CBS News 8. He explained that he had ignited, and his friends surrounded him saying, “He’s on fire!”

The lawsuit filed on December 30, 2019, claims that Feinberg “recklessly” performed the “dangerous” science experiment which involved alcohol and flames “in windy conditions.” It also alleges that Feinberg provided her students with neither safety instructions nor protective equipment (like safety glasses) before performing the “black snake” experiment. The complaint also cites “severe and permanent injuries to Priest,” alleging both negligence and negligent action and stating that “Feinberg and the District knew it was highly probable that injury could occur when conducting an experiment involving flames, but knowingly disregarded that risk.” The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for Priest’s present and future hospital bills.

Although, as mentioned above, no hard numbers currently exist to verify the frequency of school lab accidents, the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Health and Safety is seeking out “reliable data.”

Credit: Facebook | John M. Mantel / Daily Mail

According to Scientific American, “surveys find incidents to be much more common in academic settings than in industrial labs”—and if university labs are seeing high numbers of injury and death, imagine how much less prepared public elementary, middle, and high school labs are likely to be.

Indeed, another student victim of a science experiment gone wrong was awarded $59.1 in damages from the New York Department of Education last July. Alonzo Yanes and classmate Julia Saltonstall were left with severe burns after a botched demonstration by a high school teacher in 2014. Science teacher Anna Poole attempted to conduct a “Rainbow Experiment,” a popular staple in high school chemistry classes due to its rapid and intense bursts of flame.

The Rainbow Experiment involves a variety of mineral salts and lit candles, usually placed in a line. An accelerant commonly used in the experiment is methanol, an extremely volatile liquid that shows how different salts produce distinct colors when burned. However, methanol also produces vapor clouds that can quickly spread flames (or, conversely, which can linger and be ignited by unwitting sparks later on). It was this substance that Poole used in her demonstration, pouring it out of a gallon-sized jug instead of a safer, smaller container.

Students said that she had only reached the second dish when a massive flame spread down the line of dishes and enveloped Yanes in flames, ultimately burning 30% of his body. Students also remarked that Poole was the only one in the room wearing safety goggles.

Rivera’s parents have addressed the school’s reticence to claim responsibility for what happened to their son, and the consensus within the scientific community is a similar one: almost all such incidents are preventable by improving oversight and supervision. They are not simply the consequence of random misfortune.

According to chemical safety expert Neal Langerman, “The problem of school lab danger lies in management responsibility.” With proper training, appropriate safety measures (like wearing protective clothing), and regular procedural oversight, accidents like those that have affected countless young students (as well as teachers) all over the country can be avoided in the future.

A White Woman Is Suing Two Black Teachers Claiming Reverse Racism After She Banned Black History Lessons

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A White Woman Is Suing Two Black Teachers Claiming Reverse Racism After She Banned Black History Lessons

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For the past several years, the country’s educational system has been challenged over what students should be learning in school and, for a good reason. The classes, in particular, history, are antiquated and, even more importantly, incorrect. As a society, we’ve been taught a white version of America’s history, and it’s only when we get to college or continue our studies elsewhere that we begin to discover the truth. But little by little, through education reform, teachers are attempting to change that in order to teach students about the real America and how their ancestors make up the fabric of this country. Some, however, in power positions don’t want that. 

A legal battle has ensued between a Bronx principal and teachers in which both parties are calling each other racist.

Credit: @TravelsWithTony / Twitter

The issue between these two parties began in 2018 when Mercedes Liriano, a teacher at Bronx Intermediate School 224, began teaching her sixth graders about the Harlem Renaissance in her art class during Black History Month. 

Patricia Catania, a white principal of that school at the time, told her to stop the lesson immediately. She took away posters that students were carrying that depicted the image of singer Lena Horne. Catania said that Liriano didn’t approve her lesson plan for Black History Month, but Liriano, a black teacher, said she submitted her entire lesson plan for the year. Furthermore, in an interview with the Washington Post, Liriano said that she has been teaching those lessons during Black History Month for the past 14 years. 

Teachers and parents were so appalled that the principal would prevent the teacher from teaching the Harlem Renaissance during Black History Month that they protested the matter.

Credit: YouTube

The matter last year garnered national attention, and many high-profile black activists got involved. 

“We’re learning about slavery and Harriet Tubman, but she says that I’m an ELA teacher and therefore should not be teaching that,” Liriano said last year to a local news station. “But it’s part of the New York state curriculum.”

While the school board investigated the matter, Catania continued to work at the school. This June, however, Catania got a demotion and was moved to another school just a mile away. She became the assistant principal at a different school. 

Now, months after her demotion, the former principal has filed a lawsuit against three black teachers and the union because she says they falsely accused her of being racist and claims they discriminated against her.

Credit: National Black United Front / Facebook

“There is literally not a racist thought in my head, nor a racist molecule in my body, nor have I ever made a racist comment, or acted in a racist manner in my life,” Catania said in a sworn deposition.

Her lawyer adds, “She’s been portrayed as the villain, but she’s really the victim here,” Anthony Gentile, Catania’s lawyer, said in an interview with the Post. “It was racism, pure and simple, [even though] some people may not see her as sympathetic as when this happens to a brown-skinned person.”

Liriano wrote on Twitter, “Reverse racism does not exist when we were not or have ever been the oppressors! All I have ever done was instill PRIDE! in my students! My children! By teaching them about their rich culture and true stories!!”

We shall see how this matter plays out in court. 

Last year, another Bronx school official was also investigated after she made some of her black students act as slaves so they could endure what they did.

Credit: YouTube

Teacher Patricia Cummings at another Bronx school had some of her black students lay on the floor to reenact a “slave trade — and then stepped on their backs to show them what slavery felt like,” The New York Daily News reports.An investigation found that she didn’t do everything she was accused of. She was still fired, and she is also suing the school board for a billion dollars. Yes, you read that right. 

“They’re on the record for saying the reason I’m being terminated is because of my performance as an educator and the report,” Cummings said according to ABC News. “My performance as an educator, I’ve been rated effective by the Department of Education. I’m an effective teacher.”

READ: Students At This High School Apparently Thought It Was OK To Drag A Black Mannequin By A Rope At Their Homecoming Game