Bush School Prejudice
By Michael Edison, B.S.Ed.
The following was originally a Powerpoint presentation for an Educational Leadership class. Links are in yellow and underlined.
Historical Perspective of School Funding
Let's take a moment and look at four lawsuits which have taken place this past century:
- Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)
- Molly Hootch vs. Alaska State-Operated School System (1972)
- Kasayulie vs. State of Alaska (1999)
- Moore vs. State of Alaska (2004)
Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)
Molly Hootch vs. State of Alaska (1972)
- Struck down segregated schools.
- Part of Civil Rights Movement.
- Struggle for equal educational opportunities continues.
- State of Alaska was discriminating against Native kids in rural villages by failing to provide them with local high schools.
- State was in flagrant violation of both the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution and Article I, Section 1, of the Alaska Constitution. Both clauses required the State to give equal treatment to Native kids and non-Native kids, and when it came to the provision of local high schools, the State just had not done so.
- 95% of what the Department of Education classified as “unhoused” children - that is, high school aged, with a local elementary school but no high school - were Native. Only 5% were non-Native. (Cotton, 2004)
- Boarding Schools were a Disaster for the Majority of the Children
- Students were far away from home and family.
Loneliness, pressure to drink, boarding parents who drank and abused students.
Villages echoed with the silence of a whole generation of teenagers gone.
Lost opportunity to speak their own language, to learn traditional skills, and just to be home.(Cotton, 2004)
Molly Hootch Results:
- In the end, 105 villages got local programs.
92 villages had new facilities constructed, at a total cost of $137 million. (Cotton, 2004)
Kasayulie vs. State of Alaska (1999)
- Challenged disparity between large and small districts in terms of school facilities.
- Court held that Alaska’s system for funding school construction was unconstitutional under the education clause of the Alaska Constitution and violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Resulted in a statewide school construction bond package (Proposition C on the 2002 ballot) that should redress imbalance. (AK NEA, 2004)
Moore vs. State of Alaska (2004)
- Case challenges the adequacy of overall school funding - the costs associated with educating children.
- Case revolves around two causes of action:
State is failing in its Constitutional obligation to “establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all students.”
State is violating the Alaska Constitution by structuring school financing that creates unconstitutional disparities between poor, special needs, and minority children, among others, and those who are not. (AK NEA, 2004)
School Funding has Become the Civil Rights Issue of our Day
Traditionally, school finance lawsuits have been filed on the following grounds:
1. Education is a fundamental right specified in the Alaska state constitution.
2. Equity in education spending is necessary for equal protection under the law.
3. Disparities in funding based on wealth create suspect class discrimination.
4. State education clauses guarantee a universal or adequate education for all.
NCLB and the Small School
Rural schools were never considered during the legislative process ratifying NCLB.
Furthermore, Data and Statistics can be manipulated as well as false and misleading.
And, there are unrealistic expectations of rural educators to meet federal definition of being “highly qualified”.
As well as, Classroom Aides must also meet federal demands of being “qualified”.(Edison, 2004)
Data and Statistics can be Misleading
Rod Paige, US Secretary of Education:
- Former Superintendent of Houston Independent School District
- Credited with dropout rates decrease from 30-40% to 0%!
- Problem: Records were faked! (Jesness, 2004)
NCLB Data Collection may be Misleading and Time Consuming
- Small schools have fewer students, so the statistics may be well off the charts.
- Collection of irrelevant data is time-consuming.
- Takes away time (and money) which could be used more effectively with students. (Edison, 2004)
Highly Qualified - Teachers
The teacher is expected to demonstrate competency and other intensive requirements in every subject area he/she is teaching. (DOE, 2004)
Small school educators often teach multiple subjects and grades. Some educators in the Alaska bush teach every subject in every grade! (K-12)
How is the small school educator going to meet this requirement?
Highly Qualified - Classroom Aides
Aides must have at least an Associate Degree or two years of college. (DOE, 2004)
Many of our Alaskan villages do not have “qualified” individuals to replace existing aides.
Villages do not have the resources or provide enough adequate compensation for aides to go back to school.
Some districts have already given some aides the “pink-slip”.
Rural Students are the Losers of NCLB
- Teachers discredited as not having met “highly-qualified”.
- Classroom Aides non-existent.
- Loss of much experience, traditional culture, and indigenous language.
- Statistics for small schools can be misleading.
- School listed as failing - what effect does this have on a child’s self-esteem?
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) should be determined at a local level rather than determined by federally-mandated national norms.
The current testing contractor for the State of Alaska is:
- Data Recognition Corporation
Headquarters: Maple Grove, Minnesota (DRC, 2004)
- They were awarded an Alaska DOE Contract: $30 million.
- What is interesting to note is that they have paid lobbyists in other states. My question is "why?"
- However, the State does save $12.3 million over the former contract with McGraw-Hill. (Board, 2004)
Is it possible, for the sake of maintaining a very profitable corporation, that the tests are designed to sustain this need?
Read the article, Testing Companies Mine for Gold
Statewide Assesments - Cultural Bias
Produced in Minnesota.
- Some questions concern urban knowledge base and understanding.
- Only tests Reading, Writing, Mathematics.
- Math questions are written in English, not numerical. (DRC, 2004)
- Bush Schools are discriminated against by lack of funding by the State of Alaska.
- Moore vs. State of Alaska is a class-action suit currently filed.
- NCLB discriminates against Bush Schools by:
- Discrediting Teachers.
- Disqualifying Classroom Aides (firing them!).
- Requiring irrelevant and meaningless data collection.
- Listing school as failing.
- Statewide Assessments discriminate by offering culturally-biased tests in 3 subject areas only in English.
- Mathematic questions are English comprehension questions and are not based on numerical ability.
What YOU can DO:
- Contact Alaska’s representatives, both state and federal, to please consider the bush schools and their unique circumstances.
- Share these important issues and points with others.
- GET INVOLVED!
List of References:
Cotton, Stephen E. (2004, Sept/Oct). Thirty Years Later: The Molly Hootch Case.
Sharing Our Pathways, 9(4), 4-9
See article: http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/sop/SOPv9i4.pdf
AK NEA (2004). A Natural Progression. Retrieved from Nov. 19, 2004, from AK NEA Web site: http://www.ak.nea.org/funding/historical.htm
Jesness, Jerry (2004, Sept). After the Whistle. Edweek, 16(1), 26-29
See article: http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2004/09/01/01whistle.h16.html
Edison, Michael. (2004). NCLB and the Small School. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2004, from Iditarod Education Association Web site: http://www.geocities.com/iditarod_ed_assn/nclb.htm
Department of Education (DOE, 2004) No Child Left Behind, A Toolkit for Teachers, pp. 25-26
Association of Alaska School Boards (Board, 2004). Education Dept. Issues Intent to Award Assessment Contract. Retrieved Nov. 18, 2004, from AASBB Web site: http://www.aasb.org/Enews/enews_Feb12_04.html
Data Recognition Corporation. (DRC, 2004). Home Page. Retrieved Nov. 18, 2004, from DRC Web site: http://www.datarecognitioncorp.com