How Hillary’s hometown keeps poor kids out

Hillary Clinton’s high-priced hometown of Chappaqua, New York has great schools for children from affluent, white families, writes Dana Goldstein in Politico. There are no poor kids.

Westchester County was supposed to become a model of integrating well-to-do, white communities, but residents have delayed or blocked plans to build affordable housing, writes Goldstein.

Affluent parents are fighting attempts to desegregate schools on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

A better school for my kid (not yours)

Lucinda Rosenfeld’s Class, a novel about a Brooklyn parents scheming to get their daughter in an out-of-neighborhood school, is a “guilty pleasure” read, writes Alexander Russo.

College-educated white liberals, Karen Kipple and her husband condo move into a gentrifying neighborhood where the local school is not as highly rated as the the school a few blocks away that’s already fully gentrified.

Karen can brag that her third-grader attends a racially mixed school. But the test scores are mediocre. Will her child succeed with a good-enough education?

“This is not a deep policy book, or even always entirely serious in terms of how it addresses education issues,” writes Russo. “But the issues it raises are serious underneath the satire, and the dynamics among parents, teachers, and children seem fairly realistic.”

Comedian Wyatt Cenac, who’s got a Netflix series called Brooklyn, talks about gentrification in Grist.

“If wealthier people move into a neighborhood and then use their clout to effect change,” the local school may improve, he says. But sometimes, the wealthy “don’t care about the school across street, because they’re going to put their kids in private school, miles away.” Without a sense of community, gentrification pushes out the people who were there before.

Chalkbeat reports on diversity success stories in New York City.

Why charters will lose in Massachusetts

Massachusetts voters will reject a measure allowing up to 12 new charter schools, predicts Jay Greene on Ed Next‘s blog. Why? Charters serve disadvantaged blacks and Latinos, not middle-class and well-to-do families. That’s bad politics, he writes.

Rigorous evaluations of existing Boston charters show large test score gains,” he writes. Charter supporters are spending millions on ads.

Yet the charter expansion appears to be way behind in recent polls.

Education reformers are “so obsessed with social justice virtue-signaling that they’ve forgotten how politics actually works, writes Greene.  “If you want to help the poor, you should design programs that include the middle and upper-middle classes.”

Here’s more from The 74’s Matt Barnum on competing claims in the Measure 2 campaign.

In Mike’s playborhood, kids take risks

Children jump from the playhouse roof to the trampoline in Mike Lanza’s backyard in Menlo Park, CA. Photo: Holly Andres/New York Times.

As the “anti-helicopter parent,” Mike Lanza has turned his Silicon Valley home into a not-very-safe play zone, writes Melanie Thernstrom in the New York Times Magazine. He wants his three “boys to have a normal childhood, while complaining that his idea of normal is no longer normal.”

Kids need a chance to play outdoors, their own way, Lanza believes. Neighborhood kids are welcome to play in his yard at any time — without an adult to supervise.

“His free-time-is-for-goofing-around ethos is particularly anomalous in Silicon Valley,” writes Thernstrom, whose kids were preschool classmates of Lanza’s youngest boy. The area is full of “former engineers, executives and other highly educated women who have renounced work in favor of what they call uber-parenting.”

. . . .  parents think they should be producing model kids, optimized kids, kids with extra capacity and cool features: kids who have start-ups (or at least work at one); do environmental work in the Galápagos; speak multiple languages; demonstrate a repeatable golf swing; or sing arias. To a comical extent, parents here justify the perverted ambition through appeals to research (enlarging the language center of the brain and so forth) while ignoring research on the negative effects on children of being micromanaged.

A high-tech entrepreneur, Lanza is the author of Playborhood and writes a blog on turning neighborhoods into communities where kids can play outside.

I’ve walked past the Lanza house, which is in a lovely, expensive neighborhood near Stanford. I also did some freelance editing for his wife (who is not that happy about her kids playing on the roof) years ago.

Why LA’s teacher housing has no teachers

The Sage Park Apartments were built on vacant land near Gardena High School and opened in 2015.School employees — but not teachers — live in the Sage Park Apartments, which opened in 2015. Photo: Los Angeles Times

To retain teachers, Los Angeles Unified built two below-market apartment complexes on district land and is finishing a third. Not one teacher lives in the district’s affordable housing, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Teachers, who start at $50,300 a year, earn too much. Instead, the apartments are occupied by low-paid school employees such as cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers and aides.

Federal subsidies used to build the apartments “restricted the units to households that earned 30% to 60% of area median income,” the Times explains.  That’s less than $35,000 a year for a single person.

Diamond Jones, 24, a special education assistant who earns $15 an hour, pays $588 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, less than a third of the market rate.

Who’s blocking the door now?

It’s been 53 years since Gov. George Wallace “stood in the schoolhouse door” to keep blacks out of the University of Alabama.

Affluent white suburbanites want to limit urban charter schools, complain minority parents in Boston. “So far, 194 mainly non-urban school committees statewide have backed resolutions opposing Question 2,” which would lift the cap on charter schools, reports the Boston Herald.

“You are hurting our children — not yours. Do you actually care what happens to little black and brown children? No, you don’t” said Dawn Foye, a Roxbury mother who sends her son to KIPP Academy in Mattapan.

Boston has the highest-performing charter schools in the nation. Most students come from low-income and working-class Black and Latino families.

Social media feuds become school fights

Teens are using social media to pick and plan school fights, writes Hechinger’s Katy Reckdahl, reporting from New Orleans.

A “huge proportion” of fights have roots in social media, social worker Osha Sempel told Reckdahl.

Beldon Batiste, 15, stands in the doorway to his home, looking out at the street where he was injured last year in a fight that was ignited by online posts. Photo: Sophia Germer

Beldon Batiste, 15, stands in the doorway to his home, looking out at the street where he was injured in a fight ignited by online posts. Photo: Sophia Germer

Last year, some New Orleans educators wondered why fights were starting “as soon as students got off the buses in the morning,” Reckdahl writes. “Then it became clear: when teens feud on social media at night, they arrive at school ready to fight.”

Mondays are a big problem, said Jennifer Pagan, a mediator at West Jefferson High School in a New Orleans suburb. “Kids get on the sofa on Friday and spend the weekend on Snapchat or Kik — their weapons of mass destruction.”

New Orleans PeaceKeepers maintains a “Squash the Beef” hotline. “School becomes the battleground,” said co-founder Willie Muhammad, a teacher. “If someone makes an ugly remark online and an argument ensues, one kid will tell another, ‘Okay, when we get to school tomorrow, I’m going to handle it.”

Keep ‘no excuses’ — and teach self-discipline

Don’t dump “no excuses” discipline, writes Sharif El-Mekki in Education Post. He attended a no-excuses school that taught him self-discipline. Now the father of five, he’s the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus in Philadelphia.

growing backlash blames rigid discipline policies for paving the road from school to prison, writes El-Mekki. “Rigidity without love or respect is detrimental to our communities.”

However, he worries the pendulum is swinging too far. “Black families should not have to choose between chaotic or callous schools for their children.”

At his school, families want “no excuses in striving for excellence,” he writes.

What these families don’t want is an intense focus on disciplining students without also motivating their children to be self-disciplined. They expect us to help our students be successful despite any trauma they may have experienced or learning challenges they must overcome. They appreciate that we use restorative justice practices and consider cultural context.

“No excuses” extends to administrators and teachers, writes El-Mekki. “Low expectations are just as damning to our communities as rigidity without love and respect.”

A racist came to Shabbat dinner and now …

Once the “heir” to the white nationalist movement, Derek Black accepted a Jewish classmate’s invitation to Shabbat dinner, made new friends, listened to their arguments and ultimately abandoned his family’s racist beliefs, reports the Washington Post in a remarkable story.

Black’s father created Stormfront to promote white nationalist ideas online; Derek did the child’s version. His godfather is David Duke.

Derek Black Derek Black, 27, was following in his father’s footsteps as a white nationalist leader until he began to question the movement’s ideology. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Derek Black was following in his father’s footsteps as a white nationalist leader until he made liberal friends who changed his views. Photo: Matt McClain/Washington Post

Now, “Black is now a liberal who supports immigration, doesn’t believe race should divide people, and admires President Obama,” writes Reason’s Robby Soave.

Black’s conversion is “a subtle repudiation of the kind of emotional safe space that liberals want to foist on college campuses,” concludes Soave.

After attending community college, Black enrolled in Florida’s liberal New College to study medieval European  history. Despite doing a weekly white-supremacist radio show, he hid his views on campus. But, eventually he was outed.

Most students ostracized him. Matthew Stevenson, an Orthodox Jew, invited Black to his Friday night Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner.

Matthew always drank from a kiddush cup and said the traditional prayers, but most of his guests were Christian, atheist, black or Hispanic — anyone open-minded enough to listen to a few blessings in Hebrew.

. . . He went back and read some of Derek’s posts on the site from 2007 and 2008: “Jews are NOT white.” “Jews worm their way into power over our society.” “They must go.”

Matthew decided his best chance to affect Derek’s thinking was not to ignore him or confront him, but simply to include him.

Black became a regular at the dinner.

Week by week, conversation by conversation, Derek softened his views. His new friends challenged him—firmly but politely—and systematically convinced him that he was wrong about everything.

Eventually, he publicly repudiated white nationalism and apologized for his past actions. Black is now a graduate student in history.

Halloween is too scary for college kids

Is your Halloween costume racist? Does it “appropriate” the culture of another group (Native Americans, Latinos, zombies)?

At U-Mass Amherst, students can check the “threat level” of their costume idea on the “Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter” (S.C.R.E.A.M.) poster.

“If one intends to represent a person on Halloween, the only way to get a ‘green’ threat rating is for the person to be of one’s own race,” reports Campus Reform. “If one represents a person of another race, the ‘threat level’ increases roughly in conjunction with the amount of makeup that one intends to use.”

The flyer also warns about “thing/idea” costumes that reflect “controversial current events or historically accepted cliches,” particularly if “these events or cliches relate to a person or people not of your race.”

One of the displays does give another point of view, reports Campus Reform.

“It’s not fair to ask any culture to freeze itself in time and live as though they were a museum diorama,” one poster quotes author Susan Scafidi. “Cultural appropriation can sometimes be the savior of a cultural product that has faded away.”

Novelist Lionel Shriver defended cultural appropriation at a Melbourne writers’ conference. “I am hopeful that the concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ is a passing fad,” she said. “People with different backgrounds rubbing up against each other and exchanging ideas and practices is self-evidently one of the most productive, fascinating aspects of modern urban life.”

I wonder if students will turn to creepy clowns as a safe costume choice this year. On the other hand, there’s a “moral panic” about the threat of clowns on campus, writes Anne Hendershott. Everything’s scary this year.