Category Archives: Education

Norman White, Criminal Justice Pioneer Passes

Norman White

Norman White

By Free Radical

Norman White, a pioneering criminal justice professor at SLU passed from a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 64 years old.

Since joining SLU’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, White was known for his scholarship which analyzed how schools and juvenile court systems prematurely and unjustly target marginalized children.

Yet White did not restrict his scholarship to the ivory tower. In 2014, he received a grant to help teachers and administrators recognize the impact that race and trauma have on students and developed effective ways to support them. White also headed the Shut it Down: Closing the School to Prison Pipeline which placed the family court, public schools, and other stakeholders together to alter school culture in order to improve student performance while reducing student interactions with law enforcement.

With student volunteers he also developed the Overground Railroad for Literacy program which tutored local students.

White was also a mainstay during the Ferguson uprising. While on campus, he spray painted “Safe Space” in his office for students to voice their frustrations and map out his strategies during that revolt.

Given his expertise, trial lawyers used him as a witness to advocate for juveniles where he used his theory of risk immersion, which according to his close friend and attorney Nina McDonnell, “argues that children who grow up in extreme poverty and neglect and violence – they are not at risk, they are immersed in risk. That’s the only world they know. They don’t know the world of not being at risk of violence and trauma.”

White leaves a legacy of social justice and scholar activism. According to St. Louis Public Schools superintendent, Kelvin Adams, “He was a passionate advocate for the fair and equitable treatment of kids and families, and we can only honor him if we continue to do the work that he started, training and supporting those who work with children. But this is a tremendous loss.”

STL Community College to Cut Faculty

indexBy Free Radical

In an acrimonious decision, the St. Louis Community College’s board of trustees voted to eliminate up to 70 instructor and 25 staff positions.

The agreement was made amid a public outcry by professors and students who chanted “Justice for Our Faculty!” Tensions rose to the point that board members left the meeting room for nearly an hour before returning to vote in a closed huddle. Only the college’s spokeswoman, Nez Savala would confirm that the budget cut was approved.

The St. Louis Community College has struggled over the past years amid the dual forces of reduced state expenditures and declining enrollment. According to stlpublicradio.org, the system has received $5 million less in state revenue this year and saw its enrollment decline by a third since 2011.

The College had already offered an early retirement option for its employees in April which 117 individuals took advantage of. Yet it’s budget is still in the red. The college has claimed that it would have operated $13 million over budget by 2020 if not for the current cuts.

Yet opponents do not see the administration’s concern with penny pinching as new buildings are erected and high level staff persons are paid unnecessarily high salaries in their estimation.

Protestors also fear that fewer faculty will affect students by increasing class sizes. There is also a fear that the changes will impact Black students in particular  who make up a third of all students in the system.

Black Students in Louisiana Disciplined More Harshly

By Free Radicalindex

Last week, Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a report showing harrowing discrepancies of how Black and poor students are disciplined.

Looking at data from Louisiana schools from 2000-2014, the study uncovered that Black students were twice as likely than White students to be suspended and low-income students were 1.75 times more likely to be suspended than wealthier students.

The data found uneven discipline even when Black and White students committed the same infraction. Black students were assigned .40 more suspension days and poor students were assigned 0.18 more days. Even when analyzing data for students in the same school and grade levels, Black and poor students were assigned 0.10 more days of suspension.

To further show evidence of discrimination, the study looked at what happened when Blacks students engaged in fights with White students. Black students received .05 more days in such interracial fights. In assessing the interracial fight data, researchers accounted for factors such as prior discipline records, academic achievement, and if students received special education services.

The cumulative effect of the results are cause for alarm. The U.S. Department of Education has produced similar national findings. Particularly, Black boys are three times more likely to be assigned out of school suspension than White boys while Black girls are five times more likely to receive out of school suspensions than White girls.

More time out of school results in less instruction time and impacts student learning. Critical prison studies scholars have also shown that more frequent school discipline puts students at greater risk of engaging law enforcement and entering prison as adults, accounting for a school to prison pipeline.

Mizzou Cuts Costs Again

By Free Radical

Protests in 2015 at Mizzou continue to cause reforms at the college.

Protests in 2015 at Mizzou continue to cause reforms at the college.

In response to a dramatic dip in enrollment, the University of Missouri-Columbia campus has reduced its room and board costs.

The plan was announced last week by Gerry Ward, the school’s chief operating officer. In a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ward expressed “This year is an investment year to gain back trust in that this university is the University for Missouri.”

One-third of Mizzou’s housing options will drop from about 2.2 to 5%. Dining plans are set to decline by at least $300.

Mizzou was embroiled in controversy as a series of racist incidents in 2015 sparked intense student demonstrations which caused the ouster of system president Tom Wolfe. This resulted in a precipitous 6.2% decline in student enrollment at the campus. The fallout and enrollment reductions from all university campuses is said to be about $60 million in revenue cuts and a loss in 474 jobs according to the kansascitystar.com.

Ward stated that these cuts allowed Mizzou to make the aforementioned changes to its room and board costs. Mizzou had also previously said in August that it would provide full tuition and fees for Missouri residents who are eligible for Pell grants starting in Fall 2018.

The school has also hired Kevin McDonald, its vice Chancellor of Diversity and developed a $1 million faculty diversity initiative.

Save