Category Archives: Education

Anxiety Higher, Classrooms More Combative in Trump Era

By Free Radical

Schools have absorbed the contentious national discourse, a new study says.

Schools have absorbed the contentious national discourse, a new study says.

A recent study conducted by the UCLA Institute for Democracy has shown that American classrooms have become less civil and more combative since President Donald Trump has been elected.

There have been previous studies that have shown that bullying and aggressive political rhetoric has increased since President Trump’s inauguration. However, the UCLA study is the most extensive analysis to date. It surveyed 1535 public high school teachers and is reflective of the makeup of the high school student body in the US with respect to demographics and geography.

The study found that 79% of teachers said they had students who were concerned about various contentious issues they heard about in the news. Though immigration was most common, students also mentioned Trump’s travel ban, LGBTQ issues, threats to Obamacare, and environmental protection.

Of the teachers surveyed, 51% stated they had more students who experienced “high levels of stress and anxiety.” This discomfort impacted classroom performance as 44% of the teachers reported that students were more distracted and contributed less to classroom discussions for fear of drawing attention to themselves.

Also, 41% of teachers expressed that students have been more likely to cite “fake news” in classroom discussions which also impacts learning as students are to learn proper citation and presentation of evidence during the high school years.

Finally, a little more than a quarter of the teachers surveyed said that they witnessed an increase in derogatory statements from students. This includes sexist, racist, and anti-Muslim remarks.

Of further concern, the heightened stress has played out in different schools depending on their racial makeup. Instances of higher anxiety and lower performance based on issues in the news occurred more frequently in schools that enrolled large numbers of non-White students. Nonetheless, these schools had calmer environments than predominantly White schools which had higher instances of rancorous classroom discussions and contentious relationships among students. Schools that predominantly enrolled students of color were also more likely to hold interventions to help ease students fears.

Ironically, Melania Trump, the President’s wife has chosen anti-bullying as her chief domestic concern. The UCLA study seems to indicate that youth are receiving a counternarrative from the White House.

The study was conducted by UCLA professors John Rogers and Megan Franke with the assistance of graduate students. The report can be found here.

Report: Black Students More Severely Punished in Missouri

By Free Radicalindex

An ACLU report revealed what some African-Americans in Missouri have already known for years: students of color are disciplined unequally.

While much of this is not new, the ACLU provided empirical evidence of the punishment discrepancies occurring in Missouri. Black students are three times as likely to receive an out of school suspension. Though Blacks comprise only 14% of all students, during the 2015-2016 school year they received 38% of suspensions lasting more than 90 days and 35% of all suspensions lasting 11-89 days. Black students also accounted for 29% of all in school suspensions throughout the state during the 2013-2014 school year.

Such draconian punishments have long histories, stemming all the way from America’s period of enslavement. Evidence of this is in the state’s continued use of corporal punishment. Missouri is one of only nineteen remaining states that still this form of discipline. Black students are also disproportionately represented as enduring corporal punishment. In 2013-2014, just under half (24%) of all students receiving corporal punishment were Black.

These unbalanced rates of discipline are especially pronounced for students with disabilities. According to the ACLU, Black male students with disabilities are more likely to receive an out of school suspension than any other group.

Out of every 100 Black students with disabilities, nearly 28 received a suspension. Out of every 100 White students with disabilities, only 8% received an out of state suspension. Similar developments occurred with in school suspensions. Out of every 100 Black students with disabilities, nearly 26 received in school suspensions whereas the rate was just under 12 for White students with disabilities.

Such data have serious implications, particularly when considering the student to prison pipeline. Scholars have shown that students who are sent to jail and have encounters with law enforcement for school related behaviors are more likely to experience incarceration in their adulthood. Rather than being a deterrent, zero tolerance policies involving law enforcement encourage criminalization. In Missouri, Black students disproportionately make up 18% of school-related arrests and 17% of referrals to law enforcement.  Though Black students with disabilities make up only 16% of all students with disabilities, they account for 22% of all arrests of students with disabilities and 20% of all law enforcement referrals for students with disabilities.

Some of the data comes as no surprise. In 2015, the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA found that Black students are more likely to be suspended in Missouri than in any other state.

New Study Shows Students Benefit from Same Race Teachers

A new study links student success to having teachers of the same race.

A new study links student success to having teachers of the same race.

By Free Radical

Further evidence has materialized that students benefit when they have teachers that belong to their race. A study conducted by scholars Anna J. Egalite and Brian Kisida and published by the American Educational Research Association surveyed 80,000 public school students from grades four through eight.Their results showed that when students had teachers of the same race they felt “more cared for, more interested in their schoolwork, and more confident in their teachers’ abilities to communicate with them” according to NPR.

Conversely, students who had teachers who did not look like them experienced a reverse effect. This was particularly the case for Black students, even more so with Black girls.

The study follows a report published in April which concluded that Black students who had at least one elementary school teacher of the same race were more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not.

The implications are far reaching. Current statistics show that only 18% of the current teaching force is composed of instructors of color. Therefore, White students have an advantage over Blacks and Hispanics who are more less likely to have teachers who look like them.

Remedies include an aggressive recruitment of teachers of color. Yet structural changes such as incentives in teacher pay, student loan forgiveness, and greater flexibility in the classroom are also possible solutions to attract the most qualified applicants who sometimes choose more financially rewarding occupations.

Most HBCUs Skip White House Summit


The White House Summit is just the latest flap between Trump and HBCUs.

The White House Summit is just the latest flap between Trump and HBCUs.

By Free Radical

The annual White House Summit on HBCUs usually draws a large section of Black college presidents and representatives. However, at this year’s summit, only about a quarter of HBCUs were in attendance.

On the surface, it may seem odd as the yearly gathering provides rare opportunities for college executives to wrangle much needed federal resources for their institutions. Yet these are uncanny times and an uncanny administration.

Despite President Trump’s early courting of HBCUs, the relationship between both sides has quickly soured.

Earlier in March, dozens of HBCU presidents visited the White House to meet with the newly inaugurated president. Yet many left that conference only with empty promises to show for it.

One of the few statements Trump have made regarding HBCU funding came in May when he questioned the constitutionality of a program that helps HBCUs get low cost loans.

Yet his loudest megaphone has been his actions as all of the budgets and spending measures he has proposed failed to include any significantly increased funding for HBCUs.

Along with his campaign that many have considered racially divisive, many HBCU representatives were also dismayed at his response to the Charlottesville white supremacist demonstrations.

According to NPR, Grambling State University president Rick Gallot, who did not attend the summit, considers Trump’s disinterest an unintended advantage. In his estimation, presidents only play a marginal role in the success of HBCUs. “HBCUs relationship with Congress is more important. They pass the budget.” He continued “The administration apparently doesn’t understand how urgent the funding problem is.”

Michael Lomax, head of the HBCU advocacy group, the United Negro College Fund, did attend, yet was severely disappointed. “We went to the meeting with the expectation that it would be a substantive meeting. Unfortunately we didn’t have that kind of substantive discussion.”

Further frustration emerged in some camps by Trump’s recent pick to head the White House Initiative on HBCUs, Johnathan Holifield. The former NFL player and current tech businessmen has no experience in higher education leadership and never attended an HBCU. Critics say this reflects a troubling trend of Trump placing individuals who have little familiarity with departments they are heading. One example is Ben Carson whose only claim to head HUD was that he once lived in public housing and Betsy Devos who though she heads the education department, never sent her children to public schools.

Devos also has no experience with HBCUs who will be impacted by her policy decisions