Education Data Shows Disproportionate Minority Discipline, Opportunity Gaps For Public School Students

Department of EducationNewly collected data from the Department of Education shows that minority students are disproportionately subject to harsher disciplinary actions in public schools than their peers and offers insight into opportunity gaps for public school students around the country.

More than 70 percent of students involved in school arrests or law enforcement referrals were black or Hispanic, according to the report. Black students were three and half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers, the New York Times reported.

The Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 gathered statistics from 72,000 schools, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students from kindergarten through high school.

While the disciplinary data is probably the most dramatic, the statistics illustrated a range of racial and ethnic disparities. Finding included:


  • Black students made up only 18 percent of those enrolled in the schools sampled, however, they accounted for 35 percent of those suspended once, 46 percent of those suspended more than once and 39 percent of all expulsions, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 statistics.
  • Over 70 percent of the students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black.
  • Black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.
  • In districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45 percent of the student body, but 56 percent of those expelled under such policies.

“For the first time we have an incredible new source of data that tells us where opportunity gaps are in ways we’ve never seen before as a country,” Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, said in a telephone briefing with reporters on Monday. “In recent years we have more data than ever before on identifying the achievement gap and where it exists.”

The department has gathered information on civil rights and education since 1968, yet the Bush administration suspended the project in 2006. Since then, the data collection has been reinstated and expanded to include referrals to law enforcement, The New York Times reported.

The Civil Rights Data Collection is being released in two parts. This afternoon Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, along with Aliwill will announce the results at Howard University. Afterward, data will be publicly available at

Check back for expanded coverage and updates.


Social Media Accounts Potentially Problematic for Scholarship Applicants

school house unlock locker 1 - JJIE Stock photoWhat’s the weight of that old Facebook post or YouTube video? Well, it could be a lot if you’re hunting for college scholarship money.

In a recent survey, about a quarter of college scholarship providers said they check applicant’s online presence before making final awards, or deciding not to.

The survey conducted by Fastweb, a scholarship search site, and the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), a contingent of 300 scholarship providers awarding more than $1 billion annually, found that nearly a third of scholarship providers using social media and search to screen applicants have denied scholarship money based on information found online.

Providers use services such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter to vet perspective applicants.

These scholarship providers largely use social sites to seek out “red flags,” or questionable activity among applicants, that may reflect negatively on the provider.

However, screeners also look for positive traits, honing in on attributes like creativity, communication skills and demonstrations of good judgment. Nearly a quarter of those screening via social media said information found online helped support their original decision, proving social media has the potential to be both good and bad.

Facebook was by far the most popular, with 92 percent using the platform to vet applicants. About a quarter used LinkedIn or YouTube, and less than 10 percent used Twitter in the screening process.

Survey questions were submitted to the 300 NSPA members, of which about a quarter responded. A handful of respondents said they hadn't thought of screening via social media prior to receiving the survey questions, but planned on discussing it with their scholarship committees.

The Report, “Survey Concerning the Use of Web Search Sites and Social Media Sites for Evaluating Scholarship Applicants,” offers these tips for developing a professional online presence:

  1. Use an appropriate email address, such as Do not use offensive or sexually suggestive email addresses.
  2. Google your name and review at least the first ten pages of search results for inappropriate material. Correct any problems, if possible.
  3. Review your Facebook account, removing inappropriate and immature material and anything that may be misinterpreted. Remove pictures or videos that show illegal or questionable behavior. Avoid using profanity. Delete questionable posts by others on your wall. Ask an adult, such as a parent, to review your Facebook page to help you identify problematic material.
  4. Think twice before posting anything offensive, illegal or otherwise inappropriate.

Access the full report here.

Excerpt: "Survey Concerning the Use of Web Search Sites and Social Media Sites for Evaluating Scholarship Applicants"

Photo Credit: Clay Duda/JJIE Stock Photo

Washington State’s High Court Rules Legislature Not Doing Enough to Fund Education

The Washington State Legislature has failed to meet its constitutional responsibility to fund public education for the last three decades, according to a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court.

“By the Legislature’s own terms, it has not met its duty to make ample provision for ‘basic education,’” wrote Justice Debra Stephens in an 85-page opinion. “This court cannot idly stand by as the Legislature makes unfulfilled promises for reform.”

In 2009, the Legislature passed a bill meant to reform funding formulas, HB2261, and update the 1977 Basic Education Act by 2018. In Justice Stephens’ opinion, the high court reaffirmed its jurisdiction to oversee the Legislature’s timely implementation of those changes.

“Ultimately, it is our responsibility to hold the State accountable to meet its constitutional duty,” Justice Stephens writes in the opinion. “This court intends to remain vigilant in fulfilling the State’s constitutional responsibility.”

According to the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, welcomed the ruling and called for a half-penny sales tax increase to further fund education.

“This is not about partisan politics,” Gregoire said during a press conference on Jan. 5, adding that the state sales tax hasn’t been increased since 1983. “This is about stepping up to the challenge despite the tough times and asking, ‘What does the state want to look like when we get out of this recession? Are we going to invest in our future or are we going to compromise things and set our values behind and leave people out, which is not good for them and not good for us?’”

Kirby Wilbur, the Washington State Republican Party chairman, placed the blame on Democrats, noting that the state’s governor’s office had been controlled by Democrats for the previous 27 years.

“Their failure to prioritize state spending on our kids and our future economic health is exactly why we need fresh thinking in Olympia,” Wilbur said in a press release calling the issue a “fiasco.”

Education advocates, including the Washington State Board of Education, called the high court’s ruling a “huge victory.”

Photo by Flickr | designatednaphour

Spanking at Home and in the Classroom, What’s Right and Wrong?

Photo Credit: Wesley Fryer/FlickrA recent YouTube video of a Texas judge beating his then 16-year-old daughter with a leather belt has reignited the debate over the effectiveness and morality of corporal punishment in the home.

Judge William Adams, 51, contended he did nothing wrong and was simply punishing his daughter for stealing after the teen was caught downloading illegally distributed music from the internet.

Local police in Aransas, Texas have launched an investigation into the judges actions, but under state law -- provided the actions were administered in the interest of “reasonable punishment” – prosecutors may not have a statute to stand on.

Corporal punishment in the home had long been permissible under Texas law, and in 2005 state legislators took steps to strengthen those rights. House Bill 383 effectively set the standard for parental discipline as “reasonable punishment” and placed the burden of proof for abuse cases in the hands of the prosecutors. What exactly qualifies as reasonable punishment was not outlined in the bill.

In recent days, a rural Tennessee preacher came under fire after a copy of his book “To Train Up a Child” was found in the homes of three parents accused of beating their children to death on separate instances. The book, based largely on conservative Christian beliefs, advocates the use of a switch on a child as young as six months, along with other forms and best practices for physical discipline.

The preacher, Michael Pearl, 66, and his wife said unstable and abusive parents are to blame for taking the teachings out of context, and not the book itself. Neither has been charged in connection with the deaths, according to the New York Times.

Corporal punishment, or the act of discipline or punishment through physical force, has a long history in the United States. Since the times of the American Revolution corporal punishment, usually in the form of paddling or whipping, has been used in school discipline and criminal punishment.

Over time, incarceration gradually began to replace the use of flogging and other physical punishments for crimes, although some jurisdictions maintained “whipping laws” until the 1970s when it was barred nationally under the banner of cruel and unusual punishment.

While physical punishment was being outlawed against criminals in the 1970’s, the country didn’t see its first national case challenging the use of corporal punishment in schools until 1977. The U.S. Supreme Court deemed corporal punishment constitutional in schools by administrators and others acting as legal guardians. It is still maintained to this day.

Frustrated with the challenges of addressing the law in court, advocates working toward banning the practice turned to the political process to get results. Their work, coupled with a growing body of research that linked corporal punishment with behavior disorders such as increased anger, aggression and lower self-esteem, led to a slow, state-by-state decline in the use of corporal punishment in schools around the nation.

“It wasn’t that long ago in this society that it was allowed both culturally and legally for a man to hit his wife,” said Elizabeth Calvin, senior advocate for the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. “And I think we’re at that point in our understanding of corporal punishment and its effects on kids.”

Nineteen states, in red, have laws permitting corporal punishment in school.
Nineteen states, in red, have laws permitting corporal punishment in school.

What’s more, minority and disabled students have disproportionately suffered physical discipline at the hands of administrators more than their white and abled counterparts, according to a 2009 joint Human Rights Watch (HRW) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report.

Today, fewer than 20 states have school “paddling” laws still on the books. During the 2005-2006 school year, 223,190 students suffered some sort of corporal punishment in school, representing a steady decline since at least 1980, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Broken down by state, those with the most paddling incidents tend to rank poorly in both educational improvement and student performance, according to a 2010 report by, the organization that administrators the college exam.

In the home, however, corporal punishment remains largely unchallenged as a form of discipline. The exact definition of corporal punishment and the line between abuse and discipline varies by state, but many of the practices as old as our nation are still being used today -- and the public overwhelmingly approves. A 1999 survey, for example, found that 94 percent of parents reported spanking their children by the time they are four years old.

The definition of corporal punishment largely depends on the venue, with a legal distinction drawn between criminal, educational and in-home settings.

“Dividing it up in those three separate categories overlooks the essence,” Calvin said, “which is that we shouldn’t be hitting our kids. The act of physical force sends a message we shouldn’t be sending in any setting.”

Photo credit: Wesley Fryer/Flickr

Students Hit the Road with Road Scholarship

the whole world in my handsSince 2002 the SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF) has offered grants up to $1,000 for qualifying students in need of financial assistance for educational and group travel. SYF is a sister organization of the Student & Youth Travel Association.

To qualify applicants must be younger than 25, participating in some sort of student or youth group travel and demonstrate a need for financial assistance. Visit the website for a complete list of requirements.

Between 40-60 grants are issued be four-month funding cycle. The average grant totals $600, but may be as much as $1000.

Next deadline is November 30, 2011. Successful grantees will be announced in mid-January.

Virginia-Centric Funding: Science, Technology and Literacy

Virginia-based Cox Charities offers annual funding for eligible non-profits focused in the areas of “science and technology, mentoring, literacy and other areas promoting the education of youth” within the state of Virginia.

Grant requests should be for either $5,000 or $10,000 outlining the specific community(s) and services your organization seeks to impact. Second year funding is availanle pending a review of outcomes measures from the previous funding period.

This grant is local, specific and has a tight grant window. All grant applications for the 2012 fiscal year must be in by Nov. 11, 2011. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

The Flipped Classroom and the Changing Role of the Educator? [infographic]

It's no secret that technology is reshaping the educational landscape, but how exactly?

This infographic from Knewton and Column Five Media offers a rather visual look at one new model of education. In the 'flipped classroom' no longer do teachers feel the 'sage of the stage' role, lecturing for hours on end, but instead shift to helper bee as a 'guide on the side.' Class time can be reserved for hands-on activities and problem solving, while internet-based video lecturers are the new homework.

The statistics look promising, representing a substantial increase in performance by college freshman.

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media. does not endorse the services of either company or their affiliates.

Encouraging Responsible Parenting and Sportsmanship

Responsible Sports is offering grants of $2,500 to non-profit youth sports organizations or educational athletic programs to promote responsible parenting and sportsmanship.

Coaches and parents complete online coursework and subsequent quizzes for a chance at the grant awards. 6 to 7 grants are awarded depending on organization class, but applying organizations can only receive the grant once.

Additionally, sport organizations must be registered with Responsible Sports and are encouraged to contact an administrator with the organization if not already in the database.

Deadline is on-going.

The Whitefoord Approach to Community, Health and Education

A Whitefoord Community Program Child Development Classroom

Whitefoord Community Program - "This is a Lottery-funded pre-K program"At a glance it can be hard to see the impact of the breadth of services offered by the Whitefoord Community Program (WCP) on the cluster of Atlanta neighborhoods they serve. The non-profit runs four health clinics in nearby schools, offers child development and pre-K services, after school programs, digital media training, summer reading and math workshops and even a Bike Rite health initiative.

In a time of tight city and state budget, more and more municipalities are looking for ways to deliver services to the communities that need them. In Atlanta, one such program, the WCP, has been in place for years and could prove to be a model for the nation. Through grants and other funding the project has proven sustainable. Through community involvement it has proven useful and effective.

Look a little closer at the project and you’ll see the evolution of a community support system that weaves together family, health and education. What stated with a one-square mile area and a single health clinic in Whitefoord Elementary School on the east side of Atlanta more than 15 years ago has evolved into a system that reaches into a number of communities in that area of the city.

All of these services work in tandem from just about the time the child leaves the womb until he or she graduates high school with one goal in mind: providing the children of this inner-city community with the tools they need to complete their education.

Whitefoord Community Program's Beyond School Hours Director Clarence Jones
Clarence Jones, director of the WCP's Beyond School Hours program, has been with the organization since shortly after it's founding.

At nine weeks, infants can enroll, space provided, in the WCP’s Child Development program and start gearing up for their formal education. Unlike traditional daycare, this nationally accredited child development program employs HighScope Curriculum, a style of early childhood teaching and learning focused on active participation and educational development.

From there the kids can move on to the organization's pre-K programs, then once in grade school on into the Beyond School Hours program, summer math and reading workshops and others.


The WCP takes the community aspect of their title very seriously. When getting its footing back in the early 1990s the founders went door-to-door in the one-square mile area surrounding Whitefoord Elementary to survey the families and find out what services they needed most.

“I think our success, the success of the organization, was contributed to by the fact that we had one square mile that was focused on,” said Clarence Jones, Beyond School Hours Director with the WCP. “So two things that happened that cause our success, in my opinion, is one that we focused on a small area, and two is that we went to the community to determine what the community’s needs were. As a result we had a greater buy-in from the community.“

And the community really seems to have "bought in." More than half of the non-profit’s board members come from the community itself. Principals from the local schools that now house the four health clinics and a variety of the youth programs are asked to participate. The idea, Jones said, was to create a link between the schools and the households, between the educational environment and the community it educates.

Whitfoord Community Health Center, Whitfoord Elementary School, Atlanta, Ga.
An adult community member receives services in one of WCP's school-based health centers.

Even the organization’s campus was built with the community in mind. After a lengthy drive around the neighborhood you’d probably still be hard pressed to find the buildings. Situated in a number of refurbished and renovated houses just across the street from Whitefoord Elementary, the WCP has made it a point to blend in.


The theory is that health is linked to education -- a theory much research supports. What started with that one clinic and a one-mile radius has blossomed to included two elementary schools, a middle and high school, taking the WCP well beyond their single mile.

What started with the simple premise of promoting health among inner-city youth has gone well beyond that, too. The clinics, while housed inside the schools, are full-service and open to members of the public regardless of age. The organization offers GED programs and parent counseling. Staff social workers pay home visits and actively connect those in need with the services available.

One of the most important aspects contributing to the success of the kids, Jones said, was involvement from the parents.

“The parent has to realize the impact that they have on their child. Without a true realization of the impact that they have on their children then there will be issues,” said Jones. “Now, parents don’t go to school to learn how to parent, so how do you get parents to understand what their impact is? You get them to understand what their impact is through involvement, through participation. “

And these programs and functions were all based on what the communities said they needed.


When the late George Brumley, an Emory pediatrician, started the initiative with the help of former student Veda Johnson the plan wasn’t to be in the community forever. The goal was to make the project self-sufficient and community run within a decade, but as things progressed the staff began to realize it would take “more like a generation,” according to Jones, before the necessary support structures would be in place.

Brumley has passed, but his impact lives on in the community he was dedicated to supporting. The street outside the Whitefoord Community Program's office is marked Georgia W. Brumley Way.

The word of the week for Whitefoord students of the Intel Computer Club is "innovate."

Georgia’s Governor’s Office of Children and Families Gains Footing with New Executive Director

GOCF Executive Director Katie Jo Ballard
Katie Jo Ballard, newly appointed executive director of the Governor's Office of Children and Families.

Newly appointed executive director Katie Jo Ballard will be the first to tell you that the Georgia Office of Children and Families (GOCF) has a heck of a job. Since 2008 the organization has been charged with implementing “a spectrum of prevention, intervention, and treatment services for all children” in Georgia.

That means identifying effective programs and delivering funding across four areas of service: youth development, family violence, juvenile justice, and prevention programs.

“We’re looking for people that can provide 360 kinds of care for a family,” says Ballard. “Like really wrap themselves around a family and support them in every aspect.”

The GOCF doesn’t deliver any services directly. Rather, the organization distributes a combination of federal and state funds to community-based programs through a competitive grant process.

Since taking office in mid-August, Ballard has been trying to wrap her head around everything the organization does. The agency offers so many grants in so many areas, and some of those grantees offer sub-grants, she says, so there’s a lot to take in.

“I’m a very visual person, so I’m actually going out there and trying to visit sites so I can see what they do,” she says. “That’s what’s been the most rewarding to me, actually meeting a survivor of domestic violence, meeting a child that survived sexual exploitation, hearing those stories and how our programs have helped them… That’s the best part, but it’s also the hardest.”

The GOCF was created to streamline the process of delivering services to needy kids in the state. The initiative combined the Children’s Trust Fund Commission and the Children and Youth Coordinating Council while promoting interagency collaboration between a number of governmental bodies to fill in the gaps.


August was a big month for the agency. Ballard took the reigns as executive director and Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal signed on to chair the GOCF’s advisory board. Together the two have be traveling the state, checking out community programs and how the impact the kids they’re designed to serve. Most recently they, along with state school superintendent John Barge, toured school facilities in and around the governor’s hometown of Gainesville.

In the short-term, Ballard hopes to streamline the internal processes of the organization, while continually fine-tuning programs around the state. One example she gave sprang from a recent visit to a GED program set up for alumni of the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) system. Students in the program work through the same curriculum as high school students, yet earn a GED instead of a diploma.

“It was an easy fix,” she says, involving a little bit of red tape that “could easily be taken down.”

For a relatively new agency that deals in so many different areas one of the biggest challenges in the long run, she admits, is raising awareness within communities around the state. Greater awareness and understanding of what they do will lead to more grant applications, increasing the competitiveness and eventually leading to better and strong programs in the community, she says.

As for the communities, well, their biggest problems seem to fall right in line with a slow economy. Employment and education, “which are both intertwined,” are prominent themes and can impact whole families, not just the parents.

In that respect, the GOCF asserts the "families" aspect of their title. Grant programs focus on parent education as well as kids, which all goes back to the “360” degrees of service the organization aims to achieve community by community, grant by grant.


A native of rural Habersham County (Ga.), Ballard has worked as the governor’s director of constituent services since he took office in January of 2011.

When the former GOCF executive director left to start a family of her own, Ballard saw the “opportunity to really serve” the public and put her master's degree in public health to good use -- not to mention her life-long passion for helping kids.

“Throughout my life I’ve always volunteered somewhere with kids,” Ballard says. “In high school I had like 5,000 hours of community services. That’s where my passion is. I kept the kids at church and… I’ve just always volunteered.”

“I’ve known the governor a long time and I’m dedicated to his mission for Georgia too,” she says. “As long as the governor is in office I plan on being here.”