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National Action Network Calls For CCSD Discrimination Investigation
7/13/2016 6:33:39 PM

“A State of Emergency for Minority Students” was issued by National Action Network South Carolina?President Elder Johnson (center) at a press conference at Charleston County School District headquarters Tuesday. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
By Barney Blakeney

South Carolina National Action Network state Co-ordinator James Johnson said Tuesday the organization is making discrimination in public education a top priority and is joining a growing contingent of public schools advocates in mounting a letter writing campaign to get the U.S. Department of Education to investigate racial discrimination in Charleston County School District.

At a press conference conducted in front of the school district’s headquarters in Charleston, Johnson listed disparities in student performance among black and white students. Seventy-two percent of black students in eighth grade performed below standards in reading in 2015 compared to only 28 percent of white eighth grade students he said. And in math, 89 percent of black students performed below standard compared to only 40 percent of white students.

“These discriminatory practices must stop. It should be noted CCSD school board is divided along racial lines - three blacks and six whites. Votes cast affecting students reflect that divide. We are declaring a state of emergency in Charleston County School District and are requesting an immediate investigation into the district’s discriminatory practices.”

Charleston County School District also discriminates against black students in the rate of expulsions and suspensions, Johnson said. In 2015, 41 black students were expelled from CCSD schools. Only one white student was expelled. And black students are six times as likely to be suspended from CCSD schools as white students. Black students are suspended four times more often than all other students combined, he said.

“As a result of these disparities, minority students are performing substantially lower than white students. That puts them at a distinct disadvantage in graduating, attending college, obtaining gainful employment and becoming productive citizens. Many of them drop out, are suspended and/or expelled and end up in prison,” he said.

NAN is mounting a letter writing campaign directing complaints to the Office of Civil Rights, District of Columbia Office - U.S. Dept. of Education - 400 Maryland Ave, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202-1475. Letters don’t have to be formal, fancy or typed. They simply must point out that black students in CCSD are being discriminated against.

The recent closure of Lincoln High School is a place to start and disparities in graduation rates, SAT and ACT results, school enrollments at certain schools and student achievement also illustrate discrimination.

“We’re concerned because our kids, failing as they are, will never qualify for the good jobs coming to the community,” Johnson said. “Our kids will be stuck in mediocre jobs the rest of their lives if we don’t do something.”

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Ty Collins Submitted: 2/3/2017
The disparities of 'trumped' leadership on the CCSB needs to be remedied with better and inclusive representation. It is only a beginning of action for transformative administration in public education. Currently, the tail is wagging the dog! Additionally, parents and students have responsibilities in creating change for positive and successful schooling outcomes. The church, community centers and home life must form a support system around students and their educational experience. and goals The community is missing in the equation and it contributes to the inequalities that hinder better student/teacher relationships. Punishment by expulsion kills the option to reform youthful indiscretions. There is not one human being in this mix of leaders and the led who have never made a mistake in behavior or error in judgment. The students who were expelled are entitled to review by teachers, parents and peers. If community service is necessary to rectify bad behavior, let that be punishment for callous crimes in the classroom, but throwing children in the street is proof that someone of authority believes human beings are expendable.

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