Give TUSD time to adjust its magnet programs

by David Safier

Theres_a_new_sheriff_in_town_mugI haven't done my homework on TUSD's magnet program, but based on what I've read, I would like to see Willis Hawley, the man appointed by the courts to oversee the district's deseg program, give the district a little time to get this thing right before deciding to shut down some of the programs.

There's a new Supe in town, and H.T. Sanchez looks like he's energetic, innovative and up for a challenge. He's also got a newly constituted board where the majority supports him. The new board/leadership team deserves some time to work out district problems and move things forward.

The three schools with magnet programs mentioned for closure, Carrillo and Davis elementary schools and Pueblo High, have Hispanic populations of 86% or more, far above the district's numbers, and one of the purposes of the magnets is to attract more diverse student bodies to the schools. But the district is in the middle of an efficiency audit and demographic study. If the results are used as a starting point for change — not a given, obviously — the magnet programs can be looked at in conjunction with other issues, including the expansion of University High, and a comprehensive plan can be built rather than dealing with issues in isolation.

Give the new folks a little time to make positive changes. If they screw up, Hawley can always step in.

3 responses to “Give TUSD time to adjust its magnet programs

  1. That’s not exactly how it works. The issue is whether a student with an Anglo parent should be considered multi-racial/ethnic. As it stands, a student with an Anglo parent who identifies as Hispanic cannot get into that box, no matter how diverse he is. But so long as the student is not Hispanic, no problem.

    Here is the second way the deck is stacked against Hispanics. The USP says that a school is racially concentrated when any group is more than 15 percentage points beyond the district average. Alternatively, a racially concentrated school is one that has more than 70% of any group, which, as a practical matter only applies to majority Hispanic schools.

    So with a district average of 63% Hispanic, a majority Hispanic school has to be within 7% of district average. But on the other hand a majority white school has to be within 15% of average. Why is there is yet another measure making it easier for whites to achieve integration and more difficult for Hispanics. Could it be to move magnet money from downtown schools to the east side? I’m just sayin’.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jana. As I read what you wrote, it occurred to me that this is an offshoot of the old “one drop of negro blood” concept, that you’re “negro” if you have any African ancestry. Children in this country take on the ethnicity of their non-white parent unless they make a conscious decision to declare themselves “white,” as some people have done. So a European/Asian American child is Asian, and a European/Hispanic (meaning Hispanic from the American continent) American is Hispanic. It’s an unconscious assumption built into our thinking. It would be my default assumption as well, though since you pointed it out to me, I’ll try to be more aware of my built-in assumptions.

    You’re right, that makes integrating an “Anglo-majority” school easier than integrating a “Hispanic-majority school” or an “African American-majority” school.

    I wonder how much the ethnic makeup of TUSD would change if every child with one Anglo parent was considered Anglo, or if we went further back and said one Anglo grandparent would do the trick.

  3. The Unitary Status Plan stacks the deck against magnet schools that are popular with Hispanics when it comes to evaluating how racially concentrated or integrated a school is. The method used makes it easier for schools that are racially concentrated with whites to achieve integration than for schools concentrated with Hispanics.

    For example, if child A, who is admitted to a racially concentrated white school, has one parent who is white (non-Hispanic) and one who is Asian, should that student be considered to add to the racial concentration of whites? Or enhance integration by virtue of bringing something else to the school? The method rightfully considers that child as enhancing integration.

    But an analogous child at a racially concentrated Hispanic school is treated differently. Suppose child B has one parent who is white (non-Hispanic) and one parent who is Hispanic. Does child B contribute to the racial concentration of Hispanics? Or enhance integration? The method says child B contributes to racial concentration, which often contradicts the reality in the school. Since the group labelled as Hispanic contains some students who actually enhance integration, the district’s statistics as to how racially concentrated are the majority Hispanic schools are overstated and inherently unreliable.

    Why does the method make it easier for concentrated white schools to move toward integration than for concentrated Hispanic schools? Isn’t the deseg plan supposed to reverse the situation where the deck was stacked against Hispanics and make education more equitable?