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Stories like this out of Webster are enraging:
Reacting to a report that suggests African-American students at Bartlett High School were suspended disproportionately during 2014-15, administrators asserted during Tuesday’s School Committee meeting that suspensions and expulsions continue to be handed out fairly and equitably. Saying they took a harder look at the numbers, to see if the punishments were excessive, the administration said they found that black students represented a small percentage of those placed on long-term suspensions of at least 10 days for a single incident.
The suspensions generally represented multiple infractions involving fights and substance abuse, Superintendent Barbara A. Malkas said. The school’s small population of African-American students might make the numbers appear disproportionate, but they’re not, she said. Bartlett in 2014-15 had an enrollment of 792 students, of which 140 students were disciplined. Eleven of its 35 African-American students were disciplined, according to numbers it reported to the state.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently released a report identifying 31 school districts, based on reports of their discipline data, that are over-relying on out-of-school suspensions or have large disparities among their suspension rates for certain racial groups. The report spoke to a national complaint concerning civil rights associated with children of color receiving out-of-school suspensions at higher rates than other groups, Ms. Malkas said.
Seriously? This is what we pay the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to do? Compile meaningless reports about how schools are racist if they suspend to many kids of a certain skin color?
And who cares what the race of the students are who are being suspended? Either you trust schools not to be racist or you don’t. And if you do trust them then you have to accept the fact that the students they are suspending earned their suspensions. Race should have NOTHING to do with it. It should not even be quantified and kept track of. All you’re doing by overanalyzing this meaningless data is forcing schools to keep kids in school who SHOULD BE suspended, because the color of their skin won’t look good on a chart compiled by some suits at the DESE.
This is the man in charge of the DESE:
His name is Mitchell Chester. Guess how much he gets paid? In 2008 it was $206,000!!! We can assume it has risen at least 5-10% since then. This is what we pay this man to do. Compile charts in order to shame selected schools with data that makes him look bad. Of the 18 school districts he’s going after, three of them are from Central Mass:
Among the 25 schools in 18 districts the education department is working with on the new project are Fitchburg High School, Arthur M. Longsjo Middle School, and the Sizer School charter school in Fitchburg; the entire Gardner school district; Quaboag Middle High School in Warren, and Bartlett High School in Webster.
Fitchburg, Warren, and Webster. What do all of those places have in common? Oh yea, they have a lot of dumpy parts. Shocking that they’d have higher suspension rates. Oh wait, no it’s not, only a moron wouldn’t see that one coming. Because generally kids who come from bad neighborhoods with higher concentrations of poverty don’t do as well in school. Ya know, because homes and neighborhoods have the biggest influence on the type of people we become.
And at Quaboag High School in Warren guess what percent of the students there are black? That would be 0.6%!! There’s about 400 kids who go to Quaboag, which means they’ve got somewhere around 2-3 black kids in the whole school. If just ONE of them gets suspended then a gigantic percentage of the school’s black population is going to come up on Mitchell Chester’s chart. If there are two black kids in the high school and one of them got suspended then 50% of black students were given suspensions. This is the type of data that Mitchell Chester values.
Naturally of course, Mitchell Chester couldn’t hack it as a teacher:
Chester’s career in education began as a teacher in Connecticut. He then moved up the ranks, taking administrative roles and becoming a middle school assistant principal and then a district curriculum coordinator. Eventually he left New England, first for Philadelphia where in 1997 he became executive director of accountability and assessment; in 2001 he worked for the state’s Department of Education.
Ya know who moves up the ranks in schools? People who can’t teach. People who are better at compiling charts and going to meetings than they are interacting with children. Just look at some of those titles Mitchell Chester has had – “district curriculum coordinator” and “executive director of accountability and assessment.” These are jobs that we need? This is what our tax dollars go towards? Schools like David Prouty are literally crumbling but luckily we have an executive director of accountability and assessment. Of course those are just big fancy words for “I can’t teach, but I’m gonna get paid three or four times what teachers get paid and tell them how to do their job.”
Naturally increased suspension rates are always explainable. Here’s what the Webster Superintendent had to say:
She added that the district anticipated an increase in discipline since Principal Steve Knowlton’s arrival in 2012-13, because of increased expectations around safety and learning environment.
Translation – they brought in a no-nonsense principal who gets things done. He’s not paid to be friends with the students. He’s paid to make sure the school is safe and orderly, and that requires being strict and holding students accountable for their behavior.
Luckily the Quaboag superintendent is also calling Mitchell Chester out on his meaningless charts:
“I question the validity of the data – it’s a one-year snapshot,” said Brett Kustigian, superintendent of the Quaboag schools, who defended his high school’s approach to discipline and its principal and assistant principal specifically, who “do an outstanding job.”
Good. Keep fighting back against these people. We need more administrators like this who look at the shop they run and say, “we’re not doing anything wrong here.” Mitchell Chester is nothing but an overpaid bully who should be immediately FIRED. But it looks like he’ll be here for a while:
The Board of Education voted to appoint Chester as state Commissioner of Education in May 2008. His term is indefinite, said Jacqueline Reis, a spokeswoman for the department.
Oh good, an indefinite amount of time. Because lots of real employers hire people for an “indefinite” amount of time. Translation – he’ll be here until he wants to collect his huge pension and retires to Cape Cod.
Ms. Malkas said there are people who suggest that the school could perhaps think about disciplinary action in a different way. But she said that’s hard when sitting across from a parent whose child might have been the victim of an assault.
Exactly. This is what Mitchell Chester doesn’t understand. He works with aggregate numbers and charts. But he’s not dealing with each suspension on its own. If a student assaults another student or gets caught with drugs in school or repeatedly creates an unsafe learning environment, then that students needs to be suspended. Not just for them, but for the other students who actually want to learn. It doesn’t matter what color their skin is, they’ve just gotta go.
But now that schools know that Mitchell Chester is watching and they don’t wanna come up his naughty list, how do you think they’re going to decrease suspension rates for students of color? Artificially of course. They’re gonna look at the parents of kids who have been victimized and say, “sorry, but my job is more important than your kid’s safety and rights.” They’re going to keep dangerous students in school. These students will come to believe that there are no consequences for bad behavior, and they will become adults who behave the same way. In the end society will be worse off, but Mitchell Chester won’t care because he’ll be watching the world burn from his summer home in Dennis.
Here’s Mitchell Chester’s contact information:
We urge you to contact him and let him know that your children’s schools aren’t laboratories for imaginary social justice. Tell him you won’t allow him to create an unsafe learning environment for your children so he can have better charts. And tell him Turtleboy sent you.
The bottom line is that this is why Teacher’s Unions exist. They’re supposed to be fighting back against this bullshit. They’re supposed to represent their dues paying membership. But instead they just donate money to people like Deval Patrick, who keep fucking them over by hiring people like Mitchell Chester. We suggest that the Teacher’s Unions actually try to become a real union instead of endless supply of money for corrupt politicians.
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