Red flags raised about school district race consultant | Tim Talk | Tim Hunt | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

Local Blogs

Tim Talk

By Tim Hunt

E-mail Tim Hunt

About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

View all posts from Tim Hunt

Red flags raised about school district race consultant

Uploaded: Apr 29, 2021
I must confess warning bells went off when I read about the Pleasanton school district decision to contract with a consultant to “identify and address equity gaps among students, including any problematic policies and practices that contribute to systemic racism, microaggressions and student marginalization,” as Julia Baum reported for the Pleasanton Weekly.
Those buzz words have abounded in higher education for the last several years and, in the wake of the George Floyd murder and a summer of violent protests, have become commonplace in the corporate world and many school districts across the country.
I have written before about the different life I experience as a white male compared to a Black man. To hear nationally known pastors share how much influence they have behind their pulpit or speaking to the media, but, in their vehicle, when stopped by a law enforcement officer “they are just another black man.”
I believe there are elements of systemic racism, particularly in federal housing policy established in the 1930s that redlined neighborhoods with a high percentage of Blacks. Today, homes in predominately Black neighborhoods appraise for tens of thousands less than similar neighborhoods with whites and Asians.
But, there are other factors as well. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society has resulted in the devastation of the Black family. Prior to that time, about 70 percent of Black children were born into families with a father present in the home. Now that number is 30%. Generations of Black children have been raised without a father present—welfare policies supported this by paying mothers more for each new baby. That coupled with a failing education system has resulted in the mess we see in urban areas today.
That said, respected conservative scholars such as Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele reject much of this and argue that Blacks need to take responsibility for themselves. Both grew up poor and overcame that background to become highly accomplished commentators and opinion makers.
In Pleasanton, the numbers in a district report raise concerns. What’s needed is to dig broadly into the situations leading to the numbers. Blacks make up just 1.38% of the student population and have the most disabilities at 16.5% and most suspensions at 10.17%. The graduation rate is 93.3% compared to 99.2% for Asians. Hispanic students are about 10% of the district and account for 3% of suspensions.
All five trustees voted to support the $250,000 expenditure. I thought Steve Maher, a retired district principal, had it right when he asked what about spending money on homework clubs, tutoring and other programs to close the achievement gap. Yes, please.
Educational achievement is the single greatest predictor of a successful life. The district needs to examine the racial disparities, but remember its No. 1 job: education.
I believe former presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard had it right when she tweeted,” let us stop the RACIALIZATION of everyone and everything. We are all children of God, and therefore family in the truest sense, no matter our race or ethnicity. This is aloha - love & respect for others. This is what our country & the world need.”

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   21 people like this
Posted by Jan Batcheller, a resident of Downtown,
on Apr 29, 2021 at 1:58 pm

The school district should focus on each student working to the best of their academic ability. The school district should be color blind.
If racism exists, it is learned in the home.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 30, 2021 at 11:03 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

At what age does a child of color realize he or she is appraised relevant to the color of their skin?

At what age does blissful end?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Anti racist, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on May 1, 2021 at 6:11 pm

Anti racist is a registered user.

Tim, you yourself said

“Blacks make up just 1.38% of the student population and have the most disabilities at 16.5% and most suspensions at 10.17%. The graduation rate is 93.3% compared to 99.2% for Asians. Hispanic students are about 10% of the district and account for 3% of suspensions."

The study will endeavor to find out WHY, and then once we know why, PUSD can try to address it. Without knowing the why, trying to fix it would be a crapshoot. Starting homework clubs, tutoring and whatever else y'all are thinking may not help at all. Hence the study! Who knows why a study costs $250k, that's a different issue.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Anti racist, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on May 1, 2021 at 6:11 pm

Anti racist is a registered user.

Tim, you yourself said

“Blacks make up just 1.38% of the student population and have the most disabilities at 16.5% and most suspensions at 10.17%. The graduation rate is 93.3% compared to 99.2% for Asians. Hispanic students are about 10% of the district and account for 3% of suspensions."

The study will endeavor to find out WHY, and then once we know why, PUSD can try to address it. Without knowing the why, trying to fix it would be a crapshoot. Starting homework clubs, tutoring and whatever else y'all are thinking may not help at all. Hence the study! Who knows why a study costs $250k, that's a different issue.


 +   49 people like this
Posted by Rosie, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 2, 2021 at 9:41 am

Rosie is a registered user.

Everyone needs to pay close attention to this.

I am an Asian immigrant and I can see the disparity in the amount of education (volume and depth in knowledge) children in other countries who actually prioritize education vs our own CA schools, which are choosing to focus on micro-agressions and feelings. Does anyone actually think that teaching our students about "systemic racism" is actually going to make them stronger and more competitive when they grow up? You are implanting serious negativity in young minds.

I want schools to teach my kids strong math, science, language skills, even shop classes, so they can achieve better jobs than I held as a young adult. I want them to teach caring for others, celebrate everyone's culture. NOT that there's some nebulous system out there to get them.

This type of focus on differential treatment of students will eventually be harmful. Let's say schools no longer choose to discipline certain individuals because of their race. How do you think that individual will fair when they are older? There are so many implications of this that won't be seen for years.

I feel very sad as I see how many now disparage this country, no longer even saying the pledge of allegiance in school. So many are unaware of how others live outside of the US. We have family that survived the cultural revolution. America has its problems, but there is no other country that I'd rather be in for myself and our kids.

Please remember "anti-racism" = racism. You are literally going to treat someone differently because of their race, not because of who they are and what they have done in their lives. Equality and equity are also not the same thing. Please do your own research especially with writings from Christopher Rufo who has documented hundreds of cases where various school districts have implemented these type of trainings. These type of training/focus are NOT helpful and will cripple many students into a victim mentality when they are older.




 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 2, 2021 at 1:15 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Long before Europeans, Africans, and Asians settled in North America, sovereign societies shared the continent through complex and frequently negotiated networks of alliances, confederacies, intermarriage, treaties, and trade agreements.

President Andrew Jackson in a 1830 speech before congress, Denounced Indians, stating "they have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, not the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition, Established in the midst of another and a superior race...they must necessarily yield to the force of another of circumstance and ere [before] long disappear".

Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. The U.S. Army immediately begin the removal of 60,000 Indians from lands in the east.

The act has been referred to as a unitary act of "systemic genocide, because it discriminated against an entire ethnic group in so far as to make certain the death of vast numbers of its population".

Colonel John Covington Colorado Calvary had this to say: "Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians...I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heavens to kill Indians".

The above is an excerpt from "Chronology to Commemorate native American Indian Heritage" I am writing.


 +   25 people like this
Posted by D, a resident of Danville,
on May 2, 2021 at 1:35 pm

D is a registered user.

@Rosie- Your post was by far the most astute, logical, and insightful comment I have ever read in all the years reading the Danville Express!!! Thank you for sharing your analysis, which should be required reading by all School Board members, School Administrators, and teachers.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by gram5x5, a resident of Mission Park,
on May 2, 2021 at 7:50 pm

gram5x5 is a registered user.

@Rosie...thank you!

School is not where we teach morals, that is at home. What happens at school is no tolerance for racist comments no matter who says it or to who.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on May 3, 2021 at 8:30 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This is an expensive, top down plan. We should start with students and their sites. Three years is far too long to reach anyone in high school today. I am very sad that all board members voted to support this. It is clear that the board members support whatever the staff tells them. Very unfortunate that no one could vote a “no".


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 10:16 am

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

For people who profess to care about education, it's clear a few of you really don't want to help the kids that fall through the cracks of the current system.

Ask yourself a simple non-race-based question: do you think all kids deserve an education? It's a simple yes or no answer and if the answer is yes you would be supporting the investigation into why the system is failing those kids, not sitting here typing about how we need more homework clubs or trying to avoid the topic of how racial discrimination is a direct cause of higher incidences of mental health and behavioral issues, cultural differences, and lack of resources for a $5000 education lawyer every time one needs to fight the district tooth and nail because society keeps telling parents and guardians they have to be an advocate for their kid. It's just a convenient way of taking our tax money while keeping only the "good" students.

That homework club suggestion comes off as extremely tone-deaf, Tim. It's clear you, and those who agree with you, have no idea what you're talking about.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 10:22 am

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

And if you wanted students to get back to in-person learning because you cared about their mental health during the pandemic, you especially have no business now denying and investigation into district policies that exacerbate non-pandemic related mental and social-emotional health issues generated by decades of racial discrimination.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Rosie, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Rosie is a registered user.

I'd like to elaborate on why this is important to me and toss out some thought starters for alternative ways to spend that $250K.

I immigrated to the states and started elementary school speaking ZERO English. I grew up in a city with a very low Asian population and experienced my fair share of racism through grade school. We grew up in the lowest income bracket and my parents worked long hours, with myself starting my first real PT job at 15. I don't think my experience is unique, and it's likely similar to many who are first generation immigrants.

What helped me succeed? Family + Teachers. I was fortunate to have a dad who would help me with my homework after working an 11hr labor intensive shift. I had a mom who was always there for me emotionally. And with that family support, with extra Summer school sessions each year, with extra ESL lessons up until I was fluent, I was able to attend a top UC and now working as a high level manager in a tech company and paid well for what I do.

Life is complicated and problems are nuanced. It's just lazy to claim "racism" as the cause for all troubles in life. Does it exist? Of course! But how are you going to help those who are troubled or slipping to really make a change?

A few ideas to invest in:

1) Encourage big brother/sister programs. Stats vary, but one single positive relationship in a young person's life can lead to a much more successful future of that troubled child. This is great for high schoolers to engage with our community and great for those who struggle.

2) Spend more state/fed rescue $ on lowering class sizes, less administrative overhead, more focus on giving teachers resources and time with students.

3) Focus on excellence and personal responsibility. The teacher may give a pass to a kid not turning in work on time. Employers may fire them for it later in life. Teach them skills to prepare them for adulthood. Not coddle.

If you really cared, let's do the hard work to truly help our kids.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on May 3, 2021 at 1:23 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Longtime Resident, First, there are people on staff who can look at policies"no need for an outsider. Absolutely all students should be taught, and changes need to start with students, not management. Just look at Palo Alto. They are using all day kindergarten, longer school years for less advantaged students, longer school days for those students, have enthused parents from East Palo Alto, a foundation for EPA students, and increased their performance. There was, however, still a gap.

There is also an argument to work with teachers to end their potential biases. Perhaps listening tools and alternatives to punishment. All students deserve a safe learning environment, and not all teachers provide it regardless of color or abilities.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 1:42 pm

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

Rosie,

This issue is important to you because you were, in your words, _fortunate_? How do we apply that to these kids?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 1:57 pm

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

Kathleen,

Per the original article on this subject, the district already tried using their own staff. Sometimes an outside perspective is needed.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Rosie, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 2:02 pm

Rosie is a registered user.

Longtime Resident,

Obviously life is not fair. Not everyone is fortunate. I think I proposed 3 ideas already that can 1) help provide hope/support to struggling youth and 2) provide academic attention to kids who might need/want it.

As an adult, I'm sure you have realized that you don't know what's possible until you see/hear of it. That's why we need to inspire our kids. Also, people will only change when then want to change. It's not something that can be forced. If a kid does NOT want to go to school, he will find a way to ditch.

We should aspire to building a strong enough support structure in the community to offer a hand when we see people who ask for, or need help. I just don't thinking paying a company $250K is going to solve any of the problems they think they will solve...not to mention the 3 year plan.

Action speak louder and words. What I see from the approval of this research is passing the buck and not having to deal with solving real problems of today.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 3:44 pm

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

Rosie,

Yes you did put forward three proposals. I appreciate the pie-in-the-sky ideas, but my only response is you have a lot more to learn. Have you ever actually tried to get a teacher to agree to change their personal teaching system that works for 90% of their neuro-typical students because the latest research on your child's disability suggest the teacher should be doing something different but teacher is the education expert or the district didn't invest in training for the teacher? That just doesn't happen on it's own. If it did, there would be no business for education lawyers.

The action I see from paying the consultant is not passing the buck, but trying to solve a problem that they tried already to do internally and found they needed help.

As for the kid that doesn't want to be at school, that doesn't happen overnight. That happens from years of frustration at trying to fit into a system that isn't designed for that student.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on May 3, 2021 at 3:52 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Or maybe we have a few incompetent people on the staff?


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Rosie, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 3, 2021 at 6:24 pm

Rosie is a registered user.

Longtime Resident,

You're right. I'm not an education expert. Although I don't think my ideas are pie in the sky. I think 1 and 2 are easily fund-able if the city/schools want to. But they don't. What you're trying to achieve is equality of outcomes, which is NOT possible.

There is no way, unless you're home schooling, to teach each student individually to perfection. There are students with good attention spans, there are students with bad attention spans. There are students who love reading and hate math or vise versa. There are people with supportive families and there are ones who ignore their children. It's unfair to make our teachers customize their treatment x30 in a classroom with each kid. The ideas I'm proposing are hopefully structures that can help aid those who need help. That's who we're talking about right?

Not everyone will succeed in the traditional sense. Not everyone will go to college, my brother chose not to. He got into IT and has a management job now doing so, without a college degree.

What I'm suggesting only is, not to focus on race and treating students differently because of race. If anything, income is much more of a factor than anything else. Both my parents had jobs where they had to clock in and out, not 1 minute late. I can only imagine how hard it was for parents of other essential workers throughout this pandemic with younger children, trying to balance helping them with school work or maintaining an income to pay rent.

I think we can agree that our schools should serve our children better. We just have a different view of what actions we should take to correct those issues.

P.S.: The outcome of the vote was expected. There was no way that anyone in this current toxic cultural environment would vote against anything with the label "Diversity" no matter how damaging it might be at the end of the day.






 +   3 people like this
Posted by Rosie, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 4, 2021 at 9:36 am

Rosie is a registered user.

Last post on this one, but saw this opinion article today.

Web Link?

I get it's an opinion. I doubt people will care enough to really garner a "backlash". But, if even 1/3 of the cited instances are true, then you should be concerned about this ideology being injected into your schools and businesses.

You only need about 10% of strong voices in an organization/community to push for change. Most will just not care or feel it's not worth fighting against. But I do hope parents stay vigilant. Children are easily influenced. Just think back to when you were a teenager. There are many intelligent kids out there, but there are also those who just want to fit in and go with the flow. I guess we'll see how this pans out in 10 years.


Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.

Email:

SUBMIT

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from DanvilleSanRamon.com sent to your inbox.

Innovation Tri-Valley releases its 2040 Vision
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 996 views

Buyer Beware! The Ethics of College Essay Workshops
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 556 views

 

2021 guide to summer camps

Looking for something for the kids to do this summer, learn something new and have fun? The Summer Camp Guide features local camps for all ages and interests.

Find Camps Here