Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is so wrong it makes my jaw hurt, please sign the petition

Lets show the principle and the other school staff what a "big mess" really looks like.  From the Color of Change:

18-year-old Kymberly Wimberly did everything right. She challenged herself with honors and Advanced Placement courses, leading the pack as the highest achieving student in this year’s graduating class at McGehee High School.
But when her principal agreed with other school staff that Kymberly’s status as valedictorian would cause a “big mess,” he demanded that a White student with a lower GPA be appointed co-valedictorian.1
Please join us in telling the McGehee district’s superintendent and school board to acknowledge Kymberly as her class’s sole valedictorian and explain what they intend to do to ensure all students have equal opportunities at McGehee High School. When you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:
What's unfolding in McGehee is an outrage, and it sends the wrong message to Black students everywhere. The implication is clear: "No matter how hard you work, we won't give you full credit for your achievements." School leaders in this small Arkansas town have denied a student an honor she deserves because of their own racial prejudice and narrow-minded ideas about who is worthy of success and praise.
Arkansas is ground zero in the history of efforts to desegregate our nation’s schools. It’s where nine Black students faced down state troopers, angry mobs, and a governor intent on keeping them from integrating Little Rock Central High School more than 50 years ago.
Today, in nearby McGehee, Kymberly’s situation has exposed another brand of racial segregation. Principal Darrell Thompson’s decision to appoint a co-valedictorian this year is just the latest example of an ongoing pattern to undermine and derail the academic efforts of Black students. According to the equal protection lawsuit Kymberly’s family has filed, administrators and teachers routinely discouraged Black students — who made up nearly half of the high school’s enrollment this year — from taking honors and AP classes.2 They would use school-wide assemblies to make the course work sound daunting, then pull individual White students aside to encourage them to sign up for the more rigorous classes. As a result, Kymberly was the only Black student in her AP literature class and one of two in her calculus class.3
A problem nationwide
McGehee and other school districts around the country should be encouraging all prepared students to challenge themselves academically. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. Last year, Black students made up 15% of graduating seniors, but accounted for just 9% of students taking AP exams.4 Black students trail far behind White, Asian and Latino students in terms of participation in AP classes, and educators have a responsibility to provide equal access to and preparation for college-level coursework.
Kymberly is the rare example of the student whose family believed she could excel in high-level classes, despite what some adults at school told her and students who look like her. Her case reveals why the school establishment consistently counsels half the student body into a lower academic track. It appears that they fear the eventual success of Black students and choose to limit Black students’ ability to compete in the classroom and, by extension, in life.
Hiding the truth
The district should be celebrating Kymberly’s story, and holding her up as an example of what’s possible. She is a young mother whose report cards throughout high school were filled with straight As until her junior year, when she had her baby and received a B in a class. Determined to hold onto her position at the top of the class, Kymberly took as many honors and AP classes as she could her senior year. Her plan worked, and in early May the high school counselor approached Kymberly’s mother, who worked at the high school, with news that Kymberly had the top GPA. But district officials soon started backtracking. The school’s principal told Kymberly’s mother that he had decided to appoint a co-valedictorian. The district sent out a press release amending a public announcement the counselor had already released. The superintendent even kept Kymberly’s mother from appealing the decision to the school board by claiming she had filled out the wrong participation form.5 District officials don't deny Kymberly had the highest GPA but have explained their actions by saying that the co-valedictorian had half a credit more6,7— a balancing act Kymberly and her family say would never have been considered necessary had the top student been White.
Please join us in demanding that Kymberly’s superintendent and school board publicly acknowledge that she is her class’s sole valedictorian and explain how they plan to make sure that students have equal opportunities at McGehee High School. When you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment