"New PRRAC Education Grants"May/June 2000 issue of Poverty & Race
We recently made eight research/advocacy grants under a Joyce Foundation-funded project to focus on school reform issues as they impact students at the intersections of poverty and race.
Woven throughout many of the proposals we reviewed is the theme of accountability for educating poor and minority students to high standards through implementation of appropriately designed accountability systems and standards-based reform; and the critical role of information in building the capacity of parents, communities and activists to hold schools accountable. The challenges imposed by institutional barriers in the form of fragmented data, politicized decisions and hidden information, particularly with respect to the race and class dimensions of public education, are massive.
The eight projects we selected deal constructively with these issues, via targeted research and a range of concrete advocacy activities:
Applied Research Center, as part of its ERASE (Expose Racism & Advance School Excellence) Project, is developing further and implementing its Racial Justice Report Card, a tool designed to research and analyze racial disparities in schools and to promote action for equity. ARC will be providing training, consultation and production assistance to three community partners: Connecticut Branch of the NAACP in New Haven; Coalition of Alabamians Reforming Education (CARE) in Birmingham; and People United for a Better Oakland (PUEBLO) in Oakland..
[ED00-101] Grant amount: $7,500
Contact: Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, 3781 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611, 510/653-3415.
Common Sense Foundation is creating a “Standardized Testing Guide” for North Carolina parents. The handbook will assist parents throughout the state in evaluating the ways in which their local school districts are implementing the state mandates and the possible negative impact on poor and minority students. The handbook will address issues of testing, standards and accountability as these systems are being implemented in North Carolina.
[ED00-102] Grant amount: $10,000
Contact: MaryBe McMillan, Common Sense Foundation, PO Box 10808, Raleigh, NC 27605, 919/821-9720.
DC VOICE (District Community Voices Organized & Informed for Change in Education), a collaborative of parents, teachers and community members committed to ensuring every child in Washington, DC a high-quality public education, is developing and implementing a model for engaging the community and parents in evaluating standards-based reform implementation in the Shaw/Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC, in order to ensure that schools are held accountable to the needs of the students and families they serve. The evaluation model will then be used to implement public engagement and organizing campaigns in other DC communities.
[ED00-103] Grant amount: $8,000
Contact: Nicole Johnson, DC VOICE, PO Box 73055, Washington, DC 20056, 202/986-8535.
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, as part of its “Removing Barriers to the Education of Homeless Children & Youth” project, is undertaking research on the emerging phenomenon of “shelter schools” — the establishment of separate schools for homeless children (now in at least 19 states). Preliminary research indicates that such schools provide an inferior educational experience, as well as isolate and stigmatize students, in violation of the federal McKinney Act. The report then will be used to bring states now running such schools into compliance with the Act; to get the US Dept. of Education to issue compliance directives to the states; and, in at least one state, to gauge the impact of legal advocacy in ensuring state compliance with the Act.
[ED00-104] Grant amount: $8,747
Contact: Sally McCarthy, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 1411 K St. NW, #1400, Washington, DC 20005, 202/638-2535.
North Carolina Justice & Community Development Center is preparing a report documenting the achievement gap between minority and majority students in the state’s public schools. The research will be used in pending litigation and in advocacy with the state legislature.
[ED00-105] Grant amount: $9,000
Contact: Gregory Malhoit, NC Justice & Community Development Center, PO Box 28068, Raleigh, NC 27611, 919/856-2150.
Oakland ACORN is examining use of substitute teachers in the Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District, to document its prevalence and negative impact among schools serving predominantly low-income and minority students, and to analyze the institutional structures that undermine efforts to recruit and maintain stable teaching staff. As part of its Parents/Schools Organizing Project, they then will put forward a set of short- and long-term solutions, applicable to other school districts as well.
[ED00-106] Grant amount: $9,705
Contact: Amy Cohen, Oakland ACORN, 3205 Farnam Ave., Oakland, CA 94601, 510/436-5690.
Rethinking Schools is carrying out a research project to determine if there is a correlation between inequitable education funding in the Milwaukee metropolitan area and the racial composition of the districts in the area. The final report will be disseminated widely, published in their nationally distributed quarterly journal Rethinking Schools, and used in ongoing legal, legislative and political battles for equitable school financing in Wisconsin and the nation.
[ED00-107] Grant amount: $10,000
Contact: Leon Lynn, Rethinking Schools, 1001 E. Keefe Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53212, 414/964-9646.
Jeannie Oakes and John Rogers, working with the ACLU of Southern California, are principals of an expert team, comprised of UCLA faculty and administrators and representatives of advocacy organizations, which is developing rigorous curricular opportunities for high school students and policy alternatives to the inequitable role of Advanced Placement courses in the UC admissions process. (The project is being implemented in tandem with the Daniels case, a lawsuit brought by the ACLU to address unequal access to AP courses, which are much less available in high schools serving low-income and minority areas and therefore provide students attending more affluent schools with a GPA advantage in applying to the UC system, creating unequal access to the best public higher education institutions.) The project will provide additional evidence for ongoing legislative advocacy for equitable opportunity in high schools and equitable access to California public universities; for alternative mechanisms for students with fewer AP opportunities; and for broader high school and higher education reform that dismantles inequitable tracking mechanisms.
[ED00-108] Grant amount: $2,500
Contacts: Profs. Jeannie Oakes and John Rogers, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1521, 310/206-4620.
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