Obama taps Russlynn Ali for civil rights post

President Obama announced today that he would nominate Russlynn Ali to be the assistant secretary for civil rights at the United States Department of Education.

Ali is vice president of Education Trust, a civil rights and education advocacy group. She also directs its Oakland-based partner, Education Trust-West, so she’s endured a number of interviews with me.

In case you were wondering, Ed Trust supports the “results-based accountability” of No Child Left Behind as a way to narrow the racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

You can read the Mercury News story here.

Here is Ed Trust’s take on NCLB, in a nutshell:

“Some would say that the current law asks too much of schools. We think it asks too
little. Our recommendations ask states to raise the bar for students, so that students
meeting state standards will be well prepared to meet the real-life challenges of college
and careers. But we don’t want states to just raise the bar; we want them to get students
over it. Our recommendations would provide states, districts, schools, teachers, and
parents with important new tools and resources to help them get students to higher levels
of academic achievement so that success in school can serve as the foundation for
success beyond school.”—Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • ex-Oakland staff

    Someone’s got to say it – you can raise the bar as high as you want, but without putting a cork in the Reagan-Bush funnel that sends most of our resources up to a criminal CEO class you are just flapping your lips in the wind. A burearcrat that blabbers on about raising bars without also going to the mat for the economic fundamentals is not worthy of the paycheck.

  • Nextset

    Most likely another education hack to Federal office to make things worse for our urban schools. The Wash DC Superintendent profiled by Time magazine would have been a better choice. She was the wrong color, most likely.

    The Federal Department of Education is an extra-constitutional power grab by Congress. There is no US Constitutional Authority for the feds to meddle or legislate in Education.

    Other than that I wish this appointee well. We all keep hoping that something good will present itself.

    Yeah, like printing money and throwing it out Wall Street windows.

    And as far as narrowing the gap… biodiversity, people.

  • Sharon

    Ugh is my initial response. The Education Trust rubs me the wrong way.

    I’d pick Kevin Skelly to be in charge of it all. He’s the courageous superintendent of Palo Alto schools.


  • http://friendsofdave.org Dave Johnston

    Oh please…. your courageous Kevin Skelly has given up on his low income and minority students because it is just too hard to teach them. If Kevin had his way, we’d be back to the “good ‘ol days” when we didn’t care whether our poor and minority children were at grade level so long as our Asian and White kids were doing well.

  • Maggie

    I’ve been reading this blog and the comments for awhile now (big fan, Katy) and I must say, Nextset, that that “biodiversity” remark was the most blatantly racist I’ve seen from you yet.

  • Nextset

    Maggie: Sounds like a protest against “Hate Facts”. As usual the status quo diversity types assume that those who mention the unmentionable are somehow responsible for the existance of the facts raised. Well, you are going to have a real problem in this Brave New World.

    This is an education blog. So understand this. Education is the primary way out of generational poverty and disfunction. What the USA public school system did for 1st World immigrants in the first half of the 20th Century is an historic marvel. What we are doing to the black students in this country is the exact opposite. No amount of racial quotas, test fixing and baseless self esteem boosting can make up for the STD rates, early deaths, single mother birthing and imprisonment rates that our silly education policies engender for the endangered species.

    Yes is obvious to me that there are racial differences and that all people are not born equal. Duh. That’s just my opinion after living life long enough to see the mortality (and wealth distribution) tables. Does that mean that I’m going to give up on any group in this society and accept these horrible statistical distributions as OK? Absolutely not.

    I think the differences between us is that I will not continue educational policy that is proven to make things worse in the name of political correctness, pacification or appeasement. The public schools made better progress in the ’50s and ’60s by (relatively) strict policies of tracking/sorting, discipline and maintaining standards for students. As popularized the “Civil Rights” educational movement does the opposite. Your “Civil Rights” movement is based on the false assumption that all men are equal therefore all outcomes (economic, social & occupational) are to be equal – by force. That’s not my idea of Civil Rights which is that all men are equal before the law and nowhere else.

    And by the way, that “racist” cant is an indicator of a weak mind and a weaker argument. it only works on someone who already respects your opinion – not in an open debate among strangers.

    This subject – educational policy – is absolutely critical now. We are about to go into a historic economic collapse where unskilled labor who previously had the greatest standard of living ever known to them will be ground into paste by the higher classes directly competing for newly scarce crumbs off the table. Guess who is (statistically) the first layer on impact?

  • TheTruthHurts

    I’ll do my best to ignore Nextset.

    What I will say is I’m glad we have a president who understands that America is more than a collection of states. Someone who realizes that our competitiveness is not guaranteed and requires work, sacrifice and yes, resources. Someone who understands that in order for our diversity to be an asset, we have to be COMMITTED to the contributions and therefore success of all.

    Right choice or not, Ali recognizes that ALL deserve to succeed and creating the conditions for that requires both resources AND accountability.

    I wish her God’s blessing.

  • Nextset

    TruthHurts: Me too on Ali! She’s really going to need it in this Brave New World.

    As for “The One” – He did take an oath to uphold the Constitution, let’s just hope he’s able to live within it.

    And diversity – as in Tower Of Babel – is no asset. In order for this society to endure we must have a common set of rules and principles and enforce them. When things reach the point where a part of the population sees no reason to stop at red lights (they never voted for that law, you know…), we crash.

  • Sharon

    Dave: Superintendent Skelly hasn’t given up. Your tired, blanket response is an unconvincing and reactive rebuttal used by those who believe that the schools of today (ie. those provided with the resources which our city/state/country are currently willing to allot to them) are powerful enough to produce high student achievement for all – if only those darn teachers would try harder!

    This attitude reflects an extreme level of denial about the existence of the many other contributors/deterrents to student achievement, just a minor one being the fact that many typical students spend less than 20% of their waking time in classes with teachers.

    When I fantasize about what might help kids and families, I imagine us having a national version of the Harlem Children’s Zone. The HCZ supplements the school day with after-school education, skills training, parenting classes, fitness and nutrition counseling, family support programs and health services. It targets a community within a specific geographic radius and currently serves over 13,000 people – including over 9,500 at-risk children.

    This project isn’t cheap, however. One 2006 report said that two-thirds of the program’s $36 million budget comes from private donations, providing an extra $3500/year for each person/kid. The HCZ’s charter school is so well-funded that classes have a ratio of one adult for every six students. It wouldn’t surprised anyone if that particular charter school ends up producing better results than the local public school.

    If this country really wants the outcome for poor kids to broadly shift, providing the HCZ’s level of resources to them and their families on a national level will bring us closer to what it will take. I won’t hold my breath on that, though, our country’s in a mess. I do believe it would be possible though, if one day we agreed that this would be our national attitude.

    In the meantime, I want to see a moratorium on the scapegoating of public school teachers for the 30+ year failings of our nation’s social and economic policies. We need to take the burden of unrealistic expectations off the schools and start getting real. This is the point Skelly is making, to me.

    Now, here are two things to read: http://www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/LeftBehind.pdf

  • Nextset

    Sharon: I agree with you that our teachers are being scapegoated for the failures of bad students. And that’s a good reason why all teachers need to support their unions so that they can fight back.

    And by bad students, I’m not saying they are evil – just that they have no aptitude for reading, writing or math. Some of them may be evil also, but that’s another issue.

    I do not agree with you that we have to spend any serious amount of money on academic training for those children who do not have what it takes to be anything more than underclass. Dull, present-oriented youth need to be working in their “careers” by age 15. They would be much happier, less enraged, less criminal and more productive than sitting in academic classrooms they hate and see no value in.

    The serious money, to the extent we can possibly manage it (for the underclass, cognitively impaired) should be spent on training, not education.

    As to your mention of such life skills as birth control and “parenting” classes – I also agree that these should be an early and often priority for the underclass who by definition don’t know how to act. It is not clear that such training is accepted or allowed by Middle-class families who are in a position to control value-training for their children. (The underclass really have no values so the government does need to step in.)

    So we are back to “neighborhood” schools – or just good old tracking & sorting.

    Does any of the readership know much about the Job Corps live-in secondary school on Treasure Island? I’m aware of a disordered youth who’s family and school is trying to place at the school. If the student can be persuaded to go, it sounds like a life-saving program. exactly what I’d love to see more of. I would hope such government schools can be expanded and wonder how much they spend per student (for the residential high school program) compared to OUSD.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Russlynn Ali, as Director of Ed Trust West has been outspoken in scapegoating teachers and teachers’ unions for the test score gap between racial groups.

    She and her group, Ed Trust West, was influential in achieving passage of SB 1655. She lobbied for passage of SB 1655 as an antidote to transferring incompetent teachers to underperforming schools. However, SB 1655 missed its intended target and shot itself in the foot. There has been no noticeable uptick in teacher dismissals its purported target.

    However, reducing the number of experienced teachers assigned to low performing school resulted, I believe, in an uptick in the number of inexperienced teachers assigned to Oakland’s low scoring schools. In Oakland each school principal must bear the cost of teacher salaries assigned to the school in a management concept Oakland calls RBB. If the principal wants a upgraded copy machine, then he or she merely has to refuse the most expensive teacher applying to the school and generate budget room.

    Ms. Ali’s lobbied for SB 1655 aimed at micromanaging districts to fire incompetent teachers but her approach went awrye as she was trying to cause a shift of experienced teachers to schools with the lowest scoring students but in practice has had the opposite outcome.

    Ed Trust West cheered passage of SB 1655 talking about establishing equality in staffing of California schools.

    Ms. Ali continues to speak of SB 1655 in George Bush era denial of reality. For example, Ed Trust West report on California Department of Education program to meet NCLB requirement to close NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) gaps in the following critical language:

    “Other strategies could be lower in cost, such as giving hard-to-staff schools an advantage in hiring. A current example is SB 1655, authored by Senator Jack Scott, which bans the common local practice of forcing underperforming teachers into schools against principals’ will. This bill aims to prevent weak teachers from shuffling between low-performing schools rather than being terminated. In addition, it should ease the problem of delayed hiring which often results in hard-to-staff schools losing good teachers who go elsewhere instead of waiting for an offer.”

    Ms. Ali’s aim was terribly off target in advocating for SB 1655. And, I suspect that Ms. Ali, as President Obama’s Department of Education civil right division chief, will think she has the answer to closing the racial test score gap by using her legal skills to bring the change she believes will work. And, her answers to the achievement gap will flow from her demonstrated bias that poor teachers are the cause of poor student test scores. Certainly not the change I hoped for but old education wine of the NCLB Bush years in a new Obama bottle.

    Jim Mordecai

    Jim Mordecai

  • Katy Murphy

    Here is a link to a description of SB 1655, the teacher transfer law which Jim referenced:


    The bill analysis includes a synopsis of the 2003 New Teacher Project report titled, “Missed Opportunities: How We Keep High-Quality Teachers Out of Urban Classrooms.”

    “The report noted that, contrary to conventional wisdom, `high-quality teacher candidates regularly apply in large numbers to teach in hard-to-staff districts’ but `the failure of many large urban districts to make job offers to new teachers until July or August is largely to blame for this problem. Because of hiring delays, these districts lose substantial numbers of teacher candidates, including the most promising and those who can teach in high-demand shortage areas, to suburban classrooms that typically hire earlier.’

    The Project identified teacher transfer policy as a major reason for hiring delays. The Project found that `teacher transfer requirements often stall hiring by giving existing teachers the first pick of openings before any new teacher can be hired and require schools to hire transferring teachers making principals reluctant to post vacancies and interview for fear of being forced to accept a transferring teacher they do not want.'”


  • Steven Weinberg

    One problem we have faced at our school involving hiring and keeping the best possible teachers is that each spring we are forced to make cut-backs as part of the Results Based Budgeting process, because some funds we know we will receive (site-specific carry-over funds from the HPSG program in former years and the QEIA program this year) are not made available to us until Ocober. When the funds are restored the best candidates are no longer available. It would be a big help to us if the district would tweak its policy to allow us anticipate at least a portion of our carry over in budgeting for the next year.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Steven Weinberg points out that in Oakland, under the RBB financial policy of decentralizing the District’s hiring of teaching and devolving teacher hiring decisions to the school sites, a school misses out on hiring teachers they want as they don’t get their full budget until October.

    Delay in making carry over money available to principals one of the complexities involved in accounting for differences in hiring in suburbia and the inner city that has nothing to do with union contracts and transfer policies.

    And, the problem of not being able to anticipate carry over funding in making timely hiring decisions becomes a harder problem to solve in this very uncertain financial times. For it may prove to be irresponsible for a district to give the go ahead for anticipated revenue and hiring if the State financial crisis deepens and pulls the anticipated revenue rug from out under districts.

    Suburbia with little State and Federal funding makes their financial decisions without accounting for such things as large amounts of State and Federal carry-over monies.

    The financial management problems are difficult and the solutions more problematic than ever with the current financial climate at the State and Federal levels providing a catalyst for solutions generating unanticipated negative consequences.

    SB 1655 preempts the unions’ right to negotiation teacher transfer policies for low performing schools. The law’s premise says it is a problem that under union contracts existing teachers get to fill vacancies before hiring new teachers. But, people, like Russlynnn Ali, that are supportive of SB 1655 also claim it is a problem that inexperienced teachers are being assigned disproportionately to schools with the lowest test scores. Yet, SB 1655 serves to decrease the number of experienced teachers at low performing schools.

    Experienced teachers cost more. It is an economic reality if unions do not protect experience the mighty dollar will devalue experience. It is the nature of a profession that experience be nurtured. Staffing education with more and more teach-for-awhile teachers undermines not only unions but the teaching profession and does not serve children or the society in the long run.

    Jim Mordecai

  • cranky researcher

    Re: Nextset’s ignorant comment #47 on “baseless self-esteem boosting” — experimental research at Stanford and elsewhere shows pretty conclusively that black student (lack of) self-esteem is a very significant factor in test performance. NY Times Op Ed writer summarizes some of the research:
    Of course his reference to “racial differences” is an admission of racism, and if he were asked to point to research in support of his 19C view that black people cannot perform academically and should be trained to be service or factory workers, he would point to racist conservative blogs or the Bell Curve, which has long been shown to be insupportable by good research. But hey, only 7 people are reading him, and millions read the NY Times, so there is hope in the world.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Mr. Mordecai, you clearly know these facts better than I. But the added opinion seems less than grounded. Why would an principal prefer an upgraded copier to an experienced teacher? Are you scapegoating principals? And why would one have to believe that poor teachers are “the” cause of poor test soores to want an environment where schools/principals choose their teachers?

    I’m not the researcher you are, but this is what the office of the governor had to say about SB 1655 in 2006:
    SB 1655 helps struggling schools hire the best candidates.

    · Students at low-performing schools have the greatest need for high-quality educators. Currently, school principals must give existing teachers first priority for open positions. They can be forced to hire voluntary transfers, who may not be performing well at another school.

    · SB 1655 reforms teacher transfer policies to:

    o Provide that no K-12 school ranked 1-3 on the Academic Performance Index may be forced to accept the voluntary transfer of any teacher that is not acceptable to the school.

    o Allow principals to hire any qualified applicant, not just voluntary transfers, after April 15 of the year before the school year’s commencement.

    · School principals are ultimately responsible for students’ success. SB 1655 lets principals say no to teachers who aren’t the right fit, and hire promising teachers earlier.

    · SB 1655 becomes effective January 1, 2007. The bill does not eliminate a teacher’s right to voluntarily transfer, and its provisions will not take effect in districts with conflicting teacher contracts until these agreements expire.

    As a parent, I’d certainly want some say as to the teachers at my child’s school. Anyone who has ever attended a school knows teachers aren’t all at the same level. What’s wrong with that?

  • TheTruthHurts

    Someone just mentioned to me that Oakland is the only school District that uses actual salaries. If true, I doubt 1655 was designed with Oakland in mind. So in all the other Districts, how would SB 1655 place less experienced teachers in poor-performing schools?

    Also, shouldn’t we be valuing QUALITY teachers over EXPERIENCED teachers? When I was in school there were several experienced teachers of very poor quality. Experience should be an indicator, but it isn’t always. Seems to me there would be more compensation for QUALITY teachers if poor teachers (experienced or not) were not spending that money. Clearly defining QUALITY would not be without controversy, but maybe that’s where unions could put their effort instead of “protecting experience” as Mr. Mordecai puts it?

  • Nextset

    Cranky Researcher: Go research John H McWhorter and Dinesh D’Souza and then post more commentary…. Quoting the New York Times to me doesn’t exactly establish your bona fides. Nor does your “ignorant comment” cant.

    It’s not clear to me where you are coming from, there was another Cranky here… not sure who you are.

    It’s amusing that you think I’m saying that black students should be trained to be – as you put it – service or factory workers. Your inability to meet contrary debate directly speaks volumes about what you are.

    The economy will deal with the black students. They can do whatever they want. In hard times – and we are moving into historic hard times – the safety net fails and the underclass just get frozen out, frozen out for a generation.

    So when you or I say what we should “do” with the black underclass (which is a lot of people) what isn’t being said is that the people concerned are going do to what they want, and the economy will do with them what the economy will. All the government can do is try to provide public education that will manage to make the most of the human potential of as many people as reasonably possible. And that might be making hotel maids for some people at some time in some states. Frankly I don’t see much demand for that here and now. That’s up to the people involved anyway.

    What our (CA) public schools does not do for Blacks is see that they finish secondary school (not graduate, mind you) speaking standard conversational english, being able to write standard business letters, having a working knowledge of criminal, consumer, contract and marriage law, having a reasonable command of math and being able to read at 8th grade level. We aren’t even getting this much accomplished with our black students as opposed to White and Asian students.

    We are not anywhere near getting them jobs at Holiday Inn, we can’t even get them into the Army during wartime.

    I am well aware of self esteem levels of black public school students. They are at toxic levels. Way too high. We see this in the mortality levels, the STD rates (stratospheric compared to other races), the criminal rates, and locally, the behavior on BART & AC Transit.

    So in short I’m less interested in Civil Rights of secondary school students and more interested in having them finish school with accomplishment. The courts have helped ruin the public schools with endless fantasy “rights” for schoolchildren and no responsibilities.

  • Jim Mordecai


    I think you are correct that Oakland is atypical and may be the only district that assigns teacher salaries to school sites.

    As for how SB 1655 would negatively impact experienced teachers outside of Oakland I would speculate that experienced teachers would not be as likely to apply to schools that they might be rejected and would favor applying for non-low scoring schools. As the belief currently is that teachers already avoid low scoring schools when transferring, SB 1655 increases the likelihood that teachers will seek transfer to low scoring schools. Perhaps a few undesirable teachers might be frustrated by being rejected by low performing school principals. But, they might not consider it so bad that they must be placed at a higher performing school. An outstanding teacher might want to teach at a low performing school but be considered by the school principal undesirable because of union activity.

    In a perfect world whereby anti-union forces are not using SB 1655 to chip away at union power the issue would be why not let principals hire whomever they feel will do the best job? That would be a reasonable question if there was not a political attack agenda attached.

    However, putting aside experience as a priority in hiring, in my opinion, SB 1655 in concept undermines the idea of a stable professional work force. The most extreme example would be a district completely staffed with teach for America teach-for-awhile types.

    As for principals having the right to refuse teachers, it had been an unspoken practice in years past for principals in hill schools to have the power to pick their staff. The turnover is not great in the smaller populated hill schools and opportunity to pick and choose was possible. The greater turnover and inability to early fill positions at many large flatland campuses did not present the same opportunity. And, the Marcus Foster priority of community involvement loss favor with administrations that followed.

    Yet, despite the challenge of evaluating new teachers to a school, it was a practice in the days of Marcus Foster for teacher and parent interview teams in flatland and hills schools to meet with potential teachers and principals. Possibly the return of local control might mean returning to some of the policies of the past that involved the community in a serious way in Oakland schools’ personnel decisions.

    But, your issue is not so much parent about community involvement but about the process of teacher selection not giving priority to experience. And, whether it is the principal, or HR, making the decision, not recognizing experience will, I believe, over time favor the cheaper, less experienced teacher. It is only by collective bargaining that a union can win the right for experience to count. We obviously disagree that bargaining experience protection is a good thing.
    The OUSD School Board this Wednesday will have a subcommittee motion recommending that March 15 letters be sent to certificated teachers stating that their position may be cut. If cuts begin, credentials and experience will mean that some outstanding teachers will be cut. Perhaps you would prefer that the principals make the decision on who should be cut. The judgment of a principal may or may not be based on the best teacher but of course would be a subjective decision. Such a principal decision might mean that you as a parent see the teacher you want retained cut.

    But, any criteria will have its positives and negatives but experience seems to me far more objective than removing it.

    All of the charter schools work with at will employees and can hire anyone that is credentialed. While a few have gotten fantastic results, the vast majority of charter schools have not demonstrated that disregarding experience has produced superior teachers.

    In addition, the turnover in charter schools has been far higher that the high turnover of Oakland public schools. The latest California Department of Education website lists Oakland staffing as having 10.8 years of experience teaching on the average. I looked at the experience listed for 28 of the 29 Oakland charter schools listed and found that 16 of the charter school had teachers with 6 years of experience teaching or less. One charter school, Youth Employment Partnership listed one teacher with 27 years experience and I didn’t include that school in my calculation. The American Indian Public Charter School has the least charter school teaching experience 1.7 while COVA Conservatory of Vocal/Instrument Arts had the highest average staff experience with 12.3.

    It would appear that the idea of experience being put aside produces better results because The American Indian Public Charter is the highest scoring charter in Oakland. However, lack of experience and higher scores does not correlate when a larger number of inexperience staffed schools is also examined.
    In the past piece meal work was the standard of the exploitative sweat shops. I would hope that experience would remain important criteria in the working conditions of teachers. Valuing experience leads to a more professional work force with a long range commitment to the profession. I support teacher unions in fighting to get management to recognize and reward commitment and experience.

    The truth, in my opinion, is that staffs need a mix of experience and youth. It is hard financial times with reductions in teachers that bring on the terrible problem of whom to cut rather than the issue of whom to hire.

    Jim Mordecai

  • cranky teacher

    Poor kids’ self-esteem is toxically LOW, not high. They take all these risks and do stupid things because they think they are worthless and their life doesn’t mean s*** anyway.

    However, I don’t believe the schools can actually gift self-esteem through positive feedback, which is where the self-esteem movement got waylaid. Only by a child actually accomplishing difficult things (with or without support) can they gain true self-esteem.

    Let’s face it — self-esteem is a lot harder to build than to destroy.

    I look at Montissori education which actually forbids teachers from all the “good job” and “that’s great” platitudes of modern parents and teachers because these create a pattern of dependence on extrinsic rewards which are less powerful than intrinsic motivation.

    I can tell my kids “great job” until I’m blue in the face, but they only really FEEL it when they see the fruits of their labors in real achievement, whether it be cheering up a friend who was sad or winning a black belt.

  • Nextset

    Cranky Teacher: Who’s this other Cranky, anyway??

    You have it wrong in your first paragraph. And you have it right on one thing. Underclass youth know that they have no social status and they know they will likely die young and not from natural causes. Their birth mothers know that also which may explain why the mothers don’t invest time and attention on them and have numerous children by a variety of men. This knowledge by both the youth and their birth mothers doesn’t at all mean any of them have low self esteem. Quite the opposite. Maybe we disagree on what constitutes self-esteem.

    Compare urban underclass with Vietnamese or Indian immigrants and their children. Of for that matter, Canadian immigrants.

    Here’s a simple test for you, when they drive around on probation with outstanding arrest warrants in unregistered cars with the radio blaring loud hip-hop music, they have Toxic Self-Esteem. When they disrespect waitresses, meter maids and store clerks they have too much self-esteem and it’s toxic. When they fight with cops and wind up dead, that Toxic Self Esteem has done them in again.

    Think of it as a poodle barking at a German Shepard… Toxic Self-Esteem.

    Excessive levels of self-esteem produces reckless behavior, which shows up as unwanted pregnancy and STDs as well as Car accidents, trauma (fighting), ODs, bounced checks and the like. It shows as a strong feeling of being special, on the rules not applying to you, of being able to tell your elders (employer, landlord, relatives, teachers, etc) to go to hell.

    The cure for this problem is found in good schools, military basic training, summer camps, competitive jobs, and many of the good things in life. Reality is also a good treatment.

    Engendering toxic self-esteem is sometimes called “Enabling” and it is served up by people called “Co-Dependent”. As in the teacher is co-dependent and is enabling stupid behavior of the students.

  • cranky teacher

    Nextset: You just spent 321 words proving you don’t know the difference between self-esteem and its diametric opposite, insecure bravado.

    Self-esteem is a psychological measure of confidence in one’s ability and/or worth.

    Desperately trying to get attention is a sign of a LACK of self-esteem, psychologically.

    Cranky Researcher is a veteran of this board. I like to think his title was a bit of an homage, but that would be presumptive.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: We disagree. I see your definition in the second sentence. It isn’t the problem here, it’s your application of the definition.

    False (unearned and unwarranted) confidence in one’s ability and self worth is what is killing black youth. That’s some of what shows in the mortality tables. It is the false self confidence and belief in worth that prompts one to tease a tiger – or a cop – or your father. If the people we speak of had fathers worthy of the name living in the home, the false sense of self worth would have been adjusted and they would wear better in this Brave New World.

    Fatherless Boys = Rogue Elephants = Toxic Self-Esteem, it’s all the same problem.

    Perhaps if we limited the ratio of female teachers in underclass secondary schools we could improve the male socialization going on in these schools.

    You incorrectly read the acting out I speak of as being “desperate to get attention” – and excuses like that (by teachers) is why we have this problem. It’s just cultural anthropology 101, they are marking their territory and challenging everybody in sight – because the underclass youth think they are so great and so wonderful. They are not. So they get killed, imprisoned, unemployable, etc and are the only ones surprised by it.

  • cranky teacher

    How is saying somebody has low self-esteem an excuse? Another false link.

    An explanation is not the same as an excuse.

    We can understand why somebody is an alcoholic but that doesn’t mean we excuse their behavior when drunk.

    Neither of us are professional psychiatrists, though, so I’m going to stop here under the assumption we are not enlightening anybody with our favorite theories on human behavior.

  • cranky teacher

    “So they get killed, imprisoned, unemployable, etc and are the only ones surprised by it.”

    “Underclass youth know that they have no social status and they know they will likely die young and not from natural causes.”

    Maybe I’m missing something, but aren’t you contradicting yourself here?

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Underclass of any race are by definition present oriented. They are unable – for various reasons – to envision future consequences for present action/inaction. That’s why they are surprised at mortality when it actually hits them.

    As to the 2nd phrase – Yes, they (underclass) know they will die young, but they sure don’t know they will die tonight. They will never value Long Term Care Insurance.

    So no, these two passages do not conflict. You can know you are going to have a short(er) life, know that you are of low social status, be quite full of yourself to the extent that you commit stupid crimes in front of witnesses/police/cameras. Then get yourself beat to death when you provoke or antagonize stronger, more violent people.

    Low self-esteem is not the factor in the notorious mortality tables for US black adolescent males. Quite the opposite, they have a lower incidence of suicide than other groups. Suicide is one of the major indicators of a self-esteem problem. Homicide is not. We all know that US black males have a problem with homicidal behavior compared to all other ethnics. And the victims of that homicidal tendencies are more often than not other blacks. (cross racial crimes are less likely).

    I will believe your rot about low self-esteem when I see a significant problem with suicide. Death by Misadventure is not suicide.

  • cranky teacher

    Suicide is the only form of self-destruction brought on by an inability to believe in one’s worth? That’s ridiculous.

    Rot, indeed.

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  • Daphne Friend

    I understand raising the bar for these children but what is always missed is the children with learning problems I can’t even call them disablities because if we would make the schools look at the problems and fix them and as for Public school Integration why not try fixing the problem with the children with learning disablities. As for more flexibility for the schools no they can’t handle what they have without structure which in most schools there is none. There are more problems then segregation going on in the school which the government does not even address so let them try to fix this problem first.

  • http://www.urbanborn.org Johnel

    Please go to http://www.whoisaccountable.net Russlynn Ali explains why LAUSD is first on the List. This educational documentary shows how the achievement gap lead our urban youth straight into incarceration and destitution.