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Friday, April 20, 2007

Guest Commentary: Parents Call for Boycott of STAR Program

Parents of Black children and other parents supporting justice for all children are asked to have their children boycott the upcoming STAR testing next week (starting 4/24 in most Davis schools.). We are protesting the inaction of the Davis school district in remedying racial disparities in discipline and other schooling experiences and the lack of African American and other underrepresented teachers of color throughout the district. Out of nearly 500 teachers, there are less than 6 African Americans. The largest school, Davis High, has had no African American teachers for the last several years. We will not participate in a testing process that labels as “adequate” the current educational environment for Black and other children.

We are asking the district to immediately investigate the March suspensions of three African American students for a verbal altercation that involved no racial slurs and no physical contact. The White girls involved, one of whom initiated the conflict by bumping an African American student, were not suspended. The first Black student was suspended for the verbal altercation. The district tells us the latter two were suspended for disrespect to administrators.

A fourth African American girl was believed by administrators when she said she had not insulted the White students on a separate occasion. Why wasn’t the truth of all the White girls’ accusations called into question when this lone African American student was believed? At what point do you hold adult administrators responsible for students’ frustration and anger at being continually falsely accused and not believed?

We are asking for these 3 suspensions to be overturned, for the district to conduct in-depth case studies of each of these suspensions for racial bias and procedural errors that might lead to identifiable reasons for racial disparities in discipline patterns across the district. With a little courage and leadership, this could be a teachable moment for all district staff and parents, in the lives of all of our Davis children, and in the thus-far very slow district action in the quest for equity in our schools.

Your simple one sentence written note will exempt your child from the STAR exam next week. Include your child’s name, birth date and grade. Please help us accelerate the call for justice in our “excellent” schools by engaging in this time-tested, nonviolent strategy for social change. Call parents Bernita Toney (753-8393) for more information.

For further information, please click here to read the Star Boycott Options

---Bernita Toney, Davis, CA