Obama facing school “turnaround” civil rights complaints


Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., was enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

I was asked to contribute to a Title VI complaint filed against Texas by the NAACP and LULAC at the request of Gary Bledsoe last year. You can see it here. Their Title VI request concerned:

  • The miseducation of minority students
  • Recent SBOE curriculum changes which negatively impact all students, but  disparately greater harm of minority students
  • Disparate discipline for minority students
  • The use of accountability standards to impose sanctions on schools with high populations of minority students
  • The underrepresentation of Latinos and African-Americans in Gifted and Talented Programs and the rules relating to the operation of such programs that lead to and/or contribute to the discriminatory result

One of the issues that was not raised at the time by the NAACP and LULAC but has come to the forefront in many other states since is school closure and “turnaround.” My co-authors and I will discuss Dallas and Houston (We found that they have had the lion share of school “turnaround” attempts in the state of Texas) turnarounds in a forthcoming article in Urban Education entitled A Nostrum of School Reform?: Turning Around Reconstituted Urban Texas High Schools— I included the abstract for the article here.

Well, there appears to be a revolt coming on with several Title VI complaints filed by students, parents, activists against “discriminatory school turnaround reforms” required by NCLB.

There are complaints from 18 cities in all. Here are links to complaints from five cities: DetroitDCNYCNewarkChicago.

A recent media report stated:

The Office of Civil Rights accepted the Newark complaint and said in a letter this month that the “allegation was appropriate for investigation.”

Notice that Democratic mayors are in charge of most of these cities… with Rahmbo being particularly keen on closing schools in Chicago.

In fact, I am often asked about Obama’s educational policy, to be honest, it doesn’t look any different than George W. Bush’s approach… not even a little bit. Well, maybe worse, because at least Republicans will tell you explicitly that they are anti-union. Recently, Democrats have accepted union money and enacted reforms that are clearly anti-teacher, reveled in films such as Waiting for Superman, and suppored non-eurybathics such as Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee— shame on them.

Speaking of accountability, NCLB has not delivered as promised. Thus, the bigger question is whether Obama plans to stay the course of No Child Behind Left in his second term… will there be more high-stakes tests, more AYP, more charter schools, more TFA, more “turnarounds“? Or will he decide to go Forward and think big?


  • Pingback: More: Obama facing school “turnaround” civil rights complaints | Cloaking Inequity

  • Another great piece. I’m also interested in the “whitening” and “freshening” of teaching staffs at turnaround schools. Have you looked into this in Texas? In Boston our teachers are getting fresher by the day…


  • you can add the governor of connecticut to the list of democrats who have taken union money. for the most part, despite what he has to say, he is anti teacher and is doing his best to enact reforms supported by rhee, gates etc. connecticut has the widest achievement gap and also the highest disparity in income.


  • I voted for the president both times…..but I am so utterly disappointed in how he has turned his back on the poor, working class and minorities in this country. Public schools are under performing but “turnaround” plans, Regional Achievement Centers, school closure, reducing budgets, importing private education management companies, elimination of collective bargaining and chartered schools in abundance is not the answer. There are many variables that contribute to the under performance of at risk public school systems and none of the actions above have proven to be provide any other outcome than what we have always had…..under performance. President Obama, it is time for you to talk to the communities that are experiencing these educational challenges and consider their suggestions for resolution….


  • I seriously think that the new NCLB should carefully reconsider posing sanctions or schools closures for failure to “perform”. Most urban districts have high concentrations of minority students and the majority of those schools are labeled as “turnaround” campuses. Having worked and visited many of these campuses for my own research, I can tell you that in most cases, the teachers and principals are trying their best to move student achievement forward, but they are faced with continual pressure to restructure, to innovate, to re-staff and in come cases the central office replaces the principals on a yearly basis. Most teachers expressed a stagnation in moving to the next level because of the lack of continuity. So therefore, if NCLB is supposed to work, then rethinking innovation as a practice, not a reform, maybe it might work.


  • Great piece. Legislation is instrumental in turning around (pun intended) what corporate education is doing to public education and has done so for decades. For a comprehensive look at what corporate-state education has done in Chicago and is driving to do elsewhere, please take a look (and share) this critical essay: http://www.scribd.com/doc/106337306/THE-CHICAGO-PUBLIC-SCHOOLS-ALLERGIC-TO-ACTIVISM


  • Great piece…Legal action will be one way in which the corporate-education reform movement of the last 17 years in public education will be stopped. For a comprehensive and critical look of what corruption in public education and corporate-state education reform currently looks like, take a look at this essay: http://www.scribd.com/doc/106337306/THE-CHICAGO-PUBLIC-SCHOOLS-ALLERGIC-TO-ACTIVISM


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