Make us your home page


Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

An opposing view on Hillsborough's letter to the Office of Civil Rights

Potter Elementary School is 89 percent black and only 2 percent white. It is one of numerous schools racially identifiable schools in Hillsborough County.

Potter Elementary School is 89 percent black and only 2 percent white. It is one of numerous schools racially identifiable schools in Hillsborough County.



The Hillsborough County School District says it has made enough progress in curing racial disparities that it can enter into a voluntary agreement with the federal government. A 17-page letter from Superintendent Jeff Eakins outlines steps Hillsborough has taken to improve restorative justice, cut down on punitive measures that push minority students out of school; and encourage top teachers to work at high-poverty, high-minority schools.

But is it enough?

Saba Baptiste, education chair of the Hillsborough branch of the NAACP, doesn't think so. Baptiste, expressing her own views and not those of the organization, makes a case that the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights should continue its investigation. Baptiste also was a member and co-chair of the community task force that met for more than a year before recommending changes in the district's discipline policies.

Here is her statement:

I am a supporter of the school district, but it is segregated.

Based on the content in the letter there is no reason OCR should deter from coming to the Hillsborough County Public Schools and conduct an investigation. The investigation from the OCR will result in recommendations that will underscore best practice strategies for educating such a diverse student body.

The school district is segregated and that creates an unnatural inequity problem for a large majority of students of color, especially, African Americans.The document do not fully explain methodologies in the areas of: Collaboration with outside consultant; Engage in deliberate efforts to create positive school climates; Preventive strategies to Promote Positive student behavior; Specific Roles and responsibilities related to school discipline; and Title 1 Schools.

A major concern is the fidelity of programs and OCR cannot assess that unless they are here. The Hillsborough County Public Schools is an urban school district and therefore, spending must reflect the trends and issues of managing a district of such nature. Urban and rural elementary and middle schools are under performing on a constant historical level.

Title 1 funding in this school district does not appears to directly touch the student or improve students' educational outcomes.

Urban schools: It is estimated that over 95% of teachers and administrators do not live in the neighborhood they teach in, so it is difficult for them to build a meaningful relationship with students. The school based discipline issues, usually, do not result well when students who are African Americans, especially, African American males. That is still true today.

Professional Development training: You cannot teach kindness and fairness if teachers do not possess that in their character already. The urban and rural schools have the most unprepared teachers and principals, and usually, that is where high rates of harsh treatment, suspensions and expulsions occurs.

Teachers certified, White 75%                                

Administrators, White 75%

Teachers certified, Black 13%                                  

Administrators, Black 14%

Teachers certified, Hispanic 11%                            

Administrators, Hispanic 10%

The question: What do we want our school district to be?



[Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2016 4:59am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours