City of Decatur’s NAACP chapter addresses disproportionality report

On Dec. 13, the City of Decatur’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter attended the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education‘s monthly meeting.

“City Schools of Decatur will build the foundation for all children to be their best, achieve their dreams, and make the world a better place,” Vice Chair Garrett Goebel said.

The CSD’s mission is read at the beginning of each meeting.

During public comments, this mission, as well as other claims made by CSD were challenged.

In Michael Davis’ public comment, he referred to this City Schools of Decatur illustration, saying how not each of the puzzle pieces represented the experiences his son has face in CSD.

Most of us have seen CSD’s “Connecting the Pieces” graphic. Four puzzle pieces are connected to one center piece that includes the CSD logo.

“I’m looking at the puzzle up here behind you all,” NAACP member Michael Davis said. “I see ‘challenge every student’ and ‘rigour, engaging and authentic learning.’ The piece that’s missing for me in that, and I think for my son is ‘safe and inviting schools.”

During the October CSD board meeting, superintendent David Dude presented a report titled “Disproportionality in the City Schools of Decatur.” In Tuesday’s meeting, Dude admitted that the report took him around 40 hours to complete.

After receiving word of Dude’s “Disproportionality in the City Schools of Decatur” report, City of Decatur’s NAACP branch met to discuss and analyze the data Dude presented. In addition, the chapter began drafting a letter addressed to Dude.

Decatur’s NAACP branch president Mawuli Davis, the first member to address the board during public comments, began by thanking Dude for presenting the report.

“The transparency in [Dr. Dude] sharing that report was important, but what it did do was raise concerns,” Davis said. “Concerns that we have a chronic issue as it relates to minority children as well as economically disadvantaged children [in CSD].”

As the five minute timer counted down on the screen behind board members, Davis took the time to read an excerpt from the letter.

“We appreciate your interest in being transparent as it relates to the needs of our children. Initial review of the available data leaves us with extreme concerns relevant to the current conditions facing minority and economically disadvantaged children attending City Schools of Decatur. If our analyses are accurate, children are in need of intensive care and critical intervention.”

Analyses of the academic and discipline data reveal glaring gaps, raising additional questions related to needs for deepers disaggregation, as well as evidence of real-time research based action plans to address each issue. We are making an urgent request to schedule a crucial, collaborative conversation with you around these dire needs. To ensure that our meeting with you is fruitful, we would like for you to be prepared to discuss and provide us with several important items during our session.”

In the letter, Davis outlined further data requests for both academics and discipline within CSD schools. He ended his five minutes by thanking the school board.

“Thank you for the hard work we know you’ll do on behalf of all our children,” Davis said.

“The report and the length of time concerns us,” Decatur NAACP branch president Mawuli Davis said. CSD disproportionality has been known for years, and there have been attempts to create and enact plans to combat inequities, but according to Dude’s report and Davis, they have not proven successful.

Similar to Davis, member Deborah Mitchell, the mother and grandmother of children educated in CSD, appreciated Dude’s transparency.

“It was very hurtful to hear,” she said, “and it really was hurtful to know the same thing that I experienced in the 60s is exactly what my grandson, in 2016, is experiencing.”

Mitchell was educated in CSD and spoke on her experience attending segregated schools in Decatur.

“My hope and my dreams have always been that my children and my grandson would never experience the racism I did,” she said.

As the NAACP chapter expressed in their letter, Mitchell wants to see the implementation of plans to end CSD’s ‘learning gap and the discrimination” students are facing.

Chris Rey*, NAACP member and parent, does, too.

“We wanted to make sure that we could come up with a comprehensive plan,” he said, “not just come up here and be angry but say ‘hey, let’s have some dialogue.’’

Rey attended the October board meeting where the parents of dyslexic students advocated for changes within CSD.

“There was so much fire and passion about the dyslexia issue,” he said. “I saw how swift it was dealt with, and I’m just asking can we use the same intensity to make corrective action with these numbers.”

NAACP members realize that their presence is necessary for change to occur.

“[Dude] wants to address it, but he needs individuals who are solution oriented and who are passionate about it,” Rey said.

These individuals are members of the NAACP.

“We are here, and it is our intention to remain engaged and present, working with you so that you have whatever resources you need to ensure that we stop it now,” Davis said.  “That it doesn’t go another year without a strategic plan, and this should be at the highest point in the agenda. If our mission is in fact to ensure that all children are educated and have opportunities, then that would mean all children.”

 

*source requests anonymity

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