The first meeting of the special committee to review the Office of Civil Rights report from the federal Department of Education regarding whether or not black and Hispanic students are discriminated against in Manchester’s schools was held yesterday afternoon. The session contained a lot of what one might expect, including those who wanted to analyze the data and those who said such analysis was unnecessary because the report concluded there was institutional racism.
Interesting new data came to light, however as the district presented numbers showing that the percentage of Hispanic students in A P classes had more than quadrupled since two thousand eleven, the year for which data was used. The data also failed to report that thirteen percent of kids in A P classes were Asian, despite making up slightly more than four percent of the student population. Ward Seven School Board Member Ross Terrio, whose wife is Hispanic, faulted the numbers for not looking beyond race. He said other factors, such as income levels, family situation and whether or not parents had attended college will influence children attitudes about education and whether or not they take higher level classes.
As if to prove Terrio’s point, Eva Castillo, a white Hispanic (not kidding) and Manchester Police Commissioner, shared her experiences with three children she’s raised. She had high praises for how the schools handled her special ed and brilliant white appearing child, but the child of Mexican heritage, whose family didn’t value education, had a typical “brown skin experience” in the schools, she said.
Parent Mike Porter, an attorney, got the district to admit that it had entered into a binding agreement with the O C R, but the district’s attorney, who apparently has experience in these matters, basically said worry not, the feds are cooperative. Mayor Ted Gatsas, who chaired the meeting, said the data needed to be updated for the current realities and broken down to look at how the district is doing with all racial minorities, not just two, so a truer picture of how students are doing can be seen.
Former Manchester Teacher David Scannell and N double A C P representative Brenda Lett said such work was unnecessary because the report concluded there were problems with these two groups regardless of how other groups were doing. The money quote of the meeting just might have come from a Central High student, who is of Asian decent. He said he’s never experienced any racial issues and said, frankly, there are a lot of kids who could take the higher level courses, but don’t want to because of the workload.
Superintendent Debra Livingston said that the district is likely to do more to make all students, particularly racial minorities, aware of what they need to do early in their educational careers to be on a college track if that’s what they want and ensure there are offerings for all who want them. Two more meetings of the group are planned. Brace yourselves. We’ve linked to our Live Blog of the meeting so you can see how it unfolded in real time.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Former Highland Goffes Falls P T A President Victoria Sullivan is calling on the Manchester Board of School Committee to return to the previous policy on head lice. As listeners of this show know, there’s been an outbreak of the head infesting creatures at the school. In an email obtained by Girard at Large, Sullivan alerts the board to that outbreak writing quote “Several parents have come forward to alert other parents that they in fact found head lice in their children’s hair when checked. They have kept their children out of school. More children will lose more school time as the lice continues to spread because live bugs do spread.” End quote. She stated that children do sit head to head while reading and that their heads often touch while playing games and that coats touch when hanging on their hooks. She apparently heard our interview with Manchester Health Officer Tim Soucy, referencing his being unaware of the outbreak saying there didn’t seem to be a policy in place where head lice outbreaks are reported. Sullivan said quote “There is no way to contain live bugs. Now that the no nit policy is gone, attempting to control live bugs is the only (albeit impossible) course of action left to take.” End quote. Seems like a good reason to me to go back to a no-nit policy. We’ve linked to our interview with Soucy and interview with H G F parent Jason Lavallee in case .
The Manchester Water Works has made something of a concession to the equestrian community. The Board of Water Commissioners voted at its meeting last Thursday to open up a nine hundred acre parcel of land in Auburn known as The Maze to horseback riding. However, in exchange for opening the land, equestrians must clean up after their horses. Water Works Director David Paris told Girard at Large in an interview yesterday he believed the move will ease tensions between the Water Works and horseback riders and is hoping for an improved working relationship. Paris will be our guest tomorrow morning so we can get a handle on this whole horse thing.
Students at Memorial High are rallying around two thousand seven graduate Jessica Moran. Moran was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in February, one week before her 25th birthday. While at Memorial, Moran was a member of DECA who competed nationally, a four-year varsity cheerleader/co-captain and she won the Crusader Award and Mayor’s Award. She was class treasurer and even the prom queen! After having long, brown hair her whole life, one of the hardest parts in her journey has been losing her hair. It has taken an emotional toll and after expressing these feelings through her blog, it inspired students at Memorial to get involved. They’ve organized a hair drive to benefit women and children suffering from cancer treatment. It’s tomorrow and we’ve linked to all the details from Girard at Large. We hope to have Jessica on the air with us tomorrow morning. God Bless her and all involved.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead!