Virginia school board withdraws approval of two history textbooks

Still in use in Loudoun County?

According to the Washington Post, the Virginia school board has withdrawn approval of two history textbooks found to contain numerous factual errors.

Our Virginia: Past and Present is a fourth-grade Virginia social studies textbook, and Our America to 1865 is a fifth-grade text on U.S. history. Both are, as of late March, in use in Loudoun County Public Schools.

Among the many errors found in these “textbooks” is the suggestion that slaves, the human property of others, served “voluntarily” in the Confederate army.

The assertion is often made by Confederate heritage groups but is rejected by most historians. The book’s author, Joy Masoff, is not a trained historian.

School districts are not obligated to remove the books even though the state has withdrawn its approval. Many districts, including Fairfax and Arlington counties, withdrew the books from classrooms. Loudoun County, where the books are still in use, has not decided how it will respond to the board’s vote, according to spokesman Wayde Byard [emphasis added].

Request for resignation of Superintendent Hatrick

naacp_logo_stacked_rgb_alia1The Loudoun County Branch NAACP
P.O. Box 2439
Leesburg, VA 20177-7724
Voice Mail: 703-779-2990


April 21, 2009

Edgar B. Hatrick, Superintendent
Loudoun County Public Schools
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, VA 20148

Dear Superintendent Hatrick:

The Loudoun County Branch NAACP appreciates the time you spent in coming to speak to our general membership meeting on March 16th. However, our membership was very disappointed in your responses to the questions we had submitted to you prior to your presentation. We have significantly different perceptions of disparities in the Loudoun County Public Schools in regard to minority students. Importantly, our perceptions are based on LCPS’ own data submitted either to the Virginia Department of Education or directly to us as a result of three FOIA requests, and your presentation appeared to be based on incomplete data and percentages without their accompanying hard numbers.

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What’s in a name?

“Graduation on time” rates versus actual dropout numbers

Loudoun County Public Schools continues to use percentages rather than hard numbers when touting “achievements.” The percentages relating to “graduation on time” and “dropout rates” are complicated state constructs, utilizing formulas and algorithms. According to the Virginia Department of Education website, the actual dropout numbers for the 2007-2008 graduation class, i.e., the number of students who dropped out 9th-12th grade, are:

Total Dropouts: 173

By ethnicity:

Asian: 11 (6%) Black: 42 (24%) Hispanic: 60 (35%) White: 60 (35%)

According to LCPS’ response to our FOIA request, the proportion by ethnicity of the 2007-2008 LCPS student population was:

Asian: 13% Black: 8% Hispanic: 13% White: 64%

The disparities are obvious for Black and Hispanic students versus White and Asian students. If your ethnic group comprises 8% of the student population and 24% of the dropouts, or 13% of the student population and 35% of the dropouts, while the majority population has 64% of the student population and 35% of the dropouts, something is significantly wrong.

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The Effects of Prejudice on White Children

Presentation to the Loudoun County School Board
Education Committee, NAACP Loudoun County Branch
April 8, 2008

We know that the impact of prejudice on white children is never as severe as the damage to children of color. However, we should not forget that white children clearly are harmed as well. This harm has economic, psychological and social implications for every white child. Therefore, it is both a practical and moral imperative that Loudoun County Public Schools work actively and immediately to ensure that all the system’s students have a level playing field.

Economic implications. In the 21st Century global economy, the workplace, businesses, and corporations necessarily are diverse. White students coming from a school system that tolerates even subtle forms of discrimination will be poorly prepared for employment with these companies. Cross-cultural collegiality and teamwork among employees in a diverse, often multi-national, environment is a major job requirement now. Such companies do not tolerate, in fact as a key element of their bottom line, cannot tolerate prejudice and discrimination among their employees. Students who have benefited from the accidental factor of their skin color during twelve years of primary and secondary education will be unpleasantly surprised when they lose that privilege in the real world of work in the 21st Century.

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NAACP partners with Howard University on education concerns

naacp_logo_stacked_rgb_alia1FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 2/29/2008
Contact: Rev. Reginald Early – 540-687-8230; rgnear@aol.com

The Loudoun County Branch of the NAACP is pleased to announce its new partnership with the Howard University Department of Education to assist Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) in eliminating its minority student achievement gap.

Howard University, located in Washington D.C., is the number one producer of African-American PhDs in the US, as well as Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and numerous other academic notables. Faculty members participating in the NAACP/LCPS project from this premier university include: Lois Harrison-Jones, EdD; Aaron B. Stills, PhD; and Dawn G. Williams, PhD. They will be working closely with Loudoun County NAACP members: Rev. Reginald A. Early, President; Bill Sweeney and Pam Taggart. Early, Sweeney and Taggart are also members of LCPS’ Minority Student Achievement Committee (MSAAC).

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History of SAC and MSAAC

HISTORY OF THE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT COMMITTEE/
MINORITY STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

1993 — NAACP generated data showed significant disparities between minority and non-minority student achievement in Loudoun County public schools.

1994 – the School Board formed the Student Achievement Committee.

1995 – the Student Achievement Committee issued its report, identifying the following areas of concern:

  • Test score differences
  • SAT participation
  • Parental involvement
  • Cultural diversity in instructional materials
  • Ability grouping
  • Teacher and staff expectations of and respect for students
  • Understanding cultural differences
  • Minority hiring

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Annual Report on Loudoun County Public Schools, 2007-8

Edver Bourne, Education Committee
January, 2009

The Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee is in a position to step up our partnership with Loudoun County Public Schools and help eliminate the Achievement Gap. The past school year (2007-8) has been a test in our relationship and although all parties involved have had their feelings hurt and their intentions challenged at times, the fact remains that there is still a sizeable disparity between the S.A.T. scores, S.O.L. scores, Suspension and Expulsion Rates, Graduation Rates, and the Staffing and Retention Rates of minorities within this school district.

MSAAC and its Steering Committee in 2007-8, although admittedly small in its parent participation, had a very involved core group of individuals who affected positive change. Steering Committee members, LCPS Administrators, the NAACP, Parents, School Board and Community Members achieved the following in 2007-8:

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Summary of 2004 Minority Achievement Report

Since 1995, when the disparity in achievement between white and minority students was first addressed by the Loudoun NAACP, Loudoun County Schools have put in place program changes to improve test scores. Despite these efforts, the disparity remains. Thirty percent of Loudoun’s African-American third graders failed to pass the 2003 SOL reading test. Social justice for our minority children compels the school system to more vigorously address this issue.

Teacher Quality. It is now possible to measure teacher quality with great accuracy. Superior teachers can produce more than six times the learning growth than that of inferior teachers.

High Expectations. Teachers with high expectations have students who produce work of high quality. Minority students in Department of Defense schools routinely achieve at high levels.

Reading Programs That Work for Minority Students. The Congressionally mandated National Reading Panel reported in 2000 that beginning reading programs should include a significant degree of phonics. Research also shows that minority students learn to read more effectively with phonics-based programs.

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Minority Achievement in Loudoun County

Report prepared by Education Committee, NAACP Loudoun Branch
January, 2004

In 1995, members of the Education Committee of the Loudoun Branch of the NAACP documented significant academic achievement deficits for Loudoun’s minority students that included lower grades and test scores than their white classmates, a higher dropout rate, and lower enrollment in Honors or AP courses. Two years later, when little had changed, the Committee decided to call for education initiatives proven to make a difference in minority achievement. To help members better assess strategies that were truly successful, a survey of current research was undertaken. This report updates the 1997 report highlighting the crushing deficits of the disadvantaged, research-based reading programs, and efforts at school reform.

Response of the Loudoun County School Board and Staff

Since 1995, the school board and staff of Loudoun County have addressed the issue of minority achievement in a number of ways. Most important are the goals adopted by the school board in 1999, showing its commitment to raising achievement among Loudoun’s minority youngsters. Staff inaugurated a pilot program of parent liaisons, now expanded to include all schools with significant minority populations. Diversity training for all administrators has been undertaken, and training for teachers is on-going. The general track has been eliminated and AP and Honors courses opened to any student wishing to participate. Early-back programs in several schools have increased student readiness. Literacy groups are being formed, and at Park View High School, the Fast/ForWord program is being piloted to help with disabled readers. The office of research is tracking data on specific minority populations, and teams are identifying students transitioning to middle school. Staff is also providing additional instruction to students at risk of failing the SOL tests, and piloting all-day kindergarten in two schools with significant minority populations.

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