Since the advent of NO Child Left Behind (NCLB), education in general has become more data-driven. Now students in the Washington, DC area will be able to select a more specific racial destinction. The Washington Post today reports that a new way of classifying students will give parents more options and will give educators and bureacrats at the Dept. of Education more detailed information.

For decades, students have been counted in one of five racial and ethnic groups: American Indian or Alaska native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic; non-Hispanic black; or non-Hispanic white. The categories date to the 1960s and were standardized in 1977 to promote affirmative action and monitor discrimination in housing, employment, voting rights and education.

Starting in 2010, under Education Department rules approved two years ago to comply with a government-wide policy shift, parents will be able to check all boxes that apply in a two-step questionnaire with reshaped categories. First, they will indicate whether a student is of Hispanic or Latino origin, or not. (The two terms will encompass one group.) Then they will identify a student as one or more of the following: American Indian or Alaska native; Asian; black or African American; native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; or white.

The new rules will allow students and parents to recognize bi-racial students and not force students to disregard part of their culture. Since so many components of NCLB involve data, it will supposedly be more difficult for certain groups of kids fall between the cracks.

During the 2000 census, approximately 6.8 people were identified as multi-racial. Civil Rights groups feel that reclassifying is needed.

Many civil rights advocates agree that it’s necessary to document the growing number of multiracial students, but they say these categories will mask valuable information about race that could be used to analyze educational challenges some groups face. They say it would be more accurate to report the data in detail, with racial and ethnic combinations.

“If we don’t know that some multiracial, Hispanic and black students are doing worse,” said Melissa Herman, a sociologist at Dartmouth College, “we can conveniently ignore that they are doing worse.”

Not all schools will be using the new categories right away. For now, 15 states plan to use the new system of categorizing.

Does NCLB invade privacy? Should we know if a child is economically deprived? Do we need to track race so closely? When is too much information too much?

81 Thoughts to “Local Multi-Racial Students to be Categorized Differently”

  1. By the way, Punchak, I do happen to agree with you about this new form of racial profiling…because that’s exactly what it is. I see no logic in pigeon-holing anyone, whether it be by race, economic status, or any extraneous factors. For statistical purposes, in determining special needs and higher educational cost, I can see categorizing by extra needs requiring additional funding/costs…such as language, IQ/learning disabilities, extreme physical disabilities, and legal presence in the proper school district. Those all just make good sense.

    There will be no “color-blindness” in society as long as people are officially separated by race…that IS racism, in my opinion.

  2. alza

    so can we classify whites as Anglo Americans? just like African American? also whites with portuguess blood,or Italian and Spaniards blood should be also called “Latinos” because those languages were made from Latin, so would it be ok to say Latin European American?
    can we classify all races ? I wish this apply to everybody ,it seems that don’t apply to whites!, this is another way to divide people.
    as far as I know latino is not a race nor Hispanics in fact the Spaniards are the Hispanics and the now so called Latinos or Hispanics are in fact the real Americans this is Bs!

  3. Well Alza, you can send your thanks to our new President for that. It’s all part of HIS new “education initiative.” By the way, if you hadn’t noticed…he’s NOT white.

  4. Second-Alamo

    OMG what would La Raza do? They’d be so confused if we just referred to everyone as human. All those RACE based organizations (and this in a non-racist society……Right!) would have to look for other work, and THAT isn’t going to happen! So no, we will always be classifying people based on race just to rationalize the existence of those organizations if nothing else.

  5. Second-Alamo

    So Alza, if a white person goes to La Raza for some help would they be turned away? If a non-white person goes to any non-race based organization for help would they be turned away? The answers are Yes and No in that order. There are no legal white only organizations that exist in this country, and yet it is the whites that are still being referred to as the ones who are intent on dividing people. Looks to me to be just the opposite. It’s the race based organizations who are dividing people along racial lines. The minorities don’t have a problem with that as long as there are organizations supporting their race, and so they are the ones promoting the division not the whites!

  6. Moon-howler

    SA. what would the NAACP do?

    As for the government designation on race, the current one has been around since the 1960’s. The new, more refined classification has been in the works for several years. Again, it is being tried to accommodate those who are bi-racial. There currently is no provision for those who might be more than one race.

    If there is an argument, it should be with the original government classification, IMHO. Why does the government need to know our race? You do not have to answer, btw.

  7. Moon-howler

    SA, not sure what came first, the chicken or the egg. Do the organizations divide people or do people who want to be divided join race based groups? I don’t know the answer because there are no raced based groups for my category.

  8. And what I said in my 2:27 AM comment is something that I’ve ALWAYS believed.

    I remember how this racially-based government reporting always infuriated my father, who owned a masonry construction business. I was with him in his office one day when one such required (required by affirmative action) government statistical report happened to come in the mail…and he went ballistic. He filled it out and told me that he had added, in the comments section, the following question to the bureaucrats who were demanding the information: (wording to the best of my recollection…this was more than 40 years ago) Since more than 75% of my employees are black, does this mean that I should fire most of them so that I can achieve your required racial balance? To my knowledge, he never got another one of those “required” reports again.

  9. Moon-howler

    That ship sailed a long time ago. I suppose it had to sail…

    I would prefer not using 40-year old categories. We have moved far since then. Why should a bi-racial child have to chose black OR white? Why can’t he be both in school?

  10. My children and I are mutts, so I have no idea how to classify them of myself. In theory I’d agree that removing the classifications would be a good thing, but then I look at reality. Take the time to look at PWC’s test scores broken out by the current racial and ethnic sub-groups. You’ll notice some startling statistics. Like economically disadvantaged students consistently pass at lower rates that the county average. Do we just ignore that? Do we just brush those children aside? Or do we provide more resources to these students so that they have a better chance to succeed? Isn’t that what all this testing and classifying is supposed to be about – making sure every kid has a chance to succeed?

  11. Preaching to the choir here, Moon-howler.

  12. “Like economically disadvantaged students consistently pass at lower rates that the county average.”

    I addressed that Monster_Mom. Those having academic problems should fall under ACADEMIC statistics, and get the help they need. No child should have to be pegged “economically disadvantaged”…it’s not their fault and they should be allowed their pride. Give them the help they need where and when they need it…and when their parents ask for it, such as requesting the free lunch program when they qualify.

  13. Moon-howler

    AWC, I seem to do that a lot. 😉

    Monster-Mom, That is the point, for sure. I have looked at those report cards for schools that are of interest to me. The differences between the categories are often shocking. The differnces between schools is also shocking, or perhaps not so shocking.

    Of course, that puts us at another cross-roads. Do we balance the haves and have nots better or do we create artificial programs like ‘IB’ to bring more academically successful kids to less affluent neighborhood schools? Or perhaps we just let things go. The worse neighborhoods go to the same schools? And if that happens, how do we give Obama’s merit pay to teachers? Is it fair to look at the success rate of kids at Westgate and use that to pay a Westgate teacher? How will that compare to a teacher at say Bristow Run?

    Ooops this is turning in to another thread……

  14. Moon-howler

    AWC, that economically disadvantaged NCLB category (also used for title 1 funding I think) is the one that bothers me the most. Not sure if kids are aware they have been categorized. I guess it depends on the school.

  15. But how do we know that the programs in our schools aren’t causing one group to be left behind? I agree that students should be monitored and encouraged to perform to the best of their own personal abilities, but in a school system with over 73,000 kids and teachers with more than 25 kids per classroom, how are we supposed to know that each child is being challenged?

    Under NCLB schools are required to help the kids who perform below grade level. Under state law schools are required to help kids who are gifted. That leaves very few resources for the kids in the middle. Totally off topic, but how do we find the balance?

  16. Economically disadvantaged is used for title 1 funding. Title 1 funding is so much more than non-title 1 funding that schools actually hope to have enough title 1 students so that they can get the extra cash.

  17. It doesn’t matter if the children are not “told,” Moon-howler, the teachers and administrators will know who their “disadvantaged” kids are in every category…and many, if not most, will treat them differently (they’re human, right?). Some “kindly,” others perhaps not so much. The sad fact is, kids can be cruel under the best of circumstances…and they always find out when someone is considered “different,” even when it’s not so obvious. It’s hard enough just being a kid.

  18. Labels, no matter what type, are always dangerous. They categorize and stereotype. The problem is, our language kind of depends on them because every WORD is a category.

    Maybe we should all just stop speaking and writing.

  19. Every WORD is a category? Typical faulty logic, Pinko.

  20. Okay,then what is “typical” but a category? Look up the definition and note the synonyms. These are categories of words that mean “common” or “to be expected.”

    What is “faulty”? Again, look it up.

    What is “it”? It’s a pronoun. What is “pronoun”? It’s a word that stands for a noun. What is a noun?

    This is linguistics, not faulty logic.

  21. The school my children attend has about 10 – 15% disadvantaged students. I have no clue who those kids are. The teachers may know and the administrators probably know, but I highly doubt the kids know.

    Title 1 schools, by definition have more than 35% disadvantaged students. That’s 9 or more kids in each class. You’re not looking at an isolated group of kids, you’re looking at a significant portion of the student population.

    And because those kids are disadvantaged, the school gets more money to buy textbooks, hire additional resource leads, and improve the facility.

  22. Elena

    great question MonsterMom!

    As a middle school counselor, I was always worried about those kids in the “middle”. Also, NCLB, has the potential to LEAVE the most vulnerable kids behind.

  23. Elena

    twenty years ago was “long after the turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s” ? Was inequality and racism suddenly erased?! @Second-Alamo

  24. Elena

    Reported about Brentsville High School in 1995

    “For five seasons, members of a high school baseball team used a symbol adopted from a racist joke and a Ku Klux Klan logo as a secret good-luck charm.

    The symbol – a circle with an “X” inside and two dots at the narrow point of each pie-shaped quadrant – is called “the well” by players at Brentsville District High School, 30 miles southwest of Washington.They scratched it in the dirt before games for good luck.

    The symbol is used in a riddle in which a person draws the design and asks: “What’s this?” The answer is: “The last thing a black man sees after they drop him down a well.” The drawing looks like four hooded Klansmen looking down a hole.

    It also resembles the Celtic cross used by the KKK and other white supremacist groups.

    “It’s kind of racist,” said Lee Galloway, who graduated in June and played third base for the state champions. “It’s just something we do. It’s complicated.”

    The Prince William County School District said it would investigate the practice and whether coaches knew about it. The ritual was first reported in the Potomac News of Woodbridge.

    “That’s mind-blowing. I find this very hard to believe,” said William Hundley, the only black member of the school board in the overwhelmingly white, upper-middle-class county. “If one of the adults knew about it and did nothing, that’s outrageous.” ”


  25. It’s KIND of racist???

    I put that in the same category as “blacks knew their place.”

  26. Moon-howler

    I had forgotten about that baseball team symbol stuff. It probably went on for as long as it did because no one knew what the hell it meant anyway. It was an isolated incident and was dealt with as soon as it became public. One team of kids does not speak for the entire school or the entire county.

    I have lived in Prince William County many years. I would have to say that race relations were better here than most places. Perfect? no. Good? Yes.

    I have used a lot of celtic symbols in jewelry making. I am not a klansman nor does my interest in celtic symbols make me suspect.

  27. Moon-howler

    What caught my eye in that story is that we were described as an upper middle class county. I don’t know how they would describe us today.

  28. DB

    Thing to know about Title 1 funds…just b/c one school is issued a Title 1 status, and another school in the system receives the same status years later does not mean the system gets more money. The school system then splits the money with the newly designated school, and if another school reaches “designation”, the pot is split again, and again, and again. Each school does not receive a Title I pot of gold. The system receives one pot and divides the pot accordingly. Schools however cannot prevent a Title I designation, it ebbs and flows with the economy. Do extra fund help out? Sure they do. Do they help out in an astronomical sense? Nope.

  29. Moon-howler

    Thanks DB for that info. So in City of Manassas, title I money might have to be split between 4 elementary schools?

    In a large system like the county, would more money ever be added to the pot? I would guess that 25% of county elementary schools might be title I designated. That is a lot to share on pot of gold.

  30. @Elena
    That’s right Elena…as I said, you’ll always find one or two (or a few) troublemakers (and you really had to dig to find that incident, didn’t you?).

    Unfortunately, BDHS has no alumni association, however, when my own children started there I became concerned that the school was not as I remembered. No direction, no discipline, no real focus on academics, and the Principal was a whimpering coward without an ounce of leadership ability. My son was having problems adjusting to middle school in a combined high school setting, so I decided, and arranged, to follow him around school for a day to get him organized. While I was there I decided to look into the school itself, and try to determine the source of the problems that I saw there. When I satisfied myself that I had a good grasp of what was going on, I came out of my “political retirement” and focused myself on the school board.

    Long story short, the Thanksgiving after that November election the Principal and Athletic/Activities Director came back from the break to pink slips, OUTSTANDING replacements were hired (including the best Principal I believe the school ever had), and BDHS began a period of award-winning (county, state, and national), outstanding achievements. Never underestimate the resolve of a determined parent and alumnus. By the way, that Athletic Director was the responsible adult in that situation you reference…one of the things I found out in my “research” phase. What happened there in that ONE incident, for which you really had to dig, could happen anywhere, at any school.

    The moral of this story is that parental involvement is a key factor in the education of their children and in maintaining the quality of the school system itself. Who else has a greater vested interest?

  31. DB

    As of the announcement today at a staff meeting, ALL elementary schools in the City of Manassas (5) are currently available for Title 1 status. That means that All ES have 40% or more students that qualify for free or reduced meals.

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