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Oppose Institutional Racism in the APS Budget Survey
  • jeffelkner February 1, 2014 - 10:27 am #98232 Reply

    The just released APS Budget Survey (http://www.apsva.us/Page/20984) presents an option to eliminate a program serving students 22 years of age and older who attend Arlington Mill High School. This proposal should be loudly opposed by all social justice seeking members of the Arlington community as a clear instance of institutional racism.

    Institutional racism is “the systematic distribution of resources, power and opportunity in our society to the benefit of people who are white and the exclusion of people of color.” * It is a useful concept for progressives, because it raises a standard by which to evaluate policy proposals of an institution – the impact they will have on social inequality within the institution. The proposal to eliminate educational opportunities for the Arlington Mill High School students will have an obvious negative impact on social equality in Arlington, since almost all of the over 200 students affected by the proposal are students of color.

    The very fact that this proposal appears on the survey raises serious questions about the thinking behind the budget process. Why consider eliminating a program now that has been serving the Arlington community since 1929? Why propose the elimination of a program that directly serves the most economically vulnerable members of our community?

    Arlingtonians who want to live in a just, caring, and diverse community should actively oppose eliminating support for the Arlington Mill High School program and insist that we continue to serve the valued members of our community who are over 22 years of age and still need to complete a high school education.

    * Solid Ground’s Definition of Institutional Racism

    aldohexose February 1, 2014 - 11:13 am #98233 Reply

    Hold on Mr Jeffelkner,

    Let’s tell the rest of the story before one smears the Arlington Public School system with having “institutional racism”.

    These students would not be “dropped” out of the school system and thrown to the wolves as you imply. The services provided the students are not being eliminated. Thus the basis of your argument is unfounded.

    Per the survey, these students “will be served by the Office of Adult Education in the Dept of Instruction. Moving students from Arlington Mill enables the Langston Alternative Program to merge with Arlington Mill, saving the cost of some administrative and instruction stall at two locations.”

    Between you and me, jumping on the institutional racism bandwagon when referring to one of the most progression, open, and racially aware educational programs in the country, was well……just plain idiotic.

    arl22204 February 1, 2014 - 12:28 pm #98234 Reply

    It’s important to acknowledge that the Office of Adult Education does not offer a high school diploma. Does Adult Ed offer coursework ( & SOLs) required by the VADOE to prepare students for post-secondary ed? Also, if we think of a GED as an alternative, is it my understanding that students would need to pass a proficiency test to enroll. That may be problematic for our immigrants whose children are enrolled in our schools. It would be “just plain idiotic” not to offer an ability to earn a high school diploma, as APS has done since (as jeffelkner states) 1929?

    aldohexose February 1, 2014 - 12:45 pm #98236 Reply

    arl22204, I think the answer to your question(s) is “yes” per this Arlington Adult Education link. But, I readily admit this is not my field of (any) expertise. http://www.apsva.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=1704

    Let me be clear. Education is critical and courses leading to GED need to be available. My issue with jeffelkner’s post was his over-the-top diatribe about institutional racism and making that the topic of his thread. That is what is “just plain idiotic.” Not whether the county should offer Pre=GED classes. Please do not confuse the two issues.

    Be that as it may, I am not prepared to or interested in discussing the nuts and bolts of GED predatory classes. I was interested in setting the record straight such that the Arl Co Public School system wasn’t smeared.

    dennisjaffe February 1, 2014 - 2:07 pm #98237 Reply

    1. At the moment, I don’t have enough familiarity with the program jeffelkner wrote about for me to weigh in on the merit or lack thereof in the option to cut it.

    2. jeffelkner’s closing statement made clear that he is not smearing the school system since he obviously believes that the specific program he is writing about would “…continue to serve the valued members of our society who are over 22 years of age…”

    Arlingtonians who want to live in a just, caring, and diverse community should actively oppose eliminating support for the Arlington Mill High School program and insist that we continue to serve the valued members of our community who are over 22 years of age and still need to complete a high school education.

    3. The second sentence in jeffelkner’s post, using the word, “instance,” makes clear that he is singling out one budget option for criticism — that’s hardly a reflection, by itself, of how the entire school system currently operates.

    This proposal should be loudly opposed by all social justice seeking members of the Arlington community as a clear instance of institutional racism.

    4. In fair, reasonable context, jeffelkner’s post is singling out for criticism one possible budget option and is singling out one program as being valuable. A smear that does not make.

    5. I think the world of many people and organizations, yet I also find many of them engaging in things which I feel compelled to criticize — even strenuously. Good and/or smart people and organizations are quite capable of doing things I find to be bad, stupid or even occcasionally both. I may not find the converse to be true quite as often, but nevertheless, I do find bad and/or stupid people to be capable of doing things I find meriting praise. Hey, it happens.

    So, I’m sure that someone who is, in fact, as incredibly supportive of Arlington Public Schools, as is jeffelkner, can find highly objectionable a budget option affecting one very particular program — and yet remain a stout supporter of and advocate for APS, and ne’er the twain of elkner and smear shall meet.

    6. My view is that as common as I believe institutional racism can still be — and I’m talking generally here — I consistently have long found it to be way more prevalent that institutions make decisions that adversely affect those who are unempowered socio-economically. Yes, indeed, communities of color have higher percentages of poverty than communities of plain, white folks. But I don’t think any can credibly argue with the assertion that wealthy people of color have more power and advantages over poor white folks. And, again, I believe that indifference or worse toward poor people is more prevalent than indifference or worse toward people of color. Put the two attributes together and you really have some issues meriting redress.

    Swag February 1, 2014 - 2:32 pm #98241 Reply

    jeffelkner
    Member Since: February 1, 2014
    Activity: 1

    arl22204
    Member Since: February 1, 2014
    Activity: 1

    dennisjaffe
    Member Since: February 1, 2014
    Activity: 1

    http://i.imgur.com/HKhsnBV.png

    dennisjaffe February 1, 2014 - 2:40 pm #98242 Reply

    Huh?

    jeffelkner February 1, 2014 - 4:15 pm #98244 Reply

    Actually, aldohexose, the use of the term institutional racism was not intended as a smear at all. I learned to use this term in the same cultural competency training I attended that introduced me to the need to hold couragous conversations about it if we are going to reduce it’s pernicious effects.

    I can’t image that any honest and well informed person could fail to see this proposal for what it is: an attempt save money by reducing benefits to a marginalized and politically weak group.

    That is the very essence of institutional racism – instituional practicises that have the effect of extending the privileges of the powerful white majority at the expense of the oppressed minority.

    I have confidence in both the intelligence and good will of my fellow Arlingtonians, so I felt a moral duty to start this conversation so that those of us who consider ourselves anti-racist can oppose this harm being proposed to the members of the largely immigrant community that make up the adult student population of Arlington Mill High School.

    It is my hope that these valued members of our community are not as politically marginalized as might be thought, because a larnge number of Arlingtonians will stand in solidarity with them.

    aldohexose February 1, 2014 - 4:46 pm #98246 Reply

    jeffelkner, my apologies. After reading Dennis Jaffe’s post (and yours) I realized that I misconstrued part of your message, and placed emphasis where you had not intended it. I also which to withdraw any indication that you were smearing Arl Co schools. Instead you were mostly pointing out this one option as being a bad one. (I hope I have that correct). I mistakenly thought you were knocking the school system for considering such an idea. Which I guess you are, but not in the way I had first thought.

    Thank you for responding to my post and clarifying my initial interpretation.

    And for what it is worth. I am only me. And, jeffelkner and dennisjaffe are in real life two different people. As for arl22204, can I google you under a different name? :-})

    jeffelkner February 1, 2014 - 5:22 pm #98250 Reply

    aldohexose, I can assure you that arl22204 is not me, though she or he may very well be one of the several people I emailed this morning to let them know I was making this post. If so, I’m honored they took me up on my request that they join the conversation ;-)

    fakenovasteve February 1, 2014 - 5:39 pm #98252 Reply

    So many new people. And yet, no one complaining about whining libs and the socialist school system. :-)

    FYI: new people, this is an “inside” joke for the more veteran readers. Not intended towards you.

    arl22204 February 1, 2014 - 11:09 pm #98257 Reply

    To clarify, students in Adult Ed are not able to earn a high school diploma.

    Hyde February 2, 2014 - 4:39 am #98260 Reply

    So if 22 is too young to essentially kick someone out of high school, what age would you consider to be more appropriate Jeff? I’d think after being held back 4 years over the course of 13* years of education, it’d be a safe bet to say 99% of those left either: 1) Aren’t interested in actually graduating, or 2) Have some sort of learning disability that wouldn’t keep them in regular classes anyway. Should we consider allowing them to continue until the age of 45?

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

    *12 years of school plus Kindergarten

    arl22204 February 2, 2014 - 10:28 am #98268 Reply

    Hyde, most of the students at Arlington Mill High School are immigrants who, for a number of different reasons, had interrupted education in their countries. Most of them work full time and take one – four courses a semester. They are highly motivated. Some go on NVCC and beyond. Some even get scholarships. They do not have learning disabilities.

    amhsvol February 2, 2014 - 12:18 pm #98270 Reply

    Hyde, I am a volunteer several days a week at the Tutoring Center at Arlington Mill High School, have raised my own children, and have worked at more traditional secondary schools for the past decade. In my experience, the students at Arlington Mill High School are some of the most mature and motivated students I have ever had the privilege to work with. These are students who WANT to be in school, and they highly value the educational opportunity they have been provided. Not only do they work hard to succeed themselves, but they also help and give back to one another. Several tutors who volunteer at the Tutoring Center are either current students who have specific subject expertise or former AMHS graduates who are now attending college, and who choose to take their personal time to give back to others.

    In addition, recently, a representative from Northern Virginia Community College came to speak to the students at Arlington Mill, and give them an opportunity to register for classes. The session was standing room only, with a majority of students registering for NOVA at the end of the session. So, echoing the sentiments of arl22204, these are intelligent, motivated and hard working students – many of them immigrants — who for various reasons (ie many of them also work full time) have not had the opportunity to finish high school by the age of 22. They should absolutely be given the opportunity to receive a high school education and beyond, so that they will become productive, contributing, happy members of our community, as well as positive role models for others, including future generations.

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