Statement by Jon Graft regarding systemic inequality in our American Education System

headerStatement from June 16, 2020, Butler Tech Board of Education Meeting

Jon Graft, Superintendent

 

First and foremost, this has burdened my heart for some time now.  My faith as a Christian continues to work in me and continues to be in me. It does not and cannot leave me when I enter the doors of my workplace; Butler Tech.  My faith pushes my human fear aside to share these words with you and the audience today.  I am nothing without my faith.  So I share these words with the hope for an inspirational push for collective action.  

I stand with the protesters, police, elected officials, government officials, business leaders, essential workers, first responders, churches, schools, organizations, businesses, and Americans that have love in their hearts and reconciliation as their primary goal.

While others can speak to other systems of government, it is long overdue that we recognize the systemic inequality in our American Education System.  

According to the Office for Civil Rights, 1.6 million students attend a school with law enforcement officers, but not a school counselor. In fact, the national student-to-counselor ratio is 491-to-1, however, the American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250-to-1.

(American School Counselor Association)

(U.S. Department of Education Office for 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Snapshot: A first look)

SCHOOL DISTRICTS WHERE the majority of students enrolled are students of color 

  • receive $23 billion less in education funding than predominantly white school districts nationally
  • despite serving the same number of students 
  • This underscores the depth of K-12 funding inequities in the U.S.

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/26/696794821/why-white-school-districts-have-so-much-more-money

(Rebecca Sibilia, founder, and CEO of EdBuild)

African American students are less likely than white students to have access to college-ready courses. In fact, in 2011-12: Students by demographic who had full range of math and science courses necessary for college readiness are as follows,

  • 57 percent of black students had access 
  • 81 percent of Asian American students had access
  • 71 percent of white students had access.

(U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Data Snapshot: College and Career Readiness)

African American students are less likely to graduate: 

  • In the school year, 2017–18, the national adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students was 85 percent, 
    • Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest ACGR (92 percent), 
    • followed by White (89 percent), 
    • Hispanic (81 percent), 
    • Black (79 percent), 
    • American Indian/Alaska Native (74 percent) students.

Black students spend less time in the classroom due to discipline, which further hinders their access to quality education. 

  • Black students are nearly two times as likely to be suspended without educational services as white students. 
  • Black students are also 3.8 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white students. 

(U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Data Snapshot: School Discipline)

Educational inequities have economically burdened marginalized populations in our country.  In 2016, the average wealth of a White Family was $143,600 compared to a Black Family’s average wealth of $12,920, Our education system is culpable in the perpetuation of these statistics.  

https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/wealth/wealth-asset-ownership.html

(U.S. Census Bureau. “Wealth, Asset Ownership, & Debt of Households Detailed Tables: 2016,” Download “Wealth and Asset Ownership for Households, by Type of Asset and Selected Characteristics: 2016.” Accessed April 27, 2020.)

Newt Gingrich said, 

“If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk”.  

For me, this means we cannot go back to normal… 

Until we are systemic, methodical, and consistent in our approach to addressing these issues related to race, educational, and economic freedom, we will not see progress. 

Until we are inclusive, equitable, accessible, and diverse enough in our education system, it will be very difficult to make progress.  

For true reconciliation, we must be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  We have lots to work on and a ton to accomplish.  

As the leader of Butler Tech, I look forward to taking on the challenge of the education revolution and working with the dedicated staff and students to better understand how to make our world better. 

Jon Graft,
Superintendent, Butler Tech