Is Racism Systemic in Loudoun Schools?


by James A. Bacon

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has launched an investigation into Loudoun County public schools for failing to provide African American students equal access to advanced programs, reports the Washington Post. The announcement follows charges by the Loudoun NAACP that discrimination against African-Americans is “not just rampant, it’s systemic.”

It never ceases to amaze me how such politically progressive school districts can be so racist. Remember, Loudoun is the school system that introduced 5- and 6-year-olds to LGBT ideology by distributing “My Princess Boy.” And in August, Superintendent Eric Williams issued a statement condemning white supremacy and other forms of hate, emphasizing that the school system “rejects racist and other hateful behavior and language.”

From what I can gather from the WaPo article, the NAACP has two complaints. One is that African-American students are the victims of racist bullying and are subjected to a “hostile learning environment.” The other is that they are denied access to the challenging curriculum of gifted programs and AP classes.

The WaPo provided no specific instances of racist or bullying behavior in the article, but it did call attention to the under-representation of African-Americans in the Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering and Technology. In the fall of 2019, only two black students were enrolled in the Academy of Engineering and Technology compared to 79 Asians and 62 whites.

This is pure conjecture on my part — call me crazy — but maybe admission into Loudoun’s elite schools is related in some way to academic achievement. In the case of an academy of engineering and science, one might expect admission to be tied specifically to achievement in math and science.

Here are the “advanced pass” rates for 8th-grade math Standards of Learning tests in Loudoun County:

Asian — 10.00%
White — 4.14%
Black — 1.88%
Hispanic — 3.21%

Here are the “advanced pass” rates for 8th-grade science Standards of Learning tests in Loudoun County:

Asian — 38.41%
White — 25.06%
Black — 10.05%
Hispanic — 7.57%

It’s obvious from these numbers that Asian students would predominate in the Academy of Engineering and Technology. While the gap between whites and blacks is wide in the SOLs, however, it is even wider in academy admissions. That may warrant a closer look. It would be interesting to know what criteria the schools use for admissions, and how objective they are.

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8 responses to “Is Racism Systemic in Loudoun Schools?

  1. Where Civility Is a Motto, a School Integration Fight Turns Bitter
    A plan to desegregate schools in a liberal Maryland suburb founded on values of tolerance has met with stiff resistance

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/12/us/howard-county-school-redistricting.html

    • Why in God’s name would you read the New York Times for information about a school system in Maryland? The Baltimore Sun is hardly Breitbart but they are certainly a lot more balanced than the New York Times. Here’s an article from 2017 about differences in AP classes (similar to charges leveled in Loudoun County) –

      https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/investigations/bs-md-school-segregation-series-howard-20170325-story.html

      Note this paragraph ….

      “Howard County is the most integrated school district in the region, according to the Maryland Equity Project of the University of Maryland. Children of different races β€” especially those who are black and white β€” are more likely to sit next to each other in Howard than almost anywhere else in the state.”

      Is the Maryland Equity Project a pseudonym for The John Birch Society? I doubt it.

      Why would anybody want to “desegregate” the most integrated school system in the state?

      Easy – the educators are failing in their jobs of raising the achievement levels of black and hispanic children. Even in the “most integrated school district in the region” there are some schools with more African-American and Hispanic students than other schools. Having failed to improve education in those schools (despite plenty of mo’ money) the school board now wants to mix up students from underperforming schools with students from over-performing schools. That will temporarily make the underperforming schools look better. It will also make the over-performing schools look worse. Equity achieved! And without any of the hard work involved in actually improving the education the children receive. All you need is more money for more buses.

      This debate over school busing II will be coming to Northern Virginia soon. Probably the Richmond suburbs too.

      • “That will temporarily make the underperforming schools look better. It will also make the over-performing schools look worse. Equity achieved!”

        No, fake equity is claimed. But in fact, more and more kids hen are forced into even more dysfunctional schools where even successful kids before, now fail.

        Remember too, all leftest regimes must operate by coercion. Hence in the end all require thuggery, including a top thug.

  2. Well I did wonder why the NYT wrote it and not Wapo but the bigger point here is that multiple school systems are now concerned about the same problem and proposing various similar schemes of “mixing” the low income kids with middle income/higher income kids because they feel, in part, that the low income neighborhood schools do not provide the same level of opportunity and part of that “opportunity” is to be in a school where the income demographics are more homogenized – that being in a school where a large number of kids are from low-income demographics is a problem.

    Now I think the schools are closer to the problem that commentators not involved in schools – but I’m not sure what the schools are proposing is going to “fly” without some more tweaks and adjustments, so it’s not so “busing” centric.

    Clearly it’s still a problem and in my mind , CLEARLY it’s not because virtually all schools are “not trying hard enough”.

    Most larger school systems end up with bifurcation of neighborhood schools between low income and middle/higher income and it clearly has a deleterious impact on kids who have normal IQs but do not make academic progress at the same rate as their counterparts in non-low-income schools.

    Playing the blame game is not going to fix it. If you don’t like what the schools are doing – then come up with an alternative – that works – not just advocating for non-public schools who can cherry-pick and do not have the same level of accountability for their performance.

  3. This is what I call a “long dance” issue. It’s stubborn and confounding and subtle and our recognition, understanding and acceptance of the realities is evolving, and we don’t see obvious effective solutions just troubling things that are not healing and not responding to what we think ought to work.

    We have two kinds of folks in our society – the kind that embraces education as vital and necessary and the kind that only want just enough of it to make their way into the world and are largely satisfied with being trained to do a job then make a career of it – as opposed to being an individual who never stops pursuing knowledge both as part of their employment but also part of who they are.

    That’s fine for personal choice – make your choices – bear the consequences but what do we do with kids who all deserve the
    opportunity to grow up making their own decisions about education instead of being consigned to a fate determined largely by their parents attitudes?

    Oh, and I say this as a son whose parents were of the “just enough education to make it” types. Dad was a Career Marine – then a grocery store butcher and Mom was your basic housewife , racist as the day was long.

    • I don’t often see that they produced a son with the kind of questioning, skeptical mind that starts out suspicious of “conventional wisdom.” πŸ™‚ The result of my formal education was to understand how little I actually knew! So I kept reading, observing. Being a reporter was all about being curious, wanting a seat on the front row. Shouldn’t be teasing you, Larry, because I think we’re close on this.

      It is a cop out (great old phrase) to blame the racial disparities in educational attainment measurements (note I don’t equate those with “intelligence”) on suspected racist attitudes among teachers, or the “trauma” of attending a school named for a Johnny Reb. It is a cultural crisis which has been building for three generations at least. I’ll accept a blame on poverty long before I’ll accept any role from “racism.” Much of the problem is in place by age 3, and even the benefits of pre-school will fade if the education “process” is not supported over time at home. What’s next? Removing kids showing educational failure out of the homes entirely?

      I start with the premise the brains are the same, the potential well distributed, and it’s the environment and expectation and investment of time and care which produce the good results. Being a good parent is hard stuff. But plenty of parents in dire financial circumstances manage to do it. We can’t just ignore this problem but we need to remove race from the discussion. It sucks all the air out immediately.

  4. “That’s fine for personal choice – make your choices – bear the consequences but what do we do with kids who all deserve the opportunity to grow up making their own decisions about education instead of being consigned to a fate determined largely by their parents attitudes?”

    Short of forcing parents into “parenting classes,” putting kids in foster homes or even terminating parental rights, there are limits as to what can be done. We spend tons of extra money on kids from poor families or kids whose native language is not English. We start by offering Head Start and similar programs and continue by offering many extra resources throughout their school years. What else should be done? How much more should we spend?

    And what about kids who come from higher income families that speak English whose parents don’t care about their education?

    This is a lot less about the kids and more about getting more money into the educrats’ pockets.

  5. First things first – nobody should be asked to provide an alternative to a bad idea. Bad ideas should be abandoned because they are bad ideas.

    Second, I’d really like to hear a forced busing supporter explain the core philosophy of forced busing. African- Americans disproportionately struggle in school because of the lack of white people (or Asian people) in the school? That’s what it sounds like to me and that’s about as racist as it gets. No doubt the argument will be that kids learn better in more diverse schools. We’ve seen excellent progress in Southwest Virginia public schools through a “best practices” approach in an area where there is very little diversity and considerable poverty. Why isn’t that approach on the agenda?

    Thirdly, we’ve seen excellent results in West Point, Va which is far from the wealth of NoVa. The explanation there was basically a community schooling environment. Moving kids out of their neighborhoods is the polar opposite of that observably successful approach. Maybe teachers and administrators in public school need to be compelled to live in their school’s areas. Not their school district, their school. Offer a housing allowance for those who do. Mo’ money? Yes. But mo’ money based on an approach we’ve seen work.

    Fourth, if the legions of administrators in today’s public schools can only come up with a repeat of the tried and abandoned policy of forced busing we don’t need nearly as many administrators. Fire 3/4 of the public school administrators and use the money to implement best teaching practices programs and provide housing subsidies for teachers willing to live in the same neighborhoods as the schools where they teach.

    Finally, what will really happen if Howard County proceeds with their forced busing plan? In the 2010 census the median income for a family in Howard County was $119,810. The parents of kids from over-performing schools being bussed t0 under performing schools will either move out of Howard County or send their kids to private schools. Then, they will suddenly become Republicans again. Much of the gain by Democrats across the country and in Virginia has been based on conversions of relatively affluent suburbanites. Want to see the fastest way to reverse that trend? Implement forced busing.

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