Monday, May 24, 2010

IGSS Challenge: Civil Rights Data Collection

Something really got me fired up today! I decided we should pose this question to IGSS students since they are writing about the efficacy of change agents in U.S. history and today.

Here's the story--Our Asst. Supt. for Student Services Mr. Tim Hayes sent the following letter home to parents:

Dear Parents,
By now you have been contacted by your son’s or daughter’s adviser regarding New Trier High School’s participation in the Civil Rights Data Collection.  New Trier has been selected for participation in this data collection by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.  The data collection is conducted every other year, and participation for those schools selected is mandatory.   More information on the data collection can be found at

We are reaching out to you because our records show that your son or daughter is listed in the “multiracial” category in his or her demographic information.  However, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights does not recognize “multiracial” as a category for this mandatory data collection, nor does it allow a person to choose more than one category.
If you have not already responded to your son’s or daughter’s adviser, please reply to this email, and let me know what category you would like the school to use for your child.  You may only select one category.  [emphasis is mine] They are:
·         White
·         Black
·         American Indian/Alaska Native
·         Asian/Pacific Islander
·         Hispanic
We recognize that this is a sensitive topic for students and families.  For that reason, I am contacting you directly to make sure that you are aware of the request.  Please know that the data submitted for this purpose does not identify individual students.   Your selection of a race will be used solely for New Trier’s submission to the Department of Education and will not affect your student’s record at our school, which continues to recognize the multiracial category.  In addition, you will have the opportunity to review all of the school demographic data for your son or daughter later this summer and make any necessary corrections.
If your child has been incorrectly listed in the multicultural category, please let me know how they should be listed, and we will correct our records.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Timothy Hayes
Assistant Superintendent for Student Services
New Trier High School

Why are educators constantly asked to do stupid things by governmental agencies?  Why do schools comply? [to get funding!]  What if schools were to write-in the racial information provided by the parents?  Would anyone even notice?   What could Civil Disobedience to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights request for information look like? Obviously our Supt. takes his job seriously and wants to comply with federal regulations.  What can we do as teachers and as a student body to change this? 

Why do federal regulations include naming/labeling children of multiracial origin?  Should we all roll over and take this?  What if you or your son or daughter were biracial?  Do you want the federal government making you choose a category? To the exclusion of another? Does this actually violate Title VI in some way?  Does the race labeling itself constitute a type of discrimination?  

The intent of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was to declare that discrimination on the grounds of race, color, or national origin shall not occur in connection with programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance and authorizes and directs the appropriate Federal departments and agencies to take action to carry out this policy.

Why does the U.S. Census take into account a larger variety of categories and also allow a write-in category?  Shouldn't the U.S. Department of Education take this into consideration?  Why are they allowed to bully parents into making a statement about the race of their child?

According to the Public Law 94-171 Redistricting Data File, Race is defined for the 2000 U.S. Census as:

"The concept of race as used by the Census Bureau reflects self-identification by people according to the race or races with which they most closely identify. These categories are sociopolitical constructs and should not be interpreted as being scientific or anthropological in nature. Furthermore, the race categories include both racial and national-origin groups."

Now, take a look at the  Census 2010 form with their categories for "race". Note that they are very careful to specify that "Hispanic origins are not races". Note also that respondents may provide write-in entries such as multiracial, mixed, interracial. Also, take a look at the most recent (2006) New Trier High School data collection report.  How does this type of report promote educational excellence (which is the purported mission of the Office of Education)?  I would guess that these demographics are used to track educational attainment of students.  At the end of the day, aren't these statistics just more government misinformation/lies?

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