This Tricky Thing Called Equity (in education)
August 21, 2019

TRUST YOUR TRUTH!!!

Is it possible for two opposing facts to both be true? 

As a parent raising two black boys in Baton Rouge, I often asked myself this question. My experience navigating my sons through schools in Baton Rouge brought me to the realization that there is a place where two things can be true, at the same time…and your truth can be so real that you couldn’t even understand the other thing…even if you tried.

A couple weeks ago I read an article in the local newspaper that stated “East Baton Rouge, the second largest district in Louisiana, improved for a second year in a row. It grew two percentage points overall in mastery in English, social studies and math. Almost six out of 10 schools in the parish improved and four schools improved 10 percentage points or more.”

I was like, “WOW, Maybe schools in East Baton Rouge Parish (like a county if you live in any other state) are doing good for children!” BUT about 72 hours later I read an article in a national publication that explained that, “Just 1/3 of parish students have access to an A or B school.” I was confused. These were both facts BUT they told different stories about East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. I asked the question, “Is it possible for these two opposing facts to both be true?”

EBR Public Schools Performance at District Level

It is indeed true that EBR Parish Schools grew two percentage points overall in mastery in English and math last school year (2018-19). The words “grew”, “overall” and “mastery” make this a true statement but there is another story to be told. Consider these points:

  • While 50% of White students attained mastery in 3rd grade English, only 34% of black students and 24% of Hispanic/Latino students attained mastery
  • Similarly, 53% of White students attained mastery in 3rd grade Math, while only 29% of black students and 30% of Hispanic/Latino students attained mastery

These trends repeat themselves in 4th and 8th grade English and math, with the achievement gaps only growing larger. These academic achievement results are alarming as 90 percent of the district’s 42,000 students are children of color. 

Inequities displayed in EBR Public Schools at the School Level

Achievement gaps are most clear in East Baton Rouge Parish Schools at the school level. I compared two elementary schools and this is what I found.      

…and there are 3x more schools that look like the red block than the purple block. 

Wisdom Wednesday = Trust your truth!!!

Just because someone tells you that EBR Schools are AMAZING you don’t have to blindly believe them. Don’t just send your child to any school. Two things can be true, at the same time…and your truth can be so real that you couldn’t even understand the other thing…even if you tried. [Click here for District Level Data] + [Click here for School Level Data]

Raymond Allmon
Raymond Allmon
Raymond is best known as Kris and Kaleb’s dad. He is a longtime proponent for education transformation and has been a resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana for over 35 years. Raymond traces his fight for education back to his middle school years at Prescott Middle School. His path took him from Dougherty Drive (the street at the main entrance to Howell Park), to Prescott Middle, Scotlandville Magnet High School, Dillard University and Louisiana State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Mass Communications and Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

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