"Still Separate and Still Unequal"

October 30, 2000

To: Ms. Kathy Rider

President, Board of Trustees

Austin Independent School District

Subject: Emergency: Reverse AISD Failure to Educate Our Children

Dear Ms. Rider and AISD Board of Trustees,

Austin is a great place to live and raise children. Our schools are failing to educate our children. 46 years after Brown our schools are still separate and still unequal. We believe that equitable educational achievement should be the ultimate measure of our educational system. Today, students of color continue to perform worse than white students on most academic measures. Students of color are more likely to be high school dropouts. Unless you believe that children of color are inferior in their ability to learn, you must conclude with us that we have an emergency of horrible magnitude and immediate and deliberate action is required to reverse the trend.

We need smaller classes and reduced administrative burden on teachers. We need resources for high quality education for all students, especially those with the highest needs. We need authentic assessment and high standards instead of [a] political test. We need racial and economic equity in education policies, indicators, opportunities and outcomes. We need first class teaching and rigorous curriculum with an internalized belief that all healthy students can and must learn, and their success is the primary measurement of AISD return on investment.

We require that the Board of Trustees take the following actions immediately and measure the achievement progress and report achievement status to the community monthly:

1. Mandate goal of 100% of all students to demonstrate mastery of all TAAS objectives in Campus Improvement Plans (CIP) now.

2. Reduce over representation by 75% of African American children in special education classes, by November 15, 2000.

3. Increase the number of students receiving gifted education curriculum and related services to be no less than 20% of the number of each ethnic group represented in individual schools by December 1, 2000.

4. Reduce the number of students assigned to In-School Suspension, Dill and the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) to less than 1% of the ethnic groups enrolled within respective schools by November 15, 2000.

5. Recruit and staff every school with valid Texas certified teachers that reflect the demographic make up within respective schools by August 2001.

6. Eliminate staffing vacancies at all East Austin schools to reflect the ethnic groups enrolled within the respective schools by November 15, 2000.

7. Enroll a minimum of 25% of each ethnic minority group represented in individual schools in honors and/or Advanced Placement courses by spring 2001. If the school is a magnet, this goal should focus on the comprehensive community school.

8. Provide immediate support services for students enrolled in honors and AP courses to ensure that all student complete course work, take the AP tests and score "3" or higher on the exams by November 15, 2000.

9. Increase by 60% the number of African American students who are taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) and SAT or ACT and score at the National, State, or Local average (whichever is higher) by spring 2002.

10. Increase by 50% the number of secondary African American students who graduate high school with their projected class by May 2001.

11. Implement immediate teacher incentives based upon African American student performance to attract and retain successful teachers, administrators, and support staff.

12. Implement community education centers in East Austin to teach people about the National, State, and Local Standards for what is expected of students, teachers, and parents and what this looks like on a daily and yearly basis, pre-K-12, by January 2001.

13. Initiate a pool of valid Texas certified teachers and highly qualified substitute teachers who can be assigned to East Austin schools by January 2001.

14. Increase by 50% the number of African American students in mentor and internship programs with particular attention to the high-tech, medical, entertainment, communication, financial, entrepreneurship, and hospitality/tourism industries by spring 2001.

15. Implement character development throughout the curriculum at all grade levels in each school by January 2001.

16. Increase by 50% per year the number of college qualified African American students, with qualifications based as a minimum on high school GPA, senior class rank, NELS 1992 aptitude test, SAT and ACT scores, and curricular rigor by end of 2001 school year.

17. 100% parity and equity of all resources and materials at all East Austin schools by or before August 2001.

18. 100% parity and equity of teacher and administrator pay across color and gender lines by November 15, 2000.

19. Eliminate disproportionate discipline practices at every level by or before August 2001.

20. Change the grading policy back to no less than 50 instead of 0-100 by November 15, 2000.

Please advise us of an implementation plan by or before November 8, 2000.


Sterling Lands II

President, Eastside Social Action Coalition

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    Sterling Lands II and the Eastside Social Action Coalition fight for equity in Austin's public schools.

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