Beneath the Surface
- Written by Belinda Elliott
- Category: Community
- Published: 10 February 2022
Throughout the year producers from Another View and reporters from the WHRO Newsroom have been exploring unequal access to basic public services—like education—for certain demographics, and how it affects the local community.
In our most recent event on this topic, moderator Barbara Hamm Lee led a conversation with several distinguished guests and members of the community.
Event - Race Let's Talk About It: Closing the Education Gap
Watch the recorded event
About Beneath the Surface
The Education Gap
Throughout our history, there has been unequal access to basic public services for certain demographics. One basic service that stands out is education, which is a foundation for success in life and personal fulfillment. This is particularly true for African Americans.
Part of the challenges start before children enter school. Though it does not apply to all African American children, according to a Brookings report, an aptitude gap appears between Black and White children before kindergarten. One barrier is access to quality preschools. A report by The Education Trust found that far too few Black children, as well as Latino, have access to “high-quality state-funded preschool programs.” As a result, children can start school significantly behind White counterparts, which puts them at a disadvantage, possibly for years, as they can struggle to catch up.
This disparity continues, according to a 2014 report from the U.S Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, as “nearly 7 percent of the nation’s Black students” attend schools where 80 percent, or fewer, of teachers meet all state teaching certification standards.
As education switched to at-home learning, at least temporarily, due to the pandemic, another existing barrier to educational success that unduly affects both poverty and race has become much more of an obstacle: access to internet. A 2020 article from THE Journal features a study that found African American children were more likely to have less internet access than their peers, or no access at all.
Exploring Equality In Our Community
Below you will find links to our ongoing reporting of this topic in our multiplatform series Beneath the Surface.
Another View - Beneath the Surface: Closing the Education Gap
In "Brown v. Board of Education", the Supreme Court ruled that "separate is not equal", thus ending school segregation. But the ruling did nothing to close the gap between African American and white students in terms of educational access, equity and participation. The coronavirus global pandemic widened the gap further as schools pivoted to virtual learning, leaving behind those without access to internet services and computers. We discuss the educational divide between Black and white students and what must be done to create equity and fairness for all. Our guests include Dr. James Fedderman, President, Virginia Education Association; Jimmeka Anderson, Ph.D candidate who specializes in urban education; and former Juvenile and Domestic Relations judge for the city of Chesapeake, Judge Eileen Olds.
African American and Latinx students are more likely to receive lower grades and drop out of high school than whites. What has caused this educational divide and how can communities change it?
Read the full article.
Another View - Beneath the Surface: Closing the Education Gap, continued
This is the final installment of our series, "Beneath the Surface: Closing the Education Gap." We've examined the causes of the educational achievement gap between Black and White students and held a town hall where we took a deep dive into the role of parents in helping their children succeed. Now we hear first hand the power of a quality early childhood education, and answer the question, "Why are there so few Black male teachers in our public schools?" Our guests include author, advocate and attorney Liz Huntley, and her husband Tony Huntley, a career educator.
Another View Special Edition - Educating Our Black Boys
By any measure on the education spectrum, African American boys are at the bottom - except when it comes to discipline, drop outs and detention. Why does this particular group struggle so much to get a good education? What is happening in our schools to prevent Black boys from excelling? On this special edition of Another View we spoke with educator and author Dr. Marco Clark, and attorney Amos Jones about breaking the "cradle to prison" pipeline and helping our Black boys succeed.
Virginia Beach Public Schools Equity Plan
On September 9, 2020 the Virginia Beach City Public Schools Board adopted an educational equity policy that states: "Virginia Beach City Public Schools is committed to establishing and sustaining an equitable community that exemplifies the School Division's core values and equity mission to end the predictive value of race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation/gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability and to ensure each member of the school community's success. The School Board and the School Division reject all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment as destructive to their core values and strategic goals." What does this mean in practical terms for students, teachers, administrators, parents and community of VBCPS? We get answers from VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence and Dr. LaQuiche Parrot, director of the VBCPS Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. VCBPS is one of 21 school divisions that own WHRO Public Media.
The Way Virginia Funds Education Disadvantages Poorer Districts. Here's How.
Virginia education funding falls largely to localities, some of which may struggle to generate enough money to pay for everything schools need. Many school systems in the Commonwealth lack adequate support staff, like guidance counselors, because of stagnating state education funding. Read the full article.
State Commission Recommends Adding Black History Graduation Requirement
The Virginia Commission on African American History suggested policy and content changes to tell a more complete and accurate history of Black Americans. Read the full article.
According to state analysis, more K-12 and college students in Portsmouth and Norfolk lack access to broadband internet than some counties in rural Southwest Virginia.
Read the full article.
The new policy was adopted about a week after a state commission presented recommendations to change the state history curriculum to add more and correct Black history topics.
Read the full article.
Share Your Ideas With Us
We'd like to hear how you would tackle this issue. As a community, we can combine our ideas and start to make things happen. Use the form below to send us your ideas.
This program has been made possible, in part, by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Virginia Humanities.