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Civil rights group claims racial bias in MV high schools

Original post made on Jun 4, 2015

A Bay Area civil rights advocacy group released a report late last month claiming the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District is among several school districts in the area that disproportionately place minority students in lower-level math classes in ninth grade, leaving them behind their peers and reducing their chances of getting accepted into college.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 4, 2015, 10:36 AM

Comments (7)

Posted by PTAmom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 8:15 pm

I just finished reading the report and I could not find anything about the high school district in it. Same for the press release. Where does either specify Mountain View - Los Altos? Doubting my intuition, I asked my husband, who has a degree in statistics and works on using computers to analyze "big data" for a living, whether it's valid to lump together data from nine separate districts and then conclude that what is true for the lump must also be true for each district in the lump. He laughed and said, "You know it's not." Why didn't these lawyers know that. Maybe they should take a statistics course.

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 4, 2015 at 11:48 pm

MV Voice, is this the report?

Web Link

If so, as pointed out by PTAmom, there is no mention of MVLA. In addition that report is dated January 2013 and uses data from the 2006-2007 school year.

Posted by Kevin Forestieri
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Jun 4, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Kevin Forestieri is a registered user.

Among the content sent out to the Voice and other local media was an op-ed piece with the following, relevant paragraph:

"Using documents recently secured through the California Public Records Act, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area is now replicating these findings for individual school districts. Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, for example, is just down the road from Google’s headquarters. The District’s Hispanic and African-American students account for approximately 24% and 2% respectively of the student body. Yet our analysis shows that the District disproportionately enrolls these students in lower-level math classes in 9th grade – even when their grades and test scores are on par with white students’. Other districts that we are looking at show similar discrepancies."

One of the authors of the piece was also quoted in the article above directly explaining why MVLA was picked versus other school districts.

Posted by Last i remember
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 5, 2015 at 9:05 am

you were placed in the appropriate class from the tests you take. Is that not the case?

Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 5, 2015 at 9:17 am

The report describes a serious, disturbing issue if students truly were being arbitrarily held back.

Yet if what Barry Groves says is accurate -- LCCR "did not release the more district-specific data it used to come to its conclusion" -- then LCCR has been opaque on how it reaches its findings, and its credibility is seriously at issue. Dana Isaac of LCCR did little to help this situation in the article, offering assertions and anecdotes.

Unless these people are only interested in publicity-grabbing demagoguery, they need real transparency: show the data they used and how it led to their results, such that the results stand on their own in independent review -- not just some spokesperson's assertions.

Posted by PTAmom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 9:23 am

So the lawyers acting as statisticians are "now replicating" the findings of a 2013 report based on 2007 data, without bothering to publish their assumptions, methodology or analysis so the rest of us can review them. Sounds like they're saying, "Trust us. We know better than educators and parents how to analyze student performance and use it to make the placements that respect students and their parents as complex, individual human beings." Sure.
And what does it mean to say that the grades and test scores are "on par" with white students'? This isn't about golf. It's about education of Latinos in a district that has earned accolades for narrowing the achievement gap, bringing Latinos into AP courses by providing extra support, and even helping them get into colleges like Stanford and Cal.

Posted by Techie_Lawyer
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:58 pm

In an earlier post, "Common sense" says of the LCCR, "Unless these people are only interested in publicity-grabbing demagoguery, they need real transparency ... Dana Isaac of LCCR did little to help this situation in the article, offering assertions and anecdotes."

As regards "demagoguery", some historical facts are interesting and relevant. Ms. Dana Isaac, Esq., was formerly a personal injury lawyer employed by Berg Injury Lawyers. They run TV ads to get clients, and their founder started out as a TV pitch man in 1995. I'm not saying Ms. Isaac is an ambulance chaser, but her tactics in this matter certainly raise questions of bullying and self-righteous, self-important posturing, if not even more serious ethical concerns.

Look at the reason she gave for painting a bull's eye around MVLA: "While the problem is regional, Isaac said, it's important to focus on Mountain View-Los Altos because it's in the center of the tech industry -- right next door to Google -- which similarly lacks a strong minority presence. The nearby schools, she said, may be a contributing factor." She's trying to lay some blame on MVLA for Google's alleged lack of "a strong minority presence." Guilt by association, anyone? She knows full well that Google is not at all dependent on MVLA to fill its employment needs.

If one of Ms. Isaac's personal injury clients was dissatisfied with her advocacy, wouldn't she want that client to discuss his or her dissatisfaction directly with her before running to the press to accuse her of malpractice. Well, she's accusing the district of malpractice and, according to the Voice article, hasn't even contacted them since making her public records request.

The whole thing smacks of McCarthyism, from the hidden data to the public smears. Robert Welch, Esq., a noble attorney, is turning in his grave.

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