Racism lies behind the decision to refuse black high school students to be recognized as top class


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Was the “white vulnerability” the reason why two black Mississippi high school students lost their Valedictorian / Salutatorian status? Super / Getty Images

Two black students – Ikeria Washington and Leila Temple – were nominated as Valedictorian and Salutatorian at West Point High School in Mississippi in 2021. Two white parents We asked school officials if they correctly calculated their best academic performance.

Ultimately, the school director named the two white students “Co-Alumni” and “Co-Salutatorian.” Graduation day..

High school seniors with the highest GPA in their graduation class are often selected as graduates and responsible for giving their graduation speeches. Salutatorian, a senior in high school with the second highest GPA in graduation classes, often makes opening remarks.

directed by Due to a mistake To a new school counselor who was given incorrect information about how to calculate class rankings.

As Educational researcher Focusing on race and inequality, I recognize that the controversy at Westpoint High School is by no means isolated.

History overlooking the black graduates

Back in 1991 A federal judge in Covington, Georgia, settled a dispute between a senior black high school student and a white student by sharing honors about who would be the valedictorian.

Then in 2012 in Gainesville, Georgia, Another black graduate, was also forced to share honor with white students.Later, a family of white students asked School to drop his candidacy From academic honor.

In 2011, Kimberley WimberleyA black student in Little Rock, Arkansas, she was stripped of her valedictorian’s honor from the principal and given to a white student with a low GPA. Wimberley’s lowest grade was B in all four years of high school. For the rest of Wimberley’s courses, Honors, and Advanced Placement courses, she received an A.

Inside her ProceedingsThe day after Wimberley was informed that she was a graduate of McGay High School, the principal told her mother Molly Bratton, “A white student. Co-graduate general.. “

When I examined the 2017 proceedings, I was familiar with this kind of valedictorian dispute. Jasmine shepherd.. Shepherd, a student at Cleveland High School in Mississippi, had the highest average grade in her class.

However, the day before graduation, she was forced to co-graduate with Heather Bose, a white student with a low GPA.

How “white fragility” is exhibited

To Analysis of my peer-reviewed articles For shepherd, I do it Critical race theory..The important racial theory is Theoretical framework It Investigate racism As a social construct rooted in the American legal and political systems.

In my analysis, the decision to force black students to share the highest honors with white students was “White fragility.. ” this is State of stress Experienced by some whites when they are presented with information about people of color who challenge their sense of qualification.

I will keep As Shepherd did in 2016, when color students are nominated as top students in the graduation class, white society is a color student. Invade their social territory, So to speak.

Legal point of view

I believe that the controversy that arises when a black student is nominated as a valedictorian should be seen in the context of white vulnerabilities.

For example, consider what happened when a federal judge ordered a school district in Cleveland, Mississippi to eliminate racism after failing to eliminate racism in 2017. 1969 later Brown v. Board of Education proceedings..

After ordering in 2017, the New York Times reported: Many whites in Cleveland are “feared” “Dismantling the system encourages whites to do what they have done in many other Delta cities. They leave or leave the camp all at once for private schools.”White flight.. “

In the instance Of Jasmine Shepherd, I claim that white fragility and fear of white flight were at work.

According to court records I examined, the main reason Bose was nominated as a co-graduate with Shepherd was that Bose earned credits for an unapproved Advanced Placement course in online physics. ..

School policy requires that all courses available to students in the district be published. Unfortunately, school managers were unable to notify students, parents, and school counselors that online physics courses were available.

According to Judge Debra M. BrownThe supervisor for curriculum evaluation and guidance and the district’s deputy supervisor “wrongly believed” that the school district was allowed to offer online courses for credits that count towards student graduation requirements. “. Bouse’s online physics course “has been designated for advanced users, so it has reached 6 rank points.”

Based on the credits awarded in this unapproved online physics course, Bouse’s overall GPA swelled, but Shepard’s GPA was miscalculated. This is because her coaching counselor has re-enrolled her in a desktop publishing course where she has already received A.

As a matter of policy, it is “It goes against the school district’s practice of earning credits for courses that students have already completed and earned an “A”.According to the complaint. ” This re-registration reduced Shepherd’s overall GPA. This is explained in her complaint.

Another student filed a proceeding in 2018 very similar to Shepherd. Proceedings, Olesia James, a Cleveland School District employee saidReduce the quality points she earned From the course she took. Quality points are another indicator of student performance.

Ultimately, this prevented her from becoming the first black Salutatorian in Cleveland High School.

The· Stakes Already high in relation to Valedictorian and Salutatorian.Competition for University enrollment increases every year..

Unfortunately, people sometimes questioned the validity of the results when the winners were African-American, as in the case involving Ikeria Washington and Leila Temple at West Point High School.

According to my research, it costs money to ask questions whenever a black student is asked to be a valedictorian or a Salutatorian. Is it being asked for good reason? Or is racism or white vulnerabilities at work?

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This article has been updated to correct the location of the 2012 proceedings from Gainesville, Florida to Gainesville, Georgia.

This article will be republished from conversation, A non-profit news site aimed at sharing ideas from academic experts.

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Jamel K. Donnor is affiliated with James City-Williamsburg NAACP.

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