Classrooms not Courtrooms, 2016 Initiative

classroom not courtroom initiative

Logo created by Lisa Tinneny.

In order to reduce suspension rates at Happy Valley High School, the Happy Valley School District will kick off the “Classrooms not Courtrooms” initiative at the beginning of the 2016 school year. “Research indicates that excessive use of exclusionary discipline has a negative impact on the learning environment, student achievement, graduation rates, and rates of juvenile crime and delinquency” (Staples, 2015). The initiative will include several strategies for the principal and teachers to help eliminate disciplinary actions that lead to suspension. First of all, Happy Valley School District will have several opportunities throughout the year to promote constructive partnerships with law enforcement and the students at Happy Valley High School. Secondly, School Resource Officers will be trained to incorporate effective strategies for discipline. Thirdly, The framework of Happy Valley School District’s discipline code will be expanded and improved upon to include Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Consequently, Happy Valley School District will track specific data related to disorderly conduct offenses in order to implement alternatives for disciplinary action. Finally, the Happy Valley School District will also provide on going training opportunities for teachers during in-services.

The “Classrooms not Courtrooms” initiative will receive continual funding through the state government. The Governor, Terry McAuliffe, states that the initiative is “a multi-agency, administration-wide push to reduce student referrals to law enforcement, reduce suspensions and expulsions, address the disparate impact these practices have on African-Americans and students with disabilities, and address the emphasis on subjective offenses like disorderly conduct” (Staples, 2015). With support from the state and the Governor, Happy Valley School District hopes to change the face of discipline and educational success at Happy Valley High School.


Staples, S. R. (2015, November 13). Superintendent’s Memo #277-15, Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education. Retrieved from

Ionic Column Clip Art retrieved from





College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP)


CAMP logo from the College Assistance Migrant Program web site.

The College Assistance Migrant Program or CAMP is a program funded by the United States Department of Education and is stipulated as a discretionary/project grant. “This program assists migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their children to successfully complete the first undergraduate year of study in a college or university, and provides follow-up services to help students continue in postsecondary education” (Learn and Serve America: Higher Education, 2016). There are several uses for the funds for the program. For example, the monies can be used to provide supportive and instructional services for migrant students. The monies can also be used to assist eligible students in obtaining financial aid for their undergraduate tuition. Students can also use the funding help for tutoring and counseling services. Private nonprofit agencies and institutions of higher education may apply (Learn and Serve America: Higher Education, 2016). The flow of funds is from the institutions to the individuals. In 2014, an estimated $16,472,191 was used to supplement CAMP. The legislative authorization for the CAMP program can be found in the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart 5, Section 418A, 20 U.S.C. 1070d-2 (Learn and Serve America: Higher Education, 2016).

Based on the 2014 Performance Report (2016), the years of 2012-2013, it appears that the program was unable to meet its target. However, in 2014, CAMP’s target exceeded the amount of participants that completed their first year of academic or post-secondary program (2014 Performance Report, 2016).


2014 Performance Report. (2016, January 14). Performance plans and reports. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from

College Assistance Migrant Program Logo. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Learn and Serve America: Higher Education. (2016). The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine. Retrieved from


Some Parents in Loveland, Ohio, Opted-Out!

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Click here to load the video. Image and video from O’Neill, 2013.

According to 9 On Your Side’s, anchor woman, Julie O’Neill, several parents of middle school students in Loveland, Ohio, opted-out of having their children take the standardized test in 2013. The parents used social media outlets to get the word out and to raise awareness about the effects of increased test taking. Amy Broermann, a parent, chose to sound off her concerns on a private “Learn Loveland” Facebook page. Broermann stated, “I hear about teachers complaining that they spend as much time and energy on paperwork and prepping for tests as they do actually teaching the kids” (O’Neill, 2013). Broermann also noted that she felt that the extra time and money spent on the tests was not beneficial for the students.

Superintendent, Chad Hilliker, acknowledged the parents’ worries regarding standardized testing and responded to those concerns on his blog. Hilliker’s main issue was that the testing days had gone from two days to eight days. He was worried that if parents opted-out of having their kids take the test the first year, the school would be without that critical data. As a result, the school would not be able to see how the new testing regiment impacted the students’ learning.

Despite warnings from The Department of Education for possible consequences, the organization, “Opt-Out Ohio” created an opt-out form on its website. It was downloaded 24,000 times. Parents choosing to opt-out their children from taking the test could use the form to present to schools. Broermann urged other parents to opt-out their child from taking standardized testing the first year because she felt it made the strongest message.


O’Neill, J. (2013). PARCC testing: Some Ohio parents opting out. Channel 9 WCPO Cincinnati. Retrieved from

Underserved Populations

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Click on the image to play the trailer from, 2013. Image from, 2014.

American Promise is a documentary on Netflix that followed the educational journey of two African American boys. The documentary spanned 13 years of their lives while they attended the prestigious Dalton Prep School in New York City and later when one was forced into public high school. Joe Brewster and Michéle Stephenson, decided to document their son, Idris and his best friend, Seun’s educational journey from kindergarten through high school graduation. The purpose of both sets of parents was to enroll their African American sons into Dalton in order to hopefully provide a better educational outcome.

In order to be accepted into the prestigious school, both boys were tested and clearly scored above average. Even though they were accepted into Dalton, the parents were very aware that the school was not very diverse. The administration explained that their goal was to build diversity. However, in the movie they stated that the school was made up of less than 20 percent minorities. As the boys got older, they began to realize how different they really because of their race. At one point, Idris questions his parents by saying that if he were white, he’d have an easier time.

In middle school, Seun was diagnosed with dyslexia and began to struggle in school. Eventually his parents reluctantly transferred him to a public high school in New York City. Consequently, Idris also began to struggle in middle school as well. His parents continued to work with him at night on his homework and they decided to keep him enrolled at Dalton. While in high school, Idris was diagnosed with ADHD and began to take medication to counter the affects ADHD had on his concentration. At the same time, Seun’s Mother was diagnosed with cancer and underwent Chemo Therapy. During that time, Seun found his younger brother dead in their home from an accident. The tragic situation put Seun in a downward spiral. As a result, he didn’t attend school for a period of time and fell behind in his class work. His advisors worked desperately hard to help him succeed and graduate with his class.

The movie ends with both boys attending college. The main message is that even though black parents set out to try and end the racial achievement gap by sending their sons to prestigious white institutions, the struggles are still there. Racism from their peers and the administration is clearly evident. Both parents wanted a better education for their sons so they would have better opportunities in adulthood. However, the boys and the parents found the struggle to be very complicated in regards to race, class, and opportunity (, 2014).

Reference (2014, February 3). Synopsis. Retrieved from (2013, August 20). American Promise Official Trailer 1. Retrieved from

Race to Achieve Diversity


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Click HERE to follow the prompts to DOWNLOAD the medium quality video.

An impressive way to tackle racial diversity comes from Eastwood High School in Scotland. The administration was noticing that the school was functioning as a series of fractured communities instead of one single entity. They decided to reach out to the student body to find out why. In 2002, the students were given the task to talk about racism in regards to fairness and equality within their school. The open dialogue about racism was powerful and the DVD was used during staff training. The faculty and staff were shocked to find out how students were impacted by racism. Overall, the effect of the DVD helped the teaching staff to become more aware of the diverse needs within the schools. Even the curriculum and approach to learning changed. Through the dialogue process, the students learned to accept and respect each other.

This 2002 video is an excellent example of a project that was student driven and tackled the issues of fairness and equality within Eastwood High School. The head teacher discussed how they had to take notice of situations of fairness and equality so that every child could be educated to the best of his or her ability. Not only was this student-based approach an excellent way for the students to take control of their own learning, it allowed the students to decide on the agenda and the format so they could maintain genuine authenticity. The students were able to discuss their first hand experiences regarding racism and racial isolation. The video shows how administration can learn from a students’ perspective on how to achieve diversity and avoid racial isolation.


Eastwood High School. 2002. Have you ever experienced or witnessed racism? Retrieved from

SUNY’S Equity in Education

“The State University of New York (University), in its continuing effort to seek equity in education and employment, and in support of federal and state anti-discrimination legislation, has adopted a complaint procedure for the prompt and equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction. Harassment is one form of unlawful discrimination on the basis of the above protected categories. The University will take steps to prevent discrimination and harassment, to prevent the recurrence of discrimination and harassment, and to remedy its discriminatory effects on the victim(s) and others, if appropriate.  Conduct that may constitute harassment is described in the Definitions section.  Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment and sexual violence.  Retaliation against a person who files a complaint, serves as a witness, or assists or participates in any manner in this procedure is strictly prohibited and may result in disciplinary action” (Discrimination complaint procedure, 2015).

discrimination complaint procedure

Artwork by Lisa Tinneny and clipart from

In an attempt to seek equity in education, SUNY schools have created a Discrimination Complaint Procedure that is supported by federal and state anti-discrimination legislation. For example, the same terminology listed within the Discrimination Complaint Procedure can be found in the New York State Human Rights Law. The state law “makes it illegal for non-sectarian educational institutions to deny their services to students on the basis of race, color, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, age or marital status, and for such institutions to allow students to be harassed on the basis of any of those characteristics” (Equal Educational Opportunity, 2015). To further support the anti-discrimination legislation backing the SUNY schools policy, The Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) “prohibits (1) harassment by employees or students on school property or at school functions and (2) discrimination against a student based on his/her actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability [sic] sexual orientation, gender or sex by school employees or students” (Equal Educational Opportunity, 2015). Furthermore, all of the terminology stated in the Discrimination Complaint Procedure can also be found in the federal law, The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974. “The EEOA states that no U.S. state can deny equal educational opportunity to any person on the basis of gender, race, color, or nationality through intentional segregation by an educational institution; neglecting to resolve intentional segregation; by forced assignment of a student to a school, other than the one closest to his or her place of residence, that promotes further segregation; by discrimination in determining faculty and staff; by purposely transferring a student to another school to increase segregation; or by failing to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers preventing students from being able to equally participating in English classes” (Equal Educational Opportunity, 2015). Additional federal legislation supporting mandates for anti-discrimination are the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) (Equal Education Opportunity, 2015). All of these Acts have given rise to how SUNY schools has written their Discrimination Complaint Procedures to make sure they are in compliance with the State and Federal laws prohibiting discrimination.

References Scales of Justice 3 Clip Art. Retrieved from

Discrimination Complaint Procedure. 29 April, 2015. Retrieved from

Equal Education Opportunity, 2015. Retrieved from



Racial Educational Equity Initiative

Racial Educational Equity logo

Artwork by Lisa Tinneny and Clip art from Sweet Clip Art.

As your faithful art teacher from Spring Tree Elementary School, I am grateful for being newly appointed as the committee chair for instituting the Racial Educational Equity Initiative for Spring Tree School District. In order to make sure that all students meet or exceed academic standards, Spring Tree School District believes that all students should have equal opportunities for the support they need in order to achieve their highest potential. The Racial Educational Equity Initiative’s goal will be to close the achievement gap and overcome institutional racism. The three-year initiative will begin the school year 2016-2017. The committee will meet every month and is comprised of minority students, minority faculty, community members, school board members and the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Richard Atlas.

The committee has decided on the following goals in order to achieve racial equity for all students.

  1. Throughout the next three years, an “equity pedagogy” will be developed for the elementary, middle, and high school. Curriculum advisors will review the current curriculum and implement opportunities for “social justice teaching.”
  2. Minority students will be encouraged to enroll in AP and honor level classes. Multiple pathways for success will be explored for all minority students in order to encourage higher-level academic achievement.
  3. The Spring Tree School District will strive to hire more teachers and administration that represent the vast diversity within our student body. Over the next three years, the school district will recruit, employ, support and retain diverse educators in an attempt to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities by building a diverse faculty (PPS Equity Policy, 2006).
  4. Workshop opportunities will be offered to faculty and students to increase awareness of racism and to empower underrepresented students and families of color.

With great enthusiasm, I look forward to changing our expectations of minority student achievement for all students, regardless of race, gender or creed. Spring Tree School District is an exceptional district and my hope is that with the Racial Educational Equity Initiative, we can eliminate racial predictability by fostering a barrier-free environment for equal education for all.

Lisa Tinneny

Portland Public Schools. (2006). PPS Racial Educational Equity Policy. Retrieved from

Sweet Clip Art. (n.d.). Diverse People Raising Hands. Retrieved from