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School & Neighborhood Opportunities

Morgan Scott
The University of Pennsylvania: Graduate School of Education
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Data Summary: A Comparison of Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School and the Adaire
Alexander School

1. Demographics:


Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School Adaire Alexander School

Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School is 81.3% White, 7.2% Hispanic, 4.1% Asian, 0.6%
Black, 6.3% Multiracial, 0.3% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 0.3% American Indian
or Alaska Native. Adaire is 71% White, 10% hispanic, 2% asian, 10% Black, 5.9% multiracial,
0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 0% American Indian or Alaska Native. OPE
therefore has less diversity than Adaire.
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Encinitas is 85.5% White, 0.6% Black, 4.1% Asian, 13.7% Hispanic, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or
Pacific Islander, and 0.5% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 3.4% Multiracial. Fishtown is
78.1% White, 5.9% Black, 5.8% Asian, 14.2% Hispanic, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific
Islander, and 0.3% American Indian or Alaska Native. Accordingly, Fishtown is more diverse
than Encinitas.

Special Ed (IDEA)

11.7% of students at OPE qualify for IDEA. 15.4% of students at Adaire qualify for IDEA.
There are more students at Adaire who qualify for IDEA than OPE.

English Language Learners

1.9% of students at OPE are English Language Learners. 0.9% of the students at Adaire are
English Language Learners. Therefore, theres a slightly higher concentration of ELL students at
OPE than at Adaire, but not by much.

Assigned Sex

OPE has 47.1% females and 52.9% males. Adaire has 50.7% females, and 49.3% males. Ergo,
both schools seem to have a fairly even proportion of males and females.

2. In-School Suspensions

Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School Adaire Alexander School

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The Adaire Alexander School has not reported the use of in school suspension for disciplinary
problems. Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School has reported four in-school suspensions, and
all four students who were given in-school suspensions were White.

3. Out-of-School Suspensions:

Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School Adaire Alexander School

Out of the 41 students who received out-of-school suspensions at the Adaire School, 73% were
White, 22% were Black, and 4.4% were Hispanic. Out of the two students at Olivenhain Pioneer
Elementary School who received out-of school suspensions, 100% of them identified as

4. Student Retention & Race

Adaire Alexander School

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Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School

5. The Educational Attainment of Adults in a School Neighborhood

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In my hometown, Encinitas, 94.9% of the population graduates from high school and 59.4%
graduate from college. In Fishtown, 80% graduate from high school and 32.3% are college
graduates. Overall, Encinitas residents have attained more formal education than Fishtown

6. Median household income

The median household income in Encinitas, CA is $95,149. The median household income in
Fishtown is $45, 720. Consequently, the median household income is much higher in Encinitas
than in Fishtown.
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7. Percent below poverty line:

8.1% of Encinitas residents live below the poverty line. 22.9% of Fishtowns residents live
below the poverty line. Therefore, there is a higher concentration of poverty in Fishtown than in

8. State Assessments
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At Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School, 79% of students are proficient in math, 86% are
proficient in English, and 91% are proficient in science. At Adaire Alexander Elementary
School, 38% of students are proficient in math, 23% are proficient in English, and 34% are
proficient in science according to standardized testing measures.

9. The ratio of teachers to students in a school


Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School, there are 24 students for each 1 teacher. At the Adaire
school, there are 16 students for every 1 teacher. Therefore, OPE has significantly higher class
sizes than Adaire.

10. Chronic Absence

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Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School had extremely low chronic absenteeism, as 0.3% of
students were chronically absent. In contrast, 36.7% of the students at the Alexander Adaire
School are chronically absent.This is a stark difference that is worth investigating.
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It is an unfortunate reality in the U.S. that children of color and impoverished children

continue to be systematically undercut in our educational system. These groups have been

consistently undermined in a variety of ways that frequently go unnoticed. Because the many

ways these children are subverted are invisible, the system perpetuates itself continuously,

resulting in generation upon generation of unjust disadvantage and undue hardship.

Consequently, it is of utmost importance to illuminate the mechanisms that perpetuate social

problems such as the reproduction of inequality and the school-to-prison pipeline. Through

aggregating a mass of data in regard to my hometown and former elementary school as well as

my fall placement site and its surrounding neighborhood, some of the mechanisms that are

reproducing these unfortunate realities have been divulged.

Discriminatory Discipline

One of the most salient ways these schools seem to be carrying out these patterns is

through what appear to be discriminatory practices. I noticed in doing my research was that both

my site placement (The Alexander Adaire School) and the elementary school I attended

(Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School) seem to reflect institutional racism through disciplinary

measures. The data clearly show a disproportionate number of students of color receiving

out-of-school suspensions. In fact, at OPE out of the six students who received reported

suspensions, the four White students all received in-school suspensions, while the two

multiracial students received out-of-school suspensions. Although the Alexander Adaire School

didnt make use of in-school suspensions, out of the students who received out-of-school
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suspensions, a disproportionate number of students were Black, relative to the demographics of

their school as a whole. This discrepancy in the severity and incidence of punishment between

White students and students of color expose the biases that are pervasive in U.S. society, as well

as one of the many ways that students of color in this country are discriminated against. The

occurrence of white children receiving less severe punishments than children of color truly

reflects Wellmans conception of racism as a system of advantage that Tatum discusses in her

work, Can We Talk About Race? (Tatum, 1997).

Discriminatory Student-Retention

The nature of student suspensions was unfortunately not the only aspect of the data that

reflected institutional racism, as student retention rates also indicated racist tendencies. Out of

the six students who were reportedly retained at the Alexander Adaire School, four of them were

children of color, including two latino students and two Black students. When comparing the

races of the proportion of retained students to the general demographics of the student body,

students of color are vastly overrepresented. OPEs data shows a similar trend. Despite having a

homogeneous student body with 81% White students, two of the four students who were retained

at OPE were latino. It is difficult to make generalizations about the practices of varying schools

with such small numbers of retained and suspended students, however, the trends that are

highlighted here reflect the destructive pattern of discrimination that pervades the United States

educational system. These instances of discrimination have serious consequences. When

students are retained and suspended, they are more likely to drop out of school, which may

influence their likelihood of earning a high salary and engaging in criminal activities in the
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future. In order to be an effective educator, I need to be cognizant so that I avoid letting

stereotypes and subconscious biases influence the ways I perceive and treat children.

Unfortunately, it is all too common that Black children receive more severe punishments

and consequences than their White peers. This data reflects a reality illuminated by a research

study executed by Yates & Marcelo. In this study, teachers were instructed to watch a video and

point out misbehavior occurring while students were engaged in imaginative play. Tellingly, the

teachers in the investigation disproportionately pointed to Black children as the culprits of

misbehavior, although no misbehavior was present (Yates & Marcelo, 2014). Perhaps part of the

reason Black children are given more severe consequences because of the way they are perceived

by adults. According to a social psychology experiment, Black children are reported to be

perceived as four years older than their actual age (Goff, 2014). As a result of this bias, many

teachers may have expectations of Black children in their classes that exceed the limitations of

their developmental stage, and consequently give them more punitive punishments than their

behavior merits. Excessive punishment for children of color on part of educators may be

contributing to the creation of negative associations with figures of authority and school evasion.

These factors are likely to be integral factors playing into the school-to-prison pipeline.

Chronic Absenteeism

Another notable trend I observed in analyzing the data is the vast difference between

schools in achievement on standardized testing measures as Adaires test scores are significantly

lower than OPEs. One factor that may be contributing to Adaires relatively low test scores is

the proportion of students who are chronically absent. While at OPE only 0.3% of students are
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chronically absent, at Adaire, 36.7% of students are chronically absent. As a teacher, I need to

remember to give chronically absent students extra academic support, and make sure to give

them some work to bring home reviewing concepts they may have missed. I also need to be

aware of factors that may be influencing chronic absence on part of students. I imagine that

some of these factors include illness, bullying, negative relationships with teachers, low grades,

parent work schedules, mental illness, parental drug addiction, unstable transportation, and

unstable housing. This ties back to a conversation weve had in class--how much responsibility

should schools and teachers have for the issues that arise in students lives? Although teachers

may not be able to provide their students reliable housing or cure students illnesses, teachers

may be able to intervene in a variety of other ways. For example, teachers might be able to help

students who are targeted by bullies, help prevent bullying, create rapport, get to know students

in a meaningful way, and keep an open line of communication with parents. Teachers may also

be able to provide extra emotional support to students who feel unmotivated due to consistently

feeling behind.

When I read about how many students at the Alexander Adaire School are chronically

absent, it reminded me of Carters work, Closing the Opportunity Gap. Carter argued that in

order for us to address differences in student achievement, we must first address the differences

in opportunities available to students. When students dont have the opportunity to come to

school, its unsurprising that their achievement is lower than it could be. In spite of any extra

support teachers give when chronically absent students return to school, these students are at

risk. Further investigation of chronic absenteeism is imperative, as chronically absent students

are much more likely to drop out of high school, and dropouts are significantly more likely to
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earn lower wages and end up in prison than their peers who graduate from high school. This is

likely to be a significant contribution to the cycle of poverty and the school-to-prison pipeline

that is affecting so many families in U.S. society.

Socioeconomic Status & Parental Education

Perhaps differences in achievement on standardized testing measure also stem from

differences in financial prospects. This is evidenced by the fact that when compared to OPE,

Adaire (the lower-achieving school) has a much higher incidence of students living under the

poverty line. There are a variety of factors related to poverty that influence the ways that children

learn and are therefore affecting performance on these standardized measures. For instance, not

having reliable transportation and housing, and proper nutrition, medical care and dental care all

may impede learning. In addition, families who arent able to pay for the extra support their

children need (tutors, therapists, specialists etc.) are at a fundamental disadvantage when

compared to children from more affluent homes, as they are not receiving equal opportunities to


Differences in achievement on standardized tests may also be attributable to differences

in parents educational backgrounds. More educated parents are more likely to read to their

children which is known to help children learn basic literacy skills. More educated parents also

impart cultural and social capital to their children that may reproduce inequalities. As a teacher,

I need to remember that even in a preschool or kindergarten context many students come to the

table with different experiences and prior knowledge.

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In Teaching to Change the World, Oakes and Lipton talk about Manns vision of schools

as great equalizers (Oakes & Lipton, 2002). We clearly have not achieved this ideal since

children of color and children of low socioeconomic status have their education undermined by

invisible mechanisms that often result in cyclical poverty and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Some of these mechanisms include discriminatory disciplining, discriminatory student retention,

chronic absenteeism, discrepancies in parental education, and factors associated with familial

poverty. These societal mechanisms reflect some of the flaws inherent in U.S. society.

Undergoing this investigation was highly impactful for me as a teacher. Having theoretical

discussions about discrimination and poverty affecting children is imperative, but something

about seeing these truths reflected in data connecting to my own personal life made me

understand the problems in the U.S. educational system on a much deeper level.
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Carter, P. L., & Welner, K. G. (2016). Closing the opportunity gap: what America must do to
give all children an even chance. Oxford: Oxford University press.

Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). (2010, October 05). American FactFinder.
Retrieved July 26, 2017, from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml

Jackson, M. C., & Goff, P. A. (n.d.). The Essence of Innocence: Consequences of Dehumanizing
Outgroup Children. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e506052012-085

(n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from https://ocrdata.ed.gov/DistrictSchoolSearch

Oakes, J., Lipton, M., Anderson, L., & Stillman, J. (2015). Teaching to Change the World.
Florence: Taylor and Francis.

Tatum, B. D. (2008). Can we talk about race?: and other conversations in an era of school
resegregation. Boston, MA: Beacon.

The School District of Philadelphia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from http://www.philasd.org/

Welcome to the Encinitas Union School District! (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from

Yates, T. M., & Marcelo, A. K. (2014). Through race-colored glasses: Preschoolers

pretend play and teachers ratings of preschooler adjustment. Early Childhood Research
Quarterly, 29(1), 1-11. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2013.09.003