In early March, parents of Sacramento’s C.K. McClatchy High School took to social media expressing their outrage and frustration when their kids, who had already received letters congratulating them on being accepted to the school’s rigorous academic Humanities and International Studies Program (HISP), were then called by district officials telling them that they were mistakenly notified.
But it has escalated beyond social media frustrations. Now, parents say a whole group of qualified caucasian and Asian students were removed from even being considered for the program, prior to the lottery. Parents have told me they were told by district officials the HISP program was considered “too white” by the Sacramento City School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. And that isn’t his only problem, as California Globe recently reported in “Sacramento Unified School District on Verge of Insolvency While Super Takes $35K Junket to Harvard.”
“Last week we received a letter stating that our son was accepted into the HISP program at McClatchy,” one parent said. “Last night we received a call from the enrollment center stating that they had made a mistake and he should not have received the letter, he is not accepted into the program.”
Parents of the newly-rejected students compared notes. “It is unconscionable to take back an acceptance letter,” another parent said. “It’s also unforgivable that my child did everything she was supposed to and is currently out in the cold.”
As another parent said, “It’s quite a different conversation…‘my child was not accepted’ vs. ‘my child was never considered/excluded.’”
The district took the admissions process over from the high school this year and now runs it from the central district office. And that’s when the troubles began. The HISP program is unique to only C.K. McClatchy High School, so many parents wonder why the district took it over after decades of the successful running program.
A teacher weighed in on the social media thread: “Sacramento City [school district] does not support the programs it has, therefore will not expand them or fully fund them. Their concept of equity is that nobody should get anything.”
And, “The motto of this district should be ‘if it isn’t broken we’ll break it.’ Parents need to hold the board, the superintendent and McClatchy administration responsible for that mess.”
Another parent said the “colossal lack of communications from the district” was astounding. “They kept postponing and postponing the decision letters – first it was the end of January, then Feb. 8, then Feb. 15… and finally they sent the letters out.” The parent said they never even received a letter – declining or accepting their child into the program. Their child took the lack of communication as “not accepted.” The parent called the program director who said their child was “left out of the lottery, – excluded.” This parent shortly found out from another district official that many other kids were also “excluded” from the lottery.
Superintendent Aguilar recently sent out an email to colleagues in the Sacramento City Unified School District in which he addressed the perceived inequities African American students are subjected to:
“The African American Achievement Taskforce also completed its preliminary recommendations and presented them to our Board of Education at yesterday’s Board Meeting. The Task Force, focused on the critical work of changing outcomes for African American students in our District, held twenty-two (22) weekly meetings since September. Their recommendations touch on a number of important equity issues ranging from access and inclusion, school climate, academic achievement and approaches to disciplinary policies and practices. I invite you to view their full presentation and details of the Task Force recommendations by clicking here.”
California has a history of running afoul of discriminating against students of no color and Asians. “UC administrators essentially told them they already had ‘too many such people, who were “overrepresented,” Lloyd Billingsley recently wrote at California Globe. “Excluded Californians pushed back against discrimination at the ballot box. The 1996 California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209, bans racial and ethnic preferences in state education, employment and contracting.”
Why did the district take the successful HISP program away from the school?
Who decided that the program was “too white?” Is this affirmative action?
Who decided some students needed to be excluded in the lottery process, despite their academic qualifications, and why?
What is the motive?
Is the district interested at all in academic achievement or “equity, access and inclusion?“
For a district on the brink of insolvency, this discriminatory situation just rubs salt in the already open wounds.
(Disclosure: My son attended C.K. McClatchy High School in the HISP program, and went on, well prepared for the rigors of the United States Naval Academy)