The Road to Declining African American Achievement in
SPASD is Paved with Good Intentions

Dear Editor,

This is the month of February. The one month per year that Americans traditionally celebrate
African American history. Subsequently, it is a befitting time to discuss the current educational
system and academic outcomes for African American children, and children with disabilities in
Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD).

Recently school districts across Wisconsin received a school report card issued from the
Department of Public Instruction. SPASD’s school report card was another ray of light that shined
starkly into the dark corners of our embarrassing and nefarious history of failing to educate
African American students and other underserved groups that bring unique gifts and non-
traditional norms into the public education arena with equality. The array of facts that are
embedded in SPASD’s disaggregate data regarding the state of education for the African
American child is both astonishing and dismal. The most recent 2016/17 SPASD school district
report card uncovered the latest data set in a five year trend that indicates students who identify
racially or ethnically as Black or African American are losing gains disproportionately in both
math and reading every year between the years of the 2011/2012 school years and the 2016/2017
school years, with epidemic academic loses in math and reading in the last three years.

The report also uncovered that in the last three years, graduation rates of African American
students in the SPASD have dropped to 76 percent, which indicates that one in every four African
American kids enrolled in SPASD will not graduate high school. These statistics are not
surprising given the history; however, they are ghastly given the half decade that has passed
since the Federal Office of Civil Rights directed SPASD to improve practices and student

In 2011 the Office of Civil Rights conducted a compliance review of SPASD. The review
uncovered that despite the best of intentions of staff and leaders, African American students in
SPASD are subjected to discrimination on the basis of race and/or disability, in the pre-
referral/referral and evaluation of these students for special education and their placement in
special education. In 2011 although African American students represented 10 percent of the
entire school population, they represented 30 percent of the special education population.

To parents’ dismay, SPASD has done nothing to positively change the detrimental educational
outcomes for African American children. For a half-decade, the district unapologetically and
uniformly has continued to not meet the needs of African American children despite interventions
by OCR. Our children can not wait another year, another five years, and another decade. We want
change now!

Jalateefa Joe -Meyers
Parent of a SPASD Student
Grandmother of a SPASD Student
Licensed School Social Worker
Licensed Therapist
Licensed School Principal
Director of Pupil Services License
Letter to the Editor