Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Letter from the Education Committee of the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches regarding the Keystone Exams

Letter from the Education Committee of the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches regarding the Keystone Exams

September 3, 2013

TO:  The Pennsylvania State Board of Education
 Cc:   The House Education Committee of the Pennsylvania Assembly
         The Senate Education Committee of the Pennsylvania Assembly
         The Citizens of Pennsylvania

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recognizes that for most people, education is the gateway to the economic mainstream; and that as such, education is a civil right.

For this reason, the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches strongly opposes regulatory action that links the Keystone Examination to high school graduation.  We call for the removal from Chapter 4 of Keystone Examinations as a high school graduation requirement.  We are certain that such a regulation will create a shameful condition that defames the dream of a free society. 

We base our position on the following recognitions.

1 It is clear that the regulation linking Keystone Examination scores to high school graduation is a present day form of Eugenics. Hidden under the cloak of “the business community has asked for an improved workforce”, and “colleges are concerned about the number of students needing remediation”, attaching Keystone Examinations to graduation is clearly based on the idea that it is possible to distinguish between superior and inferior elements of society through selective scores on a paper and pencil test. This is a clandestine social movement that strips children of their dignity and self worth while it fails to address or to access any of the characteristics that lead to successful employment, as delineated on the Pennsylvania Labor and Industry web site

2. It is clear that the regulation linking Keystone Examination scores to high school graduation is a human rights violation.  It is an unspeakable horror for students who have completed the work assigned by their local school district to a satisfactory level to be told that they fail to graduate based on Keystone Examination scores. Such an action will create an atrocity that will rain down a holocaust on our youth and our society as a whole. To deprive young people of their diploma based on single criteria also deprives them of the freedom to prosper in life. Ultimately, withholding the diploma based on single criteria will deprive them over their lives of decent income, decent food, decent homes, and hopeful prospects as well as the security of justice.

3. The potential to destroy the social order is clear.  Pushing masses of students out of high school without a diploma will create a subculture of poverty comprised potentially of up to 60% of our young citizens. It will result in a sea of frustrated parents whose aspirations for their children have been dashed by the actions of the state; and leave them to deal with the life-long trauma imposed on their families.  
4. The disparate impact on women of linking Keystone examinations to graduation is clear.  As a result of a regulation that creates a distinction of high school failure, women will be further excluded and restricted in their economic and social access in an economy where existing pay discrimination has been demonstrated.
5. The cruel and unusual nature of failing to graduate from high school is a life-long punishment that condemns a person to having the doors to life slammed shut and to being consigned to a life of low income, limited housing choice, limited career choice, limited further education choice, and a limited vision for their progeny.

6. The disparate impact of the use of an arbitrary Keystone Examination score as a graduation requirement on students in underfunded schools is clear. Law makers have created a system of entrapment for the youth of Pennsylvania. They have brought students unawares into the danger and difficulty of a life of adversity. They have failed to provide the resources necessary to succeed on the exam while an obstacle - success on Keystone Examinations - must be overcome in order to move into a stable future.

7. The depraved indifference of regulating Keystone Examination scores as the requirement for high school graduation is clear and easily substantiated. Much has been presented to the public in the way of data and fact as to the harm of the use of such a tool. Evidence has been presented that questions the construction and content of the test. It is clear that the test does access the qualities needed to predict a good employee. The field of education has long since dismissed a test as a valid predictor of a student’s success in higher education. Given this information, clearly to impose such a regulation is deficient in a moral sense of concern, lacks regard for the lives of the children who will be harmed, and puts their lives and futures at risk.

The Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches cannot overstate the profoundly awful impact of regulating Keystone Examination scores as a requirement for high school graduation. It is a human rights violation to block and deter forever human beings from the opportunity to develop their potential and to pursue their dreams. It is abuse of power for the state to set such policy.  This is an action so brutal that it is tantamount to lynching our own young.

Joan Duvall-Flynn, Ed.D.
Chair, Education Committee

J. Whyatt Mondesire,
President, PA State Conference of NAACP Branches



ALLEGHENY EAST BRANCH
Lorraine Lewis Burke, President

ALLEGHENY-KISKI BRANCH
Dr. Liney Glenn, President

ALLENTOWN BRANCH NAACP
Daniel C Bosket, President

AMBLER BRANCH NAACP
Evelyn H. Warner, President

BEAVER COUNTY BRANCH
Willie Sallis, President

BETHLEHEM BRANCH NAACP
Esther M. Lee, President

BLAIR COUNTY BRANCH NAACP
Donald E. Witherspoon, President

BUCKS COUNTY NAACP
Victoria Harris, President
 
CARLISLE (Greater) BRANCH
Dwayne Jackson, Sr., President

CHELTENHAM AREA BRANCH 
Harvey L. Crudup, President

CHESTER BRANCH NAACP
Darrell Jones, President

CLAIRTON BRANCH NAACP
Greg E. Stewart, President

COATESVILLE BRANCH NAACP
Tonya Thames Taylor, President

DARBY AREA BRANCH NAACP
Sheila A. Carter, President
 
EAST BOROUGHS BRANCH
Deborah Brown, President 

EASTON BRANCH NAACP
John Robinson, President
 
ERIE BRANCH NAACP
Dorothy Smith- Frazier, President

 FAYETTE COUNTY BRANCH
Clinton Anderson, President

GREATER GETTYSBURG UNIT
Sara Gondwe, President

GRATERFORD CORRECTIONAL FACILTY NAACP
Mr. Donald Jones, CM1887, President

GREENSBURG-JEANNETTE BRANCH NAACP
Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., President

HARRISBURG (Greater)  BRANCH
Stanley R. Lawson, Sr., President

INDIANA BRANCH NAACP
Dr. Carolyn Princes, President

JOHNSTOWN BRANCH NAACP
Dr. Clea P.Hollis, President

LANCASTER BRANCH NAACP
Blanding Watson, President

LYCOMING TRI-COUNTY BRANCH NAACP
Gerald Smith, President

MAINLINE BRANCH NAACP
Diana Robertson, President

MCKEESPORT BRANCH NAACP
Ocie Paige, President

MEADVILLE BRANCH NAACP
Sam J. Byrd, Jr., President

MEDIA BRANCH NAACP
Dr. Joan Duval-Flynn, President

MERCER COUNTY NAACP
Monica Williams-Gregory, President

MONONGAHELA VALLEY BRANCH NAACP
George Burroughs, Jr., President

MONROE COUNTY BRANCH
Beatrice Cyrus, Secretary

NEW CASTLE BRANCH NAACP
Sidney McKnight, President

NORRISTOWN BRANCH NAACP
M. Lana Shells, President

PENN HILLS BRANCH NAACP
Joyce Davis, President
 
PHILADELPHIA BRANCH NAACP
J. Whyatt Mondesire, President

PITTSBURGH BRANCH NAACP
Connie Parker, President

POTTSTOWN BRANCH NAACP
Newstell Marable, President

READING BRANCH NAACP
Robert Jefferson, President

WASHINGTON COUNTY BRANCH
Dean Ellis, President

WEST CHESTER BRANCH NAACP
Alice H. Hammond, President

WILLOW GROVE BRANCH NAACP

WILKES-BARRE BRANCH NAACP
Ronald L. Felton, President

YEADON BRANCH NAACP
Linda Osinupedi, President

YORK BRANCH NAACP
Sandra Thompson, President

NATIONAL BOARD
Jessica D. Butler
J. Whyatt Mondesire








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