Trouble at Ithaca High

For all of you who watched the segment on Hbo (Little Rock High School: 50 years later) and thought the story was not authentic or that racial tensions in schools only happens in the south, then you should read the article below. Earlier this week, there was a walk out  at Ithaca High School because many of the participating constituents (students and staff) believed that a descrimination case was not handled correctly. A few days later, there was a fight between white and black students. The superintendant says that, “I’m not going to pretend that this was just a case of urban vs. rural kids without an aspect of race.”

This problem is happening in schools all across the country and its not just about poverty or class systems.


Ray C.



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7 responses to “Trouble at Ithaca High

  1. Joe Fox

    Hello 541…my name is Joe, and I took 541 two semesters ago. I am responding to this blog post because I am sensitive to the issues raised by Ray in this post, and because I have been student-teaching at Ithaca High School this entire semester to date.

    Quite honestly, I would love to say that the Ithaca Journal is making a big deal out of nothing, and once again focusing on the negative at IHS rather than the positive, but that simply is not the case here. The race issue like it or not, is a pretty significant one in Ithaca. I did not realize just how serious until recently, but that’s the fact.

    The discrimination issue centers around the “alleged” improper handling of a clearly racially motivated fight/attack that occured on a school bus last year. The victim was an African American student, and the school did not pursue the case with the amount of seriousness that many in the community, primarily Black but certainly not entirely, thought was appropriate. In the past week, an ICSD Board Meeting was broken up and ended early by a large group of protesters, who wanted the board to reexamine the case that evening and make a decision for equal protection. The board refused to hear the case on that particular night, but I believe they plan to somewhere down the line. Black and Latino students from IHS have been wearing signs referring to an upcoming hearing on the subject that read “7 Days til Equality”. It is kind of a misinformed slogan if you ask me. but the point is solidarity, to make a point of challenging the districts inability to effectively address the race issue. Many white students, self described “rednecks”, have taken to harassing and in some cases fighting with any students seen wearing this sign. Obviously, IHS is pretty racially diverse and there at least as many Black students willing and ready to fight over this issue. I heard students talking this past Thursday, about how there were 4 or 5 fights that seem to be racially motivated that day, and IPD were dipatched after school to intercept another larger conflict that seemed to be planned for after school. I wish I could say its getting better, but it doesn’t seem like it. This issue of equality with regard to school board investigations of violence against students, seems to have become a lightning rod for the racial tension that pervades the school. There have been no weapons to date, and no serious injuries, but tensions are certainly running high. Many of the teachers I speak to are even a little on edge. And our relatively inept principal seems ill-equipped to deal with the pressure. Just my perspective, hope it was of value. Good luck this semester. Student-teaching has been great otherwise, best semester of my life thus far.

    ~Joe Fox

  2. sunyprof

    Joe, thanks so much for clarifying a bit more what’s going on at IHS. Shades of the Jena 6 and centuries’ old shameful history.

    Are you teaching any of the students who are involved in the protests? KES

  3. ll123

    Thanks Ray and Joe,
    I just finished reading Tatum’s Can We Talk about Race? I am still digesting the contents of racial issues that mentioned by the author. Now Ithaca High’s incident just proved that we need to deal with such sensitive and unavoidable matter in an emergency matter no matter we like it or not. Teachers as well as educators do need special training program in order to handle such matter properly. Posted by L. L.

  4. sofiapenna

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Ray and Joe. I was previously unaware of this problem in Ithaca but hope to follow it more closely now. -Sofia

  5. Joe Fox

    To my knowledge, none of the students in my English Honors 10 classes were involved directly in the protests. Though I have seen many students wearing the signs I spoke of earlier. Right now, it seems to be something that the upperclassmen are most involved with, at least at the protest level.

  6. Just as an update, 700 of the schools 1600 students were absent on thursday the 18th. A large number are expected to not show today as well.
    I feel that some of the students don’t really understand what they are protesting about and simply see this as a case of racism and not for what it actually involves.

  7. Addy

    As a 14 year old girl i was participating in the meetings and (if any), upcoming protests against ICSD’s handling of racial inecualities in school. Yea and the paper is the one creating the violence. When they only interview people from the country schools like caroline and enfield they are OBVIOSly making it look like the violence is coming from the other side.(the “iner city students of color and their white allys) The journal took our peaceful protests and turned it into something it was not. Another reason the journal is dumb was shown in a meeting held at GIAC. We politly asked that the journal (if they were to report) not chnage and manipulate the reality of our peacful action. While asking them they ignorantly werent listening and were chatting among themselves…They look so inconsiderate an just gave them a much worse name…yea so thats it this isnt over its just the begging. OH and HOW are people suposed to belive it’s save when joe said “er are convinced” did anyone NEEd to be convinced. The people who feel unsafe are the ones who he called and told that their kids were in serious danger while leing to the reast of the school saying it was fine but counteracting to himself got cops to be SOUROUNDING our school…thankyou joewilson your really helpin this situation a lot

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