Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Beyond the Page: Reusing Data about DeKalb County Schools

In the Fall of 2016 the Russell Library opened the DeKalb County School Desegregation Case Files for research. These files document litigation from 1968 to 1997 to desegregate the schools. In the course of this work, the lawyers collected data on students, staff, and the school system. All of the data includes race-based demographics, but much more information was gathered. For students, there might be test scores, frequency of disciplinary actions, home situation, or free/reduced school lunch enrollment. For teachers and administrators, there can be salaries, education levels, the number of years they worked in DeKalb, turnover and transfer information, gender, and information over who was not hired. For the school system, there is information on average daily attendance, building capacities and programs offered, seats available for the M-to-M (Majority-to-Minority) transfer program, and per pupil financial expenditures.

All of this data was critical for the lawyers to make their case about whether the DeKalb County Schools were fully integrated.  But it could be of use to any study looking to analyze demographic information about DeKalb County children or educators from the 1970s thru the 1990s.  For example, a researcher could analyze the relationship between race and scholastic performance, likelihood of being disciplined, or likelihood of being hired, just to name a few possibilities.

By way of an example, we took a single data table from the collection, "Racial Composition DCSS Schools, 1955-1986" and converted it into a spreadsheet in order to analyze the data. The whole process took less than an hour. The steps involved are:

1. Make a digital copy of the table. In our case we made a PDF using our photocopier. PDFs can also be made using an app on your phone. (image 1)

Image 1: Scan of table "Racial Composition DCSS Schools,
saved as a PDF. Source: Series III, Box 53, Folder 6. 

2. Convert the image to a spreadsheet. We opened the file in Adobe Acrobat and saved it as an Excel file. Since it was already in table form, Excel could recognize what information should be in each row and column. If the data is not clearly formatted as a table, it may take a little extra work to make it usable. (image 2)
Image 2: Table, "Racial Composition DCSS Schools,"
saved as an Excel spreadsheet using Adobe Acrobat Pro. 

3. Clean up the spreadsheet. The table was originally designed to be easy to read by humans, so there were repeating column headers at the top of each new page, blank rows to make it easier on these eyes, and the date is not associated with every row. These all had to be addressed before using Excel to do data analysis. I also formatted some columns as numbers so that we could do math on the data and checked a few of the rows against the original to be confident that the conversion had been accurate. (image 3)
Image 3: Table "Racial Composition DCSS Schools" after
spreadsheet has been cleaned up using Excel.

4. Spreadsheets are very useful for asking questions of the data. To go one step further and get an overview of the data, I used Google Sheets to create a few graphs and to look for trends. By graphing the racial makeups of elementary and high schools over time (image 4), we can quickly see that there was always a higher proportion of black students in elementary school. Or by graphing the total number of students identified by race, we can see the number of white students steadily dropping beginning in 1971 (image 5) and trends in increasing diversity (image 6).

Image 4: Graph of the percentage of the elementary school
students and high school students who were black, 1955-1986.

Image 5: Graph of the total number of students who were
black, white,and other, 1955-1986.

This example shows how much can be gleaned from one simple table. Researchers who combine data from multiple tables will be able to look even deeper at trends of race, school and employment success, economics, and more. There are data tables located throughout the collection, but boxes that are particularly rich include Series I. Alphabetical Files - Unitary Status - Areas of Inquiry (Boxes 7-10), Series III. Working Files - Data (Boxes 52-53 and 62), and Series III. Working Files - School Information Notebooks (Boxes 58-59). Exhibits, which are located throughout the collection, can also be good sources of data.

Post by Adriane Hanson, Digital Curator and Processing Archivist, Russell Library

Thursday, January 12, 2017

ACLU of Georgia: Juvenile Rights

This is the fifth post in a series about the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Records, which were processed in 2015 and are now open for research. These records document the ACLU of Georgia's litigation, lobbying, and public education efforts to protect civil liberties for all Georgians. Their work, which began in 1963, involves issues such as freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, due process of law, and opposing discrimination against many groups. This series of posts was written by Shaniqua Singleton, a student at the UGA School of Law, who was instrumental in processing these papers.

Cover of publication, "Student Rights &
Responsibilities in Georgia," undated.
Source: Series II, Box 38, Folder 7.
Adolescents are constantly exposed to signals from their families, communities, friend-groups, and media that influence how they develop and interact with the world around them. Like adults, adolescents may find themselves engaging in a range of activity in response to and as a result of these influences. Thus, they may choose to stage a demonstration in response to societal events. They may engage in criminal or otherwise illegal behavior. They may choose to distinguish themselves by their manner of dress or hairstyle. The ACLU believes students and juveniles, like adults, have certain constitutional rights that must be protected. The ACLU believes that if adolescents are expected to know their constitutional rights as adults, it is important to uphold those rights while they are young. The ACLU of Georgia Records highlight both legal challenges and legislative initiatives aimed toward protecting students’ and juveniles’ rights.

In 1996, the ACLU of Georgia addressed the issue of the detention of juveniles suspected of violating the criminal law. In A.M. v. Martin (1996-1998), the ACLU brought a case against Jay Martin, in his capacity as Court Administrator of the Fulton County Juvenile Court and Child Treatment Center, and Zell Miller, in his capacity as Governor of Georgia, on behalf of juvenile offenders held in warrantless detention for a maximum of 72 hours. Arguing that juveniles are entitled to constitutional guarantees of due process and fair treatment in the criminal justice system, the ACLU’s records feature several briefs filed before the courts in this matter. These documents provide useful insight into the development of legal arguments and factors considered by the courts as they entered judgments in this matter.

Cover of handbook, "Your Rights in School
and in the Community," 1996.
Source: Series II, Box 45, Folder 9.
The ACLU of Georgia also has challenged school dress code policies on behalf of students suspended for violation of said policies, such as Tillman v. Gwinnett County Schools. In Series II. Issues, researchers will find correspondence from prospective clients and concerned citizens regarding school dress policies, and legal documents filed in court challenging “zero tolerance” dress codes. Other cases have focused on free speech rights of students, such as J.U. v. Murray County, the right to form student groups, such as PRIDE v. White County Schools related to a student support group for LGBT youth, and illegal searches, such as Thomas v. Clayton County School District.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Campus and Community Partners to Host 3rd Annual School Lunch Challenge!

Local chefs will take on the School Lunch Challenge March 18, creating tasty dishes that meet USDA requirements for the National School Lunch Program. Attendees will have a chance to sample the creations at the cooking competition from 12-1:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Whitehead Road Elementary School.

Building on increased public interest in the National School Lunch Program, and inspired by the 2014 exhibition, Food, Power, Politics: The Story of School Lunch, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and others partnered in 2015 to create a fun, educational event to engage the Athens community with the past, present, and future of school lunch. “Richard Russell co-sponsored the legislation which created the National School Lunch Program in 1946. We are glad to host this event, now an annual happening that draws attention to the NSLP today,” said organizer Jan Hebbard, outreach archivist at the Russell Library.
Chef Hugh Acheson demos a healthy recipe for attendees
at the 2016 School Lunch Challenge
The 2017 event will offer 200 free tickets to the general public, and offer hands-on activities and cooking demonstrations to attendees. Once again, the centerpiece of this event will be a cooking competition which invites participating teams, advised by nutritionists from the Clarke County School District (CCSD), to create dishes in accordance with USDA guidelines for the National School Lunch Program. A panel of student judges drawn from CCSD schools will vote to determine an overall winner. The winning team’s plate will be incorporated into the CCSD school lunch menu during the 2017-2018 school year. 

Last year a team made up of family and consumer science teachers from the Clarke County School District was voted the overall winner by student judges. Led by Almeta Tuloss, program director for Seed Life Skills, a non-profit committed to revamping Family and Consumer Science curriculum, the team won over judges with a chicken and spinach pasta with lemon cream sauce alongside a mixed salad with orange vinaigrette. This recipe is scheduled to debut on the CCSD School Lunch Menu in Spring 2017. The CCSD teachers will return to defend their title against new competitors Taqueria del Sol, Last Resort Grill, and The Place.

Student judges rating dishes at the
2016 School Lunch Challenge
A variety of organizations connected to sustainable agriculture, community gardens, childhood nutrition and farm to school programs in the Athens area will host information tables at the event. A display of historical documents and artifacts related to the history of the National School Lunch Program will also be on display. 

The event is free and open to the public but only 200 tickets will be made available, beginning February 24 through the Eventbrite website. The 2017 School Lunch Challenge is sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the Clarke County School District, the Athens Land Trust, Athens Farm to School, UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences and Department of Foods and Nutrition, The Fresh Market, EarthfareSeed Life Skills, and Heirloom Cafe.   

To register for tickets, visit https://slc2017.eventbrite.com 

For more information, contact Jan Hebbard at jhebbard@uga.edu or (706) 542-5788.