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Posted on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

Black Parent Student Support Group will teach kids how to 'beat the system' during forum Saturday

By Danielle Arndt

Beating the system: to outmaneuver or to get what you want by not following the usual means.

Although the phrase “beating the system” can at times take on a negative connotation, on Saturday, it will represent a positive step toward educating students and parents about avoiding scenarios that lead to suspensions and expulsions.

Ann Arbor Public Schools District-wide Black Parent Student Support Group will host a forum called "Beating the System" from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Peace Neighborhood Center.

“It’s something many people say or ask,” Bryan Johnson, chairman of the group, said of the phrase chosen as the title of the event. “We see it as the best way to beat the systems is not to fall into the system — don’t put yourself into that situation.”

In December, Ann Arbor released its most recent suspension/expulsion data, which showed that, of the nearly 1,200 students suspended at the district’s middle and high schools in 2010-11, 42.2 percent were black and 20.5 percent were classified as “other,” a group district officials said included many Hispanics.

For comparison, 33.9 percent of the suspended students were white, when 52.3 percent of the district’s total population last year was classified as Caucasian.

Johnson said Saturday’s event will be interactive, with scenarios for parents and their children to role play and act out.

“We want to have different scenes so kids can practice what to do, and if you decide to do ‘A’ instead of ‘B’ to show what the consequences would be,” Johnson said.

In today’s hyper-sensitive society where school officials must be keenly aware of bullying and student’s emotional states, sometimes an afterschool or noon-hour fight can lead to assault and battery charges, he said.

“When we were in high school, you could fight and make up and that was it. Times have changed with bullying and the press that it gets.”

The program also will educate parents and students about the resources that are available to them if they do find themselves facing suspension or expulsion.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools police liaisons from Huron and Pioneer high schools will attend the event, as will representatives of the Dispute Resolution Center in Ypsilanti and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The police liaisons are really a great support system for keeping your kid out of trouble,” Johnson said, adding the idea behind having outside groups participate in the forum will help strengthen the relationships between the parents and students and those who can assist them.

The Black Parent Student Support Group is hoping for 150 to 200 people to attend. Johnson said the advocacy group took a different approach to advertising for the event than it usually does.

It relied less on email and, instead, members canvassed neighborhoods with fliers and knocked on doors to personally invite people in the areas where they felt there would be a vested interest or need for parents and students to attend.

Johnson said the impact has been remarkable and the people and other African American organizations in the community have really “answered the charge.”

“This is obviously a very important issue for this area so we are encouraged by all the support and interest,” he said.

The biggest thing for parents and students to remember when faced with a suspension or an expulsion is to have an adult advocate present when the kids are scheduled to meet with school officials, Johnson said.

He explained even though a child may not want to tell their parent about the trouble they are in, they should tell someone because often a kid trying to handle it on his or her own without an advocate can cause more harm than good.

Saturday’s forum also will break out into discussions targeted for students and parents separately. Paul Johnson, director of the Peace Neighborhood Center, and Brandon Jackson, adviser of Huron High School's Rising Scholars program, will lead these sessions.

For more information about Saturday’s event, call 734-883-1889 or email

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

I think the larger question is: why do black kids need a support group to help them avoid trouble in schools? Why are black kids far more likely to be suspended, expelled, or arrested for crimes? I know there is poverty in Ann Arbor, but get real, that excuse doesn't really fly here. Until people honestly face these questions and address them as a community - not just the black community, but all creeds and colors - we're never going to get anywhere. That means people admitting there is an issue, and dealing with the issue, instead of pointing fingers and playing historical blame games. I don't want to single anyone out. I want to help. But it seems like no one wants my help, and I'm accused of being a racist if I simply point out what everyone can see plain as day.


Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

So what exactly are you pointing out?

Richard Roe

Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

It seems that some people don't quite understand what it is to be fair to all groups of students. Being fair means that all of the students get what they need to succeed, not that they are all treated the same. It is a shame that various social constructs disadvantage many students of color, but it is reality.


Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Maybe in Detroit, but in Ann Arbor? I believe that as long as people keep making excuses for bad behavior, it will continue.


Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

This sounds like Glenn Singleton and his "equity" peddling. I feel sorry for the students of color who have to fight the stereotype that they need/get more in order to succeed than their white/asian/whatever counterparts.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Maybe a better (or additional) forum discussion should be going over the behavior/academic expectations that are in aaps's information packet right BEFORE school starts. Be pro-active instead of reactive. I don't think a lot of people even read the information about "codes of conduct" until they are already in trouble, especially since there is already a lot of paperwork at that time. Lay it all out---"this is what will happen if you do/don't do this", etc..


Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

And lets be honest, AAPS can't suspend kids anymore because they over suspended certain populations over the past few years. Kids who get in trouble are getting zero consequences at school and unfortunately it will catch up to these kids when the REAL world steps in (law enforcement, etc...). AAPS is doing these kids a disservice by letting them get away with many things in school these days. The stories my kids tell me!!!

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

Do you really think the parents care? I think it is obvious they don't.

Tony Livingston

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

Good luck. I hope the training is really helpful. Seeing a community address problems within their community is very inspiring.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

The parents could care less about their children going to school other than for free babysitting and you expect the parents to show up to learn something? Good Luck with that.

Middle America

Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

The Black Stallion is right! The parents could care less. I mean, they care, but it is 100% possible that they could care LESS if they WANTED TO care LESS because THIS is AMERICA! TEXAS!

Silly Sally

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

" District-wide Black Parent Student Support Group" This racist sounding name is a lot like the African American Boys Club of the Everwhite Elementary School or the Academy for African Americans that the Feds told teh AAPS was illegal a few years back. SOme liberals never learn. What is so wrong with treating all students the same- color blind? Why not a district-wide "Parent Student Support Group"?


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

Don't forget about the blacks-only field trip and pizza parties at Dicken!


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

Sometimes reading the comments in I have a hard time remembering I'm in Ann Arbor. A supposed enlightened, smart, community! Do only art haters, dog haters and privileged WASPy people live here? This forum is a good idea. I don't like the title either, but if that's what it takes to get the kids and parent's to pay attention to the lessons they teach, so be it. I wish them success!! Kids do learn from others besides their parents! Face it! And if their parents tell them the same things - great! It will reinforce it. C'mon people! Be supportive! We want SUCCESS for all our children!!


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Yep, that's it. We all hate dogs, art, and blacks. Sometimes the lack of reading comprehension boggles the mind. I have two dogs and I think it is wrong to let them run unleashed to pee and poop on school property. So I guess that means I hate all dogs. Ann Arbor city gov. is experiencing a financial crunch and cutting fire and police service. Until the crisis is resolved, many people think the money they are spending on art should go to critical services like homeless care, police, etc. So I guess that means we all hate art. Unbelievable.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

Many of the comments on seem to come from a very vocal few. They do not seem to represent the majority of the residents of Ann Arbor. It's never easy to be in the minority, and provides them with a place to express themselves and have a sense of impact, and they avail themselves of it.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

If they do not get the parents involved they will accomplish little. Can blame anybody and everybody, but the parents are the ones supposed to teach their kids how to live, learn and achieve. Not the state, dogooders or anyone else.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

What an unfortunate "title". It states that corruption is the only way to succeed.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

While I don't agree having these groups based on race are helping race-relations, I hope those that would benefit from this forum will attend, which is not always the case. (Ex: bullies seeing the bully movie, etc..)


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Beat the parents....... How to overcome bad parenting or no parenting.... That's the forum required for the 42 percent......


Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.

it seems you have an infatuation with Black Stallions? hmmm

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

Obvious.....We obviously agree...Thank You.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

I think there is no group for white parents because if there was one, there would be a huge firestorm and the Rev.'s Al and Jesse would be here faster than you can say "next meal ticket".


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

I'm sorry. I forgot, there's no group for white parents because white parents are perfect and black parents are terrible.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Sorry there obvious but this IS about Black parents obvious White parents do not need this or it would have just been Parents.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

I can guarantee you that the majority of these parents do care. It is not fair to blame all the parents for a few bad apples...and it's disgusting to assume that all/only the parents of black students don't care. From what I have seen, if we're gonna break it down to race, there are more parents of white students who are oblivious to or even supporting their children's inappropriate behavior.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

The ACLU and Ann Arbor Public Schools are supporting a District-wide Black Parent Student Support Group. Doesn't that sound like both the ACLU and AAPS are RACIST????? They are usually the first places to complain about treating kids differently by their color. Are these two groups saying - we don't care about all the other students (White, Asian, Native American, etc....) who get in to trouble??????? Seems like it to me. Should we start a protest and get Jessie Jackson, The Rev. Al Sharpton, and more here to condemn this activity as RACIST?????


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

People complain when parent's are NOT now you complain when they are? My only concern is the title.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

I think they get away with it because they usually say "all are invited", but come on....


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

I'm guessing there were a lot of empty seats at the "Be a Better Parent" forum that was scheduled for the same time.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Let us form the White Parent Student Support Group so we can teach Our children how to defend themselves against the system.


Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

great idea. we'll call it student council.

Ricardo Queso

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 3:08 a.m.

The system has expectations of passing classes and appropriate behavior. What is there to "beat", as if, there are unbeatable odds?

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

This sounds like another crazy Pacific Education Group idea.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

Funniest on-campus flyer I ever saw was in 1991. It had a picture of Pee-Wee Herman on it and it said "Beat the System: Rush Sigma Chi!" Unfortunately that is what I thought of when I saw the headline.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.

That was Andrew Shirvell on the flyer, not Paul Reubens


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Is this a forum to help teach kids how to behave properly in order to stay out of trouble? Or how to avoid accountability when they cause trouble?

Jake C

Sun, Apr 29, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

By reading the link in the story, it looks like the focus is about: "1) Teach parents and students effective strategies to prevent suspension or expulsion of the student 2) Educate parents and students about resources available to help them should they face suspension or expulsion" So, #1 is to help kids behave properly in order to stay out of trouble. And #2 is if they do get in trouble, how to avoid suspension/expulsion, not "accountability". There are other methods of punishment besides expulsion. It's kinda like saying, "If you don't want to get arrested, don't commit a crime. But if you are arrested (whether you actually committed a crime or not) you should hire a lawyer." Not many informed people choose to represent themselves in court, and if their child is in trouble with the school system a parent should take the same approach.

Jeffersonian Liberal

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

God forbid the management of the government schools look at this problem for what it is. The progressives must divide the problem up by race so that any adults in the room are afraid to point out the facts. When you have irresponsible single mothers of any race turning their little monsters loose on society you are going to have consequences. You can either hide you head in the sand and hope that the government school is going to protect the good kids or you can put your kids in a school that focuses on discipline, not statistics.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 10:17 a.m.

I know some kids with two apparently responsible parents who are little monsters when turned loose. I still think the parents are responsible, but I see no reason to identify one part of the adult population as being irresponsible parents. Oh -- and these particular kids are white.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

It is not the students that are the cause of the problem. Maybe if the parents would discipline and raise their children correctly the community wouldn't have to "beat the system". This isn't a case of one group telling another group how to behave. It is a case of the whole group collectively trying to get others to behave like one civilized society and not a group of individuals that the rest of society will eventually have to take care of.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

I just can't stand it when people are singled out because of the color of their skin. We, as a community spend so much time stressing the DIFFERENCES; we become part of the problem. Content of Character- This is just a different form of racism. I am ashamed of the bigots involved.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Yet will remove a comment for random reasons, they post titles like this!


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

I think this is a great idea. But I think a better idea would be to do this for all students regardless of race. Otherwise to me it seems it could be leaning a little too much towards: "Let's show the black students how to conform to everybody else." While I understand that is not the aim of this group, it just seems to me that this is something important for any and all students to be doing. 33.9% is not a lot lower than 42.2%. And what about the other 20.5%? It seems like all these student need to learn how to avoid or react appropriately to such "scenarios."

Silly Sally

Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Actually, 33% for a group that comprises 52.3% of the population is a lot lower. This means that the other 48% gets 66% of the suspensions. And since I doubt that it is the Asian students, this means that the rate among black students must be very, very high. Blacks most likely comprise 25% of the students, or less, yet they get 42% of the suspensions. Their rate is 3 times that of white students, or higher. The article, on purpose, did not say the percentage of black students in the district.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

thank you peregrine, my thoughts exactly. and regardless, it's still not a big enough difference to me to be isolating the issue to one race.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

@stevek: When you say, "actually it is about 25%..." without being clear what the "it" is, you a) shouldn't be surprised that people aren't following you, and b) shouldn't then be condescending.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 11:58 p.m.

Sorry, meant to say 33.9 is "roughly" 25% lower than 42.2%


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

obviouscomment--it is a new subject called "math" I will do it for you-- 42.2 % is "roughly" 25% lower than 33.9%


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

Where did you get the 25% from? I was going by the figures in the article.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Actually it is about 25% and that is a lot lower.

Ron Granger

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

I wish someone would form the white student support group. That'd be fun to watch.


Sat, Apr 28, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

boo, yes, with a black president it's an all white club here. Maybe you should open up your mind a little and stop looking at skin color.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

boo you should visit the USA sometime we have people living here from all over the world, even people of color. Really we do!


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

we already have that group. its called the USA.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Do you *have* to title things in as an inflammatory a way as possible? How about "Support group forum will help kids avoid suspension" or something? Good lord, now you will have a long string of my-tax-dollars-are-going-where? comments when in reality this seems like a rational and useful session for any kid.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

Um...Yes. That is what newspaper headlines are supposed to do! Journalism 101 taught me that.