I still get their union rag, and what do I find on page 32 of the April 2006 issue? Why, an article entitled "Could dealing with hidden biases help address the achievement gap?"
Apparently such articles are common for April issues of CTA's magazine. Last year we apparently didn't talk about race enough, this year all of California's teachers are racists.
And people willingly pay money to this organization. Amazing.
Here's the first paragraph, so you can see where they're going.
Everyone has hidden biases, but instead of keeping them that way, educators in Davis have been delving deeply into their prejudices to make themselves more aware of them--and to become better teachers in the process.I have to say from the start: if you don't know what your biases are, how do you delve deeply into them?
Davis is a college town, a stereotypical hippies-who-never-grew-up-and-are-now-college-professors town. It's an artsy, bohemian town--one where the cost of living is egregious. There's a tunnel under the freeway so frogs can get from one side to the other without getting run over. Seriously. Oh, and it's a "nuclear-free zone." You get the idea. Berkeley-lite. But back to the article:
"This is definitely fresh ground that we're exploring, and it hasn't been totally comfortable for everyone involved," says Tim Paulson, a Davis school psychologist.
Unconscious--or hidden--bias, Paulson says, can have a huge impact in the classroom, and teachers aren't even aware of it because it is, well, unconscious.
That statement ranks right up there with "everyone is a closet racist." But here's the clincher: the article never once addresses the achievement gap! It's a total bait-and-switch. The title indicates that all of California's teachers have hidden biases against black and Hispanic students, because that's where the so-called achievement gap lies. In other words, we're all racists. And if we could only realize and explore that, why, the achievement gap would be erased and all students would excel.
Here's where CTA is a bunch of hypocrites--well, one place. They promote multiculturalism and the like, not willing to accept that possibly, just possibly, it's culture, not skin color, that contributes most to the achievement gap. But I digress.
So the article implies through it's title that hidden biases are the cause of poor academic performance by blacks and Hispanics. In other words, the CTA is (unjustifiably) slamming all its members, and it can do so because it's entitled to their dues money. But the article never once mentions the achievement gap; no, it rambles on about how we need to address our hidden biases--why? The most direct answer I can find in the entire nebulous article is this: "Recognizing their own biases can help teachers identify how many students they're calling on--or not calling on."
See, that is the cause of the achievement gap! We're not calling on black and Hispanic students enough!
Somewhere in the haze, the article then gave a little background on how this program in Davis came into being. The movie Crash was mentioned, and an anti-semitic case that happened in Davis a couple years ago. "The entire city of Davis was already on the path of self-examination...." CTA is about nothing if not navel-gazing.
I'm not going to flaggelate (or flatulate) myself over biases of mine that exist not in my mind, but in the mind of someone looking for these "hidden" biases. I'm very open and direct with my biases: I can't stand socialists or idiots. There, that was easy, wasn't it? Redundant, perhaps (hehe), but easy.
Now the next question is, knowing that I have some socialists and idiots in my classes, can I still teach those students? When I consider that some of my socialists have been and are some of the best performers in my classes, I have to conclude that I'm not allowing their political orientation to adversely affect their grade. Even some of my idiots do well. See? Maybe I'm already self-actualized. I recognize my biases openly, and because I embrace my biases they don't impact student learning.
You think that's what CTA has in mind? I don't, either.
Update, 5/2/06 8:48 pm: Here's more about "unconscious racism" from John at Discriminations (see blogroll at left).
Update #2, 5/3/06 9:33 pm: Amazing how these things just drop in my lap. Want to read an article by a black college student, an article called White People Are Annoying--But Why? Want to read an article that has the following quotes in it?
"At this point, I believe I have become dangerously close to disliking white people—all of them. However, that is not important...."
"I believe the majority recognizes that blacks and other minorities do not become a part of the community and that they isolate themselves, and they wonder what the minorities’ problem is. Well, I say, what’s your problem? Why don’t I feel like integrating myself? Now why wouldn’t I want to do that?"
"I feel that there are four types of white people here: white people who are apathetic towards the race issue—and consequently me, white people who are ignorant, white people who care about race in an insincere way, and white people who care in a sincere way."
"The ignorant ones, who are a lot of you, just do not know or understand the issues. You think that integrating yourself is having one black acquaintance who shares the same interests as you."
"If a white person studied “abroad” at Howard or Spellman, they would have a difficult time assimilating, and they would feel uncomfortable. They would have to bring themselves into a painfully new zone, and appreciate that culture for what it is, and, most likely, that culture would accept them."
You know you want to read more. It's like that proverbial bad car wreck that you just can't peel your eyes from.