Monday, October 03, 2011

You Won't Fix The Racial Achievement Gap Until You're Honest About What Causes It

I had hopes that this column in the Wisconsin State Journal might be headed in the right direction:
Although the gap is closing among students completing algebra by the 10th grade, it has widened on 4th grade reading tests and in high school graduation rates since 2003. Those changes have come as the number of black students in the district has increased and the number of whites has declined.

"We know that we're not pushing the needle significantly," Superintendent Dan Nerad said about what he considers "the most significant social justice issue in America."

The racial achievement gap persists for a variety of reasons both inside and outside the schools.
This was sounding reasonable, but let's look at the next line (boldface is mine):
Factors include poverty, family stability, peer pressure, parental involvement, a curriculum and school culture oriented toward white students, and lower expectations for black students after decades of high dropout and incarceration rates.
Moses on a mountaintop, how are curriculum and school culture oriented towards white people? What on earth does that even mean? I could understand it if the complaint was that they're oriented towards the middle class, but how do we orient things to white students? This I just don't understand. Is it because we expect achievement, is that "white" now? Or is that "Asian"?

This is offensive. I'm sure blaming problems on whitey makes some people feel better, but it's so old now. Black students did better back in days when whitey was the problem, when government-sanctioned racism ruled the day. The Little Rock Nine didn't give up, and they had much more arrayed at them at school than students do today.

Again, as long as you say I'm the problem because of my skin color, I will continue to despise you and attack you. When you're ready to judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, you let me know.


mrelliott said...

Sure there are problems in some of our nation's schools, but nothing...AND I mean NOTHING, that would hold students back from learning and achieving. After decades of transportation, free and reduced breakfasts and lunches, Head Start, 21st Century Programs, special resources, tutors, and monetary incentives for college, if kids aren't learning and achieving...STILL???

They aren't taking advantage of what is right in front of them. There are races in our country who don't want to achieve...if they did, their gravy train would stop. Best just to sit back, get your handout, and keep the pot stirred up as best you can. That way you get taken care of, and boy has our country fallen for it, hook, line and sinker!

3rseduc / handsinthesoil said...

Argh! Angry! I am sure I'll get backlash for this buy what the hay....
The black and hispanic cultures in general promote a gang lifestyle, drugs, fast money, and NOT education. If you try and become educated you're teased and told you're acting "white". The achievement gap will continue until communities and cultural icons address this and change pop culture, media, and all that young kids gravitate towards. Also, such behavior is often generational. When we as a whole say STOP to "acting ghetto" and make being smart and educated "cool" perhaps we will get somewhere. Until then....good luck.

Ellen K said...

I am sure I will be lambasted as well, but I will go further. A culture which indulges single parenthood as a right and allows poverty to become a generational norm is going to reap the dubious benefits of that acceptance. Look at the out of wedlock birth rates in the African American community. It is upward of 70%. Right now in the Dallas ISD a war of Latinos vs. Blacks is catching teachers and children in the crossfire. The number of Anglo students still left in the district is ignored, but if Latino parents complain about a black teacher or administrator, suddenly there are headlines. Where does responsibility for education begin? I say it starts at home with families who value books over cell phones and church over what passes for popular entertainment. And while folks will try to label this as racist, I will tell you that the public acceptance of a lower and sloppier manner of living has crept into our society to the point where ALL the kids accept this style of dress, attitude and living as normal. Right now I am fighting battles daily with students whose parents will buy them anything, but won't spend a minute checking their grades online. I work hard to teach my classes. I work summers and weekends and evenings to bring my best to the school daily. But if teachers are the only ones who care, as evidenced by a culture steeped in popular consumer products, then why should I?

3rseduc / handsinthesoil said...

I've asked students why they are so lackadaisical and the whole spiel about caring about their future, etc etc and they tell me they'll sell drugs like their boyfriend does, he has a nice car, or live at home with mom cause she buys groceries, or just go on welfare. And they're content with it. Also, yes, poverty is NO excuse to lack of education. It's about choice...EVERYONE can CHOOSE to buy a book or cheetos, watch Jersey Shore or PBS. my related education blog....I even publicly follow Right on the Left Coast on there :)

Anonymous said...

Poverty is NOT the problem; the problem is the set of bad, dysfunctional habits and behaviors that create poverty. The past 40 years have proven that throwing money only leads to more bad personal choices. In some urban neighborhoods, no one knows anyone who has ever had a full-time job or been married. Churches may be part of the problem; at least those like the one Rev. Wright leads in Chicago; blame everyone but yourself and your community.

Why would any sensible person think the offspring of several generations of unwed, poorly-educated, young, likely unemployed or semi-employed teenagers (male and female), raised in a highly dysfunctional culture, would do as well academically as the offspring of several generations of well-educated, employed, married parents living in a culture that pushes and rewards academic success? The culture has to change.

Bill said...

The culture of poverty is a big factor, but not in the way that most people assume. As someone who teaches in an Inner City district, I have helped to send students off to MIT, Harvard, Cornell, Military Academies, and many other Top Tier schools, and many of them have succeeded beyond most people's wildest dreams. The "culture" problem is that none of them come back. Few if any of my students have ever known anyone who got ahead from hard work and academic achievement. They have never seen the person who used to sit in the same desk and is now working for NASA, is a successful doctor, biotech researcher, owns his own company, or is a multimillionaire from patents. They do see athletes and "rappers" from near-by areas much like their own living the high-life, so what are they supposed to think is the road to success?
I do try to bring successful alumni back to visit...but it's not easy.