By kindergarten, 1 out of 4 African American boys in California is convinced he will fail in school, a self-fulfilling prophecy driven in part by poverty and trauma, according to the results of a legislative inquiry.All you lefties who like to spout off about institutional racism in schools--these kids haven't even gotten to school yet. Evil Whitey Teacher hasn't even started in on these kids yet. There's a problem, all right, but it's not some imaginary "institutional racism". These kids aren't getting these viewpoints from EWT, they're getting these views in the home. On the street. In the neighborhood.
In other words, it's like I've been saying all along: it's culture. Some groups have a culture that supports academic success, some groups do not. If you want me as a teacher to fix the problem then what you're really saying is that you want me to change someone's culture. Not my job, not gonna do it.
There's much more sad but interesting information in the article:
Currently, about 70 percent of California males under age 25 are of an ethnicity other than white, yet too many of those boys of color are failing in school and are off track to succeed in the workforce.If white teachers and their institutional racism are to blame, then these teachers are efficient and effective. Look at what they're able to accomplish in only a couple years! Could they really be so effective without truly intending to be so? Imagine what they could accomplish if they intended to do something! But wait, they intend to teach material to students, and they're not very effective at that with certain groups. Something's amiss with this argument.
For example, by fourth grade, about 60 percent of black and Latino children score below proficient on reading tests, and by eighth grade, about 1 in 4 are chronically absent.
What's amiss is that blaming the teachers is not only wrong but wrong-headed. Nobody in the education world is out to shaft black and Hispanic kids. The problems these kids are having stem from certain specific and identifiable sub-cultural beliefs. And we all know what they are.
So encouraging people to adopt different, more helpful, values is the recommendation, right? Well, yes, but bass-ackwardsly so:
"We need to change our value system and recognize that investing in the most marginalized youth will yield the greatest economic returns for California," Swanson said.They get it wrong again. Pretending that schools intend to suspend/expel darker-skinned students disproportionately, and then stopping that practice, makes certain people feel good but it doesn't solve the problem. People should view suspensions/expulsions as exactly what they are: markers for socially unacceptable behavior. Removing the markers doesn't remove the behaviors, and it certainly doesn't make the now unpunished behaviors go away, and it doesn't help the student who exhibits those behaviors. (see the update below)
Recommendations included expanding educational programs that reduce suspensions and expulsions and increase access to college and career preparation.
So, why are certain groups of kids not doing well in school? For the same reason their larger groups, ethnic and otherwise, aren't doing so well in society. Until those problems get addressed, we can throw money at schools and create Diversity Officers and refuse to allow schools to discipline kids of certain races--and we'll accomplish nothing but wasting money, devastating good people with false accusations, and reinforcing behaviors that have never allowed success.
Guess what we'll do.
Update, 12/6/12: I'm reminded of a line from the great movie Stand And Deliver: "There are two types of racism Mr. Escalante--singling out a group of people because they are members of a minority, and not singling out a group of people because they are members of a minority." It's a paraphrase, but the intent is the same.