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Public invited to discuss 'achievement gap'
Original post made
on Apr 14, 2008
Members of the school community are invited to weigh in on how well Palo Alto schools are addressing the so-called "achievement gap" at a public forum Tuesday.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Monday, April 14, 2008, 10:09 AM
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Posted by ol' lady
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2008 at 12:39 pm
Dear Sad but True:
You have confirmed my worst fears. You said that your kids have no issue with race, and that you have seen no issues.
The ones making an issue of race are the usual culprits, misguided folks who are kind in heart, but wrong in action and words, making an issue out of the wrong component, and in fact CONTRIBUTING to racism. That is what I have been fearing..that is what I have been hearing.
There is a way in which some kind hearted people, trying to do the right thing, actually contribute to the problem by wrongly naming the problem one of color..when it is so many other things, such as culture of all involved.
I am sorry that now you have a problem whereas before you did not. What will be the result? Will you or your children now get a chip on your shoulders?
Will it be like it has been with so many women, ( being a woman, I speak from personal experience on this as well as the issue of race, being Hispanic and having seen the results of blaming problems on race in my people also)...Back to women, how many women have I heard complain about the "glass ceiling" for example, and blame sexism, and get a chip on their shoulders, and have troubles feeling equal to and friendly to men because of the sneaking suspicion that men are trying to "keep them down" with their sexism..when it is really because so many of us choose, and in my opinion rightfully so, to cut back or quit our paying jobs in order to devote more time to our kids. What man who does that will go to the next level? None.
It isn't sexism, but our choices in our we compete in our world, and the consequences of our choices. How many women choose professions friendly to being "part time" so they can spend time with their kids. "Part time" professions will not advance as much, and will not pay as much.
The result is that there may be "sexism" in that folks pretty much assume that most women will not be willing to work 60 hours per week throughout their 30s and 40s in order to go on to the top level. And this may affect in subtle ways how women are seen in the office.
The same is true with race. It works many different ways. When an Asian kid walks into a classroom, a teacher would be a fool to not know that the statistics are on the side of the kid behaving well in class, doing all his homework, and having parents ( 2 married parents) monitoring the kid closely. This expectation probably colors her thinking so that she is chalks up any deviation from her expectation as a "deviation from the norm", not proof that her norm is wrong.
Sadly, the statistics are in the reverse as we go "down" the academic achievement scale. Whites are as much below Asians in academic scores as Blacks/Browns are below Whites.
The statistics, not surprisingly, show a corresponding increase in single parent homes, also, as well an increasing value on sports achievement over academic achievement. Throw in a strong cultural pressure to not "act white" ( though one would assume that it should be to not "act asian" in this area) by achieving, and you end up with some pretty powerful disincentives to accomplish much.
You also have a situation where the teacher becomes ever less surprised when homework doesn't get turned in or there are behavior issues or difficulty getting in touch with a parent. 95% of all teens in jail for violent crimes come from fatherless homes. That is a pretty big correlation with single parent homes = behavior issues.
So, of course, and through no fault of the teacher, there are some underlying backgrounds. This is not "racism", but a natural and necessary component of human beings surviving through the ages. We assume that if we come across a very large dog, for example, that we should be more wary of it than a very small cat. This is not animalism, but a realistic assessment of what to expect given our knowledge of probability.
Add to it the problem of teachers/administrators being accused of "racism" if they call in the parents and note a problem or offer help ( because of the strongly erroneous conclusion that because more kids of color or in Special Ed there must be racism involved, which a very destructive conclusion and contributes more to the problem than it solves) and accused of "racism" if they DON'T offer help, and you can see that the school system is screwed.
In the end, like with any group of people trying to improve themselves, it has to come from within the group. No outside agency is going to fix the families, increasing the percent of kids born in wedlock. No outside agency is going to teach parents to talk to and read to and play with their kids before they are five so that they enter kindergarten with twice the vocabulary and cognitive exposure. No outside agency is going to knock on the door of kids' homes and make sure they are doing their homework and praise/reward the kids for good work in the home.
So, by the time the kid reaches kindergarten, he is already condemned to being "last" in the class.
Add to it the fact that any attempt to channel help to kids on the basis of color will only add to the racism of others who see the "stupid" group of kids are all of color, and you have a real problem.
In my very humble and completely non-academic opinion, the best help anyone of color can give to improve the situation in the Achievement Gap is to go back into the community of color and teach, teach, teach how to pull families back together and help kids succeed in school. As groups of immigrants have done since the beginning of the USA, teaching each other how to assimilate and achieve the "American dream". I would have more respect for the Students of Color group that has been forming over the last few years if I saw more classes aimed at teaching parents of color how to help their kids achieve, taught by adults of color who have succeeded well and therefore would have some credibility with the audience..
It would help if high achieving students of color would "big brother" or "big sister" younger kids of color, also, to help them learn good study habits and attitudes toward school.
There is no way a white or asian person can do these two needs. They would have no credibility with the target audience/pupil.