Those Historical & Sociological Convos We Don't Want to Have....

(Thanks Indigenist Opinion!)

Bad News First
Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.

Poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches.

The data was distilled from highly respected national math and reading tests, known as the National Assessment for Ed
ucational Progress, which are given to students in fourth and eighth grades, most recently in 2009. The report, “A Call for Change,” is to be released Tuesday by the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools.

...“What this clearly shows is that black males who are not eligible for free and reduced-price lunch are doing no better than white males who are poor,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the council.

...In high school, African-American boys drop out at nearly twice the rate of white boys, and their SAT scores are on average 104 points lower. In college, black men represented just 5 percent of students in 2008.

The analysis of results on the national tests found that math scores in 2009 for black boys were not much different than those for black girls in Grades 4 and 8, but black boys lagged behind Hispanics of both sexes, and they fell behind white boys by at least 30 points, a gap sometimes interpreted as three academic grades.

The search for explanations has recently looked at causes besides poverty, and this report may further spur those efforts.

There’s accumulating evidence that there are racial differences in what kids experience before the first day of kindergarten,” said Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. “They have to do with a lot of sociological and historical forces. In order to address those, we have to be able to have conversations that people are unwilling to have.”
Gee...that doesn't sound familiar at all. It doesn't at all sound like something we've said/heard quite a few times since the day before forever.

Better News
The report urges convening a White House conference, encouraging Congress to appropriate more money for schools and establishing networks of black mentors.

What it does not discuss are policy responses identified with a robust school reform movement that emphasizes closing failing schools, offering charter schools as alternatives and raising the quality of teachers.

The report did not go down this road because “there’s not a lot of research to indicate that many of those strategies produce better results,” Mr. Casserly said.

Others have a different response. The key to narrowing the achievement gap, said Dr. Ferguson, is “really good teaching.”

One large urban school district that has made progress is Baltimore’s, where the dropout rate for African-American boys declined to 4.9 percent during the last academic year, down from 11.9 percent three years earlier. Graduation rates for black boys were also up: 57 percent in 2009-10, compared with 51 percent three years earlier.

Andres A. Alonso, the chief executive of the Baltimore City Public Schools, said the improvement had little to do with changes at the margins, like lengthening the school day or adding mentors. Rather, Mr. Alonso cited aggressively closing failing schools, knocking on the doors of dropouts’ homes to lure them back and creating real-time alerts — “almost like an electrical charge” — when a student misses several days of school.

“Hispanic kids and African-American kids this year had a lower dropout rate than white kids,” Mr. Alonso said.

You don't say?????


  1. see, this is where you take your own kids future in your hands. The government does not care, society will never care; everyone knows the reason behind this, and believe me white privilege will collapse before this gets any better...
    solution: home school your kids, join a homeschooling community(there are many) where different parents teach different subjects, put them in a private schools like the ones obama's kids attend(multi-enthnic and teaches "ALL" American history), or sent them to boarding school in a different country(say for example a country in Africa), it would be cheaper and WAAAAAy better than U.S. school system.

  2. or sent them to boarding school in a different country(say for example a country in Africa), it would be cheaper and WAAAAAy better than U.S. school system.

    Amen. I had an excellent education in Cameroon. I started studying languages, geography, world history, and Cameroon's economy when I was eight. When I returned to the US, I was and consistently remained a top student.

  3. I got a teaching job in a low-income district yesterday: great timing. :-)

    The achievement gap is no joke, but no one wants to talk about it unless a little White kid is front and center. *cough*WaitingForSuperman*cough*

  4. I got a teaching job in a low-income district yesterday: great timing.

    Congratulations!!! What subject?

  5. Bilingual elementary, and thanks!

  6. More fun facts about public education:
    Schools that are doing well (according to standardized tests) are usually schools in high socioeconomic areas. And they are rewarded with...surprise...more funding.

    Schools that are not, are not rewarded at all. Furthermore, their teachers aren't receiving adequate support. And most failing schools are in low socioeconomic areas. Most white families located in these school boundaries lie, cheat or beg to get their kids out.

    Most charter schools fail within the first 2 years. They are partially funded by taxpayer dollars, but mostly funded by whoever has decided to open the school. In most cases, intentions are good, but it's not sustainable. Like public schools, charter schools need to be properly funded in order to be successful.

    Kids do better when their teachers have access to resources they need, and support with getting parents involved (even in low socioeconomic areas where parents work a multitude of jobs at once), and respect from administration, parents, and the community.

    I genuinely believe that schools which are predominately of any race other than white are being set up to fail. It fails black students the hardest, as the evidence above shows - there is something taking place before they even enter school.

    I also genuinely believe that the push for charter schools comes not from a place of hoping to better education, but from a place of not wanting it to be taxpayer responsibility anymore. Anyone who is pushing charter schools, in my unprofessional opinion, likely has an agenda outside of educating children.

    Bottom line: Kids NEED people to give a shit about them. Their parents, their teachers, the people in their communities, the educational system at large. They need their schools to be properly funded so their teachers can do their jobs. They need at LEAST one person who deeply believes in their capabilities to succeed. Given that most of American society expects black males to become criminals or drug addicts, it'd be ludicrous to think that those negative stereotypes and expectations about them sprang up in adulthood.

    I'm thinking of Witchsistah's post about how whites do not care about blacks. When you think of who controls the government, the school systems, the funding, the testing - white. Direct correlation? As stated in the article, it's only when people give enough of a shit about black students to go out of their way and stop hiding behind excuses that they change things.

    I spent the weekend speaking with a teacher from Baltimore who is calling it quits after 8 years because the system there is almost irreparably fucked up. Mr. Alonso does not need to be congratulating himself just yet. Shutting down failing schools instead of cleaning up the mess (as in his other examples of what they did to better things) - offering a charter school in place is mighty convenient. All those lost jobs and the closed school frees up a shitload of funding to continue to reward already high-achieving schools and make sure everyone gets a raise. Nice.

  7. The solutions are very clear, but the problem is - it's expensive to fix what was left to fail. And it's time consuming to care about kids you never gave a shit about before. What's easier is to create "alternative" schools which will fail if they're not strong enough, and the ones that are have the right to exclude people based on any number of criteria.

    - Pay teachers properly and stop dicking them over so they don't need to be parts of unions that have their own agendas.

    - Treat teachers like the professionals they are. Bad teachers are not what ails America's education system. Are there some bad teachers out there? Absolutely. But that's not the norm. Stop micromanaging them with standardized testing (another lucrative educational business) and then holding them responsible for failures they have nothing to do with. It's like firing store personnel because your shit's not selling. That's a problem at the top, folks.

    - Put extra money into helping failing schools succeed instead of trying to wipe them off the map. Recruit America's BEST teachers and stick them in there to mentor teachers who are still doing ok after being neglected for however long they've been there.

    - Support and motivate teachers who are actually willing to go out there and pull drop-outs back in. You'd be surprised at how good most teachers are. They are mostly in it for the students and will bend over backwards to get them to love school.

    - Support teacher's ideas when it comes to curriculum, programs that encourage student achievement, etc. Teachers are trained to do this shit yet everyone in the world seems to know how to do their damn jobs better than they do.

    - Let teachers create assessments for their students based on benchmarks provided by the state. And the state needs to get it together and figure out whether they're going to go national or not. If so, then the state needs to work on nationwide benchmarks for TEACHERS to determine how to meet them. This way, when some dumbass decides to make a living off of testing students, they're testing them on shit they've actually learned that school year. As it stands right now, the one hand left holding the bag doesn't know that the other hand is cashing checks and pocketing them.

  8. And for those of who are neither parents (God willing) nor teachers, how do we help further the cause?

  9. The reason black and Latino males do so poorly in public schools is because the teacher's and administrators are actively hostile to them. They are disproportionally punished and suspended. There is an active effort to keep them out of the classroom by pushing them into remedial or learning disabled classroom or suspending them. My nephew has been suspended twice. The first time was when he was in kindergarten and they sent him to an in school suspension with middle schoolers! He is now in the second grade at a charter school where he is in the advanced reading and math groups. My nephew is also very tall for his age. His entire life strangers have assumed he had a low IQ because he looks 2-3 years older than he is. People have even walked up to my sister and yelled at her for carrying him when he was only 6 months old cause they thought he was old enough to walk. When he was 1 someone asked what the doctors said was wrong with him cause they assumed was a 3 year old who couldn't talk properly. Already the world is treating him as a big scary black man with a low IQ.
    It takes an extremely active parent/caregiver to counter the BS that is thrown at brown boys. If the parents/caregivers are in distress themselves they do not have the time/energy to be active in their child's education. There needs to be more Head Start programs to make sure all children are ready to read. Kids need to have free breakfast so that they all start the day on a full stomach. They also need proper school supplies. Our voters will never go for it because this sounds too much like "Socialism" aka helping brown people.

  10. Speaking as a parent...

    I agree with a lot of what Victoria said. I HATE standardized testing because as she said the kids are being tested on information that they have not even covered in the classroom! It is the most ass backwards logic for wanting kids to learn and succeed.

    I am highly in favor of paying good teachers much better salaries and I believe teacher unions are the devil when it comes to keeping bad teachers employed as teachers.

    Congratulations on your new position! I wish my daughter had access to languages at the elementary level. Any suggestions on how I could find a Spanish tutor for my daughter because she will not learn Spanish well in high school?

  11. I commented this morning--did it get lost? :-/

  12. I promise I'll shut up after this. I feel like if there were more POC, particularly blacks and Hispanics to make it further up in the system, things could be better. But as it stands now, being white dominated, it just leaves children of color in the worst place.

    My advice for non-parents and non-teachers - pick a child you might know who is not getting what he or she needs, or is slipping through the cracks somewhere and be that one person who always believed in them. Hang out with them, talk to them like they know what they're talking about, go to their meetings at school if their parents can't, show up at their plays, help them with homework. This doesn't even need to be a little-little kid, either. Teenagers thrive when we do this. If you have the time, take it.

  13. @ Jasmin

    It might have. Try again.

  14. THe thing is, Black American's ancestors were just as pressed as low-income Blacks are now. They often worked sun-up to sundown jobs, six days a week with no sick leave or vacaton timea nd fighting overtly hostile, KKK White folks ta boot. These Blacks were often illiterate, yet, if they got their kids a REAL chance at education, they took it with BOTH hands.

    That may have meant letting the kid slack on his chores in favor of study time and picking up that slack yourself. If that meant putting up with a light at night so your child could read his lessons by candle- or lamplight, then sobeit. If that meant you paid the teacher in chickens, eggs, free repair and construction work at their home or the schoolhouse then that's what you did.

    But that was also an era where being an educated person had status in America. Being an intellectual was prized. Education in and of itself was valued. Nowadays, we've got the hustle mentality. It's about getting over nowadays, finding some money-making scheme (plus 12 if you gain fame as well). Education is now seen as a means to get a good job and is valued in so far as it accomplishes that. So you may have had a damn good education and learned a lot, but if it doesn't net you at least a six-figure salary, then it's deemed as worthless.

    And in many cases education is devalued. I'm even hearing this amongst Whites about how a college education isn't a big deal anymore, and not amongst the trailer park set either. As I've said before, America is now an anti-intellectual society. In fact, the right uses the word "intellectual" like a slur as in the "East Coast/New York intellectual elite." Now even being intellectually CURIOUS is seen as suspect thanks to a former President. Daring to actually be smart and educated? The axis of evil.

  15. @ Victoria

    My advice for non-parents and non-teachers - pick a child you might know who is not getting what he or she needs, or is slipping through the cracks somewhere and be that one person who always believed in them.

    This is an ideal situation, but difficult for grown folks with more than one job and possibly continuing education. Not to mention folks who have kids of their own.

    Any other suggestions?

  16. As I've said before, America is now an anti-intellectual society. In fact, the right uses the word "intellectual" like a slur as in the "East Coast/New York intellectual elite." Now even being intellectually CURIOUS is seen as suspect thanks to a former President. Daring to actually be smart and educated? The axis of evil.

    That's another issue people people skipping over, and I think because they're in denial about how pervasive this mindset is.

  17. Aw darn, those cluster computers are tricky! I'm sure I'll remember.

    Black Butterfly,

    Thanks! :-)

    I'll be honest--adequate language tutors are hard to find, especially since many people can read/write a second language much better than they can speak it. I think your best bet would be to find a conversational partner for your daughter, a native Spanish speaker (maybe there's someone in the neighborhood or her class?) to hang out with a few times a week. The thing is, they need naturalistic practice, so they should go to the mall, or to get smoothies or something and just speak in Spanish the whole time. Contrived conversations don't do much good.

    If her partner understands Spanish grammar as well, then that's great. (Most kids of Spanish-speaking immigrants speak Spanish but can't read or write it.) If not, she'll need to get a study buddy and stay on her grammar work. There are a bunch of different tenses and conjugations in Spanish (read: there are 6 different ways to say "speak" in Spanish in the present tense, each depending on the subject of the sentence), and you have to get the basics to get anywhere later on. /soapbox

    If you have anymore questions, you can email me through my blog profile--can you tell I'm a Spanish major? :-)

  18. Moi,

    I want to see more free after-school homework help/tutoring/mentoring programs, and not the kind where everyone just sits around and talks. I mean college prep, AP enrollment, extra lectures, etc. One problem schools refuse to account for is that few parents work 8-3, and all of that extra time is just wasted, especially for kids who can't afford/don't have transportation to extracurricular programs.

    Now I remember my original comment!

    I was going to say that charter schools are like a bandaid on a broken arm. No doubt, they do good work, but I was recently reading that their high graduation rates are often coupled with high attrition rates pre-Senior year. I shadowed a principal at a special Catholic school in Chicago (in Austin, 90% of students low-income, they worked in white-collar jobs to pay tuition, etc.) and he told me that 15 kids (out of the original 115) had already dropped out/transferred when I got there. It was January.

  19. “They have to do with a lot of sociological and historical forces. In order to address those, we have to be able to have conversations that people are unwilling to have.”

    The first step involves white people acknowledging the existence of racism, which just doesn't seem to be something white people are capable of doing.

  20. "Education is now seen as a means to get a good job and is valued in so far as it accomplishes that."

    We've reached a point where education does not guarantee wealth. Not all smart people are rich, and not all rich people are smart. George Bush, The Situation, Paris Hilton, Kardashian Sisters, most CEOs who were elected by their friends in the board of directors, etc. Most rich people were born into their wealth. It's all about privilege and connections.

  21. 1) Pay teachers worth a damn--I have a few friends and many family members who are educators, and no one goes into that business for the money. Which is on the whole is fine. But on the other hand, I'd bet dollars to donuts that there are college kids out there who look at the amount of their student loans, look at starting teacher pay, and decide to take a more lucrative job, like being a secretary.

    2) Invest in school and neighborhood infrastructure. In my hometown, the local college and the local YMCA (or some such organization) had to build new elementary schools for the town. The old ones were falling down, had closets being used for classrooms, etc. and the people in that town still would not vote for a levy to fund the schools. A town 20 miles from where I live now has put a levy on the ballot for the past four years and it has yet to pass.

    3) Find a more equitable way to fund schools. Property taxes don't cut it.

    4) Get rid of NCLB and most other standardized testing BS. Bring back the arts and recess. Teach kids not only the right answers, but how to process information, how to relate it to other things, how to learn. And let kids do hands-on learning.

    5) Not only should every school have breakfast and lunch programs, but those programs need to be overhauled so they serve something better and healthier than frozen pizza and canned green beans. (Looking at you, USDA)

    6) Schools are not prisons. Students are not inmates on the verge of a riot. Stop treating kids that way.

    7) If you're not a parent, try to be involved in the lives of nieces, nephews, the kids of friends'--the more caring adults a child has in his/her life, the better. Sign up to be a mentor or a classroom aide, if you have the time. Donate needed items to your school.

    8) I have no idea how to combat the pervasive attitude that being smart and curious is a bad thing, but the anti-intellectual strain in American culture does pretty much no one any favors. Encourage any kids in your life to be curious about things? Be open about still learning stuff and being excited about learning stuff as an adult?

    Okay, this got really, really long. Education gets me a little riled up.

  22. Schools are not prisons.

    Nor are they daycare. I think parents need to remember that teachers don't merely exist to babysit your damn kids.

  23. CPS (Chicago Public Schools) has been ignoring this kind of stuff for years. But then again, most people in the Chi don't really pretend to care about the class and race discrimination/inequalities. *Shrugs*

    Nor are they daycare. I think parents need to remember that teachers don't merely exist to babysit your damn kids.

    Cosign a million and one times to this.

  24. Dr. Vagrant X,

    Oh yea, my hometown needed to be put on blast like yesterday, except at this point, it's not just CPS, but any public school that's not on the North Side.

  25. Jasmin,

    You've got that right. The schooling system in the South and West Suburbs, excluding one or two notable exceptions, is awful. Most of them have either been taken over by the state, or are on the verge of being taken over. But I guess that's what happens when you combine gentrification with corruption and apathy.


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