Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Latest Excuse

In the days before Brown vs Board of Education and school desegregation in the US, if someone said to you that white teachers wouldn't be able to teach black kids anything (or conversely, black children wouldn't be able to learn from white teachers) how would you have reacted?  You likely would have told that person that they were ignorant, a bigot and a racist.  You would have accused them of perpetuating stereotypes, insinuating white supremacy and trying to "keep minorities in their place".  And you certainly would have been right to say that.

So why then are we so accepting of the very same argument for poor performance by minority students in Wisconsin?  Superintendent Tony Evers has formed a task force to address the performance gap--and it's chairman stated on Upfront With Mike Gousha that one of the issues is that white teachers "don't relate" to black students.  In our own interview with Oshkosh School Superintendent Stan Mack last week, he called having a teachers with a "99% middle class white background is a 'problem'".

This of course begs the question of what difference race makes in knowing that 2+2=4.  And I'm pretty sure that George Washington was the first US President for blacks as he was for whites.  Of course, kids aren't asked straight-forward questions like that or their tests anymore.  Instead the questions are all word problems (Sally has two seasons of Game of Thrones downloaded on her IPad and two seasons of the Walking Dead.  How many seasons of shows can she watch since kids aren't expected to do homework anymore?) Or they ask kids how they "feel" about things (George Washington owned slaves, how do you think that makes African-Americans feel when they see his picture on the dollar bill?)

The "racial teaching disparity" is just the latest excuse those in education are using to avoid confronting the real issue behind the struggle of minority students in the classroom.  Remember, these are the kids who have from day one have had Early Childhood programs, Head Start, 4-year old kindergarten, full-day five-year old kindergarten, SAGE classrooms with lower student-to-teacher ratios, English as a Second Language programs, before school programs, after school programs, summer school programs, free and reduced school lunch, free school breakfast, summer breakfast and lunch programs and reading specialists at all grade levels--and they still aren't making the grade.

With taxpayers who have funded all of the above programs growing tired of being told they are the reason for these failures, those in education are now (unfairly blaming the teachers.  All in a continuing effort to avoid pointing the finger at the greatest source of minority failure--a lack of accountability on the part of parents.  The opportunity to learn and break out of the cycles of poverty and crime are provided 180-days a year in even the worst neighborhoods in America--staffed by people who truly care about the children they serve--regardless of their "socio-economic background".  It's about time those who wield the greatest influence over those children make it a priority to take advantage of those opportunities.

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