I'll get back to that in a second. First, let's summarize the article. As usual, your obsessively hardworking Asian students, whose parents often put the fear of God into them, came out on top. Following closely behind in their usual number two position were the white kids, turning in a solid, if uninspired effort. Next we had the Hispanic kids holding their longstanding rank of third, with a big space between themselves and the second-place whites. And trailing the pack - again - are your black students.
What makes the results even more controversial is the fact that economically poor Asians and whites outperformed middle/upper-class Hispanics and blacks. The long-standing excuse used to be that blacks and Hispanics did more poorly because they were more likely to live in poverty. Now, that theory no longer holds water. As State Superintendent of Schools, Jack O'Connell says in the article, it's not an economic achievement gap, it's a racial achievement gap. Year after year, the racial ranking order for state test scores does not change, and neither do the lame excuses for why this is. Let's hear from the "experts" shall we?
Russlynn Ali, director of Education Trust West, said state policymakers are responsible for the achievement gap that has kept black and Latino students behind because they've done little to put experienced, well-trained teachers and rigorous high-level courses in schools that predominantly serve those groups.That's funny Ms. Ali, because the Washington D.C. school system, for instance, (which is predominately black - and that includes students, teachers, and administrators) spends upward of $14,000 per student per year, yet their scores still stink. It's not about money, and it's not about your teacher looking like you. Those canards are so tired and old. And what if you gave a high-level course and nobody came? What then?
"Our system takes poor kids and kids of color -- not just the students of color who are poor -- and provides them less of everything research says makes a difference," she said.
"That is the underlying cause of the achievement gap."
Next, we hear from another "expert" who says that "expectations" are to blame. Take it away Anita!
"The expectations are not as high for African American students as they are for other students," said Anita Royston, an education consultant who used to work for the Sacramento City Unified School District.Another tired old canard! Yes, Ms. Royston, every day when my students walk into my classroom, I shake my head and give a "tsk, tsk" to myself at how all my black students just can't be expected to perform as well as my other students. For all that is good and holy, could she give me just a little bit of credit? I have the highest expectations for ALL my students. I don't give a rat what color they are! Some of my best students have been black. Did I somehow forget myself that day and demand high expectations of them and not to my other black students?
And then, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, your intrepid reporter, Laurel Rosenhall, brings us the opinion of an education professor from what is arguably the most leftist and intellectually vacuous college in our Cal State system. And if the opinions of this employee of that institution are any indicator, I would say the shoe fits. Check out this gem:
Sharroky Hollie sees the achievement gap yet another way. He is a professor of teacher education at California State University, Dominguez Hills, who focuses on strategies that help Latino and African American students learn. Hollie says the achievement gap reflects a biased education system that doesn't accept behaviors and learning styles common in African American and Latino communities.So when one of my black or Hispanic students is constantly getting out of his seat without permission, and is talking to himself or whomever while I am trying to give my lesson, it is my fault because I haven't adjusted my teaching to his "social and kinesthetic nature"? Oh, Professor Hollie, could you be anymore of a racist, and I do mean racist in the true sense of the word? You are saying that - that's YOU - are saying that black and Hispanic kids are so inferior, that they can't control themselves enough to adjust to the expected norms of behavior in class? If you could only hear yourself you sad, sad excuse for an educator.
For example, he said, an African American student who is talkative and frequently gets out of his seat will be seen as disruptive and defiant in most schools. Instead, Hollie said, teachers should develop teaching strategies that work with the student's social and kinesthetic nature, a trait that could be attributed to his cultural background.
"The first thing we want schools to do is to change their mind-set in seeing these behaviors as cultural and not negative," he said. "The rest of it is: How can the instruction be reshaped to validate and affirm the cultural behaviors as a segue to standards-based learning?"
SacBee online articles have a comment section where readers can share their thoughts, and I had a lot of fun reading the comments to this farce of an article. There were numerous quality comments, but this one did a great job of shooting down the whole "cultural" inability to behave:
What's amazing is how often students with a "cultural" need to disrupt class by being out of their seat or talking can change that behavior when *they* want to... In the regular year students have a right to attend their comprehensive high school and require a hearing to be removed to a continuation school or other environment. In SCUSD that means the hearing office is going to complain about what the school is not doing for the poor kid (despite months of effort and paperwork gathered by school admin) then the student will be placed on a "contract" and sent back to school. Now, take the same student in summer school. Typical summer school rules are students are dropped on their 2nd referal to the principal (sometimes first). Good coaches also bench students for refera. Amazingly, the same students with a "cultural" need for behaviors that others find disruptive, gets over that "need" quick when he doesn't like the consequences.Yep, take off the administrative shackles during summer school or threaten the playing time of those sacred sporting events, and you see the student's "culture" change right quick.
There is hope though. If more of these minority students suffering from the "achievement gap" had the childhood experience of this reader/commenter, there wouldn't be such a gap in the first place:
I'm an African American and the importance of academic achievement was drilled into my head constantly. Yep, I was teased for "acting white", but I would rather be teased any day than bring home a C to my mom, and there had better not be too many B's. We read together as a family. We could watch 30 minutes of TV (cartoons, sitcoms) per day, but all the news and PBS we wanted. No MTV or BET. Parents were the bosses in the house, no exceptions. They were selective about who we were allowed to socialize with. Books in every room, world maps on our walls, and family outings were educational. When I was in high school, it was my responsibility to succeed at that point, and my choices could either open doors or close them. I had a good foundation to make good choices. It starts at home.The "acting white" comment from that reader/commenter is a whole other future blog entry unto itself. When you get a chance, read an excellent book by Shelby Steele called White Guilt. In it, Mr. Steele talks about the trap this society is in. The political left gains a demented - but in our current culture, legitimate - moral authority by excusing the social pathologies and irresponsible behavior of minorities that cause a lot of the factors that lead to this so-called achievement gap. At the same time, the political right is paralyzed with fear at the prospect of being called racist for daring to suggest that these same minorities be held to the same standards of behavior and responsibility as everyone else. Until this situation changes, those racial test score rankings will remain as they are, and all the money in the government coffers - read: taxpayers' pockets - won't make a lick of difference.
Historically, Af. Americans have made education the highest priority and we need to go back to that.
Good Day to You, Sir