This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Edward L. Whitﬁeld August 2001
Education Dollars or Democracy?
Both are Necessary - Parents are Key velop into wholesome, healthy, happy responsible and capable adults. And quite frankly, parents are the experts on making that hapMay 04, 2001 pen – not those in front of the classrooms, in the oﬃces, and at the central administration Because of the importance of children bebuilding. ing educated in wholesome and nurturing environments, few people would openly ques”Parental involvement” has become a welltion the importance of parents being involved worn catch phrase in school circles. Nearly in the education of their children. It is the everyone gives lip service to it, but not much parents of school children and the commu- that is genuine is being done to promote nity that embraces them that know that the it. Particularly, since the merger of the Guilpurpose of education goes beyond produc- ford County Schools, groups within Greensing good employees and good citizens. They boro’s black community have struggled with know that the educational system needs to the merged Guilford County School Board help produce all around good people who will to break through the bureaucracy and put grow to become good parents, themselves, as the resources and policies together to support well as good guardians of the environment, meaningful parental and community involvegood maintainers of the community and good ment in the schools. This would be the key to transmitters of the culture. break through the tracking, the stereotyping, Except to the extent that they fall for the the disrespect and the low expectations that lies, confusion and prejudices of the dominant hold back the potential development of too culture, it is the parents, more than anyone many of our children. The Education Comelse, who believe in their children. They love mittee of the local NAACP, the Pulpit Fotheir children like no one else. They recog- rum, and the North Carolina Racial Justice nize their children’s individuality rather than Network, in particular, along with grass roots just their membership in a group, race or cul- groups like the Dudley High School PTA and ture. Parents recognize their children’s pe- alumni, have been involved in organized neculiarities and sense their children’s poten- gotiations with the School Board and School tial. Parents and other concerned members Administration concerning parental involveof our community want to see our youth de- ment. In addition groups like the Greens1
some deals are made. zero tolerance discipline rules and on and on. Ervin Brisbon’s ongoing legacy is that he would not stop demanding the community involvement that our children need. high stakes testing.” Every time a budget comes up there has been a crisis and sides are chosen. Churches. Any opposing view is called treachery against children. or any change in school policy requiring approval beyond the school system’s internal decision making apparatus the community cries out for more involvement and more meaningful involvement in decision making and in the education of the children. Just give us what we tell you we need and approve our plans and methods. We are told that support for the school systems plans and policies is critical. neigh- . This reach its lowest point with the jailing of parents and other concerned citizens for continuing to raise questions they felt were not being adequately answered in school board meetings on redistricting. trust us. civic organizations. little or no real progress is made with involving parents in the schools. It has happened with discussions concerning closing the achievement gap. Every time the school system resists that involvement. and while the school system gets its money. We are the experts. Then. We know what you need.boro Community Initiative and the Unity Task Force have lent their voice to concerns about extending democratic community involvement is schools and school issues. We know what to do. or for not doing what they need to do at home to help their children learn. It is said to be the only thing that will allow for the continued progress of the region and for the proper support for the children. in another year. In that case the democratic discussions and input from the public was thrown away and the school system revealed its own plan and fought to implement it with little discussion. ”While your involvement may be nice. The process described above is what happened around the merger decision. Parents are still made to feel uncomfortable being involved with their children’s education. It happened again around redistricting. The essence of the message from the oﬃcials to the public is. magnet schools. The community has important things to say and the school system does not want to hear it. Then. While some concessions are made to 2 democratic input. It happened with the plans for school construction. Every time a school budget comes up. Never is there any serious discussion from the oﬃcials of how we got into the sorry state of aﬀairs that we are now in with them at the helm. We know what you want. The same process occurred each time there was a bond referendum. What we need to do is devise speciﬁc plans and structures that involve parents and support them in advocating for their children. we often see just the form of it without the real content. the whole process repeats itself and we hear it all over again. Lip service is paid to the importance of the community’s input. Nowhere do the school oﬃcials really admit that they need more of our direct involvement rather than less. We are told that we must be either for or against children. Parents are blamed for not caring enough about their children.
rather than resisting it.borhood groups and concerned individuals need to band together and coordinate eﬀorts to work with our children. space and resources available to help it happen. The school system should facilitate this taking place. The heavy-handed tactics we see coming from the central administration must be opposed because they will not lead to our children being all that they can be. 3 . That means they should make the time.
developed and evaluated. are not tested at all. but rather to gauge in a general sense the content and progress of schools. simply measure the retention of dry facts when the real world in which we are living is much more dynamic. In particular. The problem is that the the standardized tests do not measure critical thinking. in fact. Other skills . kines4 thetic. only verbal skills and mathematical skills are examined. The standardized tests that are being used for crucial decisions about the potential of students and the progress they are making only attempt to measure two of these eight diﬀerent forms of intelligence. musical and naturalistic .spatial. Many tests. Our children must function in a real world which requires critical thinking and ﬂexibility as well as the capacity to continuously learn new things. intra-personal. 2001 End-of-grade and other high-stakes tests do not measure the whole child. inter-personal. One of the big problems is that some of the most important intellectual skills that will sustain one throughout his life. such as critical thinking and analysis. A recent report on the Paideia program revealed that it did not improve scores on standardized tests even though it stresses the importance of developing critical thinking skills. Serious educators and child psychologists recognize the multi-dimensional character of intelligence. The preparation for this world is sadly lacking in our schools and not measured on the standardized tests.are not evaluatedon these tests. One researcher has identiﬁed eight diﬀerent intelligences that can be analyzed.High Stakes Testing May 8. They were never designed to make decisions on individual students. .
we can put ﬁner divisions on it. we can make it out of precious metals we can make it thicker and heavier and it still won’t do very well measuring the volume of irregular solids. augmentation or gilding will transform a straight ruler into an accurate instrument for measuring the volume of a solid ball.Rulers Measuring Balls – The Problem of Standardized Testing October 22. The ball starts to look like a football. . social studies. The same is true with standardized testing that attempts to reduce the multidimensional intellectual development of our multidimensional children to a single. then ﬁnally like a kite string – something clearly measurable by a 5 good ruler. music and other classes because they will not be on the end of grade tests. one-dimensional number–the test score. That is what is happening in our public schools today where decisions are being made to drop science. straight line. We can make the ruler longer. The only way to even begin to make such measurement work is to transform the shape into a longer and longer form that becomes one-dimensional so it can be eﬀectively measured. then a long skinny balloon. 2000 No amount of enhancement.
Our school system produces winners and losers. The national trend toward ”accountability” that leads toward increased standardized testing and more national standards. unchallenged superpower. The public schools produce enough dropouts. and engineers and space scientists and corporate lawyers and business managers and military leaders to maintain our position as the leader of the free world and at this point the undisputed. utopian ideas. Each year our schools produce enough Doctors. and unemployed to keep the stock market happy. will inevitably widen the various achievement and discipline gaps that help to sort kids into the winner and loser categories so needed by .The Secret Mission of the Public Schools: Preparing our Children for a Lifetime of Failure October 18. (If you don’t believe me watch the Dow Jones Industrial Average drop when unemployment ﬁgures get too low. 2000 When you get right down to it. our society needs them both in order to function the way it does. We have to be careful then. the role of public schooling is to sort them out neatly so that some are well prepared for a lifetime of failure. by golly. We have to be careful that we don’t forget that while children are ”learning machines” with almost unimaginable capacities to learn and to create. which is to prepare the next generation for their various places in society. the public schools in this country are very successful at doing what they have to do. We also should not forget that those who are well served by the status quo would not be terribly interested in the social upheaval that would result from all our young people learning their true capacity and potential and demanding that our society make room for them. that we don’t get caught up in some type of egalitarian.) Schools also produce enough fast food workers to keep 6 hamburgers cheap on the way home from the skating rink. Those people look to public schooling as a ”leveler of the playing ﬁeld” and a ”gateway to opportunity” when in fact it is a very successful supplier of exactly those social roles needed to ’keep America great’ and growing. The problem is that some people want the schools to have a mission diﬀering from their real role. when we talk about school reform. and.
This is not to say that little black children are any less intelligent or less creative or less capable in any way than little white children. 7 . It would be interesting to take some wealthy kids from the suburbs and test them on inner city survival skills. and completely close the gaps until all the other gaps in the society are closed or unless the tests are rewritten. All children should be encouraged to respect their families and communities and be involved in their betterment while coming to understand that none of those families or communities are or will ever be perfect. but it is to say that in this society their histories and their contemporary realities are sufﬁciently diﬀerent that the same test is not very likely to produce the same results from each group. but even the destination needs to be connected to ’life in community’ rather than academic and other forms of abstraction.this society. In as much as the standards are ”normed” around white middle class children. All good education should start from where children are in order to get them anywhere. We could probably get a diﬀerent achievement gap that way. black children will never become something they are not. All children need to be loved and respected for who they are.
I once heard a black administrator from a school system in eastern North Carolina say ”Thirty percent of our minority students are going on to college. or a plumber. I know for a fact that there is nothing wrong with working with your hands.There is Nothing Wrong with Being a Carpenter October 20. then they could shamefully begin to learn what they needed to know to become carpenters. There is also nothing wrong with being a neurosurgeon or a rocket scientist or a corporate lawyer or a religious leader. 2000 A former high school teacher once expressed his frustration with some of what we do to young people when he told me that some of his science students just wanted to be carpenters and that there was nothing wrong with that. It can be satisfying and rewarding both in an emotional and ﬁnancial sense. It would not approach everyone from a liberal arts ’cookie cutter’ point of view and then allow the trimmed oﬀ students to pursue the lower possibilities only after their failure at getting ready for college. That means that seventy percent of them are going nowhere. Then once they were stigmatized as unable to make it toward the goals they did not even have. Why must a young person be made to fail ﬁrst at something else before he can do it? There is nothing wrong with being a carpenter. Sometimes in the name of having high expectations for all students we cause unnecessary hardships on some who would be happy and need not be stigmatized for wanting to be carpenters. or a baker. There 8 is nothing more inherently satisfying in doing one of these jobs than the other. We both lamented the fact that before they could become carpenters they would have to fail at being college preparatory students headed toward becoming neurosurgeons. A good educational system would encourage young people to pursue their goals and dreams and be good at what ever they choose to be. Nothing that I am saying should make us comfortable with the tracking that goes on . or a hairdresser.” I shuddered to think that he had been expressing such sentiments to his students. Such work is also needed in our community. But I am sure he wanted to convince them ﬁrst that they had not made it and that they were failures. Some of his non-college-bound students could have ended up making $75-$100/hr as plumbers and living in a house nicer than his.
But we must remember: There is nothing wrong with being a carpenter. Very young students are evaluated with very imperfect measurement tests and then their entire academic life is mapped out before them. They are discouraged from even attempting more challenging material because of the assumptions that are made about their capacity to learn. Just be a good one. This is wrong. Others yet will be involved with outdoor work of some type. Every child must be encouraged to develop and pursue their own legitimate goals.is some schools. however diﬀerent they may be from what is in style for certain elites at the moment. For some that will be a career in academia. 9 . Sometimes the level of subjectivity and bias that goes into such evaluations is such that entire blocks of students that have nothing more in common than race or economic standing or gender are all assigned to the slower tracks in spite of their real desires or capabilities. This is reprehensible. Still others will work with their hands. For others it will be a career in science and technology. These practices must be stopped. if that is what you want to be.
there is no process to encourage the involvement or presence of such people in the schooling of our children. respectable community members. That. it seems to me is the essence of how young people behave around adults they respect. As we ponder the question of the education of black youth. These are the concrete manifestations of ”accommodation and assimilation”–the essential activity of all living organisms–in the development of a child. and whose skills and power do we want them to aspire to? If we can answer those questions. At the current time. This ”accommodation and assimilation” has been carefully observed and documented by Piaget in his landmark works on child development. we should ask ourselves: Who would we like black children to accommodate and to assimilate? Who do we want them to please.To Please Adults and to Acquire Their Skills and Power* September 9. business people. political leaders. spiritual leaders. and responsible people . I noticed how excitedly the student performers gathered around the musical director. potential future employers. and trying to impress him with their developing performance skills. It became very apparent to me that each one was trying very hard to please the director and learn as much from him as possible. I think the answer to that question ”Who?” would include many if not all of the following: Their parents. hanging on his every word. artists. we would have the essential outline of what education in our community should look like. 2000 One day when I was rehearsing for a performance of Langston Hughes’ ”Black Nativity” at A&T State University.thinkers and doers of all kinds. • We need to do an obstacle analysis: 10 . This is a problem that is addressed when we talk about increasing parental and community involvement in the public schools. scientists. Here we see the accommodation taking place as the young people adjust their activities such that they will please adults and the assimilation in them trying to absorb as much of the ability of the adults as possible. and in a sense it is the essence of how education takes place– to please adults and to acquire their skills and power. What we would do then is to set up the opportunity for meaningful contact between those people we would like our children to please and emulate.
lack of entrepreneurs. 11 . we can do something really wonderful for our children. Power includes the power to tell the truth. • On the basis of understanding these problems. Some people who seem to have a lot of power are understood to be powerless when these types of power are considered. the power to be kind.What stands in the way of meaningful contact between young people and the adults they should emulate and please? • We also need to do a pathology analysis: What are the pathologies in our community that play into these obstacles? For example. the power to care. and the power to love as well as to protect and to provide for those you love. and on the basis of the school system opening up its doors in such a way to facilitate this contact. lack of powerful people: lack of skilled people. In this context I primarily mean the ability to get something done – to go from idea to reality – to be creative and bring desired things into existence. etc. frustration. *Power is force times distance – accomplishment at a given eﬀort.
but rather. There. social. 1999 The busing of children from the area around English Village and Morningside Homes to Claxton elementary school borders on being criminal. yet no mutual respect emerged. too many of them were made to feel insecure. 12 .Let’s Look at Diversity April 16. Cross-cultural contact is an important part of the overall educational process and is very important in a multicultural society. People can and should learn from each other. Each party acted out his role in a historically staged play with the pre- The Price of Diversity Those of us who support neighborhood schools know that there is an argument to be made for diversity. to be studied and examined for the beneﬁt of white children’s education. During slavery there was a considerable amount of contact at all levels (economic. Certainly it would be unfair to them if we consistently put them in situations where the economic disparity between their communities and others was an ongoing source of ridicule. Certainly in would be unfair for us to force them to go to schools so far out of their communities that they felt alienated. it is the interaction of diﬀerent people as equals that builds understanding and respect between the races. But as we seek these advantages we must ask the price. Small children from the poorest part of Greensboro took long bus rides each morning to the wealthiest part of Greensboro. inadequate and unloved in a remote. The parents of these children felt uncomfortable on those occasions when they could ﬁnd a way to the school to be involved with the children. The sad fact is that we have done all these things and more in the name of diversity. Certainly it would be unfair to them if we required that they always explain or defend the actions and attitudes of all the other members of their race. Building True Understanding We need to know that it is not simply contact between people. isolated and unloved. hostile and unfamiliar surrounding. and personal intimacy) between Blacks and whites. How do children who didn’t get to go to Emerald Point during the summer talk about their vacations with those who spent the summer on the Riviera? It isn’t fair. Certainly it would be unfair to Black children if we required them to accept the status of lab experiments. and it isn’t necessary.
insensitive and deceptive. White students and teachers who want to think of Black people as lazy and ignorant have been reinforced in that self-fulﬁlling perception by what they saw in these institutions that they had created for themselves. in the Black community. that builds true understanding and respect between people.the forceful exclusion of some children because of their race . The interaction as equals. is only possible when our youth have a sense of their own identity and self worth along with the tools and skills they need to succeed.dictable consequence that everyone’s preconceived notion was reinforced by what he saw. It is ironic that one of the results of a struggle by Black people for access to better educational resources for their children was the establishment of institutions. To the extent that many Black youth felt alienated and abused by the educational system. Relations of power and domination generated the inequity of the interaction. Seats in these schools were set aside for the white students who were being sought. But it can and must be worked out. Magnet schools were developed as a method of achieving integration without forced busing. The Problem with Magnet Schools Magnet schools have been raised as a means of developing diversity without coercion. This was the insanity of using segregation . This may include athletic competition. given the history of racism. socially aware and have their creative energies unleashed. We will need to develop more situations and processes where people do come into contact with each other as equals. It was like actors standing behind their masks in a Greek play where their real features and their real humanity was invisible to the audience and to themselves. who felt that whites were hostile. whites saw their behavior in response to this as proof of the existing stereotypes. The idea was to create ”super schools” using the latest innovation. felt justiﬁed with their observance of the conduct of many white students playing out those roles. cultural isolation and cultural chauvinism. There were instances where quotas were established and Black children were excluded from magnet school programs in their communities with empty seats for the purpose of saving spaces for white children who did not want to go. Supportive and nurturing neighborhood schools can play a role in creating the atmosphere in which this takes place. extramural aca- demic interaction. but rather serve only the purpose of attracting white children. The public schools have so far not proven to be very good at this.to ﬁght for integration 13 . The task of creating opportunities for interaction as equals may be diﬃcult at ﬁrst. This is pretty much what has been observed in many of the relations developed in public schools in the period of forced busing. that are not concerned with better educating Black children. cultural expositions and conscious dialog sessions. but they too present many serious problems. best teachers and best resources and put these schools inside the Black community to attract white students. They must feel self-conﬁdent. Black people.
the response was that the federal guidelines required it. it obviously makes no sense at all to seek to correct the exclusion of Black children from better educational opportunities by excluding them from the best schools that are placed in Black communities to attract white children. discrimination and isolation in the world as adults. sharing only toilet and lunch facilities. Second. If you know you are going where food is scarce. the other majority white and afﬂuent. That is why the idea of a wholesome. with diﬀerent teachers and diﬀerent classrooms for diﬀerent students all housed under one roof. we have a responsibility to provided it for all the children. It never made any sense. one overwhelmingly Black and poor. You don’t practice for a famine by fasting. We end up with two separate schools. nurturing educational environment controlled by the community is so important. Our children will see enough real racism. Two things are fundamentally wrong with the magnet school concept: First. It is out of creatively questioning the society with a deep sense of commitment and responsibility to our community that we can inspire the thinking required to answer to the question ”how do we ﬁx what is wrong?” 14 . but when it was questioned. All that might do is condition you to the pain you will encounter but it will not give you the stored up nutrition that will allow you to make it through it. The results of the magnet process are as ridiculous as the assumptions upon which it rests. they should question the society and not themselves. Going Hungry is Not Good Preparation for Famine Another argument some people will make for diversity is that it will prepare our children for the problems they will face as adults. not just for a select few who get into magnet programs. if we know better what children really need for their education. The idea that we should throw our children into hostile educational environments at an early age so they can learn to deal with the racism and animosity of the society is pure foolishness.. As children we need to ﬁll them so full of themselves that they are self-conﬁdent and no one can make them doubt themselves. When our children face the irrationality and insanity of the society.the mixing of Black and white children in school buildings. it is better to overeat for a while.
came to know what was required of them eryone they are around.While young horses can stand and even run bility to be concerned about all the children’s within hours of their birth. Education should be linked to the real. there were 2. 4.(Environmentally con. Everyone is an educator.) but the dynamic day to day culture of exis7. (Economically conscious. (Socially conscious. sometimes mummiﬁed culture 6. humans develop education.) cational process in its most general terms. Science and mathematics plays a key We have to learn almost everything. Reading and writing are fundamental. 10. tive work. fewer instincts to help assure our survival. A good society is in balance.real culture.) not the static. Culture should be respected and adThese are some educational principles based on African traditional education that vanced.their transition from childhood to adulthood. Spiritual matters are important and and protection to acquire the necessary intelmust be respected in all aspects of life. 1999 . We rerole. of the community. Children should be taught to respect and appreciate their elders.(their responsibilities) and came to be armed ity of the environment. Humans are not born knowing very much. munity identity and responsibility. 3. 14. We can think of the eduscious. in from all that they see and hear and from ev.tence. lectual and physical tools to be self sustaining 12. 8. Parents play a particularly important and productive.with the information and skills to discharge those requirements. Education should foster sense of com. The whole community has a responsi.Education and Community 13. I have found and updated to our context: 1. Education should be linked to producwe put on display in museums and on stages. Children learn all the time. Children learn always processes by which young people. as 5. much more slowly and are armed with far 9. quire long periods of adult guidance. The educational process is necessarily in15 March 9. role in the education of their children. 15. Long before there were schools. Education is not limited to school. Education should be linked to the reality the immersion in one’s culture . support 11.
It tends to explain some of the social and economic problems that our society has. but rather who specialize in other areas back into the process. informal discussion in the home. You learned what it meant to be a member of the community from the community members all around you. There was a time when everyone was naturally involved. The advent of schools as separate institutions took these intergenerational processes out of the hands of the whole community and placed them in the hands of specialists whose job was teaching school. It is easy to see why community control of education is so important. The social division of labor must have seemed to require it. its spirit. This is not to say that there is no specialty requiring skills for the teaching of children. and maturity.disconnected from life and community. but it remains a fact.tergenerational. to another. we must reintegrate adults who are not school specialists. summer camp. and not well serving the children in their transition to adulthood. This is not to say that there are no good teachers. with parents. We can lament the fact that this took place. and who are not familiar with its realities. activities and training in church and Sunday school. the educators. it involves one generation interacting with another and passing along its experiences and knowledge and in a sense. most adults feel alienated from the process of the education of children. It helps to minimize the distance that ”schooling as a specialty” has created between the realities of our children’s communities and the education that must prepare them for their futures. Moreover. It includes sex education talks on the street corners. the teachers and the school administrators. Now days. It is to say that whatever is intended to be included in education inside the special institutions that are schools can and historically has been taken care of inside the functioning community as a whole. We wonder why some young people ﬁnd it so diﬃcult to ﬁt into their communities in a healthy and wholesome way when they are instructed in civics by those who hold their communities in contempt. there is an informal mix of activities that goes on.all these things make up aspects of the education young people receive. You learned how to sow and cultivate from a farmer. you took instructions by working beside and learning from someone who already knew how to do it. Why. with siblings . 16 . Before there were schools. The arena for education moved from the whole community into the schoolhouse. We have accepted too limited a role because we are not the experts. if we are to increase the relevance of educational institutions. To learn how to do something. More and more. Those who would be shoemakers are taught by those who have never made a shoe. That is. This leaves education barren and often abstract . You learned shoe making from a shoemaker. Rites of passage for young men and young women existed under the supervision of the community. You learned how to hunt from a hunter. the preparation for adulthood must have very naturally included information about maturing. This came about as society became more and more specialized and fragmented.
You must approach such knowledge from the standpoint of failure: at best. learning is its own reward. They have no idea who makes the things that they are surrounded by. rather than an involvement in discovery. for far too many of our young people. Who remembers an elementary math or science teacher who seemed genuinely excited about the wonders of science and mathematics. should make sure that the next 17 .though. Children in our society often end up isolated and divorced from the very things that make up the world they live in. Those adults who are really into gardening should do some gardening with some youthful apprentices. Those who take pictures should get some young people doing it with them. For babies even. or to put it in different terms. All too often. We need to establish a process to get adults who are enthusiastic about something to share that excitement with some young people on a regular basis. They have no knowledge of how most of the things they use work. or bake or build furniture or build model rocket or sing or design things. So frequently such things are presented by rote memorization of facts. Many youth have never been around adults who are excited about what they do. There is a certain curiosity and excitement about learning that is natural in young people. everything is hokus spokus. his ability to decide where he should ﬁt in this mysterious scheme of adult activity that actually deﬁnes the world he lives in is near zero. In many ways. or whatever. The tragedy is that we’ve got schools that can rip this curiosity and natural love for knowledge and learning right out of our young people by the time they are in the third or fourth grade. and you are not armed with the tools and not charged with the task of engaging in discoveries of your own. They have no idea where the things that they use and consume come from. are we not satisﬁed with the small part of this overall process that takes place in formal educational institutions? Because. your grasp of other people’s discoveries will be less than theirs. and what they get inside school contradicts rather than adds to their overall preparation for productive involvement in society as adults. the drive to explore and to learn and to understand seems to be ”hard wired” and almost universal. Is it a wonder then that our young people often fall so far short of their potential? They have no idea what they want to do because they have so little exposure to people doing things and the inner workings of what is done. And a young person’s ability to decide what he wants to make of his life. They have no idea who makes the decisions that determine the quality and character of their lives. Young people are also far too infrequently given the opportunity to be excited about anything. This includes an understanding of their role in the society and responsibility to improve that society. Although humans don’t seem to have many instincts. As a result. Those who sew. the things that they get outside of school are insuﬃcient. Certainly this is true of far too many classrooms. all he can model himself after are those adults who do enter into his world with whatever limited power and involvement they have in it. it does not even matter what particular thing it is.
History) Schooling does not always need to be abstract. Art. Philosophy) * How can I express myself? (Writing. Science. Literature) * What did they do? (History) * How do things develop?(Philosophy. History. How many young math students shut down in geometry class when they don’t get a serious answer to ”Why would anyone want to know this?” We should be able to answer 18 . A model curriculum for a school that wanted to make use of some of the principles outlined here would include classes along the following themes: * How does it work? (Science and Math) – use cell phones and pagers to teach math and physics * Who makes it? (Careers) expose kids to manufacturing careers * How is it made? (Manufacturing technology) * Who decides it? (Civics) expose young people to the decision making processes as they aﬀect them * What happened and what diﬀerence did it make? (History. History. Psychology. world history) * What is fair in this situation? (Law. Sociology. Science) * Where did it happen? (Geography. Music) * How do I know what is true? (Philosophy.generation knows about those things and the that question or get the material out of the pleasure and thrill that can come along with syllabus. them. Civics. History of Science) * How did they feel? (Sociology.
The diﬀerence. 1999 Perhaps the best argument to be made against neighborhood schools is that neighborhood schools will lead to a concentration of students with low SES (Socio-EconomicStatus) in some schools. which is somehow more socially tolerable. even in a mixed setting. we would see the same grim results that can be observed if the children are placed together. the worst attitudes about school. This. what is the experience of these same low SES students when they are disbursed throughout the school system by some process of racial and/or SES balance. and 19 . have the highest dropout rates. Through this argument. should be remedied by establishing and maintaining school diversity goals that will prevent such concentrations with all the unhealthy eﬀect that these concentrations would have on the culture of a school. there is also an eﬀect of feeling diﬀerent and isolated. Two things need to be looked at. rather than concentrate the children. I would contend that when low SES students are distributed throughout the schools. about society. That is to say. there is just a little of this negativity in a lot of places and it becomes a self-curing problem because many of these children drop out of school as soon as they can and the statistics of the institutions they leave improve. and second. These are the children who. the ”it’s not just race” position is made alongside the position stemming from the Brown decision that ”separate schools are inherently unequal”. what would be the most appropriate setting and treatment of these children. the highest retention rates. it is suggested. and poor performance. While there may be some positive peer pressure from being around middle and upper class children.A Liberation Perspective on the Content of Schooling in the Community March 25. the lowest grades. It is then said that this would cause a downward spiral of negative peer pressure. there in no substantially better outcome for them as individuals. low expectations. is that we can hide this performance and these children better if they are spread around. if we concentrate the data on the children. the highest suspension rates. about each other and about themselves. When they are spread out. First.
probably not. because it should address the questions: * Who am I? * Why is my community like it is? * What is possible for me? * What is possible for my community? * How can I change things for myself as an individual? * How can I change things for my community? If this is not the basic characteristic of what we are teaching these children. the curriculum does not properly match the needs of the children in the context of their community. transform it and in our case. Those of us who care need to develop a clearer notion of what our children need to be learning based on the notion that education should enable a child to deal with his environment. As this happens we will have some real dialogue and understanding about race. The character of the educational activity that goes on when this group of low SES children are concentrated in a school by virtue of the fact that they live in communities that might be served by the same school should also be examined. it avoids them. Often. we need to ask ourselves why should they be interested in it. What we have in the current curriculum for low SES students whether they are concentrated or spread out is a block of subject matter that ignores their real environment and by extension. Dealing with your environment means both learning to survive within it. This again is a source of alienation that much of the discussion of school reform does not even attempt to address. We need to do more work in developing the curriculum that integrates a concern for education with a concern for social justice. Much of the latter will oﬀset the former. historical. We need to be honest with ourselves about the fact that by and large we are compounding and hiding the problem. or better yet. then what would be the problem with the concentration of children for whom these questions are relevant? Would it not be possible in relatively small and intense settings to generate the type of discussion around these things that get into the depths of philosophic. scientiﬁc. When our low SES students are so engaged and on this basis prepare themselves to engage in their own and their community’s liberation and advancement. literary. liberate it. The ”more money” strategies to fund early intervention. If this is what we are teaching. and also learning how to improve it. Such a curriculum would address the reality of race and economics by looking at discrimination and poverty. then they will be good subjects for engaging with others as equals. If we are trying to force-feed children information that does not matter to them.needing to act out in order to gain any attention and assert one’s individuality. The obvious question is: Can we reasonably expect that this is the type of education that our children will receive if they are in neighborhood schools organized by the school system? The sad answer is. then it is no wonder that they reject it rather than engage it fully. and other ”gap closing” pro- 20 . aesthetic and moral questions that form the core of a solid education? I think so. economics and justice. Such a curriculum should be real to the students who study it.
November 23. but the results will be well worth it. in their sub-standard homes and watch the black-market drug economy provide most of The people stolen from their land the employment in their neighborhood. and others will continue to be able to do just that. 21 . It will be a big task. We need to train teachers to go into existing institutions as subversives to overthrow the irrelevant processes and deBut velop relevant ones. but that fact should not The greed that steals a thousand cause us to develop an educational strategy more is rewarded with riches. eration Agenda. It are viliﬁed. glance at forbidden fruit is torWe need to establish schools with a Libtured and murdered. What we is jailed. These strategies could only work if the children pretend that their reality is not The lie that steals a thousand lives real and simply try to escape. The thief that steals a thousand After learning the capital of Vermont. calculating ratios and proportions. is no wonder that the educational gap grows The man who steals a loaf of bread wider as our young people mature.grams are limited to dealing with individual Theft students without addressing the question of the relations of those students to their com. Some indigoes unpunished. We need our community and concerned citizens to come together to develop the resources to make this happen. the school administrators. talkacres becomes the lord of the esing about Woodrow Wilson and practicing tate. We need to support The slave who steals his freedom bethose teachers as they come in conﬂict with comes a man again. We need to embrace our children and show them a hope that grows from their circumstances rather than simply ignoring them. teach them and what they see grow wider and The child who steals a ﬂeeting wider apart. the chilThe man who steals a thousand dren still go home to their impoverished lives souls becomes the slave master. that requires such an abnormal and rare act. viduals have. 2000 munities.
How prepared do children need to be for kindergarten? If they are potty trained.O. and capable of speech. NC 27402 336) 230-0001 .net 22 . A county commissioner once while explaining the schools’ need for more funds told me that many children were coming to kindergarten who were not ready for it. Box 875 Greensboro.net. or does it get us those most in need of extra cash? While we certainly want teachers who are good at working with our children to be adequately compensated. Inc. Email me – elwhit@earthlink. If parents bring that alone to their child’s school. then the rest should be dealt with after they arrive.fax JubileeInstitute@bellsouth. We need to demystify parental involvement: * What are the preparations to be involved with your child? * What is expected of you? * What are the minimum requirements? I contend that loving your child and thinking he is important and wanting him/her to do well is enough to do your child worlds of good. This stuﬀ gets a bit complicated. Do ﬁnancial incentives for working in highly impacted schools get us the best teachers for the job. 3. P. 2.More Food for Thought 1.voice (336) 230-2428 . the schooling process will improve immensely. it seems that the love for the children should precede the money. suggestions and/or criticisms. Jubilee Institute Pre-Print Series #11 1 The Beloved Community Center of Greensboro. Please contact me with your comments. not the other way around. I am attempting to help illuminate some of the problems that face our community related to education and the public schools. We all have a responsibility to get involved in the many ways that we can.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.