Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Class and Schools

“If as a society we choose to preserve big social class differences, we must necessarily also accept substantial gaps between the achievement of lower-class and middle class children. Closing the gap requires not only better schools, although those are certainly needed, but also reform in the social and economic institutions that presently prepare children to learn in radically different ways. It will not be cheap.”
(Rothstein, 2004) Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. Teachers College Press.

Currently, our schools work for some students and do not work for others. As Berliner and Biddle well demonstrated in The Manufactured Crisis, (1995) schools for middle class Black, Latino and European American children fundamentally fulfill their purposes. But the schools for poor African American, Latino and European American children fail. And while this failure effects all children, it disproportionately impacts the children of African Americans and Latinos. Fully half of all their children are in failing schools.
In 2005 on the NAEP assessment, nationally over 58% of Black and 54% Latino children score below basic in Reading levels in 4th. Grade. (Reading Report Card of the National Center for Educational Statistics.(2005) Differences in math scores are similarly stark.
That is to say, we do not have a general education crisis in the nation, we have a crisis for Black, Latino, Asian and poor white kids. We are not providing these children of the new majorities with what W.E. B. du Boise called ," a fairness of a start which will equip them with such an array of facts and such an attitude toward truth that they can a real chance to judge what the world is and what its greater minds have thought it might be."

Duane Campbell
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