Wednesday, January 2, 2013

More on race and education

My forecast for 2013:  Conversations about race and achievement will be a defining issue for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and perhaps the entire community.

Just before Christmas,  Superintendent Heath Morrison brought consultant Glenn Singleton with Pacific Educational Group to Charlotte for preliminary conversations with community leaders.  Morrison is exploring the prospect of hiring Singleton,  author of  "Courageous Conversations About Race,"  to do cultural competency training for CMS leaders and educators.

As you might guess,  early reactions range from acclaim to dismay  (I'll be reporting more on that as folks return from their holidays).  Belinda Cauthen,  education chair for the local NAACP branch,  says such a conversation is long overdue.  She shared a couple of articles designed to help people understand how educational traditions and unconscious biases can damage students' prospects for success, even when intentions are good.

One is an Educational Leadership article by Julie Landsman,  author of  "A White Teacher Talks About Race."  First published in 2004,  the article is right on track with talks that will help shape CMS in 2013,  focusing on factors that keep too many children of color out of advanced classes and programs for gifted students.

"For too long I have heard educators say that to keep white students in a particular school district,  we must provide more gifted programs,"  Landsman writes.  "The racism behind this assumption is astounding:  It implies that only white kids are gifted,  or that we should tailor our definition of giftedness to white culture."

Landsman doesn't argue that white parents shouldn't expect the best for their kids.  She does urge advocates for gifted students to work with groups representing low-income and minority students,  aware that those students bring the same high potential.

The other article is a report on a 2012 American Reading Co. conference on educating black and Latino males.  The group of  "scholars,  educators and thought leaders"  laid out a point-by-point analysis of problems and potential solutions.  The report says it aims to  "move beyond the false dichotomies in which the discussion is often simplistically framed:  the hopelessness arising from variations on the  'demographics are destiny'  argument or variations on the  'pull yourself up by your bootstraps'  position."

"A complete effort to improve public schools,  in which the majority of Black and Latino males are educated,  would have to address educational issues in concert with other issues such as poverty,  joblessness,  inadequate health care,  and the lack of public services,"  the authors write.  "However, we are also aware of the extent to which this larger problematic is often used by both educators and the public as an excuse for paralysis and inaction or for the casting of blame  --  on parents,  on neighborhoods,  on popular culture and,  mostly,  on students."

Both articles strike me as helpful for people trying to understand what kind of discussion Morrison is trying to launch.  For really ambitious readers,  Singleton has recently released a follow-up book,  "More Courageous Conversations About Race."  He says data in that book will help make the case that his work can help all CMS students achieve at higher levels.

Morrison says he hasn't made a final decision about hiring Singleton,  but he's sure it's time for CMS to take a deep look at the role of race, culture and expectations in classroom achievement.  "If not now, when?"  he asked just before the break.  "I think it's really critical that we start this."


Anonymous said...

How about we take a look at the students' and parents' expectations for those specific demographics. There are far too many who feel that they should have an easier ride and that they should not be the ones to comply to the standard cultutre.

How about the only standard is "bust your behind, shut up, sit down, don't touch anyone else, do the work and learn something"?

Anonymous said...

06:39 AM

That will never happen in that community and you know it. Stop trying to stir up trouble. The solution to solving the problems in that community is to throw more money at it, dumb down the tests even further, and continue to blame the whole thing on the lingering effects of slavery. It is absolutely ridiculous to offer "education" to the likes of this ilk as anything other than the means for them to play sports.

kantstanzya said...

"For too long I have heard educators say that to keep white students in a particular school, we must provide more gifted programs. The racism behind this assumption is astounding."

What a statement of colossal stupidity. How dare parents (of any color) not expect their kids to be the lab rats in the liberal social and cultural disaster known as public schools.Maybe the schools should stop worrying about race and start worrying about education? Keep thinking this way and keep wondering why private schools continue to flourish while public schools continue to see the exodus of anyone with the means, ability and interest to get out.

"The only way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."-- John Roberts

Anonymous said...

@6:39 - the message to work hard and follow maimstream culture should apply to all demographics not just some.

Anonymous said...

@7:40 - following mainstream culture does not honor, nor celebrate, diversity.

Anonymous said...

"The report says it aims to "move beyond...the 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' position.""
I have yet to hear or see one report that comes close to providing a better solution. Everyone has the opportunity to advance themselves in this country and the free education system is a great start. The parents of these children must see to it that they take advantage of it. If some of them continue to fail to do so, there is no solution outside of taking the children away from them and having a 'real' parent raise them.

Anonymous said...

Let's cut through the bull: the biggest impediment to education is black culture. Sorry, but it is true. Ask any teacher of any race candidly and you will hear the following:
1) Black students, especially males, are far more defiant and disrespectful

2) Black students are far more likely to challenge authority, willfully violate the rules, and then complain about being discriminated against

3) Black students are far more likely to not pay as much attention in class as the other students

4) Black students are far more likely to not study for tests

5) Black students are far less likely to work as hard as other students

6) Black students are far more likely to be loud, rude, and violent

7) Black students are far more likely to have parents who are uninvolved at best and outright hostile to teachers in other cases

8) Black students are far more likely to have parents whose phone number(s) and/or contact information change without bothering to inform the child's school.

9) Black students are far more likely to pull schools down in terms of test scores due to the above

10) Black students are far more likely to be apathetic and even find failing tests to be a source of humor

11) Black students are far more likely to be racist against white teachers, especially white female teachers

12) Black students are far more likely to take great pleasure in driving teachers away.

13) Majority black schools are far more likely to have low teacher morale, high absenteeism, high turnover, burnout, and defeatism.

14) Black students are far more likely to come to school for the sole purpose disrupting class, starting a fight, and running teachers out

15) Black students are far more likely to scream "discrimination" despite perpetrating far more problems than any other demographic.

There! How is THAT for starting the conversation? The responses will be predictable: agreement with my statements and disagreement will largely fall along racial lines. I will be accused of being a racist. Others will say worse things about me in a nasty knee-jerk response. I will strike a nerve with some and get on the nerves of others. Some will call me a coward for posting this as Anonymous, as if I am STUPID enough to not do so.

However, NONE of the points that I stated above are false. All of them are of the truth, which hurts. Yet, as nasty as the anticipated responses may be, as ugly as the soon-to-be name calling will get, it won't nullify what I stated nor make anyone else's rantings true.

I stated what I stated from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE in teaching in majority black school serving a majority inner-city demographic. You may not like what I have stated. You may loudly call for my job (You can have it if you think you can do so much better). You may call for my head. It won't change anything.

You can get as nasty as you like but that won't make what I stated to be false anymore than that will make 2+2 somehow equal 5. Sorry.

BolynMcClung said...

There are two dynamics in the superintendent’s plan to bring the Pacific Educational Group to CMS.

Dr. Morrison’s intent is right on the money: get rid of that dang achievement gap. To do so improves the lives of so many. It will eventually allow funding to be reallocated in a way that may please all sides of the community.

PEG has another purpose. It believes the achievement gap is the result of White America using judicial and legislative actions such as Brown, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Green, Milliken, Swann and other acts over the past seventy to appease the Black community. The group calls this systematic racism and White Privilege. This comes from the Critical Race Theory of the late Derrick A. Bell, Jr.

Bell was one of the two original Swann attorneys in 1964-65.

PEG says the only way to eliminate the achievement gap is to get teachers to admit the culture and heritage each was raised-in prevents them from reaching poverty children of color. PEG would have the teachers, of all ethnicities, throw-off their racism lens through which they incorrectly see all children of color.

I like Dr. Morrison’s goal. It was the goal of Dr. Gorman. It has been a goal all the way back to Murphy and Smith.

PEG has too much baggage for my liking. It has published three books that could be considered insulting to many including those not in the school system. In a small way it was involved in the Supreme Court’s decision that went against the school systems in Seattle and Jefferson County.

I’ve spoken to many about this. A conversation such as is the want of Dr. Morrison will do well. But there are many others in this field of Cultural Competency. Many that are much better, more qualified and more sensitive to the communities they go to than Pacific Educational Group.

Bolyn McClung

Reggie Mantle said...

Charlotte must be like Mecca where race hustlers make their annual pilgrimage.

Morrison isn't stupid. He knows that in order to stave off criticism from Charlotte's minority communities he has to pay the race tax.

The Singletons of the world exploit this fear and cash in. Whites in Charlotte have given up hope that their tax dollars will ever see any sort of ROI. A check written to the Char-Meck government machine means at least getting the trash picked up - but little more.

I witnessed this first hand in one of Mecklenburg Government's departments. A few hundred thousand was paid to consultants to transform the public library which included countless "conversations" about race.

In the end a new org chart was about the only thing that emerged. The library director Charles Brown was fired a few years later in an act of poetic justice.

It's really sad how things operate here.

Anonymous said...

This will be a short, sad, repetitive, and totally useless conversation.

Close government schools. Lay off union teachers and get into private schools with vouchers.


Conversation over.

Anonymous said...

There aren't true unions here and that is a good thing (and I am a teacher). I don't, however, think that there will be enough private schools to accomodate the demand so I am skeptical about vouchers. How about letting each school be run independently with its own board of directors? No more bureacracratic central office, central planning, and money wasted uptown. Think about how much money would be SAVED not paying salaries and benefits for senior administrators, HR, etc.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:09 a.m. - So you mean to tell me that when my black child, who exhibits NONE of the behavior that you listed, shows up in your class how you teach/treat her is not AT ALL affected by your attitude towards black students? I think not!

Anonymous said...

@10:25 commenter - he said "Far more likely". That your child is not doing these things is fabulous! We need more students like that within the black culture. But you must admit that your student is NOT the norm within your race. Why is that? Sticking it to the man is not helping them and just perpetuating a generalization that the rest of us would love to retire.

Steve Johnston said...

Last summer I encouraged Dr. Morrison to pursue this conversation within the schoolhouse first. That's where he could mandate that the conversation be taken seriously. That's where he could mandate that all children be surrounded by high expectations.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Anon @9:09 will show up again. They are the kind of person who posts just to get a knee jerk response and then laughs while people respond to it.

As the college educated black child of two teachers, both who taught in inner city schools for over 30 years Anon at 10:25 is correct. Children often are affected by the attitude a teacher shows them. If I walk into a room and the teacher makes it clear that I'm "bad" right off the bat before I do anything to merrit that then yes... I very well may start acting that way.

My parents always went with the tough but fair approach in their classrooms. You behaved, you studied, you learned and you were rewarded, with little things, work displayed on the board (they both taught high school), name in the school paper, candy from the candy jar.

If you didn't detentions were given and then suspenstions and then they did their best to see you were kicked out of school permaently. School is a place for kids, of any race, who WANT to learn... if you don't then you don't need to be there.

BolynMcClung said...

TO: ANON 11:14

....And if I may add to your good comments. A public school should be a welcoming place for teachers, of any race, who want and need to teach.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

Its not about race its about a parent of two AA daughters who graduated with honors from Chapel Hill and ECU I find the fact that achieving minority students being lumped into the whole appalling. Statiscally sure many poor black students under achieve but to put it soley on race wades into prejudicial waters as if no nonblack students who come from the same type of background won't be susceptable to these types of challenges.

Missouri said...

Wouldn't it be necessary to first prove this is the case by using all this data CMS and NC has collected over the years?

Maybe this is not the case at all in CMS.

Maybe the more important point is that white students that have black teachers do worse in performance than if they had white teachers.

I'm from Missouri. Prove to me this is the case first before I let you spent my hard earned money on this hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

I guess would the "far more likely" mean that a white student is more susceptable to carrying out a mass murder at a school?

Anonymous said...

This is "Anon 9:09" and let me address a few misunderstandings:

1) I don't have and "attitude" towards black students. I have one towards miscreants, regardless of how they look.

2) I clearly and repeatedly stated the words, "more likely." This is based on observations and years of experience as well as comparing notes. BLACK teachers have said the SAME THING many times over.

3) 10:25, I have had plenty of kids like yours and have had no trouble with them at all. See point #1. While you did misunderstand me, you at least didn't call me a racist - which I am not! Ask my kids.

4) 11:14, you seem like the kind of person who makes accusations without using any kind of logic. That's great that your parents were teachers who taught in the inner city. They were tough. Great! The one thing they are not is white. White teachers are treated worse than black teachers in inner city schools. It's true! Besides, how effective would your tough-but-fair parents be in today's CMS? They too would have to be careful of their discipline practices, especially if a disproportionate number of miscreants were black males.

5) None of your reactions have disproven my points. So far, I have been countered with something along the lines of: "My child isn't like that" and that I am some sort of person who posts provacative stuff just to see what kind of trouble I can cause.

6) I expect worse reactions because I stated the truth, it hurts, and instead of countering it with facts I will get rants, accusations of racism (none so far), Straw Man reactions (misunderstanding and then attacking the misunderstanding), etc.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:25 - Even though my child doesn't fall into the "far more likely" category there are teachers who can't see past the color of her skin and she is treated like the "rest of them". Look let's be honest, we all have biases that sometimes determine how we react to someone we don't even know. But when a teacher has them, the consequences can be harmful to our children. To me, avoiding this scenario makes this conversation worth having.

Pamela Grundy said...

To improve student achievement, teachers, students and families need to work together more effectively. To do that requires effort from all sides. We are all plagued by habits, stereotypes, assumptions and expectations that make cross-cultural interactions challenging. I am concerned that this initiative seems to be focusing primarily on the changes that teachers need to make, with little attention to the work that everyone else must also do for the effort to succeed.

Shamash said...

As I have always said, the best solution is to just move away from the problem.

Fortunately, the "race" problem is easy to identify and solve with a simple headcount in the classroom.

If you don't like what you see, then move.

Put your kids in schools with the racial mix you desire and things will probably work out fine.

That way, you don't have to wait for any particular "race" to "wake up" and smell the coffee, whether it's blacks "studying" or whites "respecting" diversity.

Or Asians just going to school and kicking everyone else's butts.

That's what we've always done and it works great.

That and always be ready to move when the neighborhood goes downhill.

Every other "solution" is just BS.

Shamash said...

Anon 11:47.

Let's be honest now.

The reason people of different races aren't treated as "individuals" is that they don't react as "individuals".

There are some fairly strong "influence" groups out there (NAACP) "advancing" their particular race who want to keep that racial identity thing going for as long as it pays their bills.

As long as this happens, you and your child will continue to be lumped into that same group based on the color if their skin and will be "represented", rightly or wrongly, by the likes of Kujo and others of his ilk.

Even if the problems of that group do not apply to you as an individual, you are stuck with the self-appointed leaders who share your skin color.

Sorry, but that's just the way things work.

And why I recommend moving.

As a minority who probably does well, you can probably do well anywhere you move.

Black kids outside the ghetto aren't all treated as morons or assumed to be untrainable.

It all occurs in context.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:09 - Even though you claim that your problem is "towards miscreants" your original post speaks only about black students. Now, I don't think that your views necessarily make you a racist but I suspect that the attitude that have toward the black students that you describe may have an affect on how you treat other students who you think of as less likely. You speak from your experience as a teacher, I speak from mine as a parent of a black student. At least be open enough to the dialogue and look deep inside yourself to see if that's the case.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 12:06 PM - I expect a teacher to treat my child as a student. Believe it or not, racial bias shows up everywhere! We don't live in the ghetto, we live in the suburbs. And she doesn't show up to class as a representative of the NAACP...she just wants to learn Algebra and whatever else she needs to achieve her personal goals. How the heck does Kojo affect anything that's going on in the classroom?

Shamash said...

As some may have guessed by now, I am a school segregationist.

Not necessarily by race (though that seems to work just fine) but more by attitude.

If those attitudes are shared by some races more than others, then race may be a useful rule of thumb for deciding where to put your kids.

A lot of times, you will see black kids in other communities who fit in well with those communities and do well in school, so there are exceptions. Always.

Good for them. They are living where they are likely to do well.

C'mon folks this isn't difficult to see, so why fight it?

The problem is not NECESSARILY and totally based on "race", but more on attitude.

However, as long as those attitudes are clustered more in some races than others, then race is a good enough proxy for me, so I'll use it until proven otherwise.

And for those who say it's "socioeconomics"...

They need to look more carefully at the NAEP test scores where they'll see that non-FRL blacks score LOWER than whites who receive FRL.

It's NOT economics.

So please stop using that excuse.

Shamash said...

I'm sure racial bias is everywhere.

However, things are so polarized now that you cannot escape the effects of the Kujo's and NAACP on your children and mine.

Sure, your child isn't in school as a representative of the NAACP, but as soon as something happens to them, you can be sure the NAACP will step in if they think there's money in promoting your "problem".

People know this. They aren't fools.

And as a result, we have way too much effort put into "diversity", political correctness, etc., etc., than is absolutely necessary to teach what kids need to learn.

Things such as Algebra.

But you can bet your Algebra texts have been examined and re-examined by tons of folks looking for evidence of "racial" bias and other worthless things they can use as an excuse for why black kids (in particular, black boys) can't seem to grasp math.

And just to show how pervasive this is in our politically corrected society...

There is even something called "Ethnomathematics" and "Anti-Racist mathematics".

And that's just pathetic.

Anonymous said...

As a former district board rep once told me, the inner city folks see the white student(s) as an educational resource to raise the level of education in the inner city schools to benefit the inner city students - thus their desire to mix the student body population.

Anonymous said...

I think Dr. Morrison needs to acknowledge that this community has been having a "conversation about race" for a long, long time (surely he knows that). Unfortunately that conversation most often has involved "guilting" white members of the community rather than constructively dealing with the issues at hand. Perhaps that is why past "conversations" have done do little to change anything and why now so many people are rolling their eyes at yet another "conversation". Pamela Grundy has it right--it takes effort (and honesty) from all sides. However it appears to many of us that to this point effort and honesty have not really been required of the black community. Blaming it all on racism has been a much easier ride. Advocacy groups need to take a look at themselves--many of you have helped create the disdain with which many now look upon such "conversations.

Anonymous said...

Within the black culture, peer pressure has as much to do with the level of educational effort and success, as anything.

Sadly, any effort by a black student to achieve educational success can be negatively defined as "trying to be white", and thus that student could receive negative peer pressure.

No amount of educational spending can change that.

Anonymous said...

So when I see that non-FRL blacks score LOWER than whites who receive FRL on NAEP I wonder why. I'm sure many will automatically assume that it's because blacks, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, . But quite honestly I think it is just one more reason to have this conversation and explore why all students are not receiving the same instruction/opportunities.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:38...after socieconomic backgrounds it should've said "fill in the blank"

Anonymous said...

Morrison knows who hired him.
He will bend over backwards to meet the demands of the black influence.
The net result is not good. Even if a black graduate does well we will assume (right or wrong) it was because they got the extra coddling these programs require. How does this help them be successful? It doesn't. How does this give future employers confidence they know what they are doing? It doesn't. How does this break down the barriers these groups profess they want to eliminate? It doesn't. The race business is alive and well in CMS,

Anonymous said...

I think we should transition out of taxpayer funded education. It is one thing to have a society that is largely homogenous where most of the people have the same culture, values, and norms.

Our society, for better, worse, or neither, is too diverse for the one-size-fits-all model of public schooling. We tried bussing and that didn't work. Neighborhood schools are great if you live in a decent neighborhood. However, it doesn't seem fair to have one's property values dependent upon a school and it's performance, especially if the attendance boundaries change.

I am increasingly convinced that people ought to shop for their children's education the way we shop for everything else. Schools should be private so that no one should be "assigned" a school as we have with public schools now. Charter schools are in demand if you like being on a LONG waiting list.

People ought to be able to send their children to the school that is in their price range (from ultra expensive prep to church-run schools staffed by volunteers) AND shares their values.

Parents who are black and wish for their kids to be in a "Afro-Centric" school focused more on black history and literature, should be able to send their kids there without it being anyone's blasted business. It's THEIR money, THEIR choice.

Those who want diversity should send their kids an academy that reflects it.

If some parents and their kids don't care in the least about education, why should anyone else?

Let's forget about this "community" garbage and be realistic. Mecklenburg County is too diverse for any one common approach anymore. If we can have so many consumer products customizable to suit our desires, why not education? More importantly: why keep spending on an antiquated system that fails to meet the needs of everyone?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I'm understimate the amount a hatred some have for others. I mean, I can sometimes understand the attitude towards older students that are disruptive to the learning environment but what about the 5 year-old kindergarten students who didn't choose his/her circumstances and who can possibly improve said circumstances with a good education. You tell those kid "so sorry, if you can't afford it you don't get it." That's a solution? And where exactly does that leave our country as a whole?

Anonymous said...

That might be true Ann , but its not close to what CMS needs. Excuses will get folks nowhere and not be forward indicators. Their are hundreds of ways to keep excuses out of the schools. Our current leaders should step up with ideas. When EES sends her kid out of CMS its not a good sign. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

"For too long I have heard educators say that to keep white students in a particular school district, we must provide more gifted programs," Landsman writes. "The racism behind this assumption is astounding: It implies that only white kids are gifted, or that we should tailor our definition of giftedness to white culture."

What if a majority of white parents indicate that their top priority is gifted programs?

Landsman is the most dangerous kind of educational "consultant": defining an issue on the basis of race, and then rejecting the obvious solution because it's "racist" by definition.

Shamash said...

Anon 12:38

So how do you know that the non-FRL blacks AREN'T receiving the same instructional opportunities as the poorer white kids?

Nothing says these kids aren't going to the same schools, sitting in the same classrooms and listening to the same teachers teach the same material.

At least the NAEP doesn't make that clear.

And you can see differences even in the same schools, so what's the excuse for that?

I know what Singleton would say: unconscious racism.

To which I say:BS.

Why do blacks automaticlly assume that there must be some inherent bias against the blacks by "the system" when they fail?

That is EXACTLY why I don't want to school my kids with a lot of blacks.

I don't want the teacher to even have to THINK about whether they are teaching Algebra in a "racially" biased way or not.

Because that is pure, politically correct BS.

If MY kids fail, then it is generally assumed that it is the fault of the kids (or parents) that they did not try hard enough.

If a black kids fails, then all sorts of LAME EXCUSES (usually "socioeconomic") are trotted out to explain the failure.

Just about everything EXCEPT that the kid didn't try hard enough, or isn't capable, because that would be "racist".

I still think that 2+2=4 regardless of race and can be taught regardless of race.

But, somehow, black kids sitting in the same classroom with white kids STILL don't seem to "get it".

And it's not economics.

Anonymous said...

@ Shamash this is Anon @ 12:38 - Because I work in education and I am also working to have my child educated! Yes, 2+2=4 but please know that some subjects are not as straightforward as others. And HOW a teacher instructs and encourages a student can vary...and THAT does affect student performance. Ever had your child automatically put in the back and ignored? It happens. And for the record, I DO NOT believe that this is the only factor affecting black student performance...this just happens to be the one that we are discussing at this particular time.

Shamash said...

Of course some subjects aren't as straightforward as others and we've seen all the excuses from "teaching in Ebonics" forward.

What's happened with "education", though is that this PC mental illness has crept into more and more subjects and not just English and History where it began.

I really do not think this is about the poor little black or brown kid being sat in the back of the room and being ignored.

They're getting plenty of attention from the educrats and consultants, at least.

This has led to the kind of edu-crap I spoke of before, namely, garbage like "Ethnomathematics" and "Non-racist" Mathematics.

Rather than admit that blacks have some kind of problem, we go to all these ridiculous lengths to give excuses for their failure.

And I don't think that it is a particularly good use of a teachers or students time or talent to waste it on "non-racist" teaching methods for mathematics.

And yet we do.

The fact that Singleton has been hired as a "consultant" means that we are more and more likely to be wasting resources on more crap of this type instead of just teaching the subjects in a reasonable manner.

Anonymous said...

The only attention that matters to me is the attention that the students are getting from their teachers. It's easy to make the kind of judgements that you do when you feel your child is getting the education that you desire. Why fault others for seeking the same? By the way, nobody is suggesting that they teach ebonics or any of that other foolishness that Shamash mentions...just asking that folks check their biases at the door for the sake of children learning. "Blacks have some kind of problem"...hope you never consider a career in education.

Shamash said...

Are you denying that blacks have a problem?

Seems that an entire thick layer of educrapic bureaucracy has been built around that "performance gap" for there to NOT be a problem.

Or maybe you know something the rest of us don't.

BTW, I have taught before, so too bad for my poor students.

They were Chinese, though, and, well, didn't have the same kind of
"issues" regarding education that we have created for ourselves in the US.

Somehow they managed to learn despite my obviously conscious racism.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am denying that blacks have a problem...some do, some don't...but NOT all! There is a gap in performance that needs to be addressed around this entire country...that suggests to many that there is a problem worth solving. Your students were Chinese? Might it be possible that your bias toward their race made you make assumptions about their academic ability and you taught them as such? Perhaps made sure that you found the most challenging work for them, creative lessons and worked diligently to make sure that they learned the material? Yeah, well that happens in reverse for a lot of students.

Shamash said...

"By the way, nobody is suggesting that they teach ebonics or any of that other foolishness that Shamash mentions..."


Maybe the folks in Newton, Mass could set you straight on that.

They had a whole "anti-racist" curriculum including anti-racist mathematics back in 2005.

And guess what Glenn Singleton's specialty happens to be?

Anti-racist education.

So just because you haven't seen it yet doesn't mean it isn't on a future agenda.

I don't think mathematics will be off limits once the "anti-racists" get their hooks in.

Shamash said...

Yeah, or maybe those Chinese students just studied harder and had parents who cared.

Yes, I saw a lot of that, too.

People too poor to afford an automobile (much less chrome rims) would bicycle their children to school and wait patiently to take them home.

And if they ever heard that their child acted up in class or wasn't paying attention, there was absolute hell to pay.

One thing I learned was to NEVER tell a Chinese parent anything about their child misbehaving unless you were willing to witness a physical beating right in front of your eyes.

So, yes, I did work diligently to see that they got exactly what they came to class for.

Because they came to class to learn.

Perhaps my experiences among some poor Chinese students and their parent has affected my sympathy for OUR "poor".

In other words, I've seen people do much better with much worse.

With NO excuses.

Anonymous said...

Well of course Shamash's Chinese students managed to learn, he didn't look at them and state, "well they are Chinese and therefore don't want to learn and have no support group, so lets just write them off". Thank God this person is nowhere near my children and the teachers they do have were. Or my Honor student 14 year old might have been written off when he was 8 (which is when, with the help of an involved teacher) we found out he had dyslexia....There are good kids and bad kids in EVERY racial group all kids are individuals and should be treated as such.

I do however think we should model ourselves a bit after Europe. Give kids the same education until roughly High School... then a series of tests to determine where you go from there. Is it perfect... no but it does to a degree separate the want to learns from the don't want to learns.

Anonymous said...

People do that here, too Shamash...they just don't make the news.

Shamash said...

My Chinese students didn't make the news for their diligence, either. That's just the way they were.

Nor did they whine about their poverty or use it as an excuse to not learn or pay attention in class.

And neither did their parents.

If anything, their poverty seemed to make them try harder.

All that being said, I doubt that teachers in the US look at their black students and say "they're black and don't want to learn".

Maybe after some experience, perhaps, but I doubt that they go into teaching thinking that way.

But, if it is, then simply fire those teachers.

But I've been in classes with black students and with black and white teachers, all the way through graduate school, so I know what's happening in the classrooms, too.

Anonymous said...

If anything, their poverty seemed to make them try harder.

Because the Chinese government does not have a generational dumbing down of those in poverty like the US does.

That's the real reason why many minorities refuse to work themselves out of poverty.

Too much government interference.

Anonymous said...

You "doubt that teachers in the US look at their black students and say 'they're black and don't want to learn'. Maybe after some experience, perhaps, but I doubt that they go into teaching thinking that way. But, if it is, then simply fire those teachers."

That's the whole point! Some teachers do think this way, whether they realize it or not! And, especially for those who are otherwise good teachers who aren't doing it intentionally, wouldn't it be grand to help them rid themselves of that thinking for the betterment of their students.

And finally, it's not so simple to fire the teachers that do intentionally hold on to such beliefs.

Shamash said...


So if a teacher REALLY does think poorly of black students, wouldn't they do their best to teach at non-black schools?

Seriously, it's not like teachers don't have a choice, is it?

Or maybe all the racist white teachers deliberately go into black schools just to mess things up?


Doesn't seem worth the effort when they could just do something else with their lives.

Also, I've studied enough psychology to know that you can get some people to admit to anything if you put enough peer pressure on them.

I would hate to see a bunch of teachers coughing up false memories of their racist behavior just to please some race-baiting consultant's paid shills.

But, we'll never have THAT courageous conversation, will we?

And what if, once enlightened about their unconscious racism, the teachers don't WANT to get rid of their racist thinking, but would rather teach another race?

That sounds like a good reason to ask for a transfer to me.

Or maybe we can have different groups of teachers (just as we have the Emotionally Disabled students.

Yes, we can have the officially certified "Racially Disabled" teachers and steer them to other schools or careers.

Let's just say I'm not too happy when the gubmint gets too closely involved in matters of "thought control" and monitoring of their "beliefs".

Especially by amateurs with an agenda.

Anonymous said...

Not ALL Blacks have an achievment problem, just the MAJORITY of them. This is why we have spent TRILLIONS since the law by Lincoln 150 years ago.

Trillions spent to reduce the achievment gap for the last 150 years and where are we now? Other minorities are scoring way ahead of the black student. Has anyone asked the reasons instead of just throwing money at the problem to see it washed away down the drain without any measurable results.

New actions need to be addressed and not a waste of $55 million of private equity on inflated jobs and salaries. We need to start teaching a man how to fish. Otherwise they will show no effort to learn when the fish is just thrown at them.


Anonymous said...

Vocational schools or french fry flipping schools. Either way the angry black kids still fail themselves, not society failing them.

PULLEZE! Don't throw any more money thrown down a bottomless hole.

Anonymous said...

If we do not teach them a trade or skill at $12,000 per student we will have to pay as a society $30,000 per inmate to house and feed them. You make the call.

Anonymous said...

Gifted Education and Race:

There are numerous definitions of "gifted" interpreted and applied a multitude of ways in school systems around the country. I took a general Exceptional Children (EC) course this past fall which failed to clearly define or explain what "gifted" means because all the experts in gifted education can't come to an agreement on the term. What gifted education model does CMS use? How does CMS define giftedness?

Martin Luther King Jr. was a gifted orator who performed miserably on the verbal section of the GRE (Graduate Research Exam). Some school systems consider artist talent a gift and fund Arts in Education programs accordingly. I attended a gifted and talented (TA) summer arts program at Wesleyan University CT in high school that my public school system partially funded. I went on to receive my B.A. degree in dance. My brother participated in a high school gifted program for students with high IQ's. He attended Yale with a degree in physics. I have a child with a learning disability who scored well enough on some random test in elementary school that he was considered a candidate for CMS' gifted program.

The NC Governor's School is summer program for gifted high school students offering concentrated studies in science and the arts. One of my dance students at the Harris YMCA auditioned for and was accepted at the NC Governor's School. She spent the summer with other "gifted" dance students and is currently attending UNC-Chapel Hill. I believe CMS picks up all of some of the costs for the Governor's School - correct?

I think CMS should clearly define to the public what their definition of gifted means before we courageously include the subject of race in the discussion. How does CMS identify gifted students? What criteria has to be met? Is every talent given equal weight? What's a talent? What's a gift?

Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

Would the guy from western NC who stages and directs an annual possum drop on New Year's Eve be considered gifted and talented (GT)? Creativity is widely considered a quality of the gifted. While we're on the subject of defining giftedness, how about defining creativity? What does creativity look like? Can creativity be measured on a standardized test? The last time I was at the Guggenheim Museum, educated people were lining up to look at an exhibition of rocks. Yep, people lined up to marvel at rocks.


Anonymous said...

She chose to send her child to a highly competitive publicly funded Governor's School. Please use a better example.

Anonymous said...

Substitute "poor white rednecks" for "black students" and the conversation doesn't change. Same attitudes, same results, same parenting, same poverty, same results.

It's not color of skin no matter how hard you try.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Heath's new Differentiation Academy will have all the answers for whatever population of the day is deserving of this initiative. Any ideas who this is aimed at Ann?

Shamash said...

Funny thing is, though, that the "poor white rednecks" actually outperform "non-poor" blacks.

How does that happen?

Especially when the poverty pimps claim that shouldn't be the case.

So you can't just substitute one lower performing group for the other.

And I'm not saying that either group is performing at their optimum level, or that you can't find particular exceptions, only that the poor whites as a group STILL outperform blacks who are not "poor" (as measured by FRL eligibility, which is their standard).

Read the NAEP publication on the "performance gap" and you'll see.

They don't point this out directly (probably because it wouldn't be PC to do so), but it's clearly shown in the data of their charts and graphs if you only look.

I've posted the pages and chart references before, but can do so again on request.

But few seem to want to look at the actual facts of the matter.

But that's fine because we all know the problem is due to "racism" as we'll soon all find out.

Anonymous said...

It is a simple fact that a majority of the Blacks in this Country are collective biological illiterates — not only intellectually unfit but evil and criminal as well.

Shamash said...

Even though I know you can lead a horse to water...

I'm just going to post this data again anyway.

From the NAEP Publication:


How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading On The National Assessment of Educational Progress.

This data is from pg. 8, Figures 7 and 8.

I've summarized the data for 2007 below (similar data is out there for other years as well).

4th Grade scores:

FL=Free Lunch
RL=Reduced Lunch
NE=Not Eligible for Free Lunch

White FL=235 RL=241 NE=252
Black FL=217 RL=228 NE=232

Note that in the 4th grade, the poorest whites (in the FL category) outperform blacks who do not even qualify (NE) for the FRL program.

Now onto the 8th grade:

White Fl=274 RL=280 NE=295
Black FL=253 RL=265 NE=274

Wow, we've made some "progress" here.

Note that the Non-Eligible blacks score exactly the same as the whites who receive Free Lunches.

Finally, we have "poor white redneck"=blacks...

Only it's the middle-class blacks the "poor white rednecks" are apparently equal to.

In these numbers you can see that while poverty does play a role in the scores, it is not enough to explain the gaps between the races.

Simply because the Free Lunch whites either score on par with (8th Grade) or above (4th Grade) the Non-Eligible blacks.

I hope those "courageous conversations" get to the bottom of this little puzzle.

Missouri said...

Thanks Shamash, I've poured through this data and others like it till I am blue in the face and have yet to see where the billions of dollars CMS has thrown into thie effort since the last court case has done any good. Luckily, NC came out with the ABC testing program that gave us better differentiation of subgroups.

And to this end also, we have seen dramatic gains in some schools black student scoring only to find out later how it was manipulated, like having the underperforming students stay home the day of the testing. Luckily, the NC breakdown gives you the data to figure this out.

All and all, I see from the short clips of the book I have read and from the premise underwhich I believe Dr.orrison was hired here, we are just seeing an elevated game of the "race card" being played.

Shamash said...


I agree.

The spending hasn't had an effect because everyone keeps wearing the same blinders and will not even look at the facts.

They look at the fact that poorer people perform worse than richer and say "oh, the answer is more money".

But they NEVER consider that perhaps, just PERHAPS, the rich ARE richer because they are occasionally, just occasionally, smarter and work harder.

Nope. That can't be it, so we trot out the usual BS.

I've also read enough of Singleton's first book to make me a bit ill at what I think they're up to.

It is a bunch of psychobabble nonsense as far as I'm concerned.

I've seen similar "consciousness" raising techniques used by other fringe lunatic groups for their causes to truly pity what I think teachers will be subjected to in their little witch hunt for "racists".

No one really wants to get to the root of the "problem" with low black performance in schools.

Everyone used to claim it was all "poverty" and that throwing more money at the problem would cure all those ills.

That is clearly not the case.

Even if you totally impoverished all the white kids to the point that they were ALL dependent on FREE LUNCHES, they would still perform on par with the black kids
based on current NAEP scores.

And I suspect, that just as my Chinese students somehow seemed somewhat immune to the effects of "poverty", the impoverished white kids would STILL outperform the blacks.

Like I say, I think there is more at work here, but now we have the tail wagging the dog, so nothing will get done.

At one time, people respected the "dominant" culture and considered "assimilation" to be a good thing.

Especially for people coming from a much less developed society.

Now, of course, the tables have been turned and being "successful" is some kind of crime in our society.

However, the rest of the world, including the Chinese, do not see success as a "sin", but as something to strive for.

As the Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping famously said "to get rich is glorious".

You won't hear THAT kind of talk around these parts any more...

That's "commie talk" now.

We need to be ashamed and ask forgiveness for our success today.

Welcome to the new world order.

Learn Mandarin.

Anonymous said...

She was selected to attend the Governor's School after a dance audition and meeting other academic criteria. She didn't chose to attend this gifted program, she was recommended by CMS and then selected. Her dance skills combined with her academic record qualified her for this gifted program.

My point is that CMS has failed to clearly explain their definition of gifted. What gifted model does CMS use? The definition of gifted varies widely around the country. There is considerable debate and angst over the fact that minority students are underrepresented in CMS' gifted program. Go back and read Ann's post. Are we talking about IQ scores? Are we talking about artistic talent? Are we talking about a combination of things? What's a gift? What's a talent? My example demonstrates a gifted program that factors artistic talent into it's definition. Does CMS consider artistic talent?


Anonymous said...

If your selling CMS then have your kids enrolled. If your not you have 0 stake in the matter. EES did care while the schools were being closed I dont doubt that. Personally for my kids education I am involved and not looking for excuses or "outs". I would certainly classify that as a out. I mean look at it this way sending a child 2-3 hours away , because they closed or changed your zone/school does that make sense? Just ask that common core questions. My kids pass 1 middle school to get to their zone school and they see the wasted budget money as teens. Its a very simple equation. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

"One is an Educational Leadership article by Julie Landsman, author of "A White Teacher Talks About Race." First published in 2004, the article is right on track with talks that will help shape CMS in 2013, focusing on factors that keep too many children of color out of advanced classes and programs for gifted students.

"For too long I have heard educators say that to keep white students in a particular school district, we must provide more gifted programs," Landsman writes. "The racism behind this assumption is astounding: It implies that only white kids are gifted, or that we should tailor our definition of giftedness to white culture."

Landsman doesn't argue that white parents shouldn't expect the best for their kids. She does urge advocates for gifted students to work with groups representing low-income and minority students."

So, what IS CMS' definition of gifted? Someone? Anyone? HELLO?

At some point CMS had 3 times the national average of gifted students. Is this still the case? Hello? Anybody out there?

What is the percentage of white and minority students in CMS' gifted program? Hello? How can we possibly have this discussion without some basic questions being answered?


Ann Doss Helms said...

Alicia, here's the link to the CMS screening for Talent Development (gifted, for those who aren't up on CMS labels).

Anonymous said...

There's always the CMS website for information on their "Gifted" program and qualifications:

http://www. cms

Anonymous said...

I looked at that. There appears to be 4 different "gateways" into the gifted program. Four. If there are 4 gateways into the gifted program, shouldn't there be at least 4 "gateway" ways of testing students in other areas? One of the "gateways" of getting into the gifted program includes a rubric scored portfolio. Also, the Horizon's program is for "highly gifted" students. What's the difference between a highly gifted and average gifted student?


Ann Doss Helms said...

Ericka Ellis-Stewart does still have a daughter in CMS, btw.

Anonymous said...

A rubric scored portfolio is somewhat subjective. Is it not?

It's possible to fall short of gifted criteria through one "gateway" but not another. Correct?

How many students are enrolled in CMS' gifted program in each Gateway area? In other words, how many students are identified as gifted through Gateway 1 versus Gateway 4? Are there racial differences in the various Gateways? In other words, are white students more likely to be identified as gifted through Gateway 3 versus black and Hispanic students who might be more likely to be identified as gifted trough Gateway 2? "Creativity" is sort of losel mentioned.

It appears CMS does not include artistic ability in it's gifted definition, as some school systems do, which clears up that question.


Jim said...

Oh, my goodness! The eagerness with which I await the outcome of this consultation is boundless! NOT!!! Betcha a buck right now that we'll be told we need to (1) increase funding of the minority-dominated schools and (2) raise the pay of teachers. Then all will be well!

Shamash said...


All that and accept the "fact" that systemic white racial privilege is the root of all black failure.

But somehow a lot of Asians are immune to this because they're secretly in cahoots with da man.


Read his crap and you'll see that he makes special exception for why Asians aren't miserable failures in "white" society.

It would be funny if so many people in charge weren't taking him so seriously...

Anonymous said...

• Over the next three years, CMS will study the success of non-traditional instruments with several of the underserved populations, including culturally and/or linguistically diverse students, twice-exceptional students, and highly gifted students. Instruments that are currently being researched include the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test (UNIT), the Torrance® Tests of Creative Thinking, and the Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test (STAT).

So what "alternative" instruments will CMS use to identify gifted minority students? Is this racist? What's a "twice-expectional" student? I'm guessing a twice exceptional student is someone with a learning disability (LD) who is also "gifted"?


Shamash said...


It's standard educratese for gifted kids with "problems".

It's part of our standard "excuses for everything" culture.

Anonymous said...

"CMS uses both the Gifted Rating Scales and a portfolio assessment in the identification process. Both of these measures are research-based. However, additional focus needs to be given to not only extending these measures beyond elementary school, but also to incorporating other non-traditional assessments that have been successful in the identification of gifted students."

So what are the "other" non-traditional assessments in identifying gifted students? How many ways can a school system test for giftedness? Four ways, a hundred ways? What about whites and minorities? Should gifted testing be "differentiated" among races? It seems to me that this is what's being implied.

What about testing teacher effectiveness and overall student achievement? Are there four ways to assess teachers and students, or, ninety nine ways to assess teachers and students? How do we identify "highly effective" teachers? Do we base "highly effective" ratings on one test, six tests, or a portfolio? Do we differentiate teacher tests according to race?

Anyone? Hello? Help me understand?

Anonymous said...

One is an Educational Leadership article by Julie Landsman, author of "A White Teacher Talks About Race."

Julie Dear,
90-92% (national average) of school teachers are white. The overwhelming majority are female. Shouldn't your leadership article be entitled "A Teacher Talks About Race"?

Hello? Anybody out there?

Shamash said...


I think they will eventually examine body piercings, tattoos, and other visible markings as further signs of creativity among the "gifted" children with other "problems".

But that's pure speculation on my part.

Anonymous said...

Ann , So her qoutes are inaccurate similar to "gosh I dont know who paid for my ticket to London"? If she was not so influenced by Kojo you might have a leg to stand on.

Shamash said...


Actually, Landsman does realize that 90% of the teachers are white and mentions the very thing you imply, namely, that "white" is the general assumption behind most professions.

I don't think she is quite as nutty as Singleton, though, based on what excerpts I've read of her book.

Oddly enough, on the subject of "gifted" students, she does mention that she thinks a lot of gang leaders just might fit into that category (p. 108).

So maybe CMS can broaden its "gifted and talented" selection criteria to include the question:

Have you ever been the "Leader of the Pack?"

Hey, you never know where any of this will go...

Anonymous said...

It's never a good idea to comment on a book you haven't read. I haven't read Landsman's book although the title certainly jumped off the page. It sounds like a book I'd enjoy reading.

Freakonomics (or it might have been one of Malcolm Gladwell's books) explores the history of gangs which is actually quite fascinating from a economic standpoint. The original leader of the Crips (or Bloods?) could have easily been "identified" for an honorary MBA degree from a decent college. Which gets us back to the question of identifying giftedness? Are there different kinds of giftedness? Again, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a gifted orator despite scoring poorly on the verbal section of the GRE.

Without being an expert on the subject, it appears the gifted education experts can't come to an agreement on exactly what the term gifted means because the traditional definition manages to create an underrepresentation of minorities. Lets call it the "Gifted Gap". How do we close the "Gifted Gap"? Do we change identification practices? Do we include a broader definition of the term to ensure more minorities are represented? Does broadening the term and redesigning tests to ensure more minorities are represented racist? These are some of the things I question. Private schools don't spend their time and resources on this kind of thing.


Anonymous said...

Leadership Education - Gateway Definition #6:

Affirming the bossy nature of kids like Lucy (Peanuts Gang).

Shamash said...


If you are interested in looking at some of Landsmans book, I suggest using Google books.

You get enough of an idea what it's about to decide if you want more or not.

As for Singleton's stuff, I've read a copy of his first book, Courageous Conversations, and looked at some of the stuff it's based on and am not impressed at all.

But Landsman is just writing about her personal experience, so it is what it is.

As for the "verbal" section of the GRE, it's written, not really "verbal" anyway.

And King still managed to get a "Dr." in front of his name despite whatever score he got.

As far as "gifted" in general goes, sure that will be up for debate, but I feel the same way about "creativity" when I heard that Van Gogh only sold a single painting his whole life.

Anonymous said...

Enough already just give me a state funded tax education voucher instead of sending it to CMS and I will forward it to CCDS. I mean folks the excuses about minority gaps and no parents at home. How does CMS fix that ? It does not. County can supplement me as well as I am packing up the lockers from CMS. Signed Given Up Involved Parent (no more)

Anonymous said...


"Creative" is a word often used to describe children with "gifted" characteristics.

The art world is notorious for creative posthumous geniuses. I happen to love "American Pioneer", Martha Graham, who's work was considered highly offensive and horrific by many "expert" critics. One critic claimed that if Martha ever gave birth, she'd give birth to a cube. Martha more or less told Hitler and the Nazi regime to take a hike too. Impressionist painters weren't considered impressionable during their day either. There is actually research that suggests creative geniuses are more like to suffer from certain types of mental illnesses - like bi-polar disorder. It's likely Van Gogh would have benefited from modern mental health services. Although, if he had, it's possible no one would have ever recognized or "identified" his gifted genius.


Shamash said...

Exactly my concern.

If so many creative people aren't identified until after their deaths, then how can we trust the "experts" on creativity?

It seems to me that they can only devise tests that measure predictable creativity.

I'm not sure how useful that kind of creativity actually is to the world and whether it is actually creative.

I feel the same way about IQ in a way. I mean you can have a genius like the physicist Feynmann with an IQ of around 120 who has done so much and then you have Marilyn Vos Savant with the supposed worlds highest IQ answering silly puzzles in Parade magazine.

Anonymous said...

Does a Latino school teacher who was born and raised in Brooklyn have any business teaching a white Mennonite kid who lives on a farm? Well, do they? How many diversity training courses and courageous conversation seminars does it take to teach? Anyone? Hello?


Anonymous said...

It's all a bunch of BS.
The emperor has no clothes.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

And THIS is why I yanked my kids out of CMS two years ago to home school them. The classes are over crowded and the teachers are overworked and (if you ask me) vastly under paid. And there will always be people who will view my childs brown skin as an indication that they are lazy, unproductive and disruptive without even giving them a chance to prove themselves.

They'll be in High School next year and I was considering sending them back... but the attitudes that I've seen on this page are scary....honestly very scary. In the end I'll let them decide... but I think I'll let them see this page first so they can see the kind of hatred that awaits them if they do decide to go back.

And yes... they currently study Manderin (thanks to our neighbors) and French and Spanish and are great at Algebra and a host of other things.

People like to tout how far society has come.... looks like not that far at all.

Shamash said...

Anon 4:49.

Hey, my kid has brown skin, too.

He's also studying Mandarin.

Funny thing is, though, that most people think he's Mexican.

Even the crowd at Compare Foods come up to him and speak to him in Spanish thinking he is one of "theirs".

But not once has a teacher ever considered him less than very intelligent.

He's just too smart to be ignored that way.

Frankly, I don't think other people's opinion of my son's intelligence will matter one bit.

He'll do well despite that.

Most really smart people do.

Anonymous said...

Yes, some of the comments here are scary. However, I think what a lot of people are trying to express is their exacerbation with CMS' fixation on everything related to race. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted our society to judge people on the content of their character - not their skin color. It's just a tad more difficult when EVERYTHING - every policy, every decision, every school boundary line, every curriculum mandate, etc. - has some undertone or overtone related to race? My God, when does it end? If people want to be treated equally, than stop classifying, profiling and labeling everyone into neat little categories and boxes. Again, how many diversity training courses and cultural sensitivity workshops does it take? Does this kind of thing actually help or hinder progress? The matter is complicated and I don't have the answers. I'm just weary of 40 years of educational policy aimed at producing a more level and fair playing field for students of EVERY race, ethnicity and economic standing that simply didn't live up to all the hopes, and dreams, and promises. Where do we go from here? We seem to keep regurgitating the same thing in various packaging over, and over, and over again. I took a college education course in cultural understanding and diversity in 1983. It's 2013 and teachers are still required to take some variation of cultural understanding and diversity in education with no results or measurable changes related to "the achievement gap". In fact, most recently, our educational system has somehow managed to create a "gifted gap". If anything, we've seemed to regress 60 years. Again, I don't have the answers. It's just as frustrating as heck. That's all.


Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, there was a trio of boys at NWSA who were TRULY gifted at the art of hip-hop/break dancing. I really can't describe how good they were. Although they lacked the formal training that many of their classmates had in more classical forms of dance including ballet and modern, they always put forth their full effort into these idioms. They were incredible and the kind of students a teacher dreams about teaching. One student went into the army with goals of attending college on a military scholarship, one is majoring in dance at ECU, and the other is up in Boston (last I heard) doing wonderful things. This group was about dance. They were at NWSA to study dance. It wasn't about race, or class, or anything else even though each brought those things into the classroom with them. One student was Asian, one student was white (with mild Tourette's syndrome), and the third student was black (with all sorts of cords and awards adorning his gown at graduation). They were an astounding and moving example of the vision and dream realized - not a perfect dream but a beautiful dream nonetheless. It is possible. If only we could get past ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Brian, Jacob and Phoo (sp. ?).

I'm fairy certain they would be OK with me mentioning their names. They're performers, after all.

Shamash said...

I can tell you that my frustrations are not so much with "race" as much as it is with focusing too much attention on the low-performers.

We all know that there are high and low-performers of all races, but when "race" becomes a substitute for that performance than I get a bit perturbed.

Because I don't think that's it at all.

That's why I prefer segregation by attitudes and abilities, not necessarily "race".

Charter schools being an example of this.

I'd like to see more for the "gifted" and those who care about learning (guess that makes me "white", eh?) and maybe just a little less for those who don't care and who come from families who just don't seem to care, either.

Just last night PBS had a little report on schools in Ohio and Fla requiring kids to read by the 3rd grade or not get promoted.

They showed one "struggling" family which got personal tutors in their home in Cincinnati (WOW!, talk about "service") to teach their kids to read.

Now, those kids were being raised by their grandparents (gee, how typical is that, with no word about what the mother and father were doing).

They were complaining because they lost their personal home tutors so other failing kids could get more tutors in the classroom.

It was pathetic just watching how helpless those two adults were with their TOTAL INABILITY to help their children learn how to read.

Is THAT the segment of society we need to keep catering to with our limited resources?

I don't think so.

Is the goal of modern public education simply to keep people out of the prison system?

I certainly hope not.

But that seems to be the focus.

And that's what frustrates me.

I don't think our future lies with the bottom of society as much as it does with those who WANT to do better and are TRYING, but don't get the resources because they are being spent on the lower performers who probably won't do much better anyway.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

This is the PBS report on Ohio and Fla schools, with transcript:

http://www. pbs .org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june13/reading_01-04.html

"PEGGY LEHNER: One of the concerns we have is that not all of that tutoring that people are receiving has been beneficial. "

Again, typical of these programs. Very little accountability or proof that they actually work. Just spend, spend, spend.

Now, if personal tutors IN THE HOME weren't all that beneficial, then why do they think reading specialists in the schools with even more students per teacher will be any more successful?

Again, if they aren't getting help in the home (or just aren't that smart to begin with), then there really isn't much that anyone can do.

It's time to accept the fact that some people are just going to be on the bottom in nearly any ability.

We'll never live in Lake Wobegon where ALL the children are "above average".

Anonymous said...

Your example is a good one as far as demonstrating that good intentions don't always produce desired outcomes. It's like the Chinese proverb;

"If you give a man a fish, he feeds himself for a day. If you teach man to fish, he feeds himself for a lifetime".

This makes me think about the TFA program with all it's good intentions that may, in fact, be perpetuating the very things it is trying to solve. The jury is still out on TFA.

I have yet to personally experience a diversity education or cultural understanding course, class, seminar, workshop, in-service project, or courageous conversation round table that proved beneficial - in any way - at improving academic outcomes or solving persistent achievement gaps. I haven't, and I've been around a while. Of course, I think it's important for teachers to be culturally "aware" but this has more to do with where a teacher specifically works and, more importantly, the kind of person a teacher is. For example, Northwest School of the Arts (NWSA) has a very distinct "culture" that simply doesn't translate to other traditional schools. Students who attend this school cover a broad spectrum of races, ethnicities, cultures, classes, sexual orientation preferences, religious beliefs, and just about anything and everything else you can think of that defines humanity. This is not to say these things don't factor into student achievement. These things do come into play, however, it's PRIMARILY about everyone sharing a common interest. This is what makes this school CULTURALLY DISTINCT - the common interest component. The school radiates, breaths and embraces an arts culture - not a race culture, or an ethnic culture, or a religious culture, or a specific sexual orientation culture, or anything else. It's about the arts. The prevailing culture is an arts culture. Art cultures have their own way of doing things. It's hard to explain if you've never immersed yourself in this kind of environment. Does this mean we should start feverishly designing seminars, courses and workshops entitled; "Understanding Artist Colonies" so every teacher can become more sensitive to meeting the needs of diverse thespians, singers and song writers? No, I don't think so.


Anonymous said...

I remember attending school advocacy committee meeting with Dr. Bowe, former principal at NWSA. A CMS TV crew was scheduled to come to the school and Dr. Bowe made the comment that the film crew "got" the school and understood it's students. Dr. Bowe was delighted about this. He implied that many CMS people unfamiliar with NWSA were incapable of understanding it's culture - an art culture. He was right. He was absolutely right.