I wrote this editorial as a reply to an article in my small town local paper. As background I will tell you that in the past few years our school district has spent millions on re-educating white teachers so that they are culturally “sensitive” to minority students. Meanwhiloe our schools are rated slightly above our states lowest level. If you wish to read the entire article you can follow this link.
If anyone in our city is unsure as to why our public schools are among the lowest rated in the state they need look no further than Rick McCrabb’s article of March 4th.
In the article Mr. McCrabb profiles Anedra Million an assistant principal from Amanda School, who will be participating in the “Alumni of Color Conference” at Harvard University. Why we sending one of our administrators to this type of meeting, at taxpayer expense, is unfathomable. While test and achievement scores in schools continue to tumble our superintendent continues to waste our dollars on the outdated and false idea that the lack of achievement among minority students is due to a “lack of cultural understanding,” by “middle aged white woman” teachers. Over the past few years the leader of our school system has squandered millions of our dollars on what Dr. Price describes this way in his latest newsletter:
“District staff continues to work on issues of race and equity to try and understand and eliminate the racial achievement gap while at the same time raise levels of achievement for all students. Addressing why these gaps exist is difficult and discussions are often emotional. We conduct many courageous conversations that often start with an examination of self and how one’s own culture can act as a barrier to all students learning at high levels. These difficult conversations will continue.”
If achievement could be explained by “culture” it would seem to logical to separate students and teachers by race and have white teachers teach white students and have black teachers teach black students. Do black students who have black teachers achieve at a higher level than black students taught by white teachers? No! Do Asian students who are taught by white teacher find it culturally difficult to learn? No. Do white students who are taught by black teachers suffer academically? No. So where does the notion of cultural sensitivity come from? It comes from outdated and mostly disproved educational theories developed in the late sixties and early seventies. So why does this type of antiquated thinking continue to exist in our schools? The answer is that most of our upper echelon administrators and education professors are steeped in the radical liberalism of that era. William Ayers is their poster child. They seek to use the public education system not as it has been used for centuries, to reinforce the fundamental values of education and citizenship, but rather as a mechanism for liberal social engineering.
I want to be clear that this opinion piece is not intended to be a personal attack on Ms. Million. I am sure she is a dedicated and hard working teacher and administrator. I am sure that she is a woman of high intellect and her achievements speak for themselves. I am sure that her presentation to the conference at Harvard was written with sincerity. I am also as sure that she is just as sincere in her beliefs that our educational system is failing due to “ …systemic racial disparity”, and therein lies the problem. Ms. Million has been victimized, but not by those she believe she have done her wrong. She and many other people have been educated in a public school and university system that has substituted feelings and antidotal evidence for scholarship, the use of strings of important sounding words for substance and political correctness for common sense.
Examine the title of Ms. Million’s presentation: The Social Construction of “other”: A Critical Analysis of Language and Imagery in Education Policy. I have a degree in Education, two years of graduate school and thirty years of professional writing experience and I have no idea what that means. This is an example of a close relative of psychobabble which I will term edubabble”. Shouldn’t educators speak in terms that mothers and fathers can understand and use strategies that enable parents to reinforce education in the home? The home is the center of all education. Our schools and test scores will improve only when our administration makes parents accountable for their children’s work and behavior. Public schools are not a babysitting service and children who do not respect the right of other students to learn should be forced to seek alternative education at their own expense.
The old saying tells us that the fish stinks from the head down, my fellow citizens, and until there is a housecleaning on Girard Avenue our city schools will continue to fail all of us. I don’t know what others intend to do but I will vote for no school levee until this happens. I will support no school board member who does not understand change starts at the top.