Yesterday's Daily News had a great opinion piece about how our schools are still segregated and unequal. And, while this is true, I think we have to take a deeper look into schools that are integrated and see the racial make up of those classes.
From my experience at Packemin, I saw extreme segregation in classes. AP math classes were white, Asian and South East Asian. There were a smattering of Hispanics but kids whose ethnicity showed only in their names. In my last year I did a study to see why this happened. I found many African American students entered the school with as good or better backgrounds than their peers yet they never made it to the advanced class. On the other hand, if I looked at the slower algebra and geometry classes, I noticed too many dark faces.
My opinion and this is from my personal observations is that African American students did not get the same opportunities as their white and Asian peers. If they messed up once, they were out of the path that led them to advanced classes where other races got second chances. One year I met a young Black girl who wanted to take AP Calculus. The chairperson said her grades weren't good enough but I picked up a transcript of a Chinese student with lower grades who was admitted to the class. A back door got the girl in and she did well. Lack of Black faces in my AP classes bothered me from the day I started teaching them in 1995 and nothing I did made a difference. I don't know if things are any different now, I have been gone for 4 years. I hope so.
We do need to integrate schools but we also must make sure that once schools are integrated classes are too and we need to make sure all students have the same opportunities regardless of their ethnic background.