Saturday, April 10, 2010

Just Stating Facts

Ricochet got me thinking about the racial make up of my classes. My calculus classes are close to 100% Asian or South East Asian, with a few Caucasians from somewhere in eastern Europe and a token Hispanic from the Dominican Republic. My geometry class has 3 African American, 8 Caucasians, 9 Hispanics, 13 Asians, and 3 from South East Asia. My low level ninth period has 5 African Americans, 7 Caucasians (not one born in the United States), 12 Hispanics, 4 Asians and 4 from South East Asia.

When I once asked someone for an explanation as to why vocational and general programs were ended, I was told they were racially segregated. I was told that a disproportionate number of minority students were being "dumped" into those programs and ending them was a way to even up the playing field.

I'll let the numbers speak for themselves. Has NYC truly been able to put a stop to racial segregation in its high schools?
(Don't even think of writing a comment about the minority kids not being able to do the work. It's not true and I won't publish it.)


Anonymous said...

There are certainly kids who would do far better with vocational programs, but...

wouldn't Black and Hispanic kids get tracked away from academic programs, and very early at that?

It's not a bad counselor, or a bad teacher, or a bad administrator (though there are plenty), it's a deeper racism that is endemic to the system.

Putting kids in classes they cannot handle is not fair. But preventing kids from taking more challenging classes is not fair either. It's not the rules, it's the system.


Pissedoffteacher said...

I just wanted to point out that racism is alive and well in NYC. All we've done is change the way we do it.

What I would like to know is why this is still happening and what we as a society can do to make a change?

Liberty Rose said...

My sis is a department chair in a very large north shore high school in Illinois. Huge tax base, so they have tons of money, but they also have tons of racial diversity and poverty. She fights this battle all the time and she is the applied sciences chair! She sees exactly what you see and tells me all about big bucks-bring in the gurus staff inservicing they participate in that just goes nowhere. Lots of anger, lots of people entrenched in old ideas and stereotypes and of course the high school blames the middle school and the middle school blames the elementary school and the elementary school blames the parents and social services for the achievement gaps.

Mrs. Chili said...

I have the opposite problem; all MY students are middle-class Caucasians; we don't live in a particularly diverse part of the world, and so I have trouble getting the kids to re-imagine the world though any but their own (white, privileged) perspective.

Anonymous said...

The first step has to be talking about it. It's a service to all when you write what you see. More of us should be doing it.

But next? Wow.

Miss Eyre said...

Flexibility is one answer. Make it easy for kids to change from one "track" or "program" to another, or to mix tracks and programs together--I would have benefited tremendously from a program that would have allowed me to take AP English alongside a business math class. Instead I got tracked into precalculus, which was an exercise in futility for me.

Encouraging kids to do a lot of self-reflection is another. Say a kid who is weak academically wants to opt into what used to be called "college prep" or "honors." Well, all right, you tell the kid, but before you make that decision, are you aware of what kind of habits you'll have to develop to make it? We'll help you develop them, sure, but you'll have to meet us halfway. Are you ready for that? Let the kid and his/her family chew on that for a couple of days before they make a decision. And then, again, flexibility and graduality with how kids merge between tracks/programs.

Anonymous said...


I feel that I didn't blog anything negative regarding this very sensitive issue of racism within the NYC school system.

Was my blog offensive? I don't think so, and I truly hope it wasn't. I thought my point of view was sensitive to the matter and no derogatory remarks were made.

That's why I wondering why wasn't it posted.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Who are you? I have no idea what you posted? I haven't rejected anything.

lgm said...

>>What I would like to know is why this is still happening and what we as a society can do to make a change?

As a society, we have to speak up. Loud voices are needed to speak up with solutions.

Eliminate the age restriction on grades. We're offering the same instruction to everybody in a cohort, but everyone does not need the same. We need to do an incoming screening and start each child at his appropriate instructional level - not at the grade level stuck on the door. Give them all an acheivement test. Sort & instruct appropriately, using flexible grouping throughout the year. Change assessment so students don't fall so far behind before help is given.

Allow open admission to honors.

Allow middle schoolers to do a prep for honors year to make up for the tracking.

Also, expand the time in school for the struggling, regardless of heritage or SES. Start them in preK, hold up in 3rd if they can't read on grade level and send them to Kumon or the like, and then again in 8th if they aren't ready for high school.

Bring back spelling instruction through 8th grade.
Bring back penmanship instruction.
Bring back reading instruction in 6th.

Anonymous said...

It is the home environment, the chemical environment (Afro-American minorities are more likely to be living near polluted sites), the elementary schools and the middle schools. Plus different theories of how to teach and how to test in those elementary and middle schools (particularly if the child is moving schools or countries during his or her education).