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Demonizing Low Income Students

(04/01/2007)

 

The following post is a recent excerpt from one of our local education listserves:

"I grew up going to school in the (deep south) in the age of integration. I am always so dumb founded how progressive attitudes are suppose to be in California and how segregated California tends to be.....REALLY. ...think about it. Until we are willing to rub elbows with these students and not demonize them we will never get the idea that 98% of them are harmless and at the very core they are just like we were when we were in MS/HS all be it probably not as wealthy."

As a CA native I believe that here, particularly in liberal CA, the situation is much more nuanced than what this individual posted. Nobody IMHO would move to neighborhoods like SF, Oakland, Pasadena, or Altadena if they really had a problem rubbing shoulders with diversity. In fact, I'll submit that most were drawn to these places in part for the benefits of diversity.

What I do believe people have problems with is sending their kids to a public school where the academic proficiencies are there for all to see, perennially stuck among CA's bottom third, in complete defiance of the urban public schools' chest-beating about how their test scores are "on the march".

A more interesting question might be: faced with the obvious fact that differences in family readiness for academic success are being overcome in at least a few CA public schools serving high penetrations of low income students to the end that the academic achievement gap between these (demographically at least) perennially poor performers and CA's best is being closed consistently, in all subjects, using the same, very well-documented educational best practices, and is being done 4 out of 5 times with same or lower per-student spending as PUSD, what in the world is keeping PUSD from embracing those educational best practices?

Is the problem an ignorance of these best practices? A little time spent on the "Recommended Reading" section of http://www.altadena schools.net/ index.htm could cure that problem. If educator ignorance isn't the problem, what is? None of those high-performing schools to low-income populations got there because their disenfranchised community was banging on their educator's heads demanding best practices. All started as alienated as the current PUSDville population and were won over only by the educator's consistent, year after year success winning back their community.

Could the problem be that too many educators to low-income populations are more interested in the daily benefits of an educator culture that makes getting home to dinner on time and watching one's "American Idol" and "Friends" re-runs a greater priority than what some have called "the key civil rights challenge of our generation" http://www.manhattan-institute.org/noexcuses/ ? One can only shudder to think. Meanwhile and like it or not, our middle class seemingly waits in the wings, disgusted by what so many of our public educators are doing to the diversity that drew so many to put down roots in our communities in the first place.

 

 

 

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