Demystifying U.S. Racial Inequality in Education: No “WHITE” Child Left Behind or NCLB?
The academic and financial achievement gaps between Blacks and Whites are not only alarming, but also heart-breaking… If it’s not SHOCKING THE CONSCIENCE of BLACK & WHITE LEADERS alike, something is wrong with our society… and better yet, perhaps we are just bamboozled, and mystified by it all. This article is my attempt at demystifying this issue as best as I humanly can.
So, yesterday, I met a 17-year-old young Black man, whose behavior told me that he was on his way to one of the top universities in the nation. And upon interrogating him about his career aspirations, he was, indeed, on his way to YALE. I encouraged the young man, and told him that I did not only expect him to succeed at YALE, but I expected him to be THE BEST. He shook my hand, and told me “Thank you, Sir” in a manner that told me how much he so appreciated it. But little did he know, he had given me hope, and has fueled my dream to encourage society to do something about what I have coined the “Broken Black Boy Syndrome”. I want to see better, smarter, and more educated young Black men, as they are the future of our communities, and without wise and educated Black boys, we will not have wise Black men in the future. PERIOD!
We cannot expect every Black kid or young man to be a GENIUS in order to succeed though. I recalled getting my own resources in High School because I was attending a poor school that fell in a lower social economic status (SES). However, most of the other boys never did that, and most of them never attended college. While that YALE-bound young man reminded me of myself when i was his age, I was saddened of the fact that society has been expecting all Black kids to practically be geniuses because they certainly don’t have the same resources (e.g., tutoring centers, informed and prepared parents and schools) to compete on an equal playing field. Thus, access to education is patently UNEQUAL.
I started on this note to say that WHILE we can’t expect all young folks of any race to be College-bound, as one can become successful in life without a college education, but it is far more difficult to do so without a support system and particularly if one falls in a minority group, and especially if one is Black and of the male persuasion. By now, almost everyone who knows me might have read about my “Broken Black Boy Syndrome" article. If you haven’t, please feel free to read it along. But this article is about a general issue of DISCRIMINATION and LACK OF ACCESS to EDUCATION (which should be a RIGHT to every child), particularly in the most PROSPEROUS NATION on Earth.
Failed U.S. Leadership And Failed Black Leadership
As of today, LorinsPOST.com used its QUOTIENTS(particularly its minority-friendliness and educations ones) to give both Black and White leaders and the US Government a D- score on their performance towards bridging the academic achievement performance gap between minorities (particularly Blacks and Latinos) and Whites for the following reasons..
So, both Blacks and Whites are "racist" when it comes to providing education to Blacks... it is UNCONSCIONABLE... not enough is being done about it. The US government is still directly racist and Black leaders are still inadvertently racist by either by assimilation or conditioning.
According to Rochelle and Wright (2011) the academic achievement gap between Black and White students is mind-boggling. However, LorinsPOST.com takes it further by arguing that it is not simply an achievement gap, but rather it’s a performance gap. Achievement has a connotation of superiority in intelligence, whereas performance is about three main components, namely: (1) motivation, (2) ability (skills) and (3) opportunity to perform (e.g., learn/lead).
Thus, the problem is two-fold as there is both an institutional leadership failure to perform (which includes a failure to get parents involved), and an issue of students failing to perform, which creates a rather vicious cycle that is centered around motivation, ability and opportunity on both ends.
But, as of today, the EVIDENCE speaks for itself. WE HAVE FAILED OUR BLACK & BROWN KIDS at a PATENLY ALARMING RATE. And the “No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act” might as well have been called “No WHITE Child Left Behind”.
DEMYSTIFYING THE U.S. RACIST EDUCATION INEQUALITY PROBLEM
Since it is foreseeable that access to resources would be based on parental income and ability to pay certain level of property taxes, other measures should have been taken to prevent it from happening and to induce students from all economic backgrounds to have EQUAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION. This isn’t so as of now.
IF Black parents cannot afford to pay expensive tutoring fees or don’t have access to tutoring facilities, then the government should provide FREE & QUALITY TUTORING CENTERS or Reduced-Cost tutoring centers in the predominantly Black, Latino and lower SES White neighborhoods... OTHERWISE, it is patently reckless and either directly or inadvertently racist as equal access is not being provided.
There appears to be plethora of information about achievement gap in the literature that compares the academic performance minorities (e.g., Blacks, Latinos and even Asians) with those of their White counterparts. However, the underlying trend appears to be that of presenting “truisms” rather than exposing the true reasons why such gaps exist (i.e., the sources of such gaps.) This article will beg to differ.
Let’s Start With Brown vs. Board of Education
The fact that various social science or civil rights doomsayers have claimed that the May
1954 Supreme Court decision Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et
al. has amounted to nothing, was a failure, a broken promise, or an unfulfilled dream is not without merit. The reasoning that it failed because schools are still racially segregated (or re-segregating), or because it did not fix the achievement gap between black and white children is quite on point.
Thus, for sure, our laws often fall short of ensuring that we become morally-sound, and often they are indicative of HOW RACIST we truly are BECAUSE the INTENT of our LEGISLATORS fail to even tangentially address the root causes of the problems of unequal access to education and thus to psychological and financial growth. Accordingly, at least, at the education front, the society is still RACIST based either on ignorance or a DEPRAVED-MIND. But either way, it has to so address, or it will face major repercussions in the future.
America does not want to have a bunch of UNEDUCATED YET EGOCENTRIC AND BROKEN BLACK MEN RUNNING AROUND. Black men typically want to live like KINGS, and when they can’t, it’s a formula for disaster. TRUST ME!
TREATING THE CAUSES RATHER THAN THE SYMPTOMS – What are The Causes?
In medicine, it is always better to treat the causes of the problem than just the outwards symptoms. In order to do so, the problem must first be diagnosed. This article will do the same.
PROBLEM: America is still RACIST when it comes to its education policies and its ways of dealing with socio-economic inequities and links to educational access and both Black and White leaders are equally GUILTY of the latter.
While there are some genius leaders out there who are doing enough, it is few and far between.
So, WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
Rochelle and Wright (2011) essentially should be a seminal study for all educators who want to seriously address this racial inequity issue. Based on the results of their study, racial inequality in education is still a serious problem in the United States. The latest government attempt to address this problem was the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Their study used the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002) to examine the relationship between race and composite reading and math scores among Black and White students. A total of 8,315 10th-grade students were included in their analysis. The results showed a difference in test scores between Black and White students with Whites scoring higher than Blacks. The findings from this study suggest that institutional discrimination based on race as well as family factors outside the school setting contribute to this difference in test scores between Black and White students.
The role of race can be detrimental to the academic achievement of minorities. Students who spend more time on homework and attend school regularly ‘perform’ better academically. However, Black students believe that they have a cultural responsibility to uphold, which influences their ability to achieve academically because academic achievement may be viewed as “acting White”. Black males, specifically, either have an inability or lack of motivation for performing their roles as students within traditionally “White” school settings. The latter is compounded by the fact that the school settings my induce males to view academic activities as feminine and immaterial to their masculine development, which may explain the higher rates of occurrence of behavioral problems for boys at large and thus subsequent lower academic achievement, which is even worse for Black males(p. 94).
Many factors come into play… student performance is a function of school environmental factors, role of teachers, family socialization, and peer influences which they used in that study to evaluate the impacts that each has on test scores. The issue of test bias is yet another issue that will not be tackled here since a bridging of those gaps would automatically take care of most of those bias-induced issues.
K-12 institutions have to deal with issues such as school social environment, teacher selection, class size, student-teacher ratio, and school rules, which are all affected by the school’s socio-economic status (SES). The SES of a school is determined by the district in which it is located because the taxes collected from the district are allocated to the schools within that district. Accordingly, low-income areas provide schools with less money, which then reduces the resources available for the school to use to improve academic achievement. Moreover, class-size is determined by the amount of money per pupil that the school receives, and thus, schools in low income areas have no other options but to increase their class sizes due to reduction in available funds. The latter includes yet another implication, as significant educational benefits are prevalent for children enrolled in smaller classes, such as increased attention for students, friendlier class, and few discipline problems, while the larger class size decreases students’ abilities to perform well academically because teachers are unable to deliver instruction at a level that is appropriate for every student’s learning ability (p. 95).
Teachers have a profound impact on learners regardless of which SES students fall under. When teachers encourage student perceptions to be tuned towards believing that s/he is caring, fair, then the quality of the instruction also improves. However, if a teacher perceives a student to be inefficient in the dominant culture due to atypical behaviors or codes of speech, or to be average or lower intelligence, then there is a higher possibility of academic failure. Accordingly, a teacher’s or administrator’s expectations are directly-related to a student’s educational expectations. In addition, a teacher’s ability to properly deal with cultural diversity in the classroom in conjunction to the teacher’s social location has yet another impact on as student’s academic success (p. 94).
Our kids are not feeling loved both at home and at their schools. Why would we expect them to NOT BE BROKEN? I posit that we are either intentionally choosing to fail them or we just don’t care enough to do something about it. I’m sure we can, the question is: do we care enough… ALL OF US… BLACKS, WHITES, BROWN, YELLOWS, REDS etc…
I don’t know about you, my heart rejoices a lot more when I see a YALE or HARVARD-bound Black boy than when I see a JAIL-bound one. The question is, DOES AMERICA FEEL THE SAME WAY? As of now I’m not convinced YET!
TRUE and NON-RACIST education will encourage SELF-LOVE and will focus on BLACK (MINORITY) ISSUES both at home, school and work (and not just those of Whites). Our laws and procedures must EDUCATE ALL AMERICANS EQUALLY, else, it is patently RACIST. America may be in denial about it all, but the preponderance of the evidence so indicates.
Rochelle, L., and Wright, D.W. (2011). No "White" child left behind: The academic achievement gap between Black and White students. Journal of Negro Education, 80(2), 93-107
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