Learning While Black
Racial and economic profiling in education endangers black students' success. Why put up with it?
How Profiling Hinders Education
The answer to that last question is a dissertation all by itself, but the educational mediocrity that has stigmatized black children for more than a generation can be linked to how we allow our children and the communities they come from to be viewed and treated by both the educational and political establishments.
Look closely at how our society "profiles" minority neighborhoods -- from "redlining" by banks and mortgage companies ("The subprime mortgage crisis brought with it a form of reverse redlining -- in which lenders provided a glut of credit to neighborhoods once underserved by banks. Minorities also preyed on their own communities," reported the Washington Independent) to streamlining where hospitals and shopping centers are built.
So what makes us think that the schools our children attend will be treated any differently? Haven't you witnessed profiling of where the next school will be built (or what to do with the children while that school is being built), or which services (e.g., bus routes), resources (e.g., classes offered, computers, a library or even repairs) and programs will be provided? I guess it helps to live in the right ZIP code.
But the profiling doesn't stop there. When valuable options in educating minority children are presented (such as charter schools and "opportunity scholarships"), entrenched bureaucratic interests that have protected the current system rear up in protest as if threatened by the mere suggestion of change or choice.
Racial and economic profiling in education has become a clear and present danger to the success of black students and the future of the black community overall. We are leaving far too many children standing at the foot of the academic ladder than are able to climb that ladder.
From Education Week: "Just 12 percent of black male 4th graders nationally and 11 percent of those living in large central cities performed at or above proficient levels in reading on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), compared with 38 percent of white males in that grade nationwide, according to the report from the Council of the Great City Schools [pdf].
"Among 8th graders, only 12 percent of black males across the country and 10 percent living in large cities performed at or above proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white males in that grade nationwide. This slice of NAEP data shows just how stark the differences are: Urban black males without learning disabilities had reading and mathematics scores, on average, that were lower than white males nationwide with identified learning disabilities." This is the legacy of Brown?