Through the Looking Glassover 1 year ago
I read this post and your response. As an African-African American mother of two, I applaud your post and mostly agree with you. For a start, I think we should use the term "opportunity gap" because I think it more accurately describes the phenomena. I like that you offer alternative terminology. But I do caution that if people get too focused on the language, they might miss your greater point -- that we should take a closer look at and challenge the standards used in assessing a student's potential. How about this --"If you care about education stop determining the potential or value of students based on assessments that really mostly get at how savvy parents of the student are at working the system or whether the parents of the student have the wherewithal to arrange for test-prep and tutors to enhance opportunity for their child." That practice is detrimental to all children, because it gives some children a false sense of superiority while encouraging a false belief among others (including working class white children) that they cannot excel academically. By focusing on the conditions that create the opportunity gap, we can think of solutions that will eliminate barriers to success. Also, a word of caution re: your statement regarding the removal of black educators. My mother worked for over 25 years in a school district where the teachers, administrators and school board were 95%+ black. Too many of those educators, who were themselves products of institutionalized racism, were poor at their jobs. My mother, an African-American woman who was a product of public housing, had that view from the inside. Another family member works at predominantly immigrant school where she is one of three teachers of color. There are too many white teachers at that school who also do a poor job; they are "cultural insensitive" (and I am being nice) and not too infrequently treat the children with disdain. Another view from the inside. Both of my family members would gladly embrace the removal and replacement of those inadequate teachers with teachers (of any race or ethnicity) who were dedicated, hard-working, professional and culturally sensitive. And I, who am a product of a public school education, can say based on my experience, we need to find more qualified teachers period and encourage teachers of all background who have the ability and commitment to join the profession. Most of my teachers while growing up were white, but I had a number of black teachers as well. Although I did encounter a few white teachers who were "culturally insensitive" (again, I am being generous here), the teachers that made the most lasting positive impact on my life happen to be the white ones. I can't say for certainty that those teachers "understood" my cultural background, but I can say for without a doubt that they respected my personhood. All of this to say, all I want for my children are teachers who teach well, respect my children for who they are and care. I encourage diversity in hiring at all levels, but I will never assume just because a teacher may bring a particular cultural insight to the table, that he or she is good a doing the job.