Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Black, White, and Stereotyped All Over

I need your help on this one. There might be some stereotyping and SBOLE (soft bigotry of low expectations) in this story from a local community newspaper about the Hopkins (Minn.) School District's efforts to close the racial achievement gap in its schools. I can't tell.

Nancy Marcy is a physical education teacher at Hopkins High School and a member of the school's equity team, a group of administrators, teachers and district staff working to abolish the achievement gap between white students and students of color.

Part of the problem, she said, is something called institutional racism.

"Institutional racism is really subtle," Marcy said. "Many of us wouldn't even notice it unless someone pointed it out."

For example, she challenged, what does a perfect classroom look like? Is it noisy? Are students moving? "Many adults would say that if a class is quiet, that's a good class," said Marcy. "But what's considered too much noise?"

As a gym teacher, Marcy willingly admits her tolerance for noise probably outweighs that of other adults. Yet she insists activity, and the noise it creates, are necessary in today's diverse classrooms.

"When they get excited in the classroom, students of color speak up. They want to turn and process with their neighbors," Marcy said.

"Many African-American students," Marcy continued, "come from a culture that values collectivity. It's really important for students of color to be supportive of their friends and to feel supported. For them, working as a small group, teaching one another and putting their names together on a project is really important."

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Blogger Mahan said...

To paraphrase:

"Stereotyping is really subtle," Mahan said. "Many of us wouldn't even notice it unless someone pointed it out."

Case in point, the teacher's assertion about African-American students needing to feel validated by their "culture of collectivity". Perhaps it's me, but I seem to recall from reading those disgusting books dealing with academic history (BURN THE WIZARD!) that minority students Back In The Day, in rather more unpleasant academic conditions than today, did quite well in "traditional" classroom settings, when there were dedicated teachers and a strong parental support network.

What I'm attempting to explain in my clumsy fashion is that the standards for academic achievement have been lowered for everyone, not just minorities, by this attempt to separate students by group; this demeans the achievements of every student in the Hopkins District, frankly, and I'd be offended regardless of ethnic group.

May 08, 2007 11:18 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

B as in B
S as in S

May 08, 2007 11:59 AM  
Blogger Bill Gilles said...

At first I thought the "collectivity" statement was akin to saying that Blacks are natural socialists. As I kept reading my understanding was refined - this teacher wasn't making a political statement, but one of anthropology - these black children are only slightly removed from primitive tribalism, and must be treated accordingly. Wow.

May 11, 2007 12:29 AM  
Blogger Bill Gilles said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but the Hopkin's teacher implies blacks are one generation removed from savagery, while an old school Klanny would just call blacks savages. I guess I just hoped that liberal educators were more removed from Klan ideology...

May 11, 2007 12:38 AM  

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