Kids of Color Provided 'Less of Everything'

The San Francisco Chronicle joins the bandwagon of liberal newspapers that have addressed the "achievement gap" -- the difference between majority [white] student academic achievement and that of minority [black/Latino] pupils. Right from the headline of "Children of Color Being Left Behind," readers are clearly left with the impression that there has been some purposeful scheme to "shortchange" minority students.

A frustrating and persistent achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white and Asian American peers shows no sign of abating in the latest state test results for nearly 5 million students across California.

Overall, students of all backgrounds made minimal progress in English during the past year and no progress in math.

State schools chief Jack O'Connell said he was not surprised by the leveling off of improvement across the state, noting similar trends across the country that have followed growth spurts, as California had.

But it was the difference in achievement among ethnic groups that O'Connell said was most evident - and most disturbing - about the new test results.

One may wonder (rightly) just why Asians are not considered "children of color." This is a bewildering trend among the media. Is it because Asians cannot somehow readily be labeled as "victims"?

The disparity raises serious questions about who might be failing these students of color and what can be done about it.

"For decades, our education system has provided kids of color less of everything that research says makes a difference in public education - even to middle-income kids of color," said Russlynn Ali, executive director of Education Trust West, an Oakland think tank. "Whose fault is that? Everyone who makes up the system."

I wonder why the article's author, Nanette Asimov, did not ask Ms. Ali just what it is that the research says minority students (excuding Asians, of course) get less of. And, when it comes to who precisely is failing students of color, it is "everyone who makes up the system." Nary a mention of parents and family.

In the past, another northwestern paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, has left unchallenged controversial assertions regarding race and schooling. Writer Rebekah Denn once wrote that [racial] disparities in Seattle schools' discipline rates were "puzzling" and "unpleasant." Asserting that teachers', administrators' and parents' views on the matter are "inadequate," Denn goes on to note how black students get singled out for "acting black." If you're pondering just what "acting black" means, take a look:

"We, as a people, are loud," said Jacob Ellis, an African American counselor at Nathan Hale High School, who mentors a group of African American students.

African American students often speak to adults more as equals than as authority figures, because that's the way many speak with their families.

African American students are frequently more out-front with their emotions.

Many African American students bring particular styles of learning, speaking and behaving with them from home -- and schools are quick to punish those styles.

Some staff and students also say "play-fighting" leads to many disciplinary actions. And a number of school officials said these mock battles are more prevalent among African American boys and too often are misread as being real.

It is difficult to imagine how these generalizations are somehow any less noxious than the historical negative stereotypes of blacks. But this is the Seattle public schools -- the same district that once posted a rather unique definition of racism on its website. This included a head-scratching summary of "Cultural Racism":

Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.

This whole imbroglio got so ridiculous that it prompted one PI columnist to speak out. Largely as a result, the Seattle District "modified" its definitions.

Education Seattle Post-Intelligencer San Francisco Chronicle