Monday, September 6, 2010

Students' Success comes through Adequately Funding Inner City Schools and Unity of All Races/Ethnicities

A commenter asked me to blog about a recent article that discussed the Racial Violence incident that occurred at South Philadelphia High School. The article was about a group of Asian students returning to school. Apparently the previous December, some Asian students were harassed by other students (mostly Black) who they said were antagonizing them. The word was the mostly Black student body felt the Asian students were receiving preferential treatment so they hazed the Asian students. The article details how the Asian students felt they had enough and they started picketing the school letting the powers that be know they had enough. Afterwards the hazing stopped. Now, ten months later, this article detailed the struggles of the Asian students that are returning to school.

What I found most interesting were the comments. Most were from Anglo commenters complaining that "This story confirms what many Americans already know about Phili. Phili, like Detroit, has a demographic that is predominately African American as a result of white-flight, brown-flight, and anyone-who-could flight.While African Americans have successfully portrayed themselves as victims of racism, their perpetrating racism is also part of the African American experience. "Get the Whitee" has been expressed in more ways than just a verbal altercation."

I read this same story in numerous news outlets and the rhetoric in the comment sections were the same.

I decided to go back to earlier articles about the incident at SPHS. It turns out the December, 2009 incident wasn't the first incident. It seems like similar bullying incidents have been happening for some time. The Black Students, not content with the limited services they were receiving, were angry that the Asian Immigrants and Latino students were receiving additional counseling/coaching in ESL type classes and other services.

I started thinking about these incidents, my own high school experience and about poverty stricken neighborhoods. When I was in high school, there was always a hierarchy. At the top of the heap were the Jocks and the Cheerleaders. Next came the Brains and kids with money. Then the regular students. Then the minorities and the nerds. The Jocks, Cheerleaders and Brains/Rich Kids were the stars of the show and people, including teachers, catered to them. By the time my children came along, I learned that in order to help them succeed, I had to move to the suburbs and make sure they were enrolled in team sports and I made sure they studied. Even so, the hierarchy remained basically the same.

The biggest difference was my flight to the suburbs. The inner city schools did not have the services to help me or my children learn, as in South Philadelphia. I could see from the articles, the struggle on both sides.

In the recent SPHS (South Philly High School) articles, I was glad to see the Asian students stood up for themselves and marched to make sure their voices were heard. New Immigrants have even more obstacles to surpass than the traditional school hierarchy. I also felt sad for the young Black students who must be challenged even more, in the poverty stricken inner city schools, with limited services in a very poor environment. The real answer is for our school systems, especially in the inner city, to provide adequate educational services for all students.

Now is the time for Unity, not for divisiveness. We all need to overcome the bullying of the past. We also need to unify to ensure our students, especially the inner city students receive all the tools they need to succeed. After all, Education is the Great Equalizer! Let's not create lines or divisions. Let's unify so all students can succeed.


ultima said...

I'm not sure every problem can be solved by throwing money at it. We need better qualified teachers but who wants to put up with the conditions in inner city schools. See the movie, "The Black Board Jungle" to get a flavor of what has been going on for a long time.

ultima said...

What are those tools poor kids need to succeed? The basic one is safe schools and a climate that promotes and rewards academic excellence rather than athletic ability, feminine pulchritude, and the consequent social popularity.

Being poor doesn't have to impede academic excellence. In fact, in some respects it might even promote a culture of studying harder in order to escape poverty. If you don't have a color tV in every room and a cell phone in everyone's pocket, that leaves a lot more time for study. It is up to the schools to convey that message to the students and parents and for the parents to insist on it for their children. Obama has set the standard with no tv during the week. It might be amazing what a little learning might do for kids. Some get turned on when they start to understand the physical world in which they live.

What if every social studies teacher posed the question to every student every term, "What does one have to do to get out of poverty and lead a responsible and productive life?" (As opposed to teaching victimology and that the government owes you a living/welfare!)

ultima said...

There have been some cases of remarkable success with minority kids in inner city schools. I wonder why what their secret of success has not been adopted by all other schools faced with the same problems.

My kids survived, and that's all, in what amounted to inner city schools by trying to keep their heads below the peripet. It didn't always work when their lunches were stolen or their hair was set on fire.

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Highly Qualified Teacher said...

It all starts with the parents.
The attitude, respect and manners all start in the home. If children do not come to school with these attributes, the most deicated and highly qualified teacher doesn't have a chance. Overcrowd the classrooms with 32 children with no suppport or appreciation for a good education from the parents and the teacher barely keeps order in the classroom.

Dee said...

HQ Teacher,
I agree with you. I love teachers. I believe Education is the Great Equalizer.

When I was in 1st grade, it was a teacher/nun that encouraged me to stand straight, tall and study. You can be anything you want to be.
I still remember her words today.

Later, it was a great 4th grade teacher who took me under her wing and inspired me to reach for the stars.

Then it was my Junior High Social Studies Teacher. Then it was my High School Russian Teacher and my Choir Director.

It was Teachers that inspired me. It is Teachers that make the difference. I love them! They make the difference in every student's life!

Dee said...

HQ Teacher,
As a student, I lived in the inner city. My parents were there and very supportive. However, we were minorities. My dad was always working. My mother stayed at home. We were very poor, migrant workers picking crops every summer.

Parents can only send their children to school. They can instill the Dream. Yet if they are poor, if they want their children to aspire to a better future, it is in the hands of caring, loving teachers who love their craft and choose their destiny.

I had many wonderful, talented teachers in my life and I am sure there are many others that can say the same. It isn't everyone that is a "hero teacher." But there were enough in my life that made a difference to me.

I think Teachers make a HUGE Difference. I Love Them!

Highly Qualified Teacher said...

Dee, I have no doubt that your parents taught you respect, manners and a good attitude towards learning. I bet your parents were never called to school because of your bad behavior. You gave your teachers respect and they in turn taught you very well. It doesn't matter that your father was always working and that you were poor. Your parents gave the teachers something to work with, a well mannered, respectful child.
I would love to have a classroom of students who have parents like yours. Oh my, what could be accomplished!

Dee said...

HQ Teacher,
I agree that it does start with the parents and the student, but I still think Teachers are the magic that makes the difference.

I also agree there are students that are rude and act as if they don't want to learn.

I don't think we pay our good teachers enough. There are those that can instill the will to learn in students.

I don't know the answer but I do believe education is the great equalizer. If we could instill this fact into students, parents and teachers alike.....but life isn't that simple.

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