About The Non-Existent Right to Literacy and Other Issues in Education - Part 1
by David Rambeau
The proverb states, "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten". And if you keep saying what you've always said, you'll keep hearing what you've always heard.
This is what happens when black folk, educators, board members, pundits, talk-show hosts, parents and students, talk about black educational performance and achievement. First, they don't know much about they're discussing, and second, they're discussing black education from the wrong (Euro-centric) point of view. How could they not when they've matriculated in public school systems based on white supremacy in a nation that practiced slavery for about 250 years and Jim Crow for 150 plus years, for openers.
Literacy is merely one aspect of the generational educational process which may be achieved with work, talent and resources over an extended period of time in any society, if that society decides to invest in having its populace becoming literate. It is not inherent in a social system, (preliterate societies were obviously not literate) and it may be obtained using various media methodologies (print, aural and visual). Moreover, it may be obtained in various venues (bookstores, prisons, the home, libraries, Saturday Schools, museums, churches, study groups, theater groups and special summer programs) though today it is typically concentrated in school systems wherein this mythical right to literacy was generated.
When black performance is commented on or evaluated, stats are often used to project a picture of black underachievement. These stats are used selectively, narrowly, superficially and incorrectly. When one takes these same stats and analyze them financially, historically and culturally, they tell an entirely different story, that is, given the social obstacles set in their path, black students, in this country and world-wide, actually overachieve in a racist, oppressive, mismanaged and underfunded institutional and social structure from pre-school through post-graduate, so-called education.
Moreover, there are not significant differences between black achievement in various urban school systems throughout this country, that is, black educational achievement in Detroit does not vary much in any subject area from Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles, among many others.
There are, however, significant comparative performance differences between certain groups, Asian, European, black and Hispanic Americans according to NAEP stats. These differences have remained static for years, and have increased during the pandemic. Native American educational stats are usually not available though they would probably be closer to blacks at the bottom rather than Asians at the top.
Comparative stats are not typically available for religious groups, though they are for gender, where females usually exceed males in most subjects as they do, for example, with high/school graduation rates and collegiate matriculation.
Comparative stats are not readily available that take into account discrepancies in family income, parental education, two-parent families, generational wealth, millage funding, AP classes, extra curricular programs, teacher experience and quality of the school facility and the neighborhood. When these are factored into the evaluative process, the differences in student achievement disappear.
The statistical analyses, however, never factor in racism, sexism and classism. Thus, I am saying that black students can never get a "quality" education in urban or suburban schools anywhere in this country.
Clearly, a black education can only be obtained in a complex culture of blackness that thinks, acts and produces from a black point of view.
So if you can't even get the stats right, which you never do, how can you get anything else right. You don't, but that doesn't stop you from pontificating about what you don't know, but it surely prevents you from doing much of any benefit to change things.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Another proverb to provide clarity.
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