EDUCATION POLITICS--While it remains politically correct to say Black and Latino students can learn, there's a little problem. Those running our still de facto segregated public education system for their own short-term personal interest and financial profit don't share this belief. Oh, they'll continue talking in platitudes about students being "life-long learners," the “100% graduation rate" and "everybody’s going to college," but the reality is drastically different. In fact, these goals represent disingenuous educational expectations for the overwhelming majority of Black and Latino students.
When it comes to implementing known day-to-day best practices, those who run the system have not taken into consideration the actual academic levels of these students to pragmatically address their subjective educational needs. Instead, those in power have ignored those needs, even when there was still a chance to deal positively with students’ deficits.
The biggest impediment to educating predominantly Black and Latino students -- and allowing them to realize their innate potential -- is that those who control our educational system remain committed to the 400 year-old idea of minority inferiority. Add to this the fact that there are a lot of entrenched bureaucrats of all races doing quite well financially under the present failing public education system.
If those running our institutionally racist public education system (that exists in an equally institutionally racist society) were confronted with the Black and Latino excellence that could be achieved in a truly nurturing educational environment, they would be forced to deal with the systematic, legally sanctioned destruction of a people who, in reality, are just like the rest of us. If given half a chance on a level playing field, they would show the same strengthens and weakness of every other component that makes up our flawed human society.
How stubborn are human egos when it comes to changing long-held racist beliefs that are perpetuated to make themselves feel better by vilifying others? And how easy would it be to finally confront the various mindless majorities that do what they do "because we've always done it that way?" To answer this, we should look at how much cheaper it would be to have equal education for all than to incur the costs of incarceration and other forms of social disruption.
Being the eternal optimist, a trait that is at the core of every good teacher, let me take a stab at making an argument to finally convince my closeted racial segregationist fellow Americans: Would you rather have deliberately uneducated Black and Latino ex-students clogging the juvenile justice system at a cost of $78,000 a year…or would you rather have them educated, paying taxes and living as productive members of our society?
(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.