All Articles Tagged "achievement gap"
(New York Times) — An achievement gap separating black from white students has long been documented — a social divide extremely vexing to policy makers and the target of one blast of school reform after another. But a new report focusing on black males suggests that the picture is even bleaker than generally known. Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.
This is nothing new; study after study proclaims that Black students are behind their white counterparts when it comes to proficiency and test scores. In the New York Times today, the achievement gap has made news once again because “poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches.”
In essence, the problem is dire and the education experts and policy makers are wondering why Black boys (the study focuses on black boys) are so worse off, especially if you ignore the income factor. According to the report, “only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.”
Anyone reading the study would immediately think of The Bell Curve, the 1994 book that implied a connection between IQ and race. What many people got from the hoopla surrounding that publication was that blacks were intellectually inferior than whites. Unfortunately, many reading the study would not jump to the thought that maybe the problem with Black students has to do with the Eurocentric curriculum that constitutes the public education system. The authors of the Bell Curve may have been right in one instance: that people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds learn differently. This country’s education system was modeled to complement the learning styles of white children for obvious reasons as they were and continue to be the majority population. But it’s time for the country to stop ignoring the role of curriculum and discuss the well-documented benefits of culturally based curricula and Afro-centric education models.
Part of the massive praise for educators like Geoffrey Canada, who established the Harlem Children’s Zone, comes from the fact he, as a Black man, developed a school which, by all measures, fostered success among its students by providing smaller class sizes, mandating uniforms, fostering parent involvement and enforcing longer school hours.
His recipe included the basics that many politicians tout as the key to education reform. This is what the reformist want to hear when it comes to unlocking the secret to educating black students. Afro-centric educators like Dr. Anyim Palmer of the Marcus Garvey school can claim similar success with his students but the media and politicians choose not to pay attention. Why? Because it would completely change the way education works in this country, it would force everyone to understand and address differences, and, it would cost a lot of money. Although reform that would embrace culturally relevant education would benefit non-White groups, the net benefit would be advantageous to society at large in the long run.