All Articles Tagged "integration"
Black women have a long and proud history of advancing the cause of education in America. Their groundbreaking accomplishments – particularly in higher education –inspire, encourage, and challenge not only black women, but people of every race, age, gender, and economic background to pursue their dreams. From the first black female PhD graduates to the first black female presidents of prestigious universities, the 7 women on this list are game changers in the world of education and beyond.
Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
In 1921, when Dr. Sadie T. M. Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School, she became the first black person in America to earn a doctorate in economics, and only the second black female to earn a doctorate in any area. Following graduation, Alexander enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and helped found the National Bar Association. In 1927, she was the first black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Adding to this impressive list, Alexander was the first black woman to pass the bar exam, and when she went to work for her husband’s law firm, Alexander became the first black woman to practice law in Pennsylvania. In 1948, President Harry Truman appointed her to his Committee on Civil Rights, where she coauthored the Commission’s report, “To Secure These Rights,” which laid the foundation for Truman’s civil rights policy.
(NPR) — In diverse cities across the nation many Americans have adopted a “pervasive wariness” of one another, says sociologist Elijah Anderson. In his book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Every Day Life, Anderson writes that too often, people “divert their gazes, looking up, looking down, or looking away, and feign ignorance of the diverse mix of strangers they encounter.” But in Philadelphia’s Center City, Anderson, a professor of sociology at Yale University, has found a place that offers a respite from that well-ingrained wariness. The city’s Reading Terminal, with its bustling multi-ethnic market and busy lunch counters, offers a neutral space where all kinds of people feel comfortable enough to drop their usual defenses and interact with total strangers.
(New York Times) — For decades, the Wake County Public School System — the nation’s 18th largest — has been known as a strong academic district committed to integration. From the 1970s to the 1990s, that meant racial integration. In 2000, after courts ruled against using race-based criteria, Wake became one of the first districts in the nation to adopt a system of socioeconomic integration. The idea was that every school in the county (163 at present) would have a mix of children from poor to rich. The target for schools was a 60-40 mix — 60 percent of students who did not require subsidized lunches and 40 percent who did.
Then in 2009, a new conservative majority was elected to the Wake school board, and last spring it voted to dismantle the integration plan. Instead, families would be assigned to a school nearer their neighborhood. This meant a child who lived in a poor, black section of Raleigh would be more likely to go to a school full of poor black children, and a child living in a white, upper-middle-class suburb would be more likely go to a school full of upper-middle-class white children. In most places that would have been it. Not here. This is a well-educated labor force (50 percent of employees are college graduates) that works in the high-tech Research Triangle and is predisposed to finding new ways to solve complex problems.
McCaskey High School in Lancaster Pennsylvania is trying something new. For six minutes everyday during homeroom, and 20 minutes once a month, juniors of the same race and gender meet with a teacher to discuss challenges and stereotypes associated with being an African American student. In some cases the teachers, who lead the groups, are also of the same race and gender.
The grouping idea came from the school’s instructional coach Angela Tilghman, a black woman, who was disturbed by the academic performance of African American students. As of now black students are the only ones who spend six minutes away from their regularly assigned homerooms.
Tilghman and a colleague host one of these groups called “Black Diamonds.” So far they’ve discussed sisterhood and stereotypes associated with black women. They’ve also analyzed the students’ test scores.
So, what do you think? Is this a good way to provide individualized attention or a way to alienate black students from the general population?
You can get more information about the program here.
Two similar, and very telling, stories about Black students and how reverse integration would be beneficial to their academic achievement were published this week. Recently, the Oakland school district in California released data on the achievement of its black male students as part of its African-American male achievement initiative. The data showed a population which is missing more than 18 days of school on average and lagging gravely behind white males in English and Math. What was most interesting about this report, published in San Jose Mercury News for one, is the remarks left by a few of the commenters, which included:
Gee Yu: “The difference with the schools then and now is that we had black teachers in our schools. … We hired local teachers from the local colleges who had roots in the community…”
Football Watcher: “Put more African-American men in the classroom as teachers! In my 11 years, I almost never had any problem with African-American boys. I was an example of what they could be if they put their minds to it. We would have conversations at lunch and in between classes where I asked real questions like, “What do you want to do after you graduate (and not the song and dance about UC and A-G requirements)?”
On a different side of the country, Angela Tilghman, an instructional coach at McCaskey East High School in Pennsylvania, had similar ideas as the commenters and put her researched plans into action by creating a homeroom, segregated by race and gender, in order to better mentor black female students and black male students at her school. The move has proved to be controversial with CNN reporting on the topic with the headline “School separating kids by race.”
As Tilghma discussed, her idea came into being because of the research she had discovered, which highlighted how this type of segregated learning environment would be conducive to inspiring participants. It has long been recognized in many education circles that the integration of schools following Brown v. Board of Education in the 1950s had a negative impact on the education achievements of Black students. And plenty of research still show that students learn better in an environment of their peers, which is led by a role model of the same race.
Pedro Noguera, professor of teaching and learning at New York University, told CNN that he was weary about the experiment’s ultimate impact. “Sometimes when we separate students in this way, we inadvertently reinforce stereotypes and may in fact stigmatize children by suggesting that there’s something wrong with them and therefore they need extra help,” he said.
Disappointingly, the real solutions that arise to address Black learning are always challenged and ceased by the claim of racism. The reality is that the needs of Black students are far different from the needs of White students, who rarely deal with the issue of being a minority in a classroom. Far from complaining, the instructors and principal at McCaskey East took matters into their own hands but for that, they’ll continue to get a lot of flack despite any improvements.
(Newsweek) — School integration has vexed policymakers for more than a half-century. The Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that schools can’t keep kids out based on race, but in 2007 it ruled that schools can’t bring kids together based on race either. After the court struck down two race-based integration schemes in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., attention turned to diversifying schools via students’ household-income levels. Economic integration, a concept first floated by early public-school crusaders like Horace Mann, is a compelling idea with intuitive appeal: reduce the preponderance of high-poverty schools by spreading poor students around.
(NPR) — Writer Eugene Robinson grew up in a segregated world. His hometown of Orangeburg, S.C., had a black side of town and a white side of town; a black high school and a white high school; and “two separate and unequal school systems,” he tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep. But things are different now. Just look at the nation’s capital — home to the first black U.S. president, a large black middle class and many African-Americans who still live in extreme poverty. Robinson details the splintering of African-American communities and neighborhoods in his new book, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America.
(The Atlantic) — Is it possible that school desegregation actually hurt African American students? That’s the argument Stuart Buck advances in a new book called Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation, sparking earnest debate among reviewers and bloggers.* He suggests that desegregation is part of the reason for the “acting white” phenomenon, part of a destructive anti-academic culture he identifies among black students where black teens accuse those who try too hard at school of “acting white.” But is there enough evidence of an anti-academic sentiment among black students? And does that really mean segregated schools would be better?