Consider this my contribution to the goal of sparking more meaningful discussion on pweb.
What is the purpose of this thread?
The purpose of this thread is to discuss matters relating to diversity and equality in society. I mean in terms of race, gender, religion, sexuality, whatever you want. We've had some good discussions along these lines in the past. On pweb II, there was a thread discussing the word "nigger" that may have been mildly upsetting to some, but I thought there were some really good posts in it. Just a few months ago I started this thread about the "scientific theory" of Nobel Prize winner James Watson, who proposed that whites are inherently smarter than blacks.
Where shall we begin?
On the second page of the thread linked to above we discussed the issue of of opening "afro-centric" schools in Toronto. I think that's a good topic to start off this thread with. Just yesterday, Toronto school board trustees voted 11 to 9 in favour of opening such schools (Link).
The following are some excerpts from the previous thread including my own views on the matter as well as others.
On the one hand this calls to mind that ugly time of segregation in the States, but on the other hand I think that intentions make all the difference. Black kids do drop out of school in higher numbers than white kids, and I believe that one reason for this is because many black students believe that they simply don't belong. Even in Toronto, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, there are surprisingly few black educators. How many black intellectuals are kids exposed to at all?
I'm reminded of something that happened when I was in teacher's college last year. On the last day of one of my 4 week student-teaching sessions, I was saying my good-byes to a grade 10 science class I had been teaching. This particular class was based on what's called a locally developed curriculum, which basically means that the kids had behavioural issues, poor academic skills, or both. After 4 weeks I didn't think that I had made much of an impression on most of them, or even taught them anything that they would remember a week after I was gone. Naturally, I was pretty surprised when a generally apathetic student who happened to be black looked at me and said, "Sir, do you think that they'll hire you here next year, when you're finished teacher's college?" I just shrugged and said that the school had enough science teachers so there probably wouldn't be an opening. I couldn't believe that he actually looked disappointed for a moment and then said with some annoyance, "But there aren't any black ones!" I didn't even know how to respond. I can see how attending a black-focused school could make all the difference in the world to some kids.
However, school is just the beginning, and it's not a black-focused world out there. School is also a place where kids learn how to interact with others, and I don't particularly like the idea of deliberately surrounding students with their "kind" in their formative years. I love the fact that the schools I attended were so very multicultural. I love the fact that if I look at myself and my 4 closest friends from high school, the 5 of us represent 4 different ethnicities. And I especially love the fact that we are all so comfortable with each other and care so little about the colour of each other's skin that we can make incredibly racist jokes in each other's presence and all laugh!
I think that there must be ways to reach out to students of all backgrounds in common schools, rather than give each and every at-risk group their own.
I think that if such a school is done in such a manner as, for example, a Christian school, where the adjectival modifier is just a common point, I think it could be a very good thing. Especially if such a community could strengthen the black community and help its members to feel accepted and a part of society.
Instead of creating separate schools, I'd be much more in favour of figuring out why there is a lack of black educators, and if the curriculum could be supplemented or changed to be less euro-centric.
That's what I'm thinking. It's easy to make separate schools, but I think that a more effective solution is to figure out how to engage these kids in the schools that they're in now.
Ironically, the relative lack of black teachers is probably both a cause and a symptom of this problem. Teachers tend to be people who were focused on academic success in school. So if few black teachers means that fewer black students are engaged in school, that means that fewer end up becoming teachers themselves.
I hope that gets the ball rolling....Separate but equal doesn't happen, and it doesn't work. There's too much racism left in the world--the schools would get s*** funding, especially since it seems like the group that they would intend to motivate would be students who are currently unmotivated by school. Most of those in that group are probably poor, which also probably means that their parents are working too hard to make ends meet and are as a whole too uneducated to really advocate for their kids. Follow that to its logical conclusion and officials will get away with s*** funding, because no one's raising a fuss. And it happens--look at the South Bronx.
Beyond that... I don't buy anything anyone says about "the black community." The solution to inherent racism in a society is not to sequester all the kids being discriminated against into their own little school, and the solution is also not to give white kids an excuse not to deal with them. The college I currently attend is less diverse than I'd like, and I know some kids who have never been to school with black kids in their lives. It shows, and it shows in white kids who have been racial minorities in school before (like me). They're just more uncomfortable talking about race, and they're more uncomfortable with black people.
That's not the kind of culture I want.
And if we're comparing it to Jewish schools--well, how integrated are Hassids and Orthodox Jews into the general community?
Diverse schools should be our aim, and improving inner city schools should be our aim. If we attack the problem of paltry education at its heart, more lasting and further reaching results are going to occur.