All of us do learn first at home, but we get our first glimpse of society when we enter school. No one should therefore underestimate the impact of schools on how we view ourselves as members of a community. What we often learned easily in schools are not the lessons in reading and math, but how we picture ourselves in relation to the teacher and the other pupils inside our classroom. And when that classroom is composed only of children of the same income level or race, we grow up not understanding children who have a background different from ours. In the Philippines, the upper class sends their children to private elite schools while the poor attend poorly equipped public schools. In the United States, there is this fantasy that schools are no longer segregated, but in reality, segregation remains. Oregon's education professor, Jerry Rosiek writes in last week's issue of Phi Delta Kappan
, "Like a disease that was never fully cured, school segregation has come out of remission and returned in a form that is more pervasive and harder to treat."
Persistent is indeed appropriate. Thirty years ago, Arthur King, Jr., an education professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa wrote:
Fast forward to present, we are indeed witnessing gifted, talented or advanced academic programs across the entire country with underpresentation of low income and minority children. And a couple of days ago, Brian Butler shared this video with me:
Brian Butler added the following comment:
"When school systems created Gifted Schools I believe they did it to appease mostly white middle class and affluent parents when schools were integrated. Then to appease minorities they started identifying “a few black kids” to appease those parents and in turn pulling solid peer models out of neighborhood schools. Those parents bought into a supremecist system to benefit their own kids but did harm to the cause of equity and liberation for all kids. Listen to this guy! Spot on!"
I guess we did fail to heed the advice of Arthur King, Jr.:
If we want our children to grow up embracing diversity, it must start at school. If we want our children to become committed to equity, the seeds must be planted first in each and every classroom. Education for all, means all....
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