Posts Tagged ‘race’
No matter how excited my students were, early on, about the 2008 Democratic nomination battle, I don’t think I’ll show them this video.
Not safe for work, school or church; keep out of reach of children, small animals and the easily deluded. Rated R for extremely harsh language and unfair-but-funny characterizations.
Via NYC Educator.
For the moment, I don’t care about that speech. I’m listening to another.
Let’s back up. I’ll assume that you haven’t already heard about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s speech on race as the poignant treatise it is.
Good speech; you should listen to it. I just don’t expect to use it in my classroom anytime soon, despite suggestions that some guy’s grandchildren will study it.
We’ll have decades to parse Obama’s campaign, character and speech on race. Let’s step back and look, if just for a moment, at what made that speech necessary.
Obama’s pastor gave a sermon within a week or so of 9/11. A six-second soundbite from it was first covered by Fox News, and it was that soundbite which prompted intraparty criticism and, ultimately, Obama’s speech.
That’s not the only sermon of his missrepresented by the news media; here’s another, if you dare.
There’s a lesson here, somewhere, and not just about the importance of putting statements in context. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whatever you have to say about his idiom of anger and frustration, covers black and minority and foreign policy history pretty well.
13th Amendment. Dred Scott. Segregation of the military.
Even at least one accusation speaks to whole blocs of vocabulary necessary to understanding the history of civil rights and slavery. Specifically, think his equating George W. Bush to a Dixiecrat.
Unfortunately, because these sermons aren’t boiled down to a reasonable six-second soundbite, they’ll never get the press coverage they really deserve. I figure that every little bit helps.
As excellent as Obama’s speech really is, these are the excerpts I’ll use in my classrooms. They are the excerpts that show the lingering anger and frustration within the black community.
Obama, whatever his merits, just talks about it.
When I sat down at the computer to write today’s blog, I was at a loss. There was absolutely nothing I could think of to write about.
Then I saw Jerrold H. Jensen’s op-ed in the local paper. It reads, in part:
Does race matter in teaching? I don’t know. But every one of us can probably identify teachers who were role models for us — the odds are they looked and sounded a lot like us, too. Not doubt many teachers can inspire the children of immigrants, but perhaps we don’t have enough of them. Perhaps what we really need are more teachers who were, themselves, children of immigrants, who can relate to and motivate the kids we are losing.
To idly bring race into the equation without offering a workable equalizer is to be just another kind of bigot. Though common racial or cultural ground may help students, good teachers also have to have some amount of content knowledge.
It’s all well and good to say that having ethnically diverse teachers should be a goal for the school district — as there are, in fact, stated practical benefits — but how would you enforce such a policy if, as Jensen assumes, “children of immigrants” aren’t graduating high school and are the principle reason the district’s dropout rate is so high?
After all, if “children of immigrants” aren’t graduating high school, how are we going to get them to become teachers? To get your credential, you need at least a bachelor’s degree and therefore also your high school diploma.
Our first solution to getting more “children of immigrants” through high school can’t be getting more “children of immigrants” through high school. There are plenty of policies that could help our students. The ones inspired by circular reasoning shouldn’t be our first choice.
Maybe I’m just reacting to the headline some well-meaning copy/layout editor tacked on: “Diverse students need diverse teachers.” To be fair, he does have a worthwhile suggestion tucked in the middle of his racial observations and it involves breaking the school district into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Sounds good to me. Let’s try that.