Quotable Quote of the Month

What does it take for Republicans to take off the flag pin and say, 'I am just too embarrassed to be on this team'?".- Bill Maher

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teachable Moments To Remember In Ann Arbor and Arizona

Due to a variety of factors, a couple of recent stories have been simmering on my proverbial back burner. Since they happened close together and are related to education, I decided to kill two misguided actions with one stone and combine them into one post.

Ann Arbor School Sponsors A Black Students Only Field Trip

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Earlier this month in Ann Arbor, MI, Dicken Elementary School Principal
Michael Madison became the center of controversy when he arranged a field trip for black students only in which they got to hear Alec Gallimore (a black rocket scientist) speak at the University of Michigan. Understandably, the parents of students who were excluded were upset. In an effort to address their concerns, Madison sent a letter home to parents which said:

“In hindsight, this field trip could have been approached and arranged in a better way,” Madison wrote. “But as I reflect upon the look of excitement, enthusiasm and energy that I saw in these children’s eyes as they stood in the presence of a renowned African American rocket scientist in a very successful position, it gave the kids an opportunity to see this type of achievement is possible for even them.

“It was not a wasted venture for I know one day they might want to aspire to be the first astronaut or scientist standing on the Planet Mars.

“I also think it’s important that you know that I have talked to the children who did not go on the field trip, and I think they have a better understanding of the purpose of the AA Lunch Bunch now, as I hope you do. I’m sorry if any kids were upset by the field trip or my discussion afterwards with them, and I have let them know that.

“The intent of our field trip was not to segregate or exclude students as has been reported, but rather to address the societal issues, roadblocks and challenges that our African American children will face as they pursue a successful academic education here in our community.”

As unfortunate as incidents such as the one involving Dicken Elementary School are, their aftermath tends to reveal how messed up some people are in their thinking. Although there were some calm and rational comments on the various forums I visited throughout the Internet that covered this story, many of the posters chose to wear their ignorance like a badge of honor. Here are three of my "favorites":

I believe it is time for an NAAWP!!!! I would love to hear from anyone that might know how and where to start this organization. Can you imagine what an outcry it would have been had it been ONLY WHITE kids!!!!!!! Oh my gosh...I am soooooooooooo sick of hearing how the blacks are discriminated against. THAT IS JUST A LIE!!!!! It is time for white people to make a stand so our grandchildren do not have to put up with this bull!!!!

Everyone knows that this racist principal is the product of affirmative action --- benefits derived from racial preferences. I'm sure that's how he got into college, and equally sure that's how he got his job. No honest person can imagine this idiot is where he is today by merit. He's just passing on the belief that blacks get special treatment to his little kids. God save the poor kids in Michigan public schools who are defenseless against this unionized educational corruption.

This just reinforces why liberals should never be allowed to have close contact with children. Not in our schools, not writing books, not in day care, not as scout leaders. If we are going to take our country back, it has to start with the kids, at every level. Don't let an Obama supporter mow your grass, don't let them collect your garbage, pull them out of their class at school. Don't let them coach your baseball team, and if a liberal applies where you work, make sure they don't get the job. It's war, and they are the enemy.

What are you gonna do with people like that? I will hand it to the last two commenters though. Although they are woefully ignorant, they counterbalance that with traces of keen observation. How else could they know that Principal Madison is not only a liberal, but a product of Affirmative Action? That's awesome!

I think Principal Madison had good intentions. Results from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) released this school year found that 97 percent of white fifth-grade students at Dicken who took the test were "proficient" or above in all categories, while the figure was 78 percent for African-American students. However, he missed a golden opportunity by allowing only black students to benefit from Alec Gallimore's story.

Let me also add that this story is being incorrectly painted solely as a "racism against whites" issue. As of September 2009, 53.8 percent of Dicken's 379 students were white, 18.5 percent black, 8.7 percent Asian, 5.8 percent Hispanic and 2.1 percent Middle Eastern. The remaining 11 percent were listed as "multiethnic" or "other" on the district's website.

Arizona bill banning ethnic studies signed into law

Now we get to Arizona, which has been on a roll as of late. On May 11th, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill banning ethnic studies in public schools. The law, which takes effect Dec. 31, bans classes that are designed for a particular ethnic group, promote overthrow of the U.S. government, foster resentment toward a particular race or class, or "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."

The bill leaves it up to the state Board of Education or superintendent to decide whether a school violates the law. A school that does not comply could lose 10 percent of its state aid each month, and school districts can appeal the finding.

If there are ethnic studies teachers in AZ with questionable methods, they should be handled on an individual basis. Howver, banning ethnic studies in public schools entirely is not the way to go. When I was in high school, I took a class called Minorities in the U.S. I saw it as an opportunity to learn about things that weren't being taught in my other classes. The fact that my Minorities in the U.S. teacher was fine as hell was just an added bonus! One thing I remember is that there was one white student in the class. He may have been the only non-black student in the class for that matter. His name was Scott and if the term "nice guy" was in the dictionary, you'd probably see a picture of him next to the definition. There were never any incidents where Scott was the target of resentment by me or the other students in the class. He was there to learn just like we were and that was the bottom line. I have no doubt that there are "Scotts" today who would welcome the chance to take ethnic studies classes.

Below is a clip from CNN in which Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and author/radio host Michael Eric Dyson debate the issue.

Although different on the surface, both the Dicken Elementary School incident and the new AZ law banning ethnic studies are very similar. The former deprived and the latter will deprive students from learning about others who don't share their background. Should the situation arise again, I hope that Principal Michael Madison will give students regardless of their race a chance to learn from someone like Alec Gallimore. Hopefully, the powers that be in AZ will realize that all students can gain something from taking an ethnic studies class.
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