"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, December 09, 2005

Suspensions for Speaking Spanish

In this documentary series and/or paperback text that I highly recommend as a crash course in the history of American education, Jose Gutierrez recalls his school experiences 40 years ago in Crystal City, Texas:
We were not allowed to speak Spanish. We would be given an option. Three days suspension, or three licks with a paddle for speaking Spanish. In the American school they wanted to make Anglos out of all of us. And they [wanted] to take our Spanish away and teach us English. Well, you don't make anybody greater by making them less (Mondale & Patton, 2001, p. 151-152).
We have apparently come a long way since then. Today in one of Kansas City's small chain gang high schools, there are no "licks," and the suspension has been reduced from 3 days to a day and a half. Now that's progress!--the bare-knuckled kind that historically has confused American unity with American sameness, or simply viewed difference--any difference--as a challenge to the white protestant owners of economic and moral integrity who have always maintained the high ground by continually reminding the lowlanders of their inferior status. High expectations for all, right?

In order to undo all of the diversity gains of the 60s and 70s, the neo-cons are working overtime in a heated anti-cultural effort to stem the effects of the inexorable browning of America, by burning away behavioral, cultural, language, any differences that could challenge the entrenched hegemony (whose Christmas is now threatened, right?) that has ruled this country since before there was one.

The race is on to complete the effort, with fear as its greatest motivator. The flip side of fear, of course, is anger--and anger remains the preferred mode of operation for those who will not acknowledge their own cowardice.

Jim Horn

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. So why are people still asking what's the matter with Kansas?

    It's more obvious than ever.

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  3. I don't think we can blame the entire state of Kansas for one administrator's fear of the unknown. I'm sure there are hardworking diversity advocates throughout the state who are trying to promote tolerance, communication and understanding.

    Here's an excerpt from the Vision Statement for the Kansas Foreign Language Standards for Students:

    "The organizing principle for language study is communication, which highlights the social, linguistic and cultural aspects of language. The approach to second language instruction found in today's schools is designed to facilitate meaningful interaction with others, whether they are on another continent, across town, within the neighborhood, or in the classroom."
    http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/flsd52000.html#KFLSfS5

    The school administrator in question seems to be discouraging the implementation of a skill that's actually supposed to be encouraged according to the state standards!

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  4. There's a great book called "What's the Matter with Kansas" that very sympathetically describes how the economy has suffered with the ascension of Republicans in that state. Kansas seems to serve as a microcosm for the rest of the country.

    I'm sure there are plenty opf great people in Kansas. They're just not running things right now.

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