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

Friday, March 30, 2007

Segregated Assemblies and Racist Cheerleading

From PEN Weekly Newsblast:
With schools under increasing pressure to improve test scores, one high school has resorted to a new way to motivate students: by race. Mount Diablo High School in Concord, Calif., recently held separate assemblies for students of different ethnicities to talk about last year's test results and the upcoming slew of state exams this spring. Jazz music and pictures of Martin Luther King greeted African-American students, whereas Filipino, Asian and Pacific Islander students saw flags of their foreign homelands on the walls. Latinos and white students each attended their own events, too, complete with statistics showing results for all ethnicities and grade level. Teachers flashed last year's test scores and told the white crowd of students to do better for the sake of their people. Several parents told Shirley Dang of the Contra Costa Times that the meetings smacked of segregation resurrected. "Why did they have to divide the students by race?" said Filipino parent Claddy Dennis, mother of freshman Schenlly Dennis. "In this country, everybody is supposed to be treated equally. It sounds like racism to me." Principal Bev Hansen said she held the student assemblies by ethnicity this year and last year to avoid one group harassing another based on their test scores. Jack Jennings, president of the National Center on Education Policy, called the racially divided meetings potentially illegal and dangerous. "It's segregation by race, whatever the motivation," Jennings said, noting that he had never heard before of a school or district doing such a thing. He described the assemblies as a unique byproduct of the intense focus on testing.

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