As a teacher educator in NYC, from an elementary education program that just graduated 80 certified teachers, most of whom could not get a job in a public school due to the hiring freeze, I am handling distress call after distress email from recent grads in charter schools. I have been meeting with the first year teachers, visiting them in the classrooms, and listening to their descriptions over drinks on Fridays. This is what it boils down to: we have charter schools proliferating in Harlem, run by white CEOs and founders, who are making large salaries (Eva Moskowitz of the Harlem Success series of schools--chain?--makes in excess of $300,000 per year). The children in these schools are mostly all children of color -- and mostly Black: African American, African, and Caribbean American.
The focus on learning is reduced to getting higher test scores. The focus on behavior is reduced to compliance and punishment and is according to one school leader who resigned, "The most punitive atmosphere I have ever seen in a school in my entire decades-long career." The children are subjected to draconian behavioral expectations for long hours with few breaks for play or recess. The parents are subjected to various humiliation tactics for violations of the dress code. (One of these white-run charter schools reguires girls to only wear dresses.)
I have heard too many of these stories in the past month to sleep well at night. This landscape reminds me of white northerners who went to the South after the U.S. Civil War to set up 'schools' to educate the children of newly emancipated enslaved Blacks. The curriculum of most of these "schools" was designed around the habits and skills needed to serve in positions as housekeepers, child care workers, servants, maids, railroad porters, carpenters and other menial jobs that Blacks were expected to fill.
These white philanthropists wrapped their racism and social control in a mantle of charity and liberalism. Today's so called reformers are clear in their treatment of young Black children: in the name of educational equity, they are repressing and subjugating young children and their families.
What shall we do?
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
. . .a pupil attitude factor, which appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together, is the extent to which an individual feels that he has some control over his own destiny. James Coleman, 1966
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The New Eugenics in Harlem
The following comments were offered in response to this post on the boasting of a veteran Teach for America regional manager: