Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, June 14, 2004
Don't you hate it when someone does something you really meant to do but were too lazy/scared to do it yourself? A teacher at my school wrote the following letter to our superintendant, principal, the vice-principal, and the guidance counselor. It pretty much sums up my year and she is very brave to have done it. I didn't want to out her for doing it, but would be happy to give her credit if she was willing. The letter is as follows:

To Dr., Mrs., Mrs., and Mrs.:

50 years after Brown v. Board of Education ...

My "advanced" class is 44% white.
My "academic" classes are 8% white.

79% of my "academic" classes receive free lunch.
8% of my "advanced" class receives free lunch.

Of those students scoring above the 60th percentile on the EOG in my "academic" classes, 80% were black.

The student with the lowest EOG score (252, 20th percentile) in the "advanced" class was white, with full-price lunch. She scored lower than 79% of the students in the "academic" classes.

The student with the highest EOG score (265, 76th percentile) in the "academic" classes was black, with free lunch. She scored higher than 84% of the students in the "advanced" class.

Sadly, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, racial and economic segregation continues at this Middle School. It continues when the guidance office calls teachers before placing a new student to ask which of her classes has the most white students. It continues when administrators tell teachers that black students can't understand sarcastic humor. It continues in statistics like
those above, which show that students from privileged homes are placed in advanced classes and students from underprivileged homes are placed in academic classes, with little consideration of their true abilities.

In my opinion, the only way to eliminate this problem is to implement the decision of 1954's Supreme Court: we must declare that a separate education is not an equal education. I propose that our Middle School eliminate grouping by "ability" altogether in order to better serve all students.

This proposal may be seen as a call for heterogeneous grouping, which some see as detrimental to top-achieving students. I would suggest that our classrooms are already heterogeneous. We already have both top-achieving students and low-achieving students in every classroom. What we lack, and what we desperately need, is racial and economic diversity in our classrooms. Only when our classrooms are colorblind can we hope for the continuing racial barriers in our
community and our nation eventually to disappear.

At the very least, I hope you will decide next year that students who are placed in one "academic" class (say, math) might be able to take other classes on the "advanced" level. At present, students must take all "academic" or all "advanced" classes, which fails to recognize that some students are strong in one subject and weaker in another.

Thank you for your consideration of these ideas.

Sixth Grade Language Arts
Middle School

¶ 2:05 PM

Things are looking up. I found a distraction: liquor!

No, well, kind of, but only for a weekend. This weekend I indulged in the kind of all out irresponsible behavior that I used to think was relagated to high school. I got very drunk and was driven (don't drink and drive, right?) to the beach in the early morning hours. While the most responsible and sober of us drove, the other of us two wildly and illegally clinked our wine glasses and emptied yet another gigantic bottle of wine into our already wine-filled tummies in the backseat. When reaching the beach, none of us had remembered to bring shorts so we swam in our jeans.

When we sobered, we realized that wet jeans filled with sand really hurts...turns into sand paper in the nethers, actually. Ouch. But nothing was to be done about it. All and all, it was a blast.

So, distraction had, I am ready to start my new job tomorrow. Cashering, which will be probably mind-bogglingly boring, but working with the public makes for great blogging, so here we go. ¶ 1:20 PM

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