What’s it like never being responsible?

Lou Bates,

Controversial? Sure. Racist? To many, sure. However, we are all hypocrites when it comes to race, and sadly many of us are misinformed. I am a history teacher in an inner city. I have sat through training, after training to get me to be more culturally adept and I am probably one of the most culturally sensitive in the district. Those that give the trainings are only a little more equipped to do so than choosing a random person at a mall. Much research shows that being made to attend trainings does little to foster lasting change. University departments of educational leadership are filled with individuals that have never been trained as or set foot in a public school as a teacher, yet they are the ‘experts.’ Disgusting. As a scholar of history, it is my job to use primary sources to discover the past and then use my teacher training and experience to help my students discover and learn about it as well. If someone is not using multiple sources, viewpoints, and opinions in their quest to teach history or culture (opposed to just one viewpoint or book) than they are not good teachers. History should be viewed from all sides with the caveat that you cannot put present day values on judgement of historical actions. Anyone that screams how unequal opportunities are, please, seek additional context. Unequal compared to what? Are we talking only slave decedents vs. white? All individuals of color vs. white. Black females graduate college at a higher percentage than any other group, whites included. The sad reality is the popularity of, and careers made from the concepts of racial equity and justice have only really benefit those that are in those positions. Don’t believe me. Check where their kids go to school, look at where they live. Equity is a concept that can never fully be realized, and people push continued divisions for their own career benefit, implicit or not. True equity doesn’t work — look towards Russia in the 1900s. As it is staggering amounts of money have been poured into low performing populations with limited results. No, not because of racism, or because it just isn’t enough, but because many schools have poor leaders, everybody wants instant results or lets change the program, and sadly schools cannot compensate in all areas for poor parenting and living situations, and I’m not saying parents don’t love their kids and want the best for them. While we are all patting ourselves on the back for raising our graduation rates and decrying the racist results of testing that shows large discrepancies in achievement, ask the question, what does it take to graduate? Just someone in the school deciding what ethical boundaries they are willing to violate to make themselves look better. My school knowingly graduates students that are barely literate because we have to get the graduation rate up, forget those student’s future prospects. However, can’t fail too many students because it would be racist. Before forming an opinion on what is or is not going on in schools, volunteer in schools serving a large percentage of minority students in an inner city and observe student culture, interactions and behavior — please pick a school that is not able to be selective in their students either. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a student claim that something is racist, I would be long retired a millionaire by now. No, having to be on time is not racist. Expecting you not to yell “f u you f’n n-word” in the hallways is not racist. Expecting males and females to not sexually harass each other is not racist. Wanting to make sure students are safe by expelling those that bring guns to school is not racist. Allowing students to do these things under the guise of culture shows a basic lack of expectation for students of color (lowered expectations). We can debate factors leading to present day society all we want, and discuss the disparities in discipline, but that does nothing to change the current reality of on the ground behavior that no one forces students to do. Every group of people has been attacked, displaced, made to be slaves, exploited, etc. at one time or another throughout human existence. Humans have an ugly past and nature. Does that mean not doing work is not your fault because racism? Most teachers work their rears off trying to entertain students enough to hold attention and engage in the hope student efforts will be given towards learning. When there is an absolute stereotypical belief being hammered into the minds of our young people of color that anything that does not go their way is due to racism, you have not only ceased constructive dialog, but you are actually hindering future progress. In NYC Asians are the poorest minority group, however, because their culture values education above everything else families forgo modern comforts in order to pay for test tutors for their children to be able to make good enough grades to attend the most elite public schools in the city. Not because they are the ‘model’ minority — it wasn’t too long ago that we had Japanese internment camps — fun fact, we also had German internment camps. Another excuse for why one population is able to succeed while another isn’t doing very well. Wake up, raise your expectations and stop giving kids excuses — they almost always take them.

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