Saturday, January 29, 2011

School Divides Students Based On Race, Gender - Education News Story - WGAL The Susquehanna Valley

Are we trying to move forwards or backwards?

I admit, I flipped out yesterday after reading an article about segregating homerooms by gender and race – in the state I live in!  You read correctly.  In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a high school has split the homerooms up by gender and race with a teacher that “looks like them.”  The thinking behind it is “studies show students do better in school when they have a strong mentor.”  So, where does race tie in?  The city/town where the program is being implemented is only a skip and a hop away from us.  What’s to stop them from doing this statewide?  While I applaud the school for trying a new program to achieve excellence, I have a few qualms about this approach.

One: Where do biracial or multi-racial children go?  Do you put them with the teacher that has the most in common with them racially or the one that looks most like them?  Either way you’re going to think the “other” part of you is not worthy.  To me, you’re learning intolerance more than anything.  In the real world, you work with many different people and don’t get a choice as to whether you want to work with a white, black, Latino or Asian person.  If you want a job, you go with the flow or go.

Two: How much impact does 15 minutes a day really have?  If you are only with that teacher for homeroom, where most of the time is being spent on announcements, where does the mentorship come in?  Passing out paper and making announcements would not make.  Does it not make more sense to mentor after school a couple days a week where you would get more one-on-one attention?

Three: Why not hold parents accountable?  I know not everything is a parents fault, but sometimes that is the case.  When a parent doesn't care, why should a child?  Unfortunately, there are cases where a child's education is left solely to the school district and they can only do so much.  I was recently at a school meeting to explain the new reading program they were rolling out.  A parent was very verbally upset about the assignment, as the school district was making her child read EVERY DAY and since he doesn't like to, she has to "make" him.  Um, yeah, that's your job as a parent.  What if we let our kids get away with things they didn't like to do: like not brush their teeth, not shower and not change their underwear?  Ew.  Essentially, she was mad the school was making her "work".  God forbid you should care.  Believe it or not, if you show an interest in what your child is doing, they'll be okay.  You know what happens when you get a job and decide not to do something because you don't like it?  It's been my experience that you get FIRED.

While I don't agree with the segregation, at least the school district is trying to do something so kids won't fail.  They're not just giving up on them.  I think what rubs people the wrong way is that there are 2 black homerooms (male/female) and 4 homerooms for those learning English.  You can imagine where the rest go.  There's a book I highly recommend reading called Inside Delta Force by Eric Haney.  It's his story about creating one of the elite military counter-terrorism units of the same name.  A lot of what a human can deal with is 90% mental.  A quote from the book that always stuck with me, and would do well to keep in mind when thinking of your work ethic: You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.