Sunday, May 14, 2006

Most Blacks in Low-Rung School Jobs

Most Blacks in Low-Rung School Jobs - Washington Post

Education and civil rights leaders are outraged to hear of the disproportion of employment of Blacks and Hispanics in Anne Arundel's public school workforce, but it really should come as no surprise that lower-level minority employees, like custodians, outnumber minority teachers. Market-driven employment numbers are the final repository of the challenges and failures of our attitudes, behaviors, in concert with our education system.

While “No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) is forcing school systems around the country to optimize their curriculums to helping kids pass tests, this minimum function approach to education insures that the disproportion of Anne Arundel and other systems continues. Teachers are not likely to come from curriculums where the focus is on reading and math proficiency significantly below that required to gain entry into college.

There is no doubt that those parents of public school kids are desperate, and NCLB certainly beats doing nothing, but not by much, if the goal is to have minority teachers matching the population. NCLB only insures that kids will be able meet minimum standards for low-level service employment. It is not an avenue for Blacks and Hispanics to eliminate disparities in school performance, graduation rates, and professional careers.

Black and Hispanic kids underperform in school from an early age, and graduate from high school with just over a 55%, and slowly improving, probability, compared to 75% and 77% probability for Whites and Asians. Curriculums, as well as parenting, have yet to accept and adapt to the challenges each group has in resisting assimilation of the required advancing behaviors.

While we continue to teach kids reading and math skills, we should also teach them how to think, instead of assuming what educators know is false, that good thinking comes naturally. Preparation, persuasion, and conflict management are key missing skills that children must have, on top of a critical thinking base, from the start, to navigate to a high school diploma that means something other than qualification to work in the fast food industry.

James C. Collier


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