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Politics : Politics for Pros- moderated

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To: LindyBill who wrote (201909)4/9/2007 9:09:25 AM
From: LindyBill   of 773325
To Close Gaps, Schools Focus on Black Boys
D-Ed Reckoning
By KDeRosa

The NYT laps up another story about a non-instructional remedy to what is fundamentally an instructional problem: the academic performance of black boys.

Instead of fixing what and how they're teaching, the Ossining Union Free school district is trying something different:

"[T]he black boys at Brookside, are set apart, in a way, by a special mentoring program that pairs them with black teachers for one-on-one guidance outside class, extra homework help, and cultural activities during the school day. "All the black boys used to end up in the office, so we had to do something," said Lorraine Richardson, a second-grade teacher and mentor. "We wanted to teach them to help each other" instead of fight each other."

The message is that the problem is "black boys." There's something about black boys that is inherently defective and causing underperformance. It can't be that the school isn't teaching properly.

Let's see what this program entails:

"The special efforts for Ossining's black male students began in 2005 with a college-preparatory program for high schoolers and, starting last month, now stretch all the way to kindergarten, with 5-year-olds going on field trips to the American Museum of Natural History and Knicks and Mets games to practice counting."

Well, at least they got the practice counting part right.

And here's some irony for you:

"Ossining's unusual programs for black boys have drawn the attention of educators across the country as school districts in diversifying suburbs are coming under new pressure to address what many see as a seemingly intractable racial divide with no obvious solution."

First of all there is an obvious solution: teach better. But, that's a solution to one is looking for. The irony is that this "unusual program" has "drawn the attention of educators across the country." That's because they're all looking for the easy solution, as opposed to something with a proven track record. And, that's because all the programs with proven track records all involve instructional changes. these programs don't draw "the attention of educators across the country."

"The federal No Child Left Behind law's requirement that test scores be analyzed for each racial group has over the past decade spotlighted the achievement gap even in predominantly white suburban districts."

See. NCLB has been good for something. Collecting data. Something schools are loathe to do since it shows they are failing.

Some groups have attacked the program for the wrong reasons:

"I think this is a form of racial profiling in the public school system," said the coalition's executive director, Michael Meyers. "What they're doing here, under the guise of helping more boys, is they're singling them out and making them feel inferior or different simply because of their race and gender."

Actually, having a low performer is a mainstream class sends a steady stream of information to the student that he isn't as smart as the rest of the class. So, this isn't the problem.

then we have this non-sequitur:

"At a time of wider debate over the socioeconomic barriers facing black boys, the focus on boosting educational support has gained traction with policymakers."

But elsewhere in the article we're told that the black girls aren't performing as badly as the boys. So, it's not an SES issue now is it?

Finally we come to some words that should strike horror in anyone who follows education:

"A New York Times analysis of state education data showed"

That's where I had to stop
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