Friday, June 02, 2006

Minority students give bad grades to school climate

CNN.COM shared the results of a poll regarding minority perceptions in the classroom. Some of the results were as follows:

"Minority children in public middle and high schools are more likely than white children to describe profanity, truancy, fighting, weapons and drug abuse as "very serious" problems." What exactly does this mean? What does this say about education?

"Thirty percent of black students said teachers spend more time trying to keep order in class than teaching; 14 percent of white students said the same." What does this mean? Does it mean that black students are more aware of the disruptions than whites? Does it mean that certain racial groups are being treated unfairly? Does it mean that white students do not pay attention to disorder in the classroom?

"More than half of black students said kids who lack respect for teachers and use bad language is a very serious problem, compared to less than one-third of white students." What is the purpose of this poll? Why are we getting these results as a comparison between whites and blacks perceptions? The article makes no mention of the effects of these perceptions. It makes no mention of who is treated poorly, of who is responsible for the disorder, or of who is guilty of using profanity and weapons.

"Black and Hispanic parents were more than twice as likely as white parents to call weapons and fighting a very serious problem. They reported bigger concerns about crowded classes and low standards." Does this mean that white parents care less? Does this mean that black and Hispanic parents see weapons as a problem but white parents do not?

I have read so many articles, polls, and surveys on education and they all say the same thing: NOTHING! Polls of this nature serve only to reinforce negative stereotypes. Perceptions do not mean anything if we can't use them to improve the current climate in our schools.

Overcrowding, lack of expectations, and a changing society are all real problems, it is time our education writers and reporters begin to uncover some real problems; unless these real problems are too controversial to point out, which is my suspicion.

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