Tuesday, November 9, 2010

education: middle class Black students do worse than poor whites

In a new release, American education is still vexed by dramatic racial gaps where blacks, especially black males do worse than whites.

I'm amused as a liberal, how so many possible answers are not considered for various reasons, some obvious:

1. inherent differences based on race. Perhaps there's a biological reason blacks don't do well as others overall. Just as there might be the same in a positive way concerning music or athletics. While this wouldn't doom any particular person, and might not inform what should be done, it could stop up from doing these studies every year.

2. the massive breakdown of the traditional family in the black community. While the nuclear family is under assault nationwide, the black community is beseiged by unmarried parents, single parent homes, and broken families. This may lead to other problems including education.

3. Cultural differences in how we value education. ie. learned behavior. Maybe the black community doesn't value the skills being taught as much as white families in general.


I don't know what the answers are. But I think we need to either expand the possible factors or stop asking the same questions every year. If I had to guess, I'd say some mixture of the above three possibilities (as politically incorrect as #1 is) are the answer.

While any single person may be able to acheive all this is, as a group, I think there are relatively immutable factors that will always manifest an "acheivement gap". But if all groups continue to improve relative to their own scores then eventually we're arguing about degrees of success rather than failure.

It could be the best course of action is to do the right thing in education, and stop measuring certain things.

This means to design our school system by what's best for the child and not the adults working there. Parents should should have choice to determine what's best for their child, and the ability and means to hold schools accountable. This means a free-market in education supplemented by the government guaranteeing education as a civil right.

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