September 11, 2012

The racism of peanut butter and jelly

In education reform circles, it's an article of faith that America needs higher quality people as public school teachers. (I like to point out that it would also help for America to have higher quality people as parents and students, but never mind for now.) One hurdle to getting people with options in life and a sense of self-respect to be public school teachers is the political indoctrination sessions they are forced to sit through, like Winston Smith at a Two-Minutes Hate. 

Verenice Gutierrez picks up on the subtle language of racism every day. 
Take the peanut butter sandwich, a seemingly innocent example a teacher used in a lesson last school year. 
“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” says Gutierrez, principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, a diverse school of 500 students in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood. 
“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.” 
Guitierrez, along with all of Portland Public Schools’ principals, will start the new school year off this week by drilling in on the language of “Courageous Conversations,” the district-wide equity training being implemented in every building in phases during the past few years. 
Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance. 
Last Wednesday, the first day of the school year for staff, for example, the first item of business for teachers at Scott School was to have a Courageous Conversation — to examine a news article and discuss the “white privilege” it conveys.

Theodore Dalrymple has famously noted:
“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.

53 comments:

Mr X said...

"higher quality people as public school teachers."

Maybe they should have higher quality people as school principals?

(Verenice, what kind of name is that, a combination of Berenice and Veronica?)

The worse is their ignorance. Granted, a PBJ is exclusively American, but, "Hispanics don't eat sandwiches"? "Somalis eat pita"?

From the article:

Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.


I pity the poor teachers. They are asked to do the impossible, and have to sit through hours of pointless screeds.

Shouting Thomas said...

Courageous Conversation = Recite back this twaddle or your fired!

Dave said...

This should do the trick. As far as I know the national dish of Somalia is air or whatever occasionally flies into your mouth.

Somalians also like chewing the narcotic khat throughout the day.

anony-mouse said...

Look on the bright side. The kids of lefty Portlanders will get a lousy education.

Anonymous said...

wow, that's good stuff

Anonymous said...

As usual, only the well-off can afford to experiment with such progressive ideas. People in Portland are rich white people who can afford this sort of nonsense. People who live in poor black school districts, like for example Detroit, have to deal with real problems like violent crime, lack of adequate funding, and lack of a foreseeable halfway decent future. So the discussion about the hidden racism in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is, in fact, hateful institutional racism.

Engineer Dad said...

Having a reasonable degree of prudence and caution toward my children's education, I would:

1) Sell my northeast Portland Cully neighbourhood home as soon as possible, and ...

2) Tell the school district superintendent, he and his principals are divisive simpletons.

Seth said...

I want to hear more about the all-white all-male drum corps existing in mixed-race schools.

According to the principal these are all over the place...we just don't notice them!

Kaz said...

@Mr X

I have no pity for these teachers, they wholly subscribe to their idiotic ideologies which have resulted in a transfer of wealth from teacher salaries to bloated administrative bureaucracies. That are needed to supposedly set these policies in place for teachers.

Anonymous said...

"to examine a news article and discuss the 'white privilege' it conveys."

I guess blacks don't eat PBJ?

BTW, I went through this crap in our district. Teachers hate it. Most admins hate it. The kids find out what goes on in the meetings and they hate it, but more than that, they come to feel nothing but disdain for any of the teachers who buy into it, and there are always a few.

agnostic said...

Aside from the better pay, the lack of this kind of crap is what's driving the higher-quality teachers into the shadow education sector -- "tutoring," i.e. doing the job the regular teacher was supposed to do, and in a one-on-one environment away from "bad students."

In the several years I worked as a tutor, both in a center and as an in-home guy, I never had to go through any kind of PC rite of passage. And none of my colleagues ever brought it up.

A good number were public school teachers, so if they really had bought into the lie, they would've tried to infect the private tutoring centers with it. The fact that they never brought it up, let alone push for it, proves what a joke it was -- counter-productive, even.

So folks, don't bash on the teachers. This crap is all coming from the administrators, Board of Education members, and other worthless half-persons with an Ed.D.

Auntie Analogue said...

Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Anonymous said...

Imagine a white American moves to another country, and then goes around demanding that the people in that country adapt to his American-ness, for example that his child be taught with examples from American cuisine rather than whatever they eat locally.

Mr. Anon said...

Of course, if a white teacher tried to modify his lessons for the diverse gustatory habits of his diverse pupils, he'd be accused of trafficing in stereotypes.

"What do you mean by assuming we eat tacos? Do you think all mexicans eat tacos?

That Dalrymple quote is justifiably famous - he nailed the very soul and purpose of political correctness.

Garland said...

It's really worse than the Two Minutes Hate, which is a more apt analogy for, say, when a college holds the Red Guard rallies after a racial vandalism hoax. That is, the TMHate denotes that everyone is on the same side against the Goldstein/phantom racist vandal. In this case, the person with life options and self-dignity must be made to TMH himself, as if Goldstein were roped into participating in a TMH. Say what you will about the TMH, it's unifying people, however coercively, against an enemy. The white privilege seminars are demands for self-flagellation.

Steve Sailer said...

Right, it's closer to Maoist self-criticism sessions, although my guess is that you can usually sit in the back and keep your mouth shut. It's just a job for the leaders.

Anonymous said...

The only answer I can think of is counter-hate.

guest007 said...

What is more racist but less enticing to the media is the mention of the no whites allowed, no girls allowed drum line that the school established.

It must be nice to be non-white and never have to worry that the Civil Rights Division of any sector of the government will bother you when you actively discriminate against whites. If political leaders had any principles, the Portland Public Schools would already be under investigation for blatant racial discrimination.

Not Twoof said...

worthless half-persons with an Ed.D

Three-Fifths, sport, three-fifths.

slumber_j said...

Uhhhh... A torta *is* a sandwich?

And one might ask Ms. Gutierrez the arch-educatrix why she's omitting articles in that sentence. Is "torta" a mass noun? It is not.

Anonymous said...

Right, it's closer to Maoist self-criticism sessions, although my guess is that you can usually sit in the back and keep your mouth shut. It's just a job for the leaders.

Michelle Malkin has had a couple of pieces [here and here] on Barry's and Bill Ayer's old pal, Mike Klonsky, and his role in the Chicago teacher's strike.

He's an actual Maoist who actually travelled to Communist China and actually communed ["co-communed"?] with actual communists.

BTW, that Karen Lewis chick - the slim svelte sexy Klonsky disciple, leading the strike - she's the one I've been telling you about who quoted Rahm Emmanuel as having said that the bottom 25% of CPS students are simply uneducable.

Personally, I feel like ol' Rahmbo was being a little generous - I'd put the number at closer to 80% [if not 90%] - but if Rahmbo and Klonsky wanna rip each other's throats out, in a celebrity cage fight death-match, then I'll happily throw some popcorn in the microwave, lean back in the easy chair, and bask in the glory of it all.

Anonymous said...

From the article: "the school’s “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”: that every student will make two years’ growth in one year’s time in reading, writing and math"

Her approach to project management is pretty Soviet as well - we are behind, so let's make up a riduclously aggressive goal and achieve it inspired by our ideological commitment, facts be dammed.

At least the Soviets called them something vaguely scientific like "5 Year Plans" as opposed to the nonsense of a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”

Anonymous said...

What are the teachers supposed to say? If John, or Abdul, or Tao, or Tyrone, or Mary, or Maria, or Chang, or Shaniqua had 4 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or pitas, or chick peas, or Kung Pao, or tacos, or spaghetti, or goulash, or tofu, and shared it with 5 friends, the how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or pitas, or chick peas, or Kung Pao, or tacos, or spaghetti, or goulash, or tofu, would John, or Abdul, or Tao, or Tyrone, or Mary, or Maria, or Chang, or Shaniqua have left?

John D said...

if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.

There those pesky NE Asians are every day to disprove the "white privilege" nonsensical reason for NAM failure, and they blithely carry on about it anyway. Not only carry on, but double down on the stupidity. You have to be a complete ethnomasochist to be a public school teacher these days. No thanks.

John D said...

"Courageous Conversation = Recite back this twaddle or your fired!"

Haha. Yep. real portraits of "courage", these modern day liberals.

Be just as courageous as you can be as long as it's within the broad parameters of 'It was Whitey's fault for NAM failure.' And let's be sure to keep our eyes and mouths closed about NE Asians surpassing Whites in academics. Doesn't fit the "white privilege" narrative.

Half Sigma said...

The PB&J as a symbol of white privilege is ridiculous. It's a sandwich that poor people eat, not privileged whites.

Carol said...

I have gone from completely blaming the teachers, 6 years ago, to supporting their side, unions and all. I don't believe we need high-IQ teachers; in fact I think they would be bored around kids (and other teachers). The ones teaching in the worst districts should get the best pay just for putting up with it and not escaping to Whitopia.

There was a bright idealist teacher a few years ago who wrote about his brief attempt to teach in inner city schools, and he conceded that the the fat loudmouthed women teachers actually seemed the most effective with unruly black students. Sort of like the fat ladies in the CTU photos a couple days ago.

Anonymous said...

Much of this garbage has come from Boom Boom Billy Ayers, the home-grown terrorist, friend of Barky and most recently a professor at the U of Illinois school of education. He writes books for teachers.

Also -- the amount of money that race hustling consultants are making from this garbage is unbelievable. Someone ought to write a story about it.

Aaron in Israel said...

In my study of communist societies....

America is not a communist society. The purpose of American propaganda is not that of communist propaganda.

rjp said...

I never knew I had been blessed with such "white privilege" when I was growing up and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I thought they were just inexpensive lunch food. Them French and their croissants, and the Brits with their ale and fish-n-chips, such audacious white privilege.

I wonder how much "white privilege" is in a cheese sandwich with mustard? Or peanut butter on saltines (because I was not allowed the good garbage all the other kids moms packed in their lunches)? How about the not pretty apples that come in bags by the multiple pound? Chipped ham sandwiches (Pittsburgh area)?

agnostic said: This crap is all coming from the administrators, Board of Education members, and other worthless half-persons with an Ed.D.

I don't know about the Ed.D.'s, but any person in the country who is intelligent enough to graduate from a inner city public high school and who wants and M.Ed. is welcome to one thanks to the likes of Chicago State University and it peers.

Maya said...

"As usual, only the well-off can afford to experiment with such progressive ideas. People in Portland are rich white people who can afford this sort of nonsense. People who live in poor black school districts, like for example Detroit, have to deal with real problems like violent crime, lack of adequate funding, and lack of a foreseeable halfway decent future."

You wanna bet? I teach in a majority black, ghetto-fabulous, high poverty, crime-infested city, and I just got done chanting: "Diversity is a fact of life/For unity we must strive" over and over again, while holding hands in a circle.

On Friday evening, a bunch of us were informed by a very serious looking administrator that if our Ebonics skills are lacking, we should study up in the interest of better relating to our students and appreciating their bilingual ability. With a straight face, I asked if there are any textbooks available, and with a straight face he told me that he'll ask his secretary to look into it. I won't complain about the Friday diversity training too much because the volunteering church ladies baked us pies, and it was facilitated by a man. All the diversity specialists and instruction experts (people who teach teachers how to teach, but never demonstrate on actual students) are always either dimwitted or amoral, but the womenfolk among them also tend to have a manic quality to them.

And, for your information, we get a lot more of that shit than the better, richer districts do. Firstly, we have a lot more of the homegrown, barely literate professionals with multiple grad degrees in education or counseling, from the local sometime accredited regional 4th tier institution. Fake jobs in the government must be created for them. Seriously, these people have the academic skills of good, but not particularly talented upper elementary kids. Most of them honestly don't understand what a percentage of something is or how to derive it, and the memos that they type up are often incoherent.
Also, our test scores are bellow the toilet level, and we must look like we're working hard to do something about this. Possible culprits to student success, like, say, racism or white privilege, must be addressed constantly.

Maya said...

"Of course, if a white teacher tried to modify his lessons for the diverse gustatory habits of his diverse pupils, he'd be accused of trafficing in stereotypes."

I was required to take an entire separate class on this topic, so I can clear all this up for you.
1. We need to include names, foods and other cultural markers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds (but mostly black, Hispanic and to a lesser degree Arabic).
2. But NOT IN STEREOTYPICAL CONTEXTS<-- I wrote this in capital letter because it's important. You are encouraged to stand up and chant "Stereotypes hurt tykes" 60 or 80 times.

So let's try a few examples. If you are writing a chemistry word problem, you need to make the scientist have a name like Darnell or Jose or Ahmed (unless he's dealing with explosives- in that case, under no circumstance should you name him Ahmed). However, if the chemistry problem is about dealing with cleaning solutions, do not, I repeat- DO NOT- name the cleaning lady Maria. In fact, it shouldn't be a cleaning lady at all, but a cleaning man named John. Similarly, you absolutely should have kids count tacos instead of sandwiches in an arithmetic problem, but the problem should feature Stephanie, not Yesenia. And then, in the next math problem, have Miguel eat something non-stereotypical for a Miguel- like pizza.

Hope this helps, and remember: Stereotypes hurt tykes!
The poet who came up with this gets paid 6 figures and wears neon bright suits. She misspelled "stereotypes".

Maya said...

"I have no pity for these teachers, they wholly subscribe to their idiotic ideologies which have resulted in a transfer of wealth from teacher salaries to bloated administrative bureaucracies."

No. Just no. Wrong.

If I ever become a malevolent dictator, I'll track you down and sentence you to 27698795480 hours of poorly delivered indoctrination with the hopes that you'll go mad from the combination of boredom, annoyance and cringing pity for the retard I'll task with indoctrinating you.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... if peanut butter and jelly are racist then what am I suppose to think about this comment from a Hispanic woman...

"White men and Spanish women go together like peanut butter and jelly"

http://twitter.com/a_FilthyPout/status/243902545427324928

Matthew said...

Were I a teacher in this woman's school I would hope to have the courage to laugh my ass off at such a comment and then, staring straight at her face, ask "Are you insane?" - in front of every other teacher.

Really, what these people need to shut them up is more mockery. Laugh at them. Make jokes at their expense.

Anonymous said...

Principal Vernice is correct: white privilege is nauseous, stifling, and debilitating - and it'll never go away. These non-white people would be so much happier in their own countries.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice the picture of "Dr. Verenice Guiterrez" on the page?

Quite the white Spaniard, that one. Probably has some German ancestry, too.

Steve, I think you should start a new running theme (which you've already started to a certain extent; you just need to call it out more explicitly): people who are essentially whites, but who have Spanish or mulatto backgrounds and thus self-identify as Hispanic or black.

Barack, the head of the NAACP, that Spanish hottie with the Mayan first name, the principle in this article . . . There are lots more, though. Start keeping tabs!

Silver said...

On Friday evening, a bunch of us were informed by a very serious looking administrator that if our Ebonics skills are lacking, we should study up in the interest of better relating to our students and appreciating their bilingual ability. With a straight face, I asked if there are any textbooks available, and with a straight face he told me that he'll ask his secretary to look into it. I won't complain about the Friday diversity training too much because the volunteering church ladies baked us pies, and it was facilitated by a man. All the diversity specialists and instruction experts (people who teach teachers how to teach, but never demonstrate on actual students) are always either dimwitted or amoral, but the womenfolk among them also tend to have a manic quality to them.

Maya, can't you just use your white privilege to get out of these sessions?


JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

I send this post to a friend and he responded w/ this article (Yeah, I know, he slipped a URL to Michael Moore.com by me)

That article includes the following: Then something tiny happened that pried open my eyes to the less obvious forms of racism and the hurdles the poor face when they try to climb the economic ladder. It happened on an official visit to a school in a suburb of New Orleans that served kids who had gotten kicked out of every other school around. I was investigating what types of services were available to the young people who were showing up in juvenile hall and seemed to be headed toward the proverbial life of crime. My tour guide mentioned that parents were required to participate in some school programs. One of these was a field trip to a sit-down restaurant. This stopped me in my tracks. I thought: What kind of a lame field trip is that? It turned out that none of the families had ever been to a sit-down restaurant before. The teachers had to instruct parents and students alike how to order off a menu, how to calculate the tip.


First of all, I think the article is bogus. Converted by exposure to atrifecta of the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay habeus corpus, AND Deep South racism? C'mon.

Second, let's ignore the fact that the author is blaming this state of affairs on "racism".

But, I wonder if anyone here (Maya? Truth?) could comment on this. I grew up in the South and am completely familiar w/ black dysfunction on an individual level. But, are there really entire school districts where the kids have never been to a sit-down restaurant. It wouldn't necessarily surprise me (the sit-down restaurants might not exist, for starters). I'm just curious how common something that widespread might be in a place like New Orleans.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

I send this post to a friend and he responded w/ this article (Yeah, I know, he slipped a URL to Michael Moore.com by me)

That article includes the following: Then something tiny happened that pried open my eyes to the less obvious forms of racism and the hurdles the poor face when they try to climb the economic ladder. It happened on an official visit to a school in a suburb of New Orleans that served kids who had gotten kicked out of every other school around. I was investigating what types of services were available to the young people who were showing up in juvenile hall and seemed to be headed toward the proverbial life of crime. My tour guide mentioned that parents were required to participate in some school programs. One of these was a field trip to a sit-down restaurant. This stopped me in my tracks. I thought: What kind of a lame field trip is that? It turned out that none of the families had ever been to a sit-down restaurant before. The teachers had to instruct parents and students alike how to order off a menu, how to calculate the tip.


First of all, I think the article is bogus. Converted by exposure to a trifecta of the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay habeus corpus, AND Deep South racism? C'mon.

Second, let's ignore the fact that the author is blaming this state of affairs on "racism."

But, I wonder if anyone here (Maya? Truth?) could comment on this. I grew up in the South and am completely familiar w/ black dysfunction on an individual level. But, are there really entire school districts where the kids have never been to a sit-down restaurant. It wouldn't necessarily surprise me (the sit-down restaurants might not exist, for starters). I'm just curious how common something that widespread might be in a place like New Orleans.

Maya said...

"Were I a teacher in this woman's school I would hope to have the courage to laugh my ass off at such a comment and then, staring straight at her face, ask "Are you insane?" - in front of every other teacher.

Really, what these people need to shut them up is more mockery. Laugh at them. Make jokes at their expense."

If you were independently wealthy enough to do that, you wouldn't be an inner city teacher to begin with. The rich kids in my Teach for America cohort didn't come back after the first Christmas. The rest of us will be gone within 2-4 years. People who teach in a regular city school into middle age are usually stuck there, with no options. Not all of them are of poor quality. Quite a few are of the poor, rural stock who had to take out major loans to pay for their education and who married and had kids early due to traditional family values. Now, they are rooted by their mortgage, spouse, children and ageing parents that already moved to be closer.

Maya said...

"Maya, can't you just use your white privilege to get out of these sessions?"

You know what's funny? I can get away with a lot due to what can only be described as "immigrant privilege". Having a light accent is like talking through a sock puppet. Please, excuse Mr. Sock for daring to sound unconvinced about the superior results we are bound to get from purchasing yet another extremely expensive "instructional system". It's not his fault he is just a sock...

Maya said...

"But, I wonder if anyone here (Maya? Truth?) could comment on this. I grew up in the South and am completely familiar w/ black dysfunction on an individual level. But, are there really entire school districts where the kids have never been to a sit-down restaurant. It wouldn't necessarily surprise me (the sit-down restaurants might not exist, for starters). I'm just curious how common something that widespread might be in a place like New Orleans."

I do teach in a city that is probably similar to New Orleans in dysfunction. In my experience, most of the kids go to places like IHOP, Waffle House or Great China Buffet, at least, several times a year. Usually, a lot more often than that. Remember, most of the welfare queens don't manage their money responsibly, so they usually spend it on going out to eat, dressing up and trinkets.

However, some of our kids come from truly sad situations. An average ghetto mother might not be good at keeping her children's medical appointments or bathing the kids, and they might smack their kids around at random intervals, but they do tend to love their children like a 5 year old loves her puppy, so they do drag their kids around with them. But some of these women are different. I know some kids whose moms are drug addicted prostitutes who don't seem to remember the child half of the time. The kid ends up bounced around the relatives' houses who might resent the mom and treat the kid badly, excluding him from family activities and making him sleep on the floor. Some of these kids turn out to be homeless, sleeping at the bus station and coming to school for the meals. In the quote you provided, it says that the school was for the special cases, special even for New Orleans. It's very possible that they could fill an entire school with kids whose backgrounds are extra heartbreaking. But, no, I can't imagine an entire district where such students would be the majority.

Anonymous said...

"The PB&J as a symbol of white privilege is ridiculous. It's a sandwich that poor people eat, not privileged whites."

3,200 calories in an 18 oz jar of peanut butter that costs about $5.00. Same amount of grape jelly costs about $3.00, providing 1,600 calories. Bread is about $4 a loaf providing 1600 calories and can be used to convert the entire two jars into about 10 sandwiches. That's $12 for 10 peanut butter sandwiches, 640 calories/sandwich. For a 2500 calorie diet, that's (about)four sandwiches a day at a cost of $4.80 a day. Better add in the cost of a prune juice chaser (another $8 a month). Somewhat more expensive than living off pork and beans, which don't require the prune juice chaser. It's good to know you can stay alive for $152 a month.

Actually, it's not the poor who eat PBJ sandwiches. They get food stamps and free school lunches year round. It's the budget minded white middle class who feed it to their kids a couple times a week.

Anonymous said...

But, are there really entire school districts where the kids have never been to a sit-down restaurant.

I too teach juveniles, the majority of whom have been booted from regular high school and several subsequent programs (i.e., the bottom of the barrel). Someone who is occasionally parachuted in to give students seminars on "loving themselves first" tells a story of taking several girls to a catered luncheon, and dealing with their utter ignorance of any protocol, etiquette, understanding that there is no choice of entree...I think it's true that many impoverished kids don't have a freaking clue about anything north or south of their 10 block home turf.

A friend took some inner city black kids camping as part of a summer camp job several years ago. The kids were completely whacked by the space, the quiet, the night noises of nature. They all wanted to sleep with their shoes on so nobody would steal them.

Nate Cornbread said...

These guys are chasing minnows with this peanut butter and jelly crap. Cookies and milk, apple pie- these are the practically Hitler in a white Klan hood taking a leak on a Koran. Why, bagels and cream cheese... oh,uh wait...

ben tillman said...

Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.

Last Wednesday, the first day of the school year for staff, for example, the first item of business for teachers at Scott School was to have a Courageous Conversation — to examine a news article and discuss the “white privilege” it conveys.


Of course, an employer's use of the term "white privilege" in a context like this is flagrantly illegal, but who cares about that?

commonwealth contrarian said...

The vicious circle in secondary teaching is that there's an over supply of arts and physical education teachers (boy is there an over-supply of physical education teachers down under)and an under-supply of science and maths teachers.

As a result a lot of maths and science teachers of are mediocre quality (many can't even speak good English) This compounds the problem of students not getting a good education in science and maths.

Breaking the unions would help, but ultimately this is a Bell Curve problem which can only be partially fixed.

On the bright side though, we could have lots of great history, geography and English teachers if we didn't tie them down with political correctness.

Maya said...

"As a result a lot of maths and science teachers of are mediocre quality (many can't even speak good English) This compounds the problem of students not getting a good education in science and maths.

Breaking the unions would help, but ultimately this is a Bell Curve problem which can only be partially fixed."


Can you explain how breaking up the unions would help the problem you outlined? I don't belong to a union. Just curious. In my experience, the problem with the teachers' unions (both here and in France) is that they don't give a crap about the teachers and exist only to enrich themselves. However, I don't see how these for-profit organizations can be blamed for poor student performance. Trust me, even the retarded home grown ghetto teachers could teach their students a thing or two, if only the students were willing. We have a few of these tall, obese teachers who communicate through ebonics, and I thank God for them because oftentimes, they are the only real protection we have from the crazy parents and the only force that can get the most animal-like students in line. Otherwise, they are literate enough to be head and shoulders above our ghetto population, follow orders and prescribed systems faithfully and are usually very good about trading you that one smart student they have for that one scary beast you can't handle. You might feel that the public school teachers haven't always (or ever) served your needs, and that the system wasn't the place for you. Fair enough. But it wasn't your scores that brought the national average down, was it? The dire situation in regards to the national averages isn't caused by the unions protecting "bad" teachers.

Also, I grew up in a lower middle class, immigrant infested suburb that's bordering the city of Chicago, and all my math and science teachers were perfectly adequate as well as articulate.

Currently, I'm doing time with a girl who had a 1540 on the SAT (before it got revamped in the last decade) and double majored in chemistry and English. My aunt double majored in Spanish and business communications before going back for a degree in teaching math. (She is now walking circles in a picket line around her school in Chicago. No, actually, she's at home, playing with her daughter.) These people aren't valued any more nor are they harassed any less than anyone else.

Soupy and Tenelle said...

"I grew up in a lower middle class, immigrant infested suburb that's bordering the city of Chicago, and all my math and science teachers were perfectly adequate as well as articulate."

-A Chicago accent is considered grounds for 'immigrant privilege' these days? I guess it took Barry in the office for that to come to fruition.

Anonymous said...

The kids find out what goes on in the meetings and they hate it, but more than that, they come to feel nothing but disdain for any of the teachers who buy into it, and there are always a few.

Scene: Berkeley public elementary school classroom, late 60s.

Visiting teacher, after giving lecture about a black icon of the time, in rapt tone of voice: "Now, does anyone have anything to say about this great man?"

Class: (-20 dB silence)

V.T.: (Rushes from room in emotional distress)

Homeroom teacher: "Kids, you should show more sympathy and manners to Mrs. A. I'm going to ask her back in. You can say you're sorry."

(Leads V.T. back into the room)

Class: "We're sorry!"

V.T.: (recovering smile, playfully) "Now do you mean that, or are you just being polite?"

Kid I knew: "We were just being polite."

(V.T. flees the room in tears)

(Homeroom teacher shakes head, visibly suppressing smile)

Maya said...

"A Chicago accent is considered grounds for 'immigrant privilege' these days? I guess it took Barry in the office for that to come to fruition."

Ha-ha. I have a very light Eastern European accent mixed with a very heavy Chicago accent. My southern, ghetto admins think that I just stepped off the boat, even though I told them over and over again that I spent the majority of my life in The States and consider Chicago to be my home town. Anyway, it always works out in my favor. During the first year, they kept randomly canceling my tutoring duties because it was assumed that I didn't speak English very well. Nowadays, I often get complemented on how much my English has improved.

David said...

>I think it's true that many impoverished kids don't have a freaking clue about anything north or south of their 10 block home turf.<

Largely true of all kids. We tend to forget what the state of our skull-mush was in the single-digit years. Carl Sagan - a successful science writer - claimed that in his childhood he didn't think that anything existed exterior to Brooklyn (except those billions and billions of stars). (Source: his Cosmos.) My father, a mechanical engineer, recalls seeing the moon in a daylit sky sometime during his early grammar school years and thinking it a parachute. Until I was age 5, I assumed that all cats are female and all dogs male. I'm sure almost everyone can give one humiliating example of his or her general ignorance in childhood or even adolescence.

If you are sometimes surprised by what adults from any walk of life don't know, just imagine what kids don't know.

Mencken observed that the best teachers are themselves child-like and rather simple-minded, and thus able to see from the perspective of their charges. Recruting MIT physicists to teach in the ghetto, for example, is probably the wrong prescription for healing education.