Perhaps it’s just me but the trend data on the difference in math and reading between Black and White students was released today and I find the results appalling. Not only because the study by the Government shows a wide gap in education, but that such a difference exists in the first place.
The national averages show an 11% difference in the math scores of 8th graders across the nation between 1990 – 2007. When it comes to reading, between 1998 – 2007, the difference is 10%. I know that may not sound like a big difference, but when we are talking tens of millions of children it’s huge.
I know some will question why this matters. In the most simple example I can think of, it means that by age 13, African American kids are losing 1/10 the thoughts. Basically drop 1 in 10 of the words you know, or eliminate 10% of the math you do everyday, say to your checkbook balancing. Add that percentage to the response time to the questions you answer in a conversation, or to doing your job everyday.
By age 13, most of the math and reading that a person will use in average daily life is known. The math and reading of a child by 8th grade are the building blocks upon which higher education is built. So in failing these children we are failing to help the future of our nation. We are effectively denying them the chance to a better life.
The thing that really annoys me is that it is not necessary. The education system in America should not have a gap of any nature in it. There is no reason why any child should be systematically lower than anyone else in the education they receive. It means this is being done on purpose.
The only way that a kid in Mississippi scores lower than another kid in that same state is that they are not being taught the same. It means that there is a bias built into the education system. That African American kids are being taught, de facto, to be lesser which is insulting and infuriating.
This report means that African American children are being taught to fail. Americans are being taught to fail. If that was your kid, would you stand for that? Would you just ignore those numbers? If it were White kids that were lower, do you honestly think something would not be done?
These numbers directly correlate to the higher dropout rates for African Americans, the lower economic status, the smaller middle class, the higher poverty levels. It is the first step in a life that is far from the American dream, or even a life that is equal to that which our parents have had. Without factoring in a bad economy or growing Government.
There are of course other factors that are involved in this study. The results are not solely the problem of having outdated education materials, overcrowded schools, burnt-out teachers or teachers that are unqualified for the subjects they teach. But it is those problems that that make all the other factors that much worse. It’s a domino effect.
I realize that the education system today is deplorable. That kids are taught to have rote memory instead of comprehensive thought. That for all the hoopla kids today know less than even 20 years ago, maybe even just 10. But the fact that the playing field is unquestionably uneven is a smack in the face. A fact that is proven in the lack of change in reading scores over 15 years.
“Average reading scores for eighth-graders were higher in 2007 than in 1992 for Black and for White students, regardless of gender (figure 18). However, the 2007 gaps in eighth-grade reading achievement showed no significant differences from the 1992 gaps for either males or females.”
I recall how so many people, or all backgrounds and races, assumed and promoted the idea that because President Obama was elected all the problems of race and racial bias in this nation ended. That somehow everything in the nation was fair and fine the second the last vote was counted. This study places a big spotlight on that and shows that such thoughts were fanciful dreams.
I recall how people across the nation compared the election of President Obama to the fruition of the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King. Yet there is no question that Dr. King’s dream did not include a systemic bias that promoted any group of Americans over another. And if anyone thinks that Dr. King would not have been enraged by the results of this 15 year study, they don’t know their history.
The big question that is not addressed in this study is why, in the 21st century, there is such an obvious and demarked difference in how the nation teaches African Americans? Why does the Government, or even at state government levels, accept that there should be a difference? Why is it that when comparing apples to apples there is such a difference?
Why is it that in a state like Wisconsin, where the difference in reading scores is 14%, does such a difference exist? Or 12% in Michigan? Or 11% in California, South Carolina, and Connecticut? And similar examples in math as well?
Later this year a similar report will be published detailing the gap in scores between Hispanic and White children. The expectation is that the difference will be similar. And again I ask why? Why is there such an expectation? Why is this considered ok?
I think that there is no way that we can ever have a better education system when built into that system is a difference of expectations and quality. We are accepting that less is equal, that separate is ok. Something that I believe Brown v. Education dramatically stated was un-American and wrong.
Put another way, there would never need to be a Connecticut firefighter case if the basic education was provided equally to every child in America. But if we accept that a bias exists, and allow it to continue, how can we ever move forward enough to eliminate the need of such cases? How can we ever say that racism is dead? How can we say that we are all created equal and yet ensure that we all don’t even have an equal chance at life?