Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Integration As Social Engineering

At least, according to the Tea Party of North Carolina. (HT: Maitri)

So, what is it, folks? School choice works until at-risk students are able to choose or are placed in the affluent suburban schools? When that happens, we go back to districts and neighborhood schools, which could concentrate at risk student populations? And this is justified because the previous system, with real flaws to be sure, is some sort of "social engineering" forced upon you by "radical leftists."

And critics expressed alarm that the plan would create a handful of high-poverty, racially isolated schools, a scenario that the new majority has begun embracing.

Pope, who is a former state legislator, said he would back extra funding for such schools.

"If we end up with a concentration of students underperforming academically, it may be easier to reach out to them," he said. "Hypothetically, we should consider that as well."
(Emphasis HR.)

So, to address the problem of "diluting" the at-risk populations into adequately resourced schools, the idea is to "concentrate" the at-risk populations in racially isolated schools, to make them easier to identify and recieve additional resources.

Because in all my time in the South, the at-risk, economically depressed, racially isolated schools always recieved the resources they needed to adequately educate their students. < / dripping, biting sarcasm > It it weren't for those radical leftist social engineers, everything would be fine.

Maybe if those schools had actually recieved adequate resources in the first damn place, there wouldn't be a need for all this legally-mandated integration "social engineering" to address the very real inequalities that resulted from the previous system that concentrated at-risk populations in racially isolated schools as a matter of policy.

It was called Jim Crow.

Maybe you've heard of it.

Our nation just celebrated a holiday in rememberance of the most beloved leader of the movement that consigned that national moral failure to the shameful dust bin of history.

That's the reason there was a Civil Rights Movement. That's the reason we have legally mandated integration. That's the reason cultural and economic integration has not happened on a larger scale, nor as organically as we Americans like to tell ourselves it would: because of educational disparities resulting from specific policies of the past that continue replicating the legacy of that shameful past with each successive generation.

That's the reason the libertarian wet-dream utopia of American history sets dangerous precedent - the market was left alone and changed nothing for nearly a this nation's entire scope of history. Despite every economic incentive to integrate. Despite every economic incentive to liberalize and rapidly expand education to include all Americans.

And the folks responsible or advocating this retroactive change can wash their hands of the inherent racism of these policies all they want - I'll take them at their word that the policies they want to enact aren't done so with a hint of racism in their own conscious thoughts.

Bless their hearts, they aren't racists, they're just jaw droppingly ignorant of their own national history. We've been down this road before, and it didn't work.

Hell, we're still traveling down this road in many parts of the country, and especially in the South. Imagine how dynamic our regional economy would be with a highly moderately reasonably educated population? We're still dealing with the concentrated poverty, racial targeting and inadequate educational opportunities every day on the streets. Especially in the South.

Does your current system have flaws? I'm sure it does. Nothing is perfect, and we Americans have the ability to constantly make changes for the better. There's nothing wrong with that.

My problem comes from the idea that the current way of doing things doesn't have a starting point. Espeically when the popular remedy to what ails you is to resurrect the policies that the current system was constructed to correct. Not only that, but resurrect the policies whose legacy directly caused the problems your current system is experiencing.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it is broke, try not to fix it by doing whatever it was broke it in the first damn place.

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9 comments:

Luciann said...

The thing that irks me here is that it has been shown over and over that resources do not necessarily mean that a school's students will perform well. (see Kansas City) The biggest factors I've heard about are Parental Expectations and Peer Expectations.
By lumping 'At-Risk' students together, it is harder to hold them to a higher level. If such students are placed in contact with others who have better performance, this will produce a new norm by which to judge themselves.

Because as we've seen from No Child Left Behind, setting the bar lower only encourages mediocrity.

Dante said...

There's a difference between poor and minority. I don't agree with Pope's assessment and I doubt he does either, but I don't think it's fair to assume an economic issue is a racial one. That poor segment of the population exists all over the country and in some parts like Indiana and Ohio, that segment is very very white. I really think Pope just wants the poor kids out of the middle and upper class kids' schools.

My personal favorite school district setup is school choice like Clarke County used to have or Garland ISD in Dallas still has. The kids whose parents care sign up for schools and the kids who don't get the crap left over. That very nicely separates the school-as-daycare students from the school-as-education students. It also prevents the poor students whose parents value education from falling through the cracks. Unfortunately, it's hideously expensive to operate that way, but Clarke County's property values have stagnated since they abandoned school choice and I don't think that's a coincidence.

Maitri said...

I really think Pope just wants the poor kids out of the middle and upper class kids' schools.

Yes, crapping on the poor regardless of race is much higher than outright racism on the stairway to heaven. Whatever.

Dante said...

"Yes, crapping on the poor regardless of race is much higher than outright racism on the stairway to heaven. Whatever."

I never said it was. But knowing someone's real intentions makes it a lot easier to find real solutions. Also, in this day and age if you want to accuse someone of racism, it had better damn well be outright racism if you want your point of view to be treated seriously.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Dante can speak for himself, but I'm pretty sure his point is not to look at this situation solely through the lens of race. It is a fair point. As I said, I'll take these people at their word that they are not racially motivated. I don't have to address their motivations to expose their policy for its historically likely results.

My opinions remain the same regardless of race. While there is a difference between "poor" and "minority," in the South we know for a demographic fact that economic limitations are very often wrapped up in old history of race-based policies. We're not so far removed from legally mandated economic segregation to overlook that.

As far as the Parental & Peer expectations (which factors into the "kids whose parents give a crap vs. the kids whose parents don't") is also a point well taken, because that is a significant indicator of success. Any conversation about school system success must factor that in.

However, I do not believe the schools should assign resources and attention based on which parents give a crap and which parents don't. Doing so only perpetuates the "don't give a crap" into the next generation, and that's something public schools (at least IMHO) are supposed to attempt to counteract as a matter of policy.

Also, I know for a fact that the "parents who give a crap" participate in schools to the direct benefit of kids whose "parents who don't give a crap." Denying access to kids based on parental behavior is not (IMHO again) an acceptable method of allocating access or resources.

Maitri said...

I've lived in a lot of places in the northern and southern US, and more often than not, poor city schools are minority schools (a corollary of sorts is that if the suburbs were full of black and Hispanic minorities, whites wouldn't have taken themselves and their money there). Also, poor and black-Hispanic minority are not necessarily equated but lumped together quite a bit even here in the supposedly sophisticated and more enlightened north. I personally know people who send their kids to private schools not because the education is better but because they don't want their kids going to school with poor kids but mostly not with black and Hispanic kids.

Both things happen and we can quibble about racism vs. classism, but the truth remains that we marginalize based on money, the wrong side of which contains a lot of black and Hispanic people.

Dante said...

"However, I do not believe the schools should assign resources and attention based on which parents give a crap and which parents don't."

I don't think that's how resources should be allocated but I think the two groups require radically different teaching strategies in order to be successful.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I don't think that's how resources should be allocated but I think the two groups require radically different teaching strategies in order to be successful.

You're absolutely right, they do require different teaching strategies. However, the current state of the "school choice" movement has far less to do with teaching strategies than it does to resource allocation at a systemwide level.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

We can quibble about racism vs. classism, but the truth remains that we marginalize based on money, the wrong side of which contains a lot of black and Hispanic people.

Absolutely correct.

Unfortunately, few individuals have ever achieved policy goals by shaming politicians and voters who are shameless in their motivations.