Report by Paula Antolini
January 11, 2017 8:14PM EDT
OPINION / LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Diversity: An Inconvenient Truth; Letter to the Editor from Frances Pulle
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Segregation of public schools based on race–the law of the land since the Plessey case, 1896–was now judged to be a violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment as well as antithetical to lofty principles espoused in America’s cornerstone documents.
Perhaps the justices should have declared “de jure” segregation in seventeen states unconstitutional and called it a day. Instead the Supremes–citing research conducted by educational psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark–declared that segregation profoundly damaged black kids by negatively impacting their mental status. Their self-esteem. This deficit would have life-long consequences, the duo concluded. Is this type of thinking–(six) decades old and data “lite”– still valid? Was it ever?
These questions deserve some serious reflection since Court attempts (post Brown) to address “de facto” segregation (bussing, redistricting, lotteries, quotas, affirmative action, additional Supreme Court rulings) have been largely based on social theory trending at the time. Theory that by its own definition is notfact. Theory, opinion really, culled from “research” practices (experiments, observations) that bear little resemblance to scientific method.
Today integration has been rebranded “diversity” by the left who vow to make the nation’s public schools more inclusive, more democratic. Schools — from elementary on up — are being compelled to not just mix black and white but class and ethnicity, as well. New Age apologists promise that a diverse student body promotes learning. . .
No evidence to date suggests even a correlation between diversity and heightened achievement. At any level. For any group. What studies there are labor to be convincing despite overuse of the words “may,” “might,” “could.” A recent tactic slyly shifts supposed benefits from the initial target group to middle-class white youngsters. A stretch, if ever there was one.
Common sense dictates that a classroom chock full of individuals who have little in common are a challenge to teach. Why? A diverse classroom groups children whose knowledge and skill gaps (three R’s) vary enormously; the ability to articulate (vocabulary deficit) as well as concentrate are strikingly dissimilar. The racial and economic divide is also reflected in the multitude of issues, conditions–“baggage”–that drag down some more than others.
No surprise that real time/real life evidence proves that the most successful schools are those that defy diversity and serve a specific ethnic, racial (Promise Academy), religious group; are gender exclusive, experimental (charters), alternative (home schooling), neighborhood only; nurture an interest, talent, proclivity (Performing Arts, Bronx High School of Science, Henry Abbot); protect an at-risk minority (Harvey Milk). In addition, programs like ESL, Special Ed, Gifted & Talented work to divide kids even further.
That schools’ enrollment rosters should reflect the hodgepodge nature of our population at large is wishful thinking at best. At worst, forced integration has been wasteful, polarizing, injurious, fruitless, violent. Nationwide schools are more segregated than ever. The achievement gap continues to widen. Racial tensions unfold everywhere.
The one thing that has been proven to help black youths thrive is the presence of a black teacher. A teacher who looks like them, values them, understands them. A proponent of this was Martin Luther King, Jr. He believed that since “white people have a very low opinion of our race” they cannot be (“given free rein”) trusted to teach black children. King favored integration “of public accommodation and travel” but school integration? Not so much.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the letter writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Bethel Advocate.