As a retired New York City educator, every once in a while someone will ask me what is my perception of the failings of the New York City school system. Well,I believe it’s a number of things.
First of all, when people ask what’s wrong with the school system,they often are really asking why are the inner-city kids not progressing as they should and displaying such hostile behavior.Why are these students so out of touch with education, they wonder.But what they really mean is, what’s wrong with the African-American, African Caribbean and Latino students who comprise the majority of the inner-city schools.
Having been an African-American student myself and then becoming a teacher, I say let’s look at the history that is so very much a part of us and how that history reflects what it means for black and brown people today transitioning from being considered subhuman to enslavement, to Jim crow/segregation,lynchings and poverty.Let’s look at the subliminal messages that black and brown students receive and that are translated into “you”are not good enough through the media. And what about the scantily taught and often down right omission of black,latino and Caribbean history and literature.
Let’s look at the recent and continuous rash of black and brown people,especially,males who are being incarcerated,killed and brutalized by the judicial system under the guise of fear and protection.
Although I do not believe in allowing students to succumb to their disadvantages and disappointments even under such objectionable circumstances,I do understand that these are some of the reasons that we bare witness to a failing school system.
Failing schools are simply a symptom of some of the failures in our society.
And until we honestly and collectively work to annihilate them ,we will always be scratching our heads and asking the same questions.