Dr. Donna Y. FordDonna Y. Ford, Ph.D., is Professor of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. She teaches in the Department of Special Education. Professor Ford conducts research primarily in gifted education and multicultural/urban education. Specifically, her work focuses on: (1) recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education; (2) multicultural and urban education; (3) minority student achievement and underachievement; and (4) family involvement. She consults with school districts and educational organizations in the areas of gifted education and multicultural/urban education. Dr. Ford is the author of Reversing Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students (1996) and co-author of Multicultural Gifted Education (1999), In search of the dream: Designing schools and classrooms that work for high potential students from diverse cultural backgrounds (2004), and Teaching culturally diverse gifted students. Dr. Ford, is co-founder of the Scholar Identity Institute for Black Males with Dr. Gilman Whiting. Donna is a returning board member of the National Association for Gifted Children, and has served on numerous editorial boards, such as Gifted Child Quarterly, Exceptional Children, Journal of Negro Education, and Roeper Review.

According to virtually every report and study focusing on the achievement gap between Black and White students, Black students are under-performing in school settings compared to their White counterparts. Of the more than 16,000 school districts in the U.S., few (if any) can report that no achievement gap exists, that the achievement gap is marginal, or that the gap has been narrowed or closed. Nationally, there is the average of a four-year gap in which Black students at the age of 17 perform at the level of a 13-year old White student. Of course, and sadly so, this gap is greater than four years in some states and school districts. Also sad and pathetic is the reality that, while the gap is evident when students start school, it is roughly a one-year gap in the early years; however, during the educational process, the gap increases or widens! The achievement gap exists because of home and school variables, with schools playing a significant role.

Both the persistence of and widening of the achievement gap during the formal school years cannot be ignored. Why is it that educators, with all their credentials in testing and curriculum and child development, have not been able to narrow or close the gap in recent years? One explanation lies in the fact too few colleges and universities offer courses in cultural diversity or endeavor to help their students to become culturally competent. Thus, many educators and other college students graduate with undergraduate and graduate degrees that do not adequately prepare them to work with students from backgrounds that are different from their own. Stated another way, too few courses and programs have been created and designed to equip future and current educators/professionals with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to work with our nation’s increasing diversity. This increasing diversity cannot be ignored or trivialized in any way – especially given that over 40% of public school students are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. Yet, few teachers come from these racial/ethnic backgrounds. Instead, approximately 85% of classroom teachers are White and most of them (75%) are White females. Our society is becoming increasingly diverse, but our teaching force is not. The implications are clear and important. We must have educators, regardless of their race/ethnicity, who are committed to doing all they can for ALL students, who are committed to being non-discriminatory and culturally competent, and who are committed to their profession and the students in their care. More bluntly, I heard Rev. Lawry say on CNN over a year ago that, “We must be as diligent about closing the achievement gap as we were about creating it.” I cannot think of a more powerful statement (or indictment) to describe the achievement gap – its existence and persistence – than this assertion. The achievement gap is unnecessary and we must commit ourselves to not just narrowing the gap, but also closing it.

Share This:

Comments

16 Responses to “Closing The Achievement Gap: We Must Be As Diligent About Closing The Achievement Gap As We Were About Creating It by Dr. Donna Ford”

  1. Anita on 11/14/08 12:27 PM US/Eastern

    I am concerned about this achievement gap as well. I am teaching high school special education English, attempting to help my students improve reading, spelling, and writing skills. I plan lessons around Virginia’s standards of learning.
    I have developed, and I use, a concrete, pencil-paper, multi-sensory decoding strategy that helps my students make sense of any words they need to be able to read, spell, and write. So, if my students are serious about improving their skills, they find success in my classroom.

  2. Patrick Groff, Professor of Education Emeritus, San Diego State University on 11/15/08 2:25 AM US/Eastern

    As a longtime teacher, and teacher educator, I advise all educators to vigorously reject Professor Ford’s accusation that they are responsible for the fact that black students often score significantly below white ones on reputable academic standardized tests. As long as educators tolerate this distortion of both the qualitative and empirical data regarding this issue, the futures of many black students will remain as bleak as they are at present. The only hope for the future of these youngsters lies in the willingness of their parents to rigorously supervise their upbringings, sending them to school with positive attitudes toward formal instruction and to their teachers.

  3. Patrick Groff on 11/15/08 11:46 AM US/Eastern

    Professor Ford,

    I read the current online posting of your contention that teachers, and not parents, are the fundamental cause for the fact that black students score significantly lower on reputable tests of academic prowess than do white and Asian youngsters. I find that conclusion objectional for a couple of main reasons.

    One, during my lengthy career as a teacher educator, I visited over 800 classrooms on a regular weekly basis as a supervisor of student teachers. Very seldom did I witness objectional behavior toward students by either their regular nor student teachers. The latter group reported such child abuse to me very rarely.

    Two, there are abundant empirical data that indicate academically low-scoring students, black, white, or otherwise, are very likely to be members of families in which parents neglect to monitor carefully the behavior of their offspring. On the other hand, the complaints that teachers deliberately neglect to foster the welfare of their students are usually highly subjective in nature.

    Would it thus not be better to stop the kind of name-calling that I detected in your seeming attempt to absolve black parents for the negative behavior of their children while at school? It occurs to me that efforts such as yours to do little more than arouse racial animosities.

    P.Groff

  4. Donna on 11/15/08 11:48 AM US/Eastern

    Hi Elaine, thanks for sharing an overview of the strategies that you use. The last sentence catches my attention (“IF my student are serious about improving their skills…”). What do you do with students who are not motivated and/or interested?

  5. Donna Ford on 11/17/08 3:43 PM US/Eastern

    Hello Professor Groff, thank you for contacting me so that I can explain in
    more detail and/or correct your misinterpretations of my comments.

    I find it interesting that your subject heading reads ‘parents vs.
    teachers’. Nowhere in the blog do I pit them against each other; instead, I
    recognized that both groups play their role in the achievement gap. Of
    course, the roles can be and are different depending on home and school and
    community contexts. In virtually every report/document on the achievement
    gap, both parties share the blame. However, educators play the larger role,
    as indicated in a meta-analysis of over 1000 reports by Barton. The number
    one variable that contributes to the achievement gap is lack of rigor in the
    curriculum! Of course, teacher (low) quality, teacher (in)experience, large
    class sizes, and more also play a role in the school context. At home, low
    parental involvement at school, too little reading to children, too much TV
    watching, and other variables play a significant role. Further
    health-related variables (lead poising, hunger and poor nutrition, and low
    birth weight among Blacks) are contributing factors. Both home and school
    variables are primary contributing factors. This is not an either-or
    problem. It is not an either-or solution.

    Relative to your observations of student teachers, I think you are aware
    that most people will be on their best behavior when under
    observation/scrunity. And student teachers do not have as a great an impact
    on student achievement than do actual classroom teachers.

    Also, I find it interesting that you honed in on Black students (and poor
    behaviors, which I did not discuss). This smacks of deficit thinking –
    somewhat like you equate Black with poor behavior. You fail to address the
    findings that the achievement gap is reported to be even greater among
    higher-income Black and White students. So how do you explain/interpret this
    even more troubling finding?

    Relative to your notion that the gap is on “reputable tests of academic
    prowess”, the jury is still out on that. Numerous scholars are still
    attempting to eliminate test bias from all measures; but we aren’t there
    yet. Debates about test bias and lack of fairness are on-going.

    Back to the school/educator issue; we cannot ignore that schools are
    re-segregating at levels higher than or matching 1960s’ levels.
    Administrators are making these decisions relative to re-zoning, not
    parents. Also, my work is in gifted education. At no time in our history
    have Blacks been well-represented in gifted and AP classes; the number one
    way to get in these classes is by teacher referral. Every report on teacher
    referral shows that they under-refer Black students more than any other
    group. The opposite is true in special education where over-representation
    and over-referral by teachers are rampant! Are you contending that
    discrimination does not exist in schools?

    In closing, I am troubled by what I believe to be a misreading of my
    assertion in the blog. I am by no means absolving parents of their roles and
    responsibilities, but I refuse to place the blame solely or extensively on
    them. Likewise, I will not let educators — trained, credentialed
    professionals — who parents entrust their children to, off the hook. And I
    continue to urge professionals in higher education to provide the training
    and experiences necessary to help educators become more culturally
    competent.

    Thanks for sharing your comments and I do hope that I have shed additional,
    data-based light on what I wrote in the blog. This is, indeed, a complex,
    controversial, and contentious topic. We can and must close the achievement
    gap.

  6. B.L. Kidds on 11/17/08 4:28 PM US/Eastern

    Dr. Ford,

    I’d like to thank you for your blog. I think we all must remember that these weblogs are used to stimulate conversation. I have noticed that in this very contentious political atmosphere many are finding what many minorities in this country have lived with for centuries. That is many today agree that slavery (that peculiar institution) was and remains America’s cross, and therefore there are victims of those atrocities, just as there are Jewish and Japanese who have suffered their atrocites. No one would doubt the Jews were made victims and we have someone to blame, as well with the interment of Japanese Americans, there were victims and those responsible. But to my amazement with nearly 100 millions carried off, made to work for centuries, raped to a point of non-recognition, tortured, maimed, and murdered, in this case we have too many victims to count, yet in this case we have victims but no villians. This is obscured to be sure.

    Today’s educational process is flawed. I know we do the best we can, but if it were Ok we would not need (however botched they may be) attempts at raising academic standards by teachers. NOT Families – trust that no family should get a pass on their role in this process, but I didn’t read Dr. Ford saying that. We do know that the Achievement Gap exist everywhere and with parents who are well educated, two in the home with six-figure jobs. This does not cover the lack of cultural rigor and awareness in the curriculum. The “hook” that keeps the children interested in school.

    Dr. Gruff, I too have observed numerous “teachers-to-be” and let’s be clear here, there is very little interaction for very limited time. There is no way to take this undergraduate snapshot during a junior or senior year while taking exams and preparing for life, not to mention the cognitive development of the average undergraduate, this is not to say “all” but if you’ve been in 800 classrooms you have either seen what I speak about or did not yourself know what to look for.

    If you run the ball 99 yards for a touchdown it doesn’t matter, if you are running the wrong direction. Where and in what institution “today” never mind in the past 40+ plus years (Guessing) of your tenure have you seen an undergraduate or graduate program prepare teachers for those who are so culturally, linguistically, socially, race, gender, SES different from them? I’ll answer that for you none. It wasn’t until the 1970s that many colleges and universities were forced to address the diversity of its faculty nevermind the curriculum. Today, less than 40 years later classes or courses on cultural diversity are built around global issues not local ones.

    Teachers today learn more about kids in China, India, and Africa than about the kids that they will be responsible for. This is not their fault, the fault here lays with those of previous generations who thought it not needed to address this population.

    As to the “tests” and other “trusted” metrics, all are under continual scrutiny and many have been found wanting. I am motivated to write this for one reason only, and it is not the mere fact that I find you clearly blinded yourself by latent racism, but that you would perpetuate the system for so many of us who are still in here working at this thing called education.

    I would normally take my hat off to anyone who has spent a lifetime teaching, but you dear sir need to understand that as a teacher it is always our fault. We have them for 13 years and if their parents happen not to be there that makes our job all the more crucial. The gap grows during school years while in our care. It will take due diligence, time, and unwavering fortitude on the part of the teacher and it begins with their academic preparation and continual education. So, be very careful as you attempt to ask teaching professionals to ignore one of the few voices courageous enough to hit us in the gut with the truth.

    We can debate the validity of tests later. But as a teacher myself, a former admissions officer, we look at more than what oftentimes skewed tests of achievement have to say about the true intelligence of all our youth; so in closing the Herrnstein & Murray Bell Curvian Rhetoric is dangerous for America.

  7. Shelli on 11/17/08 5:13 PM US/Eastern

    Before one asks educators to vigorously reject ANY approach, we must be sure that we TRULY understand the stance that has been presented.

    As a parent, teacher, administrator, and professor, I too have had the chance to observe the interactions between students and teachers. Not ALL teachers think of minority students in a deficient manner. However, those who do (whether it is 1 or 1000) have a negative impact. We cannot be in denial and assume that discrimination does not exist.

    If I am not mistaken, Dr. Ford’s position is that both parents and teachers share the responsibility of closing this gap. However, if we are the scholars that we purport to be, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are preparing our pre-service teachers for the classrooms in which they will enter. We must teach them about ALL cultural learning styles. We must be willing to think outside of OUR box and step out of OUR comfort zone.

    If teaching pre-service teachers about the students they will be teaching is the way, then let’s do that. If educating parents about what needs to be done at home to increase the likelihood of academic success, then let’s do that too.

    The easy way out is to blame parents. The REAL way out is to make a change. Bottom line is this – an achievement gap exists and something needs to be done about it. In retrospect, we should not reject ANYTHING. Instead, we need to ACCEPT the fact that this is what is happening in SOME of our classrooms and educate our teacher education students to prevent the plague from spreading!

  8. Michele Pecina.Ed.D. on 11/17/08 6:08 PM US/Eastern

    Closing the Achievement Gap
    This is indeed a great need in our public schools.I have been an educator for over 38 yeas in the California public schools and this was my constant quest as a teacher and administrator.
    I believe the answers lie in continuous improvement,academic identity, and understanding the role of social class in our schools. (please email me for further info)

  9. Donna Ford on 11/17/08 9:19 PM US/Eastern

    Hi Michelle, thanks for sharing your thoughts and requesting additonal information. First, let me acknowledge that understanding and addressing academic identity is vital — another key factor– to closing the achievment gap. My colleague, Dr. Gilman Whiting, and I created a program three years ago on this very notion — improving the academic identity (scholar identity, as we call it) of Black males. A short video (13 minutes) of the Scholar Identity Institute for Black males can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrNP1zqMr3A

    Also note that Prof. Whiting has a few articles on the model that you can find in various journals. You can search the Internet for these in professional journals

    Further, income and class/socio-economic status certainly matter! Many scholars have shown this. However, as we focus on income and class, let us not igmore or minimize or negate the reality that race and culture matter. We need to tackle both issues – addressing income and class issues without a colorbline or culturebline approach.

  10. C. Mruczek on 11/18/08 11:59 AM US/Eastern

    Deficit thinking is certainly dangerous when teachers INTENTIONALLY view their children through that lens. It seems even more dangerous when teachers do not think critically about their practice, potentially viewing their students through this deficit lens UNINTENTIONALLY. This is what impacts the rigor of the curriculum for our culturally diverse students, contributing to the achievement gap as well as the misrepresentation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in Special Education. Teacher preparation programs need to prepare future teachers to not only be aware of how their own beliefs and values impact their teaching, but also foster an attitude of reflection in practice. In closing, I will not vigorously reject Dr. Ford’s statements. While we all know the important role of parents in the academic lives of their children, effective teachers are the key indicator of student success in the classroom.

  11. Steve Achey on 11/19/08 6:15 PM US/Eastern

    Regarding achievement gaps between White and African-American students, Dr. Ford asserts that a one-year gap at school entry becomes a four year gap by age seventeen. The statement, “during the educational process, the gap increases or widens” may leave the impression with some readers that Professor Ford attributes the three additional “gap” years to teachers. I do not know if that is what was intended, but if it was I must disagree. If a student arrives at school with a one-year gap, it follows that the same complex factors which created the one-year gap will continue to contribute to the growing gap during the school years. Students do, after all, go back home in the afternoon. It would be wrong to attribute three-fourths of the gap to teachers.

    This is not to let school districts or their principals and teachers off the hook. I agree with Professor Ford that educators must do a better job understanding the diverse cultural environment they work in. I certainly agree that the widely varying backgrounds our students come from cannot be trivialized. Raising cultural understanding among teachers is a virtue in and of itself.

    On other hand, it is quite a stretch to assert that greater cultural competence will make a major impact on closing achievement gaps.

    A student who begins school at a deficit will require intensive, direct, specifically targeted instruction, delivered with fidelity and sustained over a very long period of time. For students without academic support at home, it is to be expected that extra levels of support will be required throughout the school career.

    Where is that support to come from? The following describes a fairly typical classroom environment in a public elementary school:

    A teacher is provided with a class of twenty-four students. Among them are African-American, White and Hispanic children. Approximately a quarter speak little to no English. Ten receive free or reduced price meals. Assessments early in the year reveal that four students are reading two or more grades above their peers. Three others have compatible needs and are reading slightly above grade level. Ten more students are on grade level or close to it. The remaining seven students are well below grade level. The problem for the teacher is that each is missing a different prerequisite skill. One student hasn’t mastered basic concepts of print. Another can’t identify all his letters and associated sounds. A third has the basic phonemes but can’t blend or segment them. Another child seems to have working memory problems that make it extremely difficult to retain his high frequency (sight) words. The fifth child has such poor fluency that she doesn’t comprehend text even though she knows all the words. Another child is recently arrived in the United States with zero English, and the last child is also recently arrived and has some conversational English, but no academic skills in either language because this second grade year is his first exposure to school.

    One is said to be making excuses when one points out that it is not humanly possible for a single teacher to provide sustained, intensive, direct, specifically targeted instruction when faced with such a diverse set of needs. It is NOT excuse-making to point out that a laudable goal is unrealistic if one is trying to meet it with entirely inadequate resources and within an antiquated system. It is not realistic to expect me to fly to Chicago by flapping my arms. Provide me with an airplane, and the expectation becomes more reasonable!

    Let’s put more of the responsibility where it belongs and stop blaming the teachers! (They’re flapping as hard as they can!!)

  12. Ben Richards on 11/30/08 4:23 AM US/Eastern

    IQ data shows that groups have difference averages. This doesn’t imply anything about particular individuals as there is overlap amongst groups. So people should be treated as individuals rather than as members of groups.

    In modern western rational philosophy and science an important governing principle is parsimony (or “Occam’s Razor”)– i.e. the simplest explanation is usually the true one.

    Jewish and East Asian students seem overrepresented in the highest levels of achievement. For instance Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence appears heriditary rather than simply environmental http://homepage.mac.com/harpend/.Public/AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf

    Also, transracial adoption studies show East Asians still, on average, score above average on IQ tests. Also, the differences seem to hold regardless of SES.

    The group differences explain why after 50 years of trying to “close the gap,” we have made little progress. Careful scientific research shows that the different races are actually different in many things — in skin color, height, lactose intolerance, age of maturity, rate of sickle-cell anemia, athletic ability, and, IQ.

    http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2007/10/james-watson-tells-inconvenient-truth_296.php

  13. Donna Ford on 12/1/08 4:57 PM US/Eastern

    Hello Mr. Richards, I am familiar with the data that you have shared. I also want you to recognize that for every study pointing to genetic differences, there are studies that point to the role of the environment. Just as we should not pit parents and educators against each other, we should avoid playing the genetics vs. environment game. It is an unproductive one to say the least. It is outrageous to even think that the environment is an insignificant variable. Bluntly, I refuse to believe that genes are destiny – the environment (food and nutrition, exposure and opportunity, and more) matter in terms of altering (hindering or improving) whatever our genetics has given us. A potential world class runner will not become a world class runner without exposure, opportunity, food, exercise, motivation, commitment, expectations of others, etc. I am sure you are aware of this. I refuse to let genes determine the expectations I hold of others/students/fellow human beings; I refuse to set limits on what another human being is capable of doing or becoming. NO ONE knows what an individual is capable of doing or becoming; so I err on the side of the environment matters – an in meaningful ways. The environment includes parents AND educators. I doubt that¸ if you have children, you relied on their genes to make them what they are/became – Did you not seek the ‘best’ school? Did you not seek the ‘best’ teachers? Did you not read to them? Let’s be realistic – the environment matters. How much can we close the gap? Can we close the gap? I hope parents and educators believe that we can. Let’s get to work.

  14. Donna Ford on 12/1/08 10:18 PM US/Eastern

    Mr. Achey, as with previous respondents to the blog, I am appreciative of you adding your insights. I concur with a few of your points, but find a few to be troublesome. First, it is clear that, during the schooling/educational process, families will contribute to exert and an influence. Depending on the age of the student, they spend as much time in school as they do at home. So, to be redundant, both families and schools are influential.
    At the same time, it is essential to recognize that families are seldom formally trained or prepared to be educators and even parents. Educators do not have the luxury of hiding behind ignorance – they do get four or more years of formal training/preparation to be professionals and do an important job or task and that is to TEACH!
    Yes, classrooms are very diverse along racial and economic lines, as well as regarding academic skills and readiness. Those teachers who have struggling students do have supports, such as school psychologists, counselors and special education experts (and others) to give them direction, support and guidance for prevention and intervention. Teachers are not working in a vacuum. They are part of a flock, to use your ‘flapping wings’ analogy.
    What formal training do parents get?
    Futher, it is my contention — conviction — that all educators need to be culturally competent. Just as there is no place in schools for sexism, there is no place for racism and classism. Thus, the colorblind or cultureblind approach is ineffective. Borrowing from the field of business, it makes little sense to be ignorant of your clientele’s culture. There are many publications on how cultural blunders stifle business; this also happens in schools. We cannot and must not have our schools and classrooms being culturally assaultive. If teachers require training on being less biased in terms of gender, why it is unreasonable to assume that they also need training to be less biased relative to race and culture? Ignorance is NOT bliss in this case. Culture matters, as supported by such disciplines as cultural anthropology, cultural psychology, and cross-cultural communication. Right now, more than 40% of our students are Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American. Are you implying that they are homogeneous? I hope not!
    I also encourage you to re-read my previous comments; I have not pitted educators against parents- you and one other reader have done this. This misreading is troublesome and unprofessional. Let’s all work together do be scholarly, professional, and culturally competent. All students deserve this!!

  15. Dr. Andrea B. Rodriguez on 2/1/11 7:26 PM US/Eastern

    As I have been a school psychologist for 30 + years it’s amazing how the IQ belief has not changed. Please stop believing that IQ is the only legitimate measure of intellect. It is not. It is useful for finding out how and what a student can accomplish given a certain structure of tasks under certain conditions. After that, there’s not much else!
    We need to be more attentive to the ‘smarts’ children bring to the learning environment of school and how we can help them stretch their intellect to meet the demands of academic rigor, as well as support themselves within their community and family. Most children can, with support, prioritize those skills they have to categorically meet the needs of school.

  16. Paul Gorski on 2/26/11 11:22 AM US/Eastern

    I believe that the primary problem is neither parents nor teachers. Parents from disenfranchised communities and teachers both, in my estimation, are disempowered by the same thing.

    I’m sorry, Dr. Groff, but you make some horribly wrong assumptions, and I have studies dating back to the mid-1970s to refute the most damaging one. There is no evidence that African American parents or low-income parents or parents in any particular group which performs lower than their white or wealthier counterparts care less about education, are less involved in their kids’ education (when involvement is understood broadly rather than in ways that privilege those who have the resources to take time off work and that sort of thing), or anything like that. This is a myth and it’s driven largely by a bad assumption that we’re starting on a level playing field. We’re not. We need to step back and ask some much more complex questions. For instance, are opportunities for family involvement generally structured in ways that make them accessible to people who are more likely than their white (if we’re talking race) or wealthy (if we’re talking class) counterparts (proportion-wise, I mean) to be working multiple jobs, to be working evening jobs, to not have paid leave, to not be able to afford child care or transportation, not to mention people who are more likely to have experienced school as a hostile environment? Why don’t we try to even out all of those conditions — living wage work, equitable educational access, healthcare… Then we can start assigning blame, if there is blame left to assign.

    My sense is that most of the gap is the result of systemic conditions. The problem is that we’re starting the conversation at Kindergarten when we ought to be starting it at prenatal care and who has access to that.

    I do, by the way, think that Dr. Ford is correct that teacher education related to equity and diversity concerns is inadequate. I’ve watched teacher ed students who were explicitly racist, classist, heterosexist, and sexist be passed right through their programs and given their teaching credentials. They are the exception more than the rule, of course, but those who enter teaching with subtle biases and assumptions, sometimes even coming from well-intentioned places–they are the rule rather than the exception. This isn’t a dig on teachers; it’s true of people entering every profession. But more than that, I’ve spent the last five years studying and writing about what is happening in these multicultural teacher education classes and, unfortunately, a lot of what’s happening is simply confirming future teachers’ stereotypes. I don’t blame this on the teachers themselves — I generally think teachers are over-stretched and under-resourced — although of course there are many teachers who are just plain bigoted, just as there are many people in every profession who are just plain bigoted.

    So certainly Dr. Ford is correct that one thing we need to address is the dispositions and competencies of teachers. I don’t see this as a knock on teachers, but instead as a knock on an oppressive society that socializes people to carry these oppressions into any environments in which they spend any time. Part of it is the fault of inadequate teacher education, but teacher educations also are simply products of their own educations and socializations.

    The question we need to ask here is, To Whose Benefit? In a capitalist society, conditions generally exist because somebody profits from them. Who profits from this?

    In the end, I would argue that teacher education needs to be strengthened, but that we do a disservice to everybody involved when we have these conversations beginning with the assumption that larger injustices are not in play. Moreover, the elite classes in the U.S. derive benefit from these injustices and their implications on our schools, including the mis-education and under-education that happens all too often, because (among other things) it ensures them continued access to cheap labor. Personally, I don’t see any way the achievement gap will be demolished without attention to these bigger injustices. I imagine it can be mitigated a bit and we, as education people who, perhaps, don’t see these bigger issues as within our purviews, should commit to mitigating our behinds off in service to this goal, but all we’re doing without paying attention to some of the larger conditions in sustaining people within an unjust system rather than addressing the unjustness of the system.

    And again, I think we need to ask, To Whose Benefit?

Leave a Reply