A Modest Question

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Everyone wants our children to be educated so they can achieve The American Dream.  But even in school districts run by Black administrators, Black students do poorly on reading and math tests.

According to the article, that’s because Black students lack White Privilege which consists of parental supervision, respect for teachers, education is valued, correctly spoken English at home, homework done and checked for errors, security from violence at home and teachers who have high expectations.

Of course, those are precisely the behaviors that constitute Acting White and which no self-respecting authentic Black youth would be caught dead doing, lest he be ridiculed as an Uncle Tom by peers and in the media.

Worse, the tests measure knowledge that might have been essential to success in 19th Century Prussia, on which our educational system was based.  But is it knowledge essential to success as a 21st Century American? What is “success?”  The Amish don’t define “success” the same as the Clintons and President Obama’s vision of being an American seems nothing like Ronald Reagan’s vision.  Do Blacks define “success” the same as Whites or Asians or recent Central American immigrants or African refugees?   What should schools teach when it’s obvious that students do not share the same definition of “success” and how can different measures of “success” constitute one American Dream?

Why should all students take the White Success tests? Maybe there should be a different tests to measure Black success?  I’m not talking about racist joke tests like “Jasper steals three watermelons . . .” but a serious inquiry into what constitutes “success” for modern Black Americans and what knowledge, skills and abilities are essential to achieve that success?

I’m asking for a serious inquiry:  what is The American Dream?

Joe Doakes

As we’ve discussed in this space before, “class” privilege is every bit as big an issue as “white privilege” – which is why BLM is protesting so furiously about the white variety.

But “class privilege” is exactly behind our current school system’s definition of “success”.

6 thoughts on “A Modest Question

  1. Americans, black and white, measure success in exactly the same way; financial security and vocational satisfaction. The problem is that two generations of black families have suffered the consequences of leftist pandering and power mongering.

    Black parents want their kids to live better lives than they did, but too often that means more and better government programs. They have become contented cows, herded to the polls every couple of years to be milked by leftist farmers.

    Things are changing, slowly yes, but in easily detectable increments. Unfortunately far too many well educated blacks take their talents right back to the government, albeit to do some milking themselves for a change.

    People laugh about the TV show Shark Tank, but Daymond John is no joke. Raised in the traditional “war on poverty” method (by Moms and Grandmoms), he managed to break the cycle. There are many others, of course, but they do not generate the kind of interest (revenue) pop culture demands, so they operate in the shadows.

    I see a lot of shared history between the Irish and black Americans. Centuries of slavery, death, degradation and discrimination followed by dependence. Through it all, we’ve been our own worst enemies.

    It took almost 500 years for the Irish to find their feet…hopefully black Americans can shave some time from that.

  2. It strikes me that what is needed is a dose of paternalism; to take people aside and say “whatever you think you want, here are the data that show that what we’re doing isn’t working, and since I’m paying, I want a say in this.”

    For example, if someone wants affirmative action in college admissions, we take a look at the graduation rates of those who got a boost in getting admitted. Are we helping them, or preventing them from succeeding by taking years of their life without giving them a marketable degree?

    Unfortunately, the record of the left in actually looking at the data is pretty poor–they were told by one of their own over 50 years ago that AFDC was a time bomb, and they still haven’t clued in that marriage matters, by and large.

  3. BB, I’m not sure of what the results of affirmative action (AA) are in college in general, but I can tell you what they are in the engineering areas.

    I got tagged to run the intro to engineering seminar for our students one year. My opening spiel went roughly, “Look at the guy on your left. Look at the guy on your right. By the end of this first year at most one of you three will be left in this program.”

    And I’ll say that my experience as a math/physics undergrad were pretty much the same: if you weren’t fully prepared to go head-to-head with your peers from Day One, you pretty much were forced out of the hardcore departments(*). And that made AA a cruel joke on the students who could have succeeded and become viable engineers in a program that started more from their level. At some point success as an engineer is more about passion for the subject than classes, but to get to that passion point you need to survive college.

    (*) Note that even back then we had special help for AA students. But the load in engineering generally is ridiculously heavy when you try and cram a 5 year program into 4 years, so asking to overload AA students even beyond the exceptionally heavy engineering sequence load isn’t fair.

  4. Can’t recall if I told this story before, but it is appropriate when you talk about AA and AA. My friend is from South Africa. When he applied for a US citizenship, he of course checked African American for a description. After all, he was born in Africa and now he was to become an American. If the choice was between black or white, he would have picked white, but since African American was a choice, he picked that. He failed the interview – immigration officials did not appreciate the logic and it took him 6 months longer to become an American Citizen. His wife was livid. He is now living the dream – since he came to the US, he had become a multi-millionaire employing scores of people, all by utilizing his g*d-given talents (he is a scientist) and desire to win. But, his son is now facing a conundrum – he is a straight A student, a valedictorian in the most competitive school in Houston, an athlete, plays in orchestra, tons of community experience, was excepted into every school he applied to but the one he really wanted. His mother put her foot down when he toyed with an idea of checking AA on the application. There is no question he would have been accepted if he did check that field off.

  5. Nerdbert; unfortunately, it’s probably harder to tell how badly blacks are being hurt because colleges now admit (except for prestigious ones) a boatload of unqualified students of all races. (my daughter is going to college next fall, and it would be WONDERFUL if colleges had “average ACT score for graduates”, not just “average ACT score for incoming students”)

  6. A friend’s daughter got admitted into a fairly prestigious school, but her SAT and ACT scores were somewhat below the median and they actually asked me for my opinion on whether she should go there or a slightly less prestigious state school where she would be above the median score. I gave them the reasoning I kind of ran through above: her choices in major would be much diminished if she chose the more prestigious school, her odds of finishing there would be lower, and the relative benefits of going to the slightly more prestigious school would essentially disappear 5 years after graduation. The short version of the story is that eventually she did switch “down” after much frustration, tears, lost time, lost money, and lost opportunity cost. She did eventually finish, and in the major she really wanted rather than what she could get into; and never underestimate how much better it is to like what you do for a living and not what you have to settle for.

    Honestly, my view is that if you’re not at the median of the incoming class you really shouldn’t go except maybe to one of the Ivys. It takes a certain rare kind of personality to power through if you’re not at that level (think Patton, who came in near the bottom of his class), or some special circumstances that lowered your ACT test scores (although that reasoning doesn’t apply to the SAT as it is now since it’s more an IQ test than a knowledge test [it’s due for a change to more an ACT-style knowledge basis this year, allegedly]).

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