Friday, February 27, 2009

Are We Not Human?

After my post Wednesday (which took three days to write!), I don't have a lot of juice (or time) left this week for the post on human rights violations I'm committed to do on the 27th of every month. Still, I came across an article yesterday that is another aspect of what I got my butt in a sling for writing about elsewhere last month. I was writing about a local issue, of course, and yes, it was veeeeery pointed, but still it was not only true, but, as this piece by Michelle Chen demonstrates, children coast to coast in the United States are being similarly affected, as well.

Ignoring the effect on students of the social context in which badly underfunded public schools exist is just another way of insuring that poor children of color will not fully develop as whole individuals. It's like feeding them on bread and water and then putting them into foot races with youth whose nutritional needs have been completely met. And I would argue that those with the Power-to-Define know it full well. Which, in my book, makes it a human rights violation.

I see students of color, and most particularly African-American students, every day who are struggling because they are unprepared to meet the challenges of higher education. Invariably, they believe they are, for whatever reason, incapable. Not only do I do back flips in the attempt to assure them that they've been shoved into a trick-bag and CAN, in fact, still get out, I boldly offer to be their ally while they do it.

Public school education in schools that have been given short shrift needs to be a major recipient of any "stimulus package" funding over coming years. Investing in the education of humans who have been (and are being) left behind is not only appropriate, but crucial, if we want to climb out of the economic and social slough of despond into which we have fallen as a nation.


Villager said...

I appreciate you for your consistent commitment to this monthly blogging campaign. I agree with you that we need to refocus on public education for our students. Less than 50% of the students that enter our high schools graduate. Would you get on an airplane that only had a 50% chance of landing at its destination?

peace, Villager

Professor Zero said...

From a freaky, sardonic, but interesting article:

"The American 4-year college is an institution of dubious merit. It exists because American public schools fail to teach in 12 years what Russian public schools manage to teach in 8. As fewer and fewer people become able to afford college, which is likely to happen, because meager career prospects after graduation will make them bad risks for student loans, perhaps this will provide the impetus to do something about the public education system. One idea would be to scrap it, then start small, but eventually build something a bit more on par with world standards."

Changeseeker said...

Villager: You wrote: "Would you get on an airplane that only had a 50% chance of landing at its destination?" Great line.

PZ: The Orlov speech from which you quote captured me entirely. In fact, I almost never get so captured. It was like looking at a car wreck as you drive by. I didn't want to read it (especially because it was so long), but couldn't help myself. Orlov's ideas are hugely important, I think. Sigh.