Dec 18, 2012

School Administrators Are Slow Learners

As reported in Friday's Easton Express by reporter Colin McEvoy, the principal of Luis Ramos Elementary School has submitted a revised Improvement Plan, which recommended special cultural training for the teachers. Her premise is that the majority of the students are minorities, and the teachers are white, so such cultural insight might help the teachers succeed in improving the students standardized test scores. School Board member Scott Armstrong took exception to this concept: This training philosophy wrongly suggests teachers should view students not as equals, but instead use their skin color and ethnicity as the determining factor to an individualized approach. Armstrong, on the comment section of the Express story and for this post,  expanded on his objection to the principal's plan.
  It is an unfortunate reality that our intellectual betters tend to over analyze problems so thoroughly that they fail to see the obvious. Such is the case with the politically progressive theory that instilling cultural sensitivity in teachers is an imperative if we are to improve the scholastic performance of minority students. In other words teachers should not view students as equals but instead use skin color, ethnic, religious and/or linguistic backgrounds as the determining factor to an individualized pedagogical approach. Is it at all reasonable or appropriate to instruct our teachers to evaluate children from a baseline determined by cultural background? With this approach don’t we serve to re-enforce stereotypes, build in cultural separation, and re-segregate learning? Is this in the best long term interests of the students or society as a whole? I say no. What has become of the oft stated goal of a color blind society? Are we now being asked to put that aside and replace it with one based on color, creed and ethnicity? No one expressed more perfectly what we as Americans should be striving for than Dr. Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Let us simply focus on each child’s natural desire to learn and excel. We should not overlook the obvious problems, such as dysfunctional home life, potential abuse, neglect, language proficiency, and poverty. No one culture has a monopoly on these situations; they plague mankind. Let us instill in our students the American message of liberty, personal responsibility, and the endless opportunity that results from hard work, focus, and dedication. This message must be the credo that unites the ASD and the entire community on a common theme of success for our children.

Disappointingly, Russ Mayo, Superintendent, chimed in that such culture training, called Cultural Competence, is indeed becoming fashionable in urban education, and he believes that it would benefit our entire system. I'm not a fan of school administrators. Like mayors, they're always looking to buy new ideas. A group of city officials from New England just visited Allentown to learn about our revitalization success: To what on earth are they referring? First we made the mistake of teaching for the tests, now we may be teaching for the cultures. Here's hoping we don't rehire former superintendent Zahorchak as an consultant.

More on Cultural Assimilation by LVCI

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! How remarkable to hear Scott quoting a well-known socialist sympathizer!

Give Scott credit,he's right on this one. You don't have to be a blind Republican ideologue to realize that this scheme is silly nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Just for added measure your readers might be interested in checking out the improvement plan's
“research-based professional development”.


“Reading Other People's Children makes it impossible for one — as a teacher, administrator, or parent — to see teaching as an apolitical endeavor that has little relationship to issues of liberation and injustice.”
This quote is from this review of one of the study books from the Ramos elementary Improvement Plan.

http://www.hepg.org/her/booknote/293


Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott, to expand my take; if allentown's demographics had changed overnight, and the teachers were mystified by strange customs of their new students, perhaps such training might be in order. of course this is not the case, allentown has been a minority system now for probably over a decade. we are fortunate to have dedicated, professional teachers, who know from experience how best to reach their students. if only the administrators would get out of their way.

Anonymous said...

Well if cultural awareness is in then we must also teach the teachers about all cultures including the differences between growing up in the city, in the country, on a farm and in a military family.

When my son entered kindergarten in Florida the teacher had the class color an apple. So he colored it yellow, with some brown spots. He came home in tears because she failed him.

Though he had just spent the summer with his grandparents on their farm in Hamburg, and they had yellow apple trees.

Needless to say his Mom and I were irate. We bought yellow and green apples and took them to her, explained his summer and we did not care if he colored it brown and black as some he had seen on the ground. She did then at least give him a D. That was a tough year.

Oh and if the teachers do learn this of course they are going to demand to be paid more because of it. Besides this type of training should be taught to them while they are in college, when they take their refresher courses and so forth.

Frank

Anonymous said...

Mike,

And further for the record let me write that I am not against, as our superintendent put it, “training for teachers to understand multiculturalism". However the teacher instruction proposed in this improvement plan raises real concerns.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Your readers might want to use this link to further examine the proposed teacher study materiel.


http://faculty.washington.edu/rikitiki/tcxg464sp08/Silenced%20Dialogue%20by%20L%20Delpit.pdf

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I agree Scott's correct in speaking up against this silly plan. I just wish his responce didn't sound like a promo for the American Enterprise Institite.
In our fine country in the secound decade of the twenty first century, some folks who have worked very hard and played by the rules all their lives find themselves without the medical care and penshions they had been promised all their working lives. Thank God Social Security was never privatized as George W. Bush had hoped.

monkey momma said...

Reading the source material Scott provides is disconcerting. I really cannot believe the ASD endorses these articles.

This cultural training alleges that white people are directly to blame for the possible failings of their non-white students. These students fail because white teachers expect the kids to act white. Isn't that about the long and short of it?

I find this offensive. I would argue that solid educational objectives for math, science, reading, writing and critical thinking skills would go a lot farther for ALL students, as opposed to cultural training reminiscent of Malcolm X or the Black Panthers.

michael molovinsky said...

momma, how far out the Cultural Competence training becomes, if implemented, remains to be seen. I have NOT read the links provided by Armstrong. If they were submitted by the Luis Ramos principal as way of background, or actual agenda, I do not know. my point ended with scott's initial quote, and his expanded explanation. i have received a comment about different cultural meanings of a word, which i did not print. I have no interest in such examples, just as I didn't print the minority chart showing that there is 1 Hawaiian in the school system. two years ago I had the privilege to listen to dozens of minority honor students explain to zahorchak that they didn't want to attend the proposed separate honor school at 4th and allen; that they wanted to stay at allen and dieruff and take advantage of all the extra curriculum activities. zahorchak threw every idea from his Administrators Magazine at the system at great expense and disruption. When will we learn better?

LVCI said...

Mike & Scott-- I posted a response to Scott over at the Express Times which I linked to my own blog. What I felt the most salient point was this video made by Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) in October of 2006 entitled Immigration and "Cultural Assimilation".

I'd be interested to hear what either of your thoughts are regarding what the Congressman said?

Anonymous said...

Mike,

One more item of concern. Take note of this part of the proposed improvement plan.


"Parent Involvement

Three part series Family Literacy Workshops: “ We Read Together” ( Focus: comprehension Strategies. facilitator: Andrea O’Brien)
Getting Ready for PSSA’S ( Facilitator: Paula Lapp)
International Day (Parents will bring artifacts & cultural dish from their native country. Students will present “My Country “PowerPoint to staff and students)."

So the students will present a "My Country" powerpoint; is not America each student's country? Unless they are here on an exchange program the answer is yes or at least it should be. My concern here is that the children will be taught otherwise.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Take it from a longtime educator, there's a reason for moves like this.

Every time a new concept, a new program, etc. is introduced, it pushes BACK the point of actual accountability.

These movements just "buy more time." The stock answer becomes "We ARE addressing that, have introduced THIS, and it will take a year, or two, to see results."

Problem is, in a year, or two, there's something NEW all over again!

Anonymous said...

This was all done about 17 years ago with an outfit called The National Coalition Building Institute. Check it out Scott, it will all be in the record.

Anonymous said...

Scott, is it possible to be proud aboutt where you're coming from, as well as where you are?

michael molovinsky said...

@2:06, nobody suggests repressing the student's culture, the issue is how to best prepare them for success in united states. since in fact most of the students are of latino descent, but were born in united states, the proposal would seem more politically correct than educational.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty much with you untill Tancredo was introduced into the conversation. Here's a man who has little or no grasp of history or the present. The guy just makes up his own reality in the way that ideologues do.
People like this are why the GOP is in trouble.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:50. I also didn't find tancredo's video directly relevant to the issue of of cultural training for teachers, however, this is not a immigration issue from california, but an educational choice in allentown.