Friday, November 26, 2004

Race based Stats

What are you selling us the creator dwell in us
I sit in your unknown class while you're failing' us
I failed your class 'cause I ain't with your reasoning
You're tryin' make me you by seasoning

Boogie Down Productions - You must learn

One of the issues in the local news in Toronto last week has been the collection of race based stats for schools in this area. Basically the thought is that the drop-out rates, pass rates and achievements of students has not been uniform across racial groups and that for whatever reason students of certain ethnicities (blacks, Portuguese and some other ethnicity I don't remember were mentioned) are not being done justice.

The need to collect stats was placed to a vote last week at a Toronto School board meeting and was passed by a slim 11-10 margin. Actually it should be a big issue but discussions involving race here are usually seen as somehow not being politically correct or at least not something we really should be discussing in the public forum so while it made the news it wasn't as big a brouhaha as it could have been.

So what's this all about. Well from my vantage point I'll deal with the black kids. Many black kids are failing, are dropping out and are being failed by the school system. Or as Royston James puts it in last Friday's Star "We already know that too many black kids are failing. Too many black kids are being suspended and expelled. Too many black kids are dropping out of high school. Too many black kids are graduating without passing the Grade 10 test that's required to get them the high school diploma. Too many black kids are hanging around the 'hood, not in college. Too many black kids are selling drugs. Too many black kids are at the detention centers, and in jail, and in prison, this very minute."

Like KRS-one asked "Why is that?" and how does collecting stats help us solve this issue? Well in my opinion the collection of stats here doesn't really help us at all. Don't we already know pretty much that certain ethnicities are failing more than others? Do we need really exact stats to tell us this? The issue should be why haven't the numerous recommendations made over the years to improve the school system been put into place?. Also are we sure this failure thing is a race issue moreso than a socio-economic issue? Do we collect data on the income of the families who have kids failing? Maybe more black kids are failing because more black kids are from the lower end of the socio-economic scale ie poor families.

Will these race stats be helpful? Wont they just place another unnecessary stigma onto the shoulders of black students if it is shown that they are failing or dropping out of school in disproportionately high numbers compared to other races? I mean us black folk already have many stereotypes to contend with , ingrained beliefs as to our academic ability which have been passed down the line from generation to generation. Wont collecting race based stats add another stereotype? Wont these stats give teachers an opt out clause for why their black class is doing poorly when it could just be that the teacher isn't putting in the effort to assist his/her class or that there is just something inherently wrong with the system?

What is the point? What if it is found that lots and lots of blacks are failing what then? Have the powers that be decided what the next step will be?

Now also from my viewpoint while the school system holds alot of the blame for the failure of black students we ourselves as a community are far from blameless. I remember when I was growing up education was a thing of value. Parents saw it as a way for their children to get ahead in life and make a better living than they (parents) had. Hence parents were generally very strict about school attendance, discipline and performance.

For some reason maybe the potential for a better life proposed by an education never seemed to have materialized for us black folks and it seems to have trickled down to our general attitude towards schooling. Hence we have a big set of lawless yout with chips on their shoulders acting a fool and not even trying in school whilst their parents sit back and do nothing. Or is it that the parents are too busy making ends meet to put in the effort required to guide their children? Whatever it is we are not doing our part by being vigilant about what the youngsters are doing and how they are performing. Pay some attention folks.

The school is only part of the problem the community must shoulder its fair share of the blame.

Come on people wake up.


Anonymous said...

I agree JDid. I often wonder though if the problem is more profound for some these children whose parents have migrated. I'm not saying we don't have problems with underachievers or 'loafters' here in the Caribbean, but does the whole migration thing play a role also?

In essence though, I think each case has to be taken on its own merit and socioeconomic status of parents I feel does play a big role. It is time (long time) that the problem needs to be addressed.

Despite hailing from skin well light..but that doan mean nutten. Seems the issue of skin colour causes so may repercussions wherever one goes in the world....the Caribbean is by no means expempted!

BTW, the ham 'recipe' is may want to prips it! Dr. D.

obifromsouthlondon said...

we have the same issue over here in the UK. statistics shows that black kids (mostly boys) perform well up to the secondary level at which point their performance falls something awful. cant see how collecting stats helps.

There was a big issue about the failings in july and numerous programs on tv. charity begins at home son.

nahmix said...

Same thing here in the US. Black kids are at the very bottom of acaademic achievement. I use to work for an organization that tried to close the racial academic achievement gap for black kids.

Jazz said...