Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mind the gap

Sharon Otterman, writing for the New York Times (“Triumph Fades on Racial Gap in City Schools”, New York Times, August 15, 2010), noted that
  • Among the students in the city’s third through eighth grades, 40 percent of black students and 46 percent of Hispanic students met state standards in math, compared with 75 percent of white students and 82 percent of Asian students. In English, 33 percent of black students and 34 percent of Hispanic students are now proficient, compared with 64 percent among whites and Asians…

  • …Experts have many theories, but no clear answers, about why national progress on closing the gap has slowed. They included worsening economic conditions for poor families and an increase in fatherless black households, social factors that interfere with students’ educational progress.
"Worsening economic conditions for poor families" is misleading, since there are poor white families, too. And "fatherless black households", which certainly is a factor, is still but a symptom of a range of issues beyond the control of the black household - but that argument is beyond the scope of this post.

It might appear we're trapped in a vicious circle - we're doing poorly in school, so we can't raise our socio-economic profile, and as our profile diminishes, we do increasingly poorly in school. Which comes first, the chicken of better socio-economic circumstances or the egg of doing better in school?

It is impossible to change society in one action, but the OughtThought here is that it is possible for an individual to change one's outlook, and I think StudyRite can help.

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