Public School Integration, 21st Century Style

30 Sep

Although parts of it make me cringe (“I feel like at this age, they don’t really see color,”) this is a fascinating little article from NPR about white, upper-class parents in Birmingham, Alabama, sending their children to public schools, which are 95% black, and 90% free- and reduced-lunch.

New Wave Of School Integration In Birmingham, Ala.

Although the article focuses mainly on the gentrification and racial issues, there are a few points that relate directly to things we’ve talked about in class. For one, the above quote about how kids “don’t see color.” Adults seem to have this strange idea that children are color blind. They see color, but many of them just haven’t lived enough to know they are supposed to care about it. It is we (adults, society, history) who put meaning behind the color of a person’s skin.

The article also mentions the difference between teaching styles of inner-city school vs. the methods “favored by many middle-class parents.” To me, this is NPR’s way of noting the difference between black teachers and white teachers. There is a difference. There is nothing wrong with noting that this difference exists. Reading Vivian Paley’s White Teacher, and Lisa Delpit’s review of the book in Rethinking Our Classrooms, I find it interesting to note that we talk a lot about white teachers working with black students, but not the opposite. Lisa Delpit notes that “When teachers are teaching children who are different from themselves, they must call upon parents in a collaborative fashion if they are to learn who their students really are.” (Rethinking Our Classrooms, Vol 1, p 160) This goes both ways. I hope that the teachers at this school in Birmingham are comfortable collaborating with the parents of their new students. Only then will these students truly receive the full power of a multicultural education, as discussed in the article.

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2 Responses to “Public School Integration, 21st Century Style”

  1. ponderinged October 2, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    Thanks for posting such a different article that reflects a broadening of horizons for individuals who are seeking a unconventional education plan for their family. Reading this article, I realize that the path the family’s child will take will be extraordinary and most probably have difficult moments, but the child will emerge as a strong individual with a greater understanding of cultures that differ from the family culture that has already been established in the suburban negihborhood where the family resides.

    • teacherbecoming2013 October 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

      I agree! I was also struck by the part of the article that mentioned that all of the students will benefit from working together through the course of their education – black and white.

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