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White Privilege, Parent Involvement, and Vouchers
Subj:      [Mpls] White Privilege, Parent Involvement and Vouchers
Date:     12/15/2001 9:36:29 PM Central Standard Time

In a message dated 12/6/2001 4:45:25 PM Central Standard Time,
lynnell mickelsen writes:

>    And as long as we're on the topic of White Privilege, I
>  might as well add that there's some other white advantages. I and my
>  children do not have 300 years of the dominant culture telling us,
>  directly and indirectly, that we're intellectually stupid. (Something
>  that the black and Native American population continues to face and
>  which I believe has the same, subtle and cancerous effect of
>  second-hand smoke on all of us.)...

Where do school age kids get the idea that they are stupid or smart?  It
certainly happens at school when a teacher ability-groups. Is it just a
coincidence that white supremacists supported the introduction of
ability-grouping in the elementary schools as a way to keep blacks in their

MPS data suggests that third grade kids who are not on track to pass the MTSB
reading test on their first try are very likely to dropout or be pushed out
of high school.  They are also far less likely to get a job and far more
likely to become prison inmates than the kids who learn how to read well.

>  ...My 14-year-old son is not being
>  chronically stopped by the police, followed by security guards and
>  told by the culture, directly and indirectly, that he's a criminal.
>  Half of the men in my neighborhood between the ages of 18 and 30 are
>  not being arrested or otherwise monitored by the criminal justice
>  system. And my neighbors are usually able to get mortgages and
>  business loans, based on their income and assets. Imagine that!!!
>   If we're going to talk about family responsibility and
>  involvement, all these things play a role too. If we don't
>  acknowledge this, we're back to the old trap of demonizing the poor.
I've heard more than one Montessori parent say they were willing to spend
upwards $9,000 per child per year (in the mid-1990s) on preschool tuition to
ensure that their kids get into the academically gifted / talented programs
upon entering the public schools.

There are good "middle class" and poor parents whose kids are less advantaged
and didn't make it into the gifted and talented programs.  Many of these
parents get deeply involved with the education of their children, with mixed
results.  Some of these parents get a little more involved by home schooling
their kids.  Some get less involved by enrolling their kids in a private
school or a public school in the burbs.

>   That's why I think the traditional liberal versus
>  conservative approach to these issues is outdated. It's not "It's the
>  System's Fault" versus "It's the Family." It's both. And we've got to
>  work on both simultaneously.
Really.  If, as the BOE maintains, the school system is doing everything it
can to educate the students, how can you assign any blame to the school

One can take the position that poor education-related outcomes are partly the
system's fault, but there is nothing that can be done about that.  That poses
the question, Why can nothing be done about it?  The answer: uninvolved,
under-involved, and incorrectly involved parents.  

The district maintains that reading is a skill that can be learned at home if
parents spend enough time reading to their kids. That's the prescription. How
big a dose of reading out loud will turn you kid into a reader?  One-half
hour per day.  One hour per day. Two hours.  If the prescription doesn't
work, the doctor says "its not enough," or "you can't be doing as much as you

Could the problem be that a lot of kids need expert instruction in reading
but don't get it at home or at school?  Most parents do not have the time,
temperament and expertise that may be needed to teach their kids how to read.
Too bad.   

I think the Minneapolis Public Schools should do an ad campaign directed at
poor people with slogans like "Don't expect reading instruction" and "don't
expect a high school diploma."  
>   (The weird thing, and I've noted this before, is how certain
>  conservatives drop all their personal responsibility stuff when it
>  comes to public schools. Suddenly, my God, the school system is100
>  percent responsible for the failures of humanity. Which works well as
>  a tactic to start privatizing education and asking for school
>  vouchers for all.)
Vouchers have a strong appeal to parents who are dissatisfied with the
quality of education their children are receiving in the public schools.  Who
are the these dissatisfied customers?  Just look at the distribution of votes
for Evelyn Eubanks in the last election: Top vote getter in the 5th Ward and
among the top 4 in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th wards.  A lot of "those people"
evidently feel that the public schools are cheating their kids out of an
education they are entitled to.

I think that some of people in the voucher crowd sincerely believe that
vouchers are the answer.  But as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved
with good intentions.  What you end up with is an even less equitable
distribution of educational resources than you have in the public school
system. If a voucher system is created, the parents who are not willing and
able to supplement those vouchers with some tuition money will have to settle
for one of the most-revenue challenged schools, know in Cleveland as voucher

And with a voucher program, the government pays less, and parents pay more of
the educational costs.  That leaves more tax dollars for corporate welfare
programs, like giving away baseball stadiums to billionaires.

-Doug Mann, Kingfield

Doug Mann for School Board
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