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Why I oppose the Separate But Equal doctrine
In a message dated 9/14/2002 10:43:20 AM Central Daylight Time,
Micheal Atherton writes:
<< Mr. Mann is opposed to neighborhood schools because he believes that
they concentrate students of low ability by geographical area and race. >>
A few corrections:
1) I do not subscribe to the idea that poor and minority students are
"low-ability" learners or that white middle class kids are "high-ability"
2) I do not subscribe to the idea that concentrating poor and / or black
students at certain schools, by itself, makes schools bad.
3) I am opposed to segregating poor and / or black students in schools
for high-poverty and / or high-minority neighborhoods because those
schools are usually inferior to those provided to white middle class kids.
I am opposed to ability-grouping for the following reasons:
1) Ability-grouping is less effective than instruction based on
individualized educational planning.
2) Ability-grouping is used to place students onto nonacademic,
work-readiness curriculum tracks.
3) The kids who are designated as 'high-ability' learners generally
acquire a belief that they are very smart and the kids who are
designated as 'low-ability' learners are stupid. T
4) The designated 'low-ability' learners generally accept and internalize
the idea that they are stupid and the 'high-ability' learners are smart.
The social efficacy argument for ability-grouping and class / racial
segregation is that the schools should provide students an equal
opportunity to get an education that prepares them for their future
role in society. In other words, unskilled and semi-skilled workers
don't need a college-bound curriculum. Learning to accept one's
social status as an adult with a minimum of friction is what Horace
Mann called "moral education"
Three old stock arguments used by supporters of
ability-grouping and class / racial segregation are:
1) Ability-grouping / segregation merely accomodate
differences in innate ability and the effects of home environment
and do no harm to 'low-ability' learners.
2) Schools have little effect on educational outcomes
independent of a student's innate abilities and home environment.
3) People have a 'natural affinity' for people of their own race, an
argument advanced by the majority of US Supreme Court in Plessy
v. Ferguson, 163 US 537 (1896), which upheld a Louisiana state law
which required blacks and whites to use separate train car facilities.
Introduction to White Supremacy and the Politics of Apartheid in Minnesota: