Such are the ways of politics, where the crusade of the hour often blocks out everything else, at least until another crusade comes along and takes over the same monopoly of our mind.
Ironically, black high schools in Washington today have many of the so-called "prerequisites" for good education that never existed in the heyday of Dunbar High School-- and yet the educational results are abysmal. "Adequate funding" is always included among these "prerequisites" and today the per pupil expenditure in the District of Columbia is among the highest in the nation. During its heyday, Dunbar was starved for funds and its average class size was in the 40s. Its lunchroom was so small that many of its students had to eat out on the streets. Its blackboards were cracked and it was 1950 before the school had a public address system. Yet, at that point, it had 80 years of achievement behind it-- and only 5 more in front of it.
As a failing ghetto school today, Dunbar has a finer physical plant than it ever had when it was an academic success. Politics is also part of this picture. Immediate, tangible symbols are what matter within the limited time horizon of elected politicians. Throwing money at public schools produces such symbolic results, even if it cannot produce quality education.
Another black school that I studied-- P.
The assignment of guilt, especially exclusive guilt, to one party or another may satisfy the most urgent claims of justice, or the desire for retribution, but may fail utterly the needs of reconciliation and reconstruction.
Essays On Failure A Stepping Stone To Success I often wonder how failure shatters us and how much we panic even though we have an inherent quality to overcome the fear. Member how we learnt.
It is perhapsworth noting here that even if this conclusion is rejected by the morerecalcitrant of the right-wing pseudo-Christians, it does not help them, sincethey fail even on the individual charity standard, as discussed in this essay.
My great fear is that a black child growing up in Harlem today will not have as good a chance to rise as people of my generation did, simply because they will not receive as solid an education, in an era when such an education is even more important.
Parents have been an important ingredient in the success of schools, whatever the racial or social backgrounds of the students. But the specific nature of parental involvement can vary greatly-- and has often been very different from what is believed among some educational theorists. In some of the most successful schools, especially of the past, the parents' role has been that of giving moral support to the school by letting their children know that they are expected to learn and to behave themselves.
Current educational fashions see parents' roles as that of active participants in the shaping of educational policy and on-site involvement in the daily activities of the schools. Whatever the merits or demerits of these notions, that was certainly not the role played by parents of children at successful schools in the past. Nor were they necessarily equipped to play such a role. As of 1940, for example, the average black adult in the United States had only an elementary school education. I can still remember being surprised at what an event it was in our family when I was promoted to the seventh grade-- because no one else in the family had ever gone that far before.
It was much the same story on the lower east side of New York at that time. Biographies of immigrant children who grew up there are full of painful memories of how their parents, with their meager education and broken English, hated to have to go see a teacher-- and how embarrassed their children were when their parents appeared at school.
Parents today may be more educated and more sophisticated but it is not clear that their political or quasi-political involvement in schools has been a net benefit. At the very least, history shows that it has never been essential.
For those who are interested in schools that produce academic success for minority students, there is no lack of examples., past and present. Tragically, there is a lack of interest by the public school establishment in such examples. Again, I think this goes back to the politics of education.
Put bluntly, failure attracts more money than success.
Augustine in New Orleans began with an all-white teaching staff. Some of these schools were housed in old rundown buildings and others in new, modern facilities. Some of their principals were finely attuned to the social and political nuances, while others were blunt people who could not have cared less about such things and would have failed Public Relations One.
None of these successful schools had a curriculum especially designed for blacks. Most had some passing recognition of the children's backgrounds. Dunbar High School, for example, was named for black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and it set aside one day a year to commemorate Frederick Douglass, but its curriculum could hardly be called Afrocentric. Throughout the 85 years of its academic success, it taught Latin. In some of the early years, it taught Greek as well. Its whole focus was on expanding the students' cultural horizons, not turning their minds inward.
For all I know, there may be some Afrocentric schools that are doing well.