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Old 03-23-2012
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Lightbulb It's not our culture, it's the system

This semester I am taking a sociocultural influences on learning course. I've read a lot, learned a lot, and have had multiple discussions with my peers and professor. My interest for our minorities and education has risen. So I came to soy explored a few old threads and there is a recurrent idea. That we are at fault for not being educated, that we do not take advantage of the education offered in this country.

While this is true, to some level, it goes deeper than that. The educational system in the United States is not the best for encouraging education amongst low income minorities. Before I get attacked and I am told how our education system is great, and better than Mexico (which I debate), let me explain. (Or may be not, I am sure most people are aware of our sucky education system)

White suburban schools vs inner city minority schools. Obviously everyone knows who has the higher ranking. I understand this isn't only a problem of race but also a problem of socioeconomics. These White people in these schools put so much time and money into their children's schools. I read about a school where parents in the PTA raised $80,000 in a school year, for supplementary materials and field trips. I am not disputing that this shouldn't be done, I am trying to point out that this equals unequal education, therefore we do not all have access to the same resources. Yet, our children are being tested on these standards. The tests are made for middle class, low income children, with English as a Native language. Our kids fail miserably at these tests (Not all, I know, but we shouldn't be guided by exceptions). I have seen this at play, for example math problems. The word left. John has three apples, he ate one how many does he have LEFT? the problem right next to it: There were five people at a party, two LEFT, how many remain? My student was very confused by this word, even though they understood the concept.

I have also read things like "Hispanic parents don't care about their children's education / They don't see the importance of education." I beg to differ, I have worked in several afterschool programs with low income minorities, and trust me these parents care. They take public transportation to take their children to tutoring, they bring small gifts to show appreciation, they sometimes don't go to the school that often but that is because they are working very hard trying to provide a living. Teachers judge parents too harshly. They feel that if the parent is not as involved as they like, that this parent doesn't care or doesn't think education is important. It is too quick of a judgment.

I have also read here on soy, "kids don't like learning/ they waste the golden opportunity of an education." While I agree that some people legitimately dislike school, I don't think this is the case in general. If you look at a group of first graders, they are EXCITED, THRILLED to start their first day of class. This dies down as school progresses, is this their fault? or is it ours?

Now another assumption: "All it takes is hard work." Well yes, but it is so much more than just hard work. Some white people may see, I worked really hard to get where I am, but then we realize that hey both parents are educated, if both of your parents went to college, you are going to college NO WAY AROUND IT. They have access to so many more resources. On the other hand, hard work doesn't always pay off with our minority children. I believe that they system can set you up for failure. Another quick example of the disadvantage in our higher education. There is a girl in my class who said her father is in the admission committee (or knows people in it), he contributes a lot of money to the university. The girl told us that the committee and alumni make sure that the University upsets majority White students, because they believe that minorities don't give back as much as White people.

I am sure, that all this information isn't NEW stuff to anyone, yet I want to instill respectful discussion around it, and hear more opinions.

I know that I say the system sets people up for failure, while I am an exception to the contrary. I went through elementary and secondary education in this country, through low income schools, with low income parents, and I made the most of it. Yet, we shouldn't use these outliers as models, we need to see that so many people are not making it, and stop blaming them, and look at the system.
“If you want something you’ve never had,
you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
-Thomas Jefferson

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