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Here’s a cartoon that, not only does nothing to refute my argument in the previous post, it also speaks to the entitlement the folks coming out of college appear to have. The not-so-subtle subtext is that getting a job and life in general after college is supposed to be free from pain and misery. Wasn’t my experience and wasn’t the experience of most people I know.
Sir Ken Robinson continues to make a name for himself as a critic and commentator on our educational systems. This RSA Animate video narrated by Robinson has been view by almost 2 million people on YouTube alone. His main message: the way we’re educating our children isn’t working (and probably never worked for most people) and that we need to seriously rethink it.
Robinson’s critique is, in my view, accurate and it leads me to think we need to provide community based, multi-generational education for our children. As I see it, this requires a change in our lifestyles so that we don’t “go off to work” everyday, but rather work near our homes at tasks that can include our children (and our neighbor’s children), mentoring them to do the same work we are doing. This seems too big a change for the near future. I don’t have the vision for what creative, divergent education that would engage all our children looks like. There’s certainly a middle ground between what we have now and a complete cultural and economic shift — I can’t see it, but I’m trying to see it.
A little more research reveals that the 20,000 school age children not in San Francisco public schools are not all white. However, what I’m now hearing at least anecdotally (but apparently backed up by data I have yet to see) is that the children of middle and upper class parents are going mostly to private schools. And since income breaks down by race, with Whites and Asians topping the statistics in San Francisco, middle and upper class parents are paying to create a racially unequal society.
Furthermore and contrary to what I initially thought, people (mostly parents) are talking about this problem. (I’ve been insulated from this situation because I don’t have kids.) The problem is that voting patterns and political influence are also correlated to class status, with working class and poor parents being least likely to be politically engaged. And so the parents who are most likely to impact the public school systems are paying to remove their children from that system.
At least that’s part of the educational and racial justice story in San Francisco. Is it like this elsewhere? Is the same dynamic playing out in cities across the country?
The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an article, entitled “Latino kids now majority in state’s public schools,” describing the unsurprising news that the Latino kids are now officially more than 50% of all the children in our public schools. The article goes on to discuss the real and potential impact of demographic changes on the political landscape, both local and statewide.
But for me the real news—which may not be news for many—was when I saw the demographics for the more than 55,000 San Francisco Unified School District students:
There’s nothing wrong with these numbers—except for the fact that, while whites make up a little more than 50% of San Francisco’s population, white kids are only 10.7% of the total number in public schools. A little more looking reveals that there are about 75,000 school age kids in San Francisco and 20,000 of them are not in public schools.
These numbers suggest to me that 20,000 white kids—75% of all the white kids in San Francisco—are going to private schools. If I’m misunderstanding these numbers, or if I’m missing some important piece of information, I’d like to know. Really. Please tell me. I’d like believe that white people aren’t deliberately and at great cost to their personal finances creating an unequal and unjust educational system and, therefore, an unequal and unjust society. I’d like to believe that white parents aren’t taking their kids out of schools with children of color in them, thereby depriving all kids the chance to get to know children from other communities and backgrounds.I’d like to believe that there’s a very good reason for the numbers. Please explain.
But if you can’t explain, then let’s start talking about the racism we are perpetuating and what we’re going to do about it. I think we could start by leaving our kids in public schools and by working and paying together to make those schools the best they can be.
Try starting a new school year, buying a house, and taking on some other new responsibilities at the same time. That would explain why I posted nothing here last month — I believe the first month I’ve missed entirely since I began the blog in December of 2006.
For those that are impatient with me, just know that (if it wasn’t already clear) this blog is something I enjoy and that I see it as a long term project. I’ll be back.