Thursday, August 12, 2010

white kids can't (don't) SLANT

A guest blogger at eduwonk wonders whether KIPP methods would work in "integrated" schools, by which he means schools with white students. The comments quickly spiral into a back-and-forth between one who says KIPP teaches students to "act white" and several who say that they're teaching kids "good behavior" and, more importantly (to them), who can argue with the results? Of course it's more complicated than this. But the point I would make is that middle-class kids don't SLANT. I've taught a bunch of them. They may mostly sit up and mostly listen, but they don't do what SLANT look like in the videos. And they can still learn! What the poster's question shows is that KIPP is not teaching its students "how to do school" in the way that kids with more social capital already do. And that may not be teaching them to "act white," but it is teaching them that they are different and they need to be treated differently--more strictly and less flexibly-- than their more advantaged counterparts.

And that is why the way these schools discipline students is problematic. Not because of "political correctness" or even respecting students' home cultures-- which I fully believe in--but because their own rationale is very obviously falsified by remarks like this. Which only leaves the "efficiency" rationale, and we should always be worried when something seems like a good idea because--and only because--it's efficient.

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