As we face a new Back-to-School season under the pall of the recent tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, there new considerations that can’t be ignored.
Of the many heartfelt, well thought-out, and clearly written responses to the ongoing travesty happening in that town, one of the most insightful was “Dear White People: The Race You Can’t See Is Your Own” that appeared on Blue Nation Review.
Written by author and communications consultant Anat Shenker-Osorio, the post delved into the issue of race and perceptions of race – the starting point for understanding not only what caused events in Ferguson but also what conditions the different ways people have responded to those events.
From a scientific perspective, Shenker-Osorio explained, people “formulate judgments by race. Not only does race constrain our ability to recall and differentiate among faces and constrain empathy for physical pain, it structures our desired responses to public policies.”
These are just the facts of the matter – with one notable exception, as Shenker-Osorio noted: “whites don’t see race … when they’re looking at other whites.”
To illustrate this phenomenon, Shenker-Osorio recalled a focus group she had run in which “we showed different groups an all white image and asked them to discuss it. None of the white folks remarked upon the lack of people of color, but for the African American, Latino and Asian-Pacific Island groups, it was the first thing they said.”
Shenker-Osorio also pointed out how the “oxymoronic” term “majority-minority” is another “clear indicator” of how white people continue to perceive themselves as a “majority” even when statistically they no longer are, in many respects.
Public education, in particular, is now one of those “majority-minority” arenas. As numerous recent reports have recently conveyed, white students are no longer a majority in public schools.
Of course, this seismic demographic change didn’t happen overnight. For years, schools have been becoming more and more populated by higher percentages of non-white children, with many districts having been Back To Schools White People Cannot See:
The AstroTurf Lament: Common Core in Two 2014 Public Opinion Polls
August 20, 2014
In August 2014, both Education Next and Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup published public opinion polls on education and that included questions regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
EdNext polled approximately 5,000 individuals, and PDK/Gallup, 1,000 individuals. (Some of EdNext‘s questions were asked in two versions, and the sample was split into two halves, or approximately 2,500 respondents.)
In the EdNext poll, 57 percent of the public stated that they had not ever heard of CCSS “before today.”
In the PDK/Gallup poll, respondents were asked how much they had heard about “the new national standards for teaching reading, writing, and math in grades K through 12, known as the Common Core State Standards.” Fifty-three percent reported hearing “only a little” (34 percent) or “nothing at all” (19 percent).
I read a comment in regard to these and other CCSS survey results by Michael Feuer of George Washington University in which Feuer states that “we are a nation that tends to prefer a slower approach to large change….”
What Feuer neglects to note is that CCSS “large change” came to the American schoolhouse (and then, to the American public) as a “top-down reform.”
Four years following CCSS’s official completion, the American public is still notably unaware and/or unfamiliar with CCSS because top-down-promoted change takes years to “trickle down” from the “controllers” to the “controlled.” (Indeed, all of this “top down” is supposed to “streamline” the messiness of democracy. If only we would just shut up and do as we are told….)
Cory Turner of NPR comments that CCSS has “an image problem” as noted in the PDK/Gallup finding that almost half of respondents indicated hearing of CCSS via TV, newspapers, and radio.
Such only serves to emphasize the “top down” direction of CCSS.
The public did not “think up” CCSS.
CCSS did not “emerge” from the classroom.
It is not the spontaneous creation of teachers in most states nationwide.