Jim writes: Why is this OK? “High-achieving black youths take classes to help them both as students and citizens.” This program seems to be commendable with outstanding goals – but all children need programs like this – not just specific racial groups. The implication is that only black children are at need – isn’t this racism? Our society ostensibly strives for equality and minimizing or reducing discrimination, but our local educational system supports this program? “Brown, one of Walker’s assistant principals, founded the program two years ago to promote unity and interest in school among his students.” This quotation leads one to believe that this program is for all students – is this a matter of irresponsible reporting?
83 thoughts on “Segregation in Cville?”
I had to read the article through several times in disbelief. I certainly hope that this is a case of misreporting.
These kids are undoubtably great. I don’t want to politicize them or diminish what they are doing and learning. But racially segregated schooling is unacceptable in this country. Even if you have the best of intentions, it is wrong to offer a public school program intended for children of only one race.
There are plenty of white and latino children who could use this kind of thing. There are just as many white boys as black ones who could benefit from training in being a gentleman. Children of all colors deserve opportunities to learn beyond what is generally offered in ordinary public school classes.
If this program is what it appears to be, something needs to be done immediately to address this. We have already seen soft, modern racism at work when the perpetrators of hate crimes against white UVa students were barely slapped on the wrist. If this trend continues as it seems to be doing, it could sow the seeds of long-term resentment and division between races in Charlottesville.
Let’s have one integrated school system with equal opportunities for all children and one legal system with equal justice for all colors.
Come on, somebody refute me. This is a serious issue and we should be hearing all sides. Don’t just read my comment above and shake your head. If you disagree with me, then please take 2 minutes to register as a user and explain to everyone why you think I’m wrong.
Is there a parent with children in this program? Somebody who can explain the other side to us?
If there isn’t an opposing view here by Wednesday morning, I’m going to have to post again and try to refute myself. Which would just look ridiculous.
The Walker Academy is for boys only.
Isn’t it just as important for girls (of all races) to have the opportunity to learn how to be better students and citizens?
It sounds like a great program. It’s too bad that such a small segment of the school population is eligible to participate.
But we need it, we boys do. We’re so badly behaved and lousy at math. Girls are good at math. Girls are all so sweet and angelic with their skirts and ribbons, you know? They don’t need this kind of thing. We do. We need an Academy at the middle school to tell us how to be nice in the Summer time. And if you had the girls there too, then we would just be horrid. Middle school boys around the gals is just a recipe for not getting a whole heck of a lot done.
It’s not being misrepresented, the program is for black boys. The article states that Brown remembered being the only black male in his honors classes, this program is designed to stop that from happening in the city school system.
I have seen what this program has done for the kids in it. I’ve seen kids take pride in excelling at school and getting good grades, taking pride in how they behave, and setting a good example, and lastly, showing that it’s okay to be smart. In my opinion, it teaches these kids to be proud of who they are and what they’ve accomplished, and what, with continued hard work, they can accomplish.
This may well be an unpopular opinion, but have you read a history book lately? There is precious little history that focuses on Africans or African-Americans. One of the classes the kids are taking this summer is African history. It gives them a connection to history, one they don’t get from reading the standard history books, and certainly not the history found in the SOLs.
Are there other groups of kids that could use a program like this? Certainly. We need people to step up to the plate and start those programs. Do you think girls could benefit from a program like this? See what you can do to start that program. Go to the Walker administration or to the Charlottesville City administration and see what it would take to start that program.
I understand why it would seem to some that this program is about creating divisions where we should be eradicating them. But as someone who has seen it work, let me assure you that this is not the case.
I understand why it would seem to some that this program is about creating divisions where we should be eradicating them. But as someone who has seen it work, let me assure you that this is not the case.
I wonder if people would feel similarly about an-all white school?
Oh, wait, we have one: Sutherland. Nevermind.
<ducking and rolling>
I’ll admit, this is the one part of the program that gave me the biggest fits. If anyone tried to do this with an all-white population, there would be hell to pay. But then (and I’m only guessing on this one), I’d like to get a look at the racial breakdown for the advanced level classes in the city school division to see if we aren’t already doing exactly that.
I don’t discount the value of the program. I think it’s great that these kids are interested in learning math, art, African history, good citizenship, etc., during their summer break.
I disagree with the idea that only African-American boys should be taught African history, only girls should be taught women’s history, etc. This seems to further separate us.
Other groups of kids could certainly benefit from this program. Why do we need to start different/separate programs for each group?
The Walker Academy students are taught in a public school. All Charlottesville middle school students should be eligible to participate.
I agree completely. If someone in the Charlottesville public school system started a summer program just for high achieving white boys, they would be fired. Why is it OK to do the same thing for black boys only? The racial breakdown of advanced classes in public schools is not the issue here. Admission to advanced classes in Charlottesville schools is based on achievement and NOT the color of the student’s skin. All advanced students are eligible for those classes no matter what their ethnic background might be. Shouldn’t all public programs be that way?
Since the Brown decision, race has constituted an illegitimate basis for organizing public schooling. In addition, Titles VI and IX clearly provide that no educational institution receiving federal funds may discriminate, including giving people "different aid, benefits, or services," on the basis of race or sex. However, the Bush administration announced in May that it would encourage single-sex education in public schools. Hmmm.
What about single-race schools? What if there is evidence that black males learn better when separated from white males? Is gender or race ever legitimate ground for "association," upon which public schools, or specific educational programs, might organize? Do groups of parents have any right to decide that their children should be schooled publically in a racially homogeneous setting? Should black parents be entitled to choose this option to maximize achievement for their children? If so, then so should whites. (Note that the NAACP is concerned that this type of educational segregation would lead to the teaching of white supremacy.) What about "freedom of association" for a group of boys or girls or blacks or whites? Talk about a slippery slope!
Anyone know 1) what this program costs?; and 2) who is paying?
The Bush administration’s view on single sex education is essentially irrelevant, I would think. This is something that the courts have decided and he has no power to overrule. Any instructions that he may give to John Ashcroft regarding how the Justice Dept. should handle the issue would be unlikely to result in real world changes. This is supported by Ashcroft’s inability to make his favored interpretation of the 2nd Amendment cast any real ripples into court rooms.
What appear to be big issues with unknown answers have in fact been settled long ago. The questions you are raising are worth thinking about, but they basically amount to ‘situational ethics,’ which in my opinion is an imaginary category.
It is accepted in law and mainstream opinion that public segregation on the basis of race is wrong. Like anything that we know is wrong, we can come up with excuses to do it anyway. ‘This thing is fundamentally bad, but I really want it, so I will relabel it as good.’ That is the basic mechanism of situational ethics and it is the basic mechanism by which this kind of segregation is defended.
So I say that there is really no ethical dilemna here. Plainly, the right thing would be a promise by those responsible for the Walker Academy to integrate the program in the future. Followed by action to that effect.
I will just re-iterate my position on racism.
Any time skin color is the basis of any decision more important than what make-up to wear, it’s promoting division and ultimately racism. No matter how well-intentioned those using skin-color as a determining factor may be.
I can understand the desire of these people to give these boys an encouraging atmosphere. Indeed, I laud the effort. But what are we teaching them? "Hey, you get these cool field trips and classes because you’re black! You deserve this because the white man is always keeping us down!"
Yeah, that’s gonna help eliminate racist attitudes.
Lafe writes:’Hey, you get these cool field trips . . .
I hadn’t heard of the ‘big’ fieldtrip’s destination — the Great Blacks in Wax museum — before reading the Progress article. Now I’ve poked around a bit on the web, reading reviews and descriptions of its content and approach. (Links: 1, 2, 3)
Well, it sounds pretty damn scary to me, both from a visitor standpoint and a teaching one.
But perhaps someone here has visited the museum, perhaps even with students, and would like to tell us about its particular utility?
From the first article you link to:
"By far the museum’s most powerful section an exhibit on lynching, housed down in the building’s basement. The long, narrow room complements the photos and newspaper clippings of lynched men and women, while jars house the most gruesome elements —wax replicas of eyeballs, male and female genitals, and a woman’s buttocks —all preserved in pickle juice, chilling reminders of the “trophies” lynch mobs used to collect and preserver. This exhibit is worth the price of admission —but it is far too overwhelming for a child under 12."
What are we teaching them again?
<i>If there isn’t an opposing view here by Wednesday morning, I’m going to have to post again and try to refute myself. Which would just look ridiculous.</i><br>
Could you go ahead and do that anyways? Please? It sounds amusing. ;)
If there isn’t an opposing view here by Wednesday morning, I’m going to have to post again and try to refute myself. Which would just look ridiculous.
Could you go ahead and do that anyways? Please? It sounds amusing. ;)
I’ve been to this museum on a trip as a chaperone. Some kids loved it, some kids didn’t so much like it. I thought it was a bit of a bore, but then what do I know? Would this have been my choice for a field trip? Nope, but then I’m not running the show.
There are plenty of exhibits at this museum and most of the kids found at least something that was interesting to them. Plenty of kids, from what I saw, learned something new that day.
However, I will tell you that the people who run this museum make VERY sure that kids do not go downstairs, where the lynching exhibit is located. The staff spoke with the head of our group and asked them to make sure that all chaperones understood that the downstairs was off-limits to the children, they then stationed an employee at the top of the stairs to further prevent kids from getting down there.
Jack writes:We have already seen soft, modern racism at work when the perpetrators of hate crimes against white UVa students were barely slapped on the wrist.
There was news yesterday about the relatively &amp;quot;heaviest&amp;quot; of these light slaps on the wrist.
The 17 year-old female ‘ringleader’ who was convicted of four felonies and sentenced on June 4th to six months in a juvenile detention facility was, as expected, freed yesterday (July 23). The story is in today’s Progress (sorry, it’s not online).
So that’s what you get for 4 violent felonies nowadays! People are regularly put away for over 20 years just because they smoke pot.
Meanwhile you can systematically target members of other races for life-endangering assaults and be out in less than 2 months.
Any one who has commented on this article and has not researched the dismal results of minority test scores, the rampant tracking that segregates students of identical ability based on subjective opinions of teachers and the agressiveness of overbearing white parents, is grossly misinformed if they think the program is an injustice. The schools are already segregated based on low expectations for black students and high expectations for whites. So, a program comes to balance an obvious injustice and some whites feel slighted? Do we really want to enter a discussion about segregation or privelage in the schools? If so, be prepared to support more programs for the disenfranchised because the facts will cause you to see the need for more programs for minorities.
CEverette writes that we are "grossly misinformed" if we think the Walker Academy is an injustice. It is a program offered through the PUBLIC school system which is only open to students of a specific skin color. How is that NOT injustice? It’s wrong, plain and simple.
CEverette writes: Do we really want to enter a discussion about segregation or privelage in the schools? If so, be prepared to support more programs for the disenfranchised because the facts will cause you to see the need for more programs for minorities.
Umm . . . this program is for kids who are already successful at school (i.e., ‘high-achieving black boys’, as the article describes them).
Is your point that these kids wouldn’t be successful in school were it not for this program? Perhaps this is a chicken-and-the-egg question, but I think good grades and good behavior are part of the requirements to get in to the program.
Or are you pushing an idea like that of Du Bois’s ‘Talented Tenth’;. That is, are you saying that because the City’s black kids as a group score lower on standardized tests than other racially-defined groups, we should seek parity in these averages by focusing more public resources on the most ‘talented’ black students?
The miseducation of an overwhelming majority of black students in the public school is a far greater injustice, what’s going on at Walker is part of the remedy.
Lafe writes: Could you go ahead and do that anyways? Please? It sounds amusing.
I’d like to read it, too. But I imagine it would be a hell of challenge to write (in a convincing way).
I disagree that black students are getting a "miseducation" in Charlottesville City Public Schools. I have spent at least three hours a week volunteering in the school system for the past five years and I have not seen a single instance of students getting a different sort of education based on the color of their skin. Not until I read about Walker Academy in the Daily Progress…
The program is for kids that are already successful, relatively speaking. They may very well be successful if they were not in this program but the program enocurages them to reach even higher. As Principal Brown stated, information that is not normally covered during the year is given focus. For example, African American History is very much neglected in the textbooks and when given mention it is from a very Eurocentric approach, the experience of them going to the The Great Blacks In Wax Musuem in Baltimore will be so inspirational that it can possibly undo years of cultural disparity in curriculums, I have seen it happen. Many black students suffer from injustices in the school system, whether they be low test scorers or high. I am aware of several remedial programs for low scorers, but there are not many efforts to push those in the middle or high end to acheive. Why should they be pushed? They should be pushed because it is a fact tracking is still a problem and any remedy that seeks to restore that injustice should be applauded. The issue she be looked at in its total context rather than out of context based on an article that provides cursory information at best.
CEverette writes: The miseducation of an overwhelming majority of black students in the public school […]
There are loads of white folks of very meager means who also think their children are being ‘miseducated’ (a word I very much dislike . . .) in public schools. So they choose to ‘home-school’. I’m not fancy of ‘home-schooling’, as I think there are good civic and social lessons (among them multi-racial and multi-class tolerance and understanding) to be learned in public schools. But that option is there in VA.
Also, parents of all races with better household incomes and even those with less but who are willing to sacrifice can also send their children to private schools. Some of these private schools even have scholarships. And sometimes when parents can’t find a school which they can afford or which will accept their children, they create one.
In short, if public education is such a disaster, why not seek alternatives now? Meanwhile, we can try to improve the schools to the point where you think they are no longer committing ‘miseducation’, and then return the kids to the public schools.
Memo to the black kids:
You can’t study with the white kids, Asian kids or Hispanic kids because you have been disenfranchised by “the system.”
Rather than treat you like everybody else (what MLK, Jr., et. al., fought for and are still fighting for) the system is going to keep you segregated to ensure that you view yourselves as different, thus propogating the belief in another generation that all blacks are victims.
It certainly sounds like it is public money. But how much of it?
Please give us just one specific example of how "African American History is very much neglected" in the Charlottesville City School system. I have never found this to be true. My children and their classmates can tell you numerous facts about the life of Maggie Lena Walker. They know where she was born, what she accomplished, how many children she had, etc. They learned all of this in public school. At the same time our children (both black and white) are not taught the U.S. state capitals and many other basic facts that constitute a well rounded education.
“Many black students suffer from injustices in the school system, whether they be low test scorers or high …”
Many students suffer injustices as well. I agree that this program is laudable, but the whole “separate but equal” argument was defeated years ago. Why should a certain race be given advantages that others are not?
In my mind, this is much more of a socio-economic problem than one of race; but since the proposed solution uses race as the determining factor, that solution is wrong. The lessons that are not specifically taught (black kids are different) are wrong. Kids do not have the life experience to rationalize this situation, see beyond the color aspect and understand the problems this program poses.
CEverette writes: the experience of them going to the The Great Blacks In Wax Musuem in Baltimore will be so inspirational that it can possibly undo years of cultural disparity in curriculums, I have seen it happen
Please tell me how this happens. (And, as I mentioned previously in this thread, I’ve never been to this museum.)
cvilleparent writes:Please give us just one specific example of how ‘African American History is very much neglected’
Not a response from me to your challenge, but rather two links to the (rather racial inclusive curricula) of Walker’s social studies in the 6th grade (‘American History from 1860-1940’) and
5th grade (‘Pre-American History’).
cvilleparent writes: My children and their classmates can tell you numerous facts about the life of Maggie Lena Walker. They know where she was born, what she accomplished, how many children she had, etc.
Oh, her . . .
Is this something on the SOLs?
Memo to white adults:
The schools are perfect, there is no need to find creative ways to address any disparities because the don’t exist, and everything is okay because Dr. King had a dream…. Please
Many Charlottesville students need help.
Using race or sex as the basis for entrance into any public school program is wrong. It reinforces the idea of "being different", it excludes those of the opposite sex or other races who may also benefit, and it’s illegal.
Do you honestly believe that if this program were open to all students, it would no longer be of benefit to the boys already participating?
Nobody’s was holding Brown back (the founder of the Walker Academy) when he was going to Fluvanna, and he turned out just fine. And certainly nobody was holding back any of the other black students going to Fluvanna that wanted to pursue advanced placement classes. There was no "culture of low expectations"–everyone had the same opportunities if they showed initiative to take them. All the tools and resources were there within the school to do that.
cat writes: Do you honestly believe that if this program were open to all students, it would no longer be of benefit to the boys already participating?
Well, that’s an interesting point.
I suspect the backers of this program would think the program would indeed suffer from openess. From what I infer (largely from the article) a major component of this program’s strategy is its exclusive nature; that’s why it is called an academy (which, BTW, is in nice appropriation of white segregationists’ use of the term after forced integration of the public schools prompted them to start their own private, white-only ‘academies’). The Walker Academy discriminates (beside the obvious gender and race means) against those who do poorly in school or misbehave there. This makes those who qualify for the program feel superior – besides just feeling good about themselves.
The more I think about this program the more it seems like a program to build self-esteem in those who are already successful (which was the point of my ‘talented tenth’ inquiry). I really wonder if this is the best strategy is the best to close the gap in black v. white achievement on standardized tests – which is where this ‘gap’ debate most often finds its touchstone. And, moreover, I wonder if this shower-the-black-gifted strategy doesn’t make a mockery of the ‘let no child be left behind’ manta, not to mention arguments for black racial solidarity.
I haven’t looked at a Virginia SOL test in a few years. Can anyone tell me if the Afrocentric material in which these Walker Academy boys are being schooled indeed appears on the test? If not, how will teaching them in this way close the ‘gap’?
I don’t think many that are familiar with the state of public schools would disagree with the reality that they are segregated hotbeds for tracking in too many cases. Why is it that when one black person enjoys success many whites view it as gospel proof that all other blacks can do the same because that must mean there are no obstacles? The system has always allowed for a slow trickle of progress. That line of thinking is very naive.
Do you really think all of the students in this academy are in Walker’s gifted program?
Maggie Walker, Dr. King, and who else?
I doubt that the material is on SOLS. That’s more an indictment on the test than it is on the program. A local private school’s motto is "education is not filling the pail, it’s lighting the fire." The problem in too many public schools is more focus has been put on filling the pail, educational leaders know this therefore they support programs designed to light the fire. Having said that, I agree that they create programs to serve poor whites, Hispanics, and others. If it helps these children, isn’t that the important thing? Please don’t argue that black children are being hurt by the program because it teaches them exclusivity and separation, they are already affected by a reality that puts them on the sour end of exclusion and separation.
And did you believe that the CHS attackers shouldn’t be convicted of a hate crime because it was blacks beating whites instead of the other way around? They should get special treatment because whites are always keeping the black man down?
IF minority children are being treated differently in any way than any other child, then that is a problem that MUST be addressed.
Unfortunately, two wrongs do not make a right. They just perpetuate wrongdoing.
Deciding that black children will now get special treatment only exacerbates the problem, and reinforces racism in their young minds, not to mention the minds of their friends who aren’t allowed to participate because their skin is the wrong color.
Your argument is emotionally valid, but will end up perpetuating the underlying problem instead of fixing it. We’re raising another generation of people who will view skin color as a valid criteria for discrimination.
It is naive to believe that black children are the only ones who face obstacles, or that they necessarily face more obstacles than any other children.
I will agree with you that there are places that unfairly discriminate against children of different races.
I will not, however, concede that the problem is universal, nor that it is pervasive in all Charlottesville schools. Especially Walker, which my daughter now attends, and where two of her four teachers are black. I somehow doubt that they’re unfairly discriminating against children that share their skin color.
The argument that all blacks ARE being discriminated against because blacks HAVE BEEN discriminated against is not valid, and it is precisely that kind of thinking that perpetuates racism to this day.
We need to drop the generalizations and find the specific cases where it is happening, and stamp it out. If we continue to point the finger at everyone, and paint every white teacher with the same brush, you will never succeed in finding the ones who are truly the problem. Instead you’ll just ineffectively rile everyone up, and not accomplish a thing.
Does anyone know what the curriculum of this ‘Academy’ is, and who approved it?
I’m sorry you think my comment is naive. You will also forgive me if I think your line of thinking is a bit paranoid, and relying on the old crutch that "it’s the system" or "the man" that holds you back. The opportunities ARE there, and it all boils down to asking for or purusing what you want (be it advanced placement classes, etc). I don’t believe that there is a an institutional policy in the city schools that says "we must keep opportunities from black boys." And I find it hard to believe that it happens anywhere else across the country. If it does, please cite examples and enlighten me.
>>If it helps these children, isn’t that the important thing?
If there is a public school program open only to white girls, and it helps them, does it matter that white boys, black children, hispanic children, native american children, middle eastern children, and oriental children are not given the same opportunity?
>>Please don’t argue that black children are being hurt by the program because it teaches them exclusivity and separation, they are already affected by a reality that puts them on the sour end of exclusion and separation.
I am not denying the existence of racism. However, segregation perpetuates and validates exclusion and separation, not just for the children in the academy, but for those not participating.
How can you compare the Walker Academy with the recent events towards UVA students? I am curious to know whether or not your preconceived notions about the Walker Academy is soley based on the recent article printed in the Daily Progress.
I believe that many programs exist in our society that separate groups based on a variety of criteria. Through conversations I have had with people in the city, I believe the Academy is funded through grants. Grants are usually written to serve a specific group whether it be boys, girls, blacks, or whites. If someone has a concern about this program serving a certain population, acquire funding and serve as many children as you deem appropriate. Look at the positive aspects this program has to offer!!!!
Flash2 writes: How can you compare the Walker Academy with the recent events towards UVA students?
1) These weren’t ‘events’ (nor ‘incidents’, which is how the so-called community committees invariably described them). These were violent crimes — multiple felonious assaults! — against good people. Some victims were seriously hurt, and not just physically. Some still are suffering.
2) As for the Academy’s affinity with the attacks, Jack says it plainly:
Oh, very well then.
Programs like the Walker Academy are essential for righting what we all know to be a historic wrong against a disenfranchised segement of our community. So quickly has the civil rights movement slipped into the canon of American history that we forget how very recent it was. It has been barely more than a generation since equality was made official. There are living people all around us who remember when things were different.
It has not been enough time yet to heal the wounds of inequality. In another fifty years, we might get there. Until then, we have to face up to the work that is left to be done. The Walker Academy is a key part of that work in Charlottesville.
We all know perfectly well that a random sampling of black males has a dramatically lower chance of success in life than a random sampling of white males. You cannot fix this problem by ignoring race. Indeed, recognition of the disparaging opportunities for children of different races must be the focus of any solution. If the solution is going to seriously address the problem, it must be race-specific. We need to be pragmatic and level-headed as we work towards the realization of a goal of parity that all of America shares. This means offering special programs for black youth. We won’t have to do that forever, but we need to do it now.
There. Did that satisfy the demand for a devil’s advocate?
Belle’s quotation from my earlier post summed it up pretty well, but I would be happy to spell it out a little more.
My comparison between the UVa race assaults and the Walker Academy was not meant to suggest that the Walker Academy is in any way violent or intended as an affront to other races. What the two do have in common is that they are examples of the increasing trend of modern segregation.
In the case of the UVa assaults, the black youths that targeted whites were clearly and openly held to a far lesser standard than white people would have been in the same situation. They should have been charged under Federal law governing hate crimes, but instead they were not even held to the account that even common assaults would demand. They were let off because they were black, making it clear that we have one system for black people and another for white people.
The Walker Academy offers a summer program for gifted black males. There are no white students in the program and every indication is present that only black students are encouraged to apply. Once again, we have an example of a defacto seperate system for blacks.
In both cases, the people making the rules seem to have the best of intentions. However, the net effect is one of seperate, segregated standards and systems for people based on the color of their skin. Unchecked, this will eventually lead to envy, hate and violence. It is on that basis that I oppose segregated schooling and segregated law.
Does that make sense?
You basically took CEverette’s position, and elaborated it a little bit. Besides, your arguments here have already been refuted (by yourself, as well as others) elsewhere in the thread.
Except, perhaps, for this one point:
If the solution is going to seriously address the problem, it must be race-specific…This means offering special programs for black youth. We won’t have to do that forever, but we need to do it now.
There does exist in some the idea that we must pragmatically discriminate in a minority’s favor to correct anti-minority discrimination in the past. The problem with this idea is, of course, that it just won’t work. A closed system that is corrected only by positive feedback (feeding in more discrimination) will only oscillate out of control… thereby leading to ever greater discrimination, resentment, and hate.
The answer is not to introduce new discrimination, no matter how tempting that may be. The answer is to stamp out all discrimination.
I’m amazed and dismayed at the callowness of this discussion. No one has mentioned the impact of how and where we have (decades ago) chosen to draw the lines between one district and the next in Charlottesville. These divisions impact all students in their most formative years educationally.
Even in the case of Clark Elementary, where a chunk of the district has been gentrified (i.e. middle-class, whited up) recently, ongoing individual parental behavior (driving their kids to another elementary school rather than attending the one on their doorstep) continues the legacies of racism and classism which figured and figures profoundly into deciding where to draw the lines between one school and the next.
We continue to live in a city literally divided by racism. It is in no way bizarre that our children continue to suffer under its influence.
I’d like to ask a simple question:
Why should it be the penultimate goal of our community’s school system to produce averages in academic achievement — be it measured by standardized tests (as it typically is), or by presence in ‘gifted’ programs, or graduation rates — which are the same for every racially defined group?
Or, phrased more briefly, why is closing this ‘gap’ the single most important job of our community’s educators?
For those who may not have read the entire thread, I would just like to reiterate the fact that I do not agree with the statement of mine that Lafe quoted. It was made as part of an exercise in arguing against myself.
Oh, by the way I didn’t intend to cheat… CEverette’s position is a good representation of the mainstream arguement in favor of ‘affirmative action’ influenced schooling. She just beat me to it.
Today’s Progress has a nice story about privately funded, (apparently) gender-segregated Summer programs for City kids.
I’ve got no problem with that. And I even like how the kids are building self-esteem (which, yes, I think does translate into better academic achievement) by helping others.
There does seem to be some powerful contrasts with the Walker Academy if it is indeed publicly funded and if its purpose is to build students’ self-esteem through its program/curriculum of ethnic exclusivity.
(Anyone else here wish the Progress had done a better job with Academy article? I know, beating a dead horse . . . )
I’m wondering how you can speak of an "increasing trend of modern segregation," as if there were in the past less segregation, or no segregation. When was this golden age of little or no segregation to which you contrast our modern age of "increased" segregation?
Note my term, ‘modern segregation.’ I mean to draw a distinction between the type of overt segregation of the past and the new variety of well-intended segregation that’s been emerging more recently.
I do wish that there were some sort of clear term for modern segregation. Maybe, ‘voluntary segregation,’ or something like that. Proposals would be welcome.
Anyway, I am not suggesting that there was ever a golden age without segregation. I am suggesting that moves to segregate blacks ‘for their own good’ are a new phenomenon. In the past, segregation was done out of inertia, fear, misunderstanding and hate.
Here’s an extreme example: At the ultra-liberal liberal arts school I went to in Massachsetts (Hampshire College), they actually had segregated dorms. There was a floor of a dormitory as well as a ‘mod’ that were for black students only. The rationale was that black students arriving would be thrust into this white, middle-class school and suffer from total culture shock and isolation. So to make them feel more comfortable, they had these black-only dorms that black students were strongly encouraged to live in. And of course, there was also the black student center, to provide black students with support and social activities during spare time. And black students were also strongly encouraged to gravitate towards ‘black studies.’ Guess what the net effect was? Near universal segregation. Which everyone, blacks and whites, defended as affirmative action necessary to combat racism. It was completely insane. For all I know it may still be going on. This was only about 6 years ago.
50 years ago there were segregated dorms because bigoted white people didn’t want blacks near them. That was a very different breed of segregation compared to what goes on today. Totally different motives.
BTW- My apologies for the misspelling in my very subject line back there. Quite embarrassing.
As a first year 5th grade teacher at Walker Upper Elementary School I was thrilled to be asked to teach for the Walker Academy this summer. I was honored to be included in such a proactive, thought provoking, upbeat, and challenging project. I am exceedingly proud of my involvement in the program and of the involvement of the other teachers, students and administrators.
My first disappointment came when I was informed, by a friend, of the comments posted on this site. It seems to me that most of you are basing all of your opinions on this very successful program on a few hundred words compiled by a Daily Progress reporter. Before jumping to conclusions and trying to cause an uproar, it may have been appropriate to find out the facts – what the Walker Academy stands for, why it is necessary, why the Academy has only been able to serve a certain population of students, and where the money actually comes from to support the program. It seems that many of you are aimlessly looking for a fight or a cause to rally behind, regardless of the consequences. This activism that I sense would be better used to create new programs that will help more students, instead of criticizing the Walker Academy.
First, the Walker Academy was the brainchild of two highly dedicated city educators. Luvelle Brown, Assistant Principal and Edith Wheeler, Talent Development. Together they procured the funds that support the Walker Academy through a variety of granting agencies. The money was specifically sought out and awarded to support this program. It is critical to realize that the funds supporting the Academy were never earmarked for public education; therefore money is not being unjustly taken away from any population in the city schools. Also, a number of city residents and companies have and continue to generously donate money and goods (such as snacks) to support the program.
Second, the motive behind the Walker Academy is to help young, black male students succeed in school. There is significant academic research that shows that black male students are still at great risk of lower achievement success or more importantly, of not completing their academic career. It is generally true that only high-achieving black male students are invited to join the Academy. The far majority of these students will not be placed in QUEST (the gifted program) level classes. But, those students who are placed in a QUEST level class may be uncomfortable with the racial make up of the class, possibly being the only black face in the classroom. Since I have taught a QUEST level math class, I can vouch for the lopsided racial make-up. It is easy for many of us to say that it should not matter – that the student should still be able to do well under these circumstances as long as they have the desire to succeed. But, it is not that easy. As many of us remember, our peer groups had a profound impact on our success in school. The generalized black male peer group typically does not expect success, therefore, such a negative impact can adversely affect the success of even a high-achieving, motivated student. This problem requires a change of culture and the development of a supportive network of peers. Through the Academy we are trying to build an academically supportive environment in which students bond together as a group, but more importantly, in which students support each other in classes and learn to value and support the education they receive in the classroom. We try to accomplish such lofty goals through guest speakers, academic classes (math, language arts, science, and African-American history), field trips, and a supportive, well-educated staff of teachers and administrators who truly care about the success and well being of each student.
The students in the Academy are and should be proud of their accomplishments. They have been selected by their elementary school teachers or principals as high-achieving, motivated students. Some of you have been offended by this exclusivity of the program. It is an exclusive group of students for a number of reasons. First, since the Academy is Mr. Brown’s creation it would make sense that he had a personal tie to it. To paraphrase what Mr. Brown stated in the Progress, he knew what it was like to be the only black face in a classroom. Second, the size of the program is limited by the grant dollars supporting it. In spite of the limitations, the program has more than doubled this year, enrolling almost 70 students. Third, the Walker Academy does not end with the beginning of school. On the contrary, the Academy students continue through an intensive year-long program that supports them academically, personally, and socially. Also, the Academy promotes involvement in their community through service projects. Fourth, the exclusivity is not intended to disregard other races and/or gender, but instead target one specific group. Through this targeted approach Mr. Brown is able to most effectively promote change in a small group of students, which he knows best, since he was once one of them. I would hope that with the success of the Walker Academy other targeted programs will arise. There are numerous opportunities for energetic educators to acquire funds to begin, the problem is finding a champion to dedicate themselves to initiating and leading the program.
Mr. Brown shared a number of statistics at the Academy awards ceremony held at the end of the last academic year. Although it may be hard to measure the direct impact of the Academy, the following observations could be made. First, academically, 88% of the students in the Academy kept consistent passing grades or improved their grades throughout the last academic year. Since it is normal for grades to fluctuate, often going down as the material gets harder and the year longer, the sustained success of the Academy students is extremely encouraging. Second, the attendance rate among Academy students was at a staggering 95%. It seems obvious, but if a student is not at school it is hard for them to learn, so the Academy students’ dedication to attending school is further evidence of a culture of involvement and achievement. Also, teachers who have Academy students in their classes (myself included) can measure the success other ways. Academy students present few problems in class and take their classwork and homework seriously. Maintaining the respect of Mr. Brown and their teachers is a strong motivator.
In closing, I want to reiterate that the success of this program is due, almost entirely, to Mr. Brown. Without Mr. Brown’s drive, dedication, and desire to change the status quo, the Walker Academy would not exist. Many educators, administrators, and citizens argue about how to change the achievement gap that exists between black and white students, even in the fair city of Charlottesville. Instead of adding to the rhetoric, Mr. Brown, through his own initiative, created a program to help close the gap, found funding to support the program and along the way has amazed me and many other teachers at Walker with his dedication to this group of students. It is a shame that you are all not thanking him for his desire to make change, not just talk about it.
I believe I know why nobody has responded to your recent statement added to this site. In your response, you were able to discredit the validity of any point made in the past several days by those individuals who disapprove of the Walker Academy. Your response was very well articulated. Thank you for taking the time out to respond.
I agree that the Walker teacher’s comments were thorough and articulate. I thank "catdog" for giving us the facts about the structure of the classes and how the program is funded. I do not believe that the majority of the individuals commenting on this site "disapprove of the Walker Academy." I think that most of the people posting are concerned that the program segregates our public school students. And it does. Most folks posting never argued that the program itself did not have merit. Rather that it should be open to ALL eligible students, not African American males.
First, I’d like to thank ‘catdog’ for registering and posting his/her comment and to express my hope that ‘catdog’ continues to make contributions here (as well as with City students). With important City education topics on the near horizon – among them the selection of a superintendent – I am sure we’d benefit from ‘catdog’s’ contributions.
Now, ‘catdog’, to respond to some of the content of your post:
I don’t think that those of us here who first learned of the Academy through the Progress article made an outrageous assumption that the Academy was funded with public school money.
Look at the article again: Walker principal organizes program at Walker school for Walker students and names the program Walker. There’s not so much as a even a hint that this was anything but a public school program.
Contrast this with the July 26th article on the summer service programs; here there is no public school connection and the sponsors are named. So, yes, I think that the Progress could have (and should have!) done a better job with the article on the Academy.
But I think it would be wrong to condemn those who reacted with outrage to Academy article. They spotted what certainly looked like racially segregated public schooling. That this provoked such outrage is a good sign, I think.
Perhaps this ‘fight’ – the fight for racial/gender integration in our schools, and against segregation – was the one for which you thought some here were spoiling, and was the ‘cause to rally behind’ you thought some were seeking. If this wasn’t what you meant, then I guess you were delivering an insult – but of what sort, I can’t decipher and won’t assume.
I hope you can see that no one here (so far as I can see) disparaged Luvelle Brown’s efforts or the talents and good nature of the Academy kids. I read quite the contrary.
It was nice to read in your post more about the Academy’s boys’ achievements; it confirms what many here had already written that they expected: good kids, good opportunity.
But most were still troubled about the (likely) illegality of such discrimination in admission to the program. As ‘Amber’ noted above, the establishment of such gender- and race-based programs can be a slippery slope on which black communities, especially, have much at risk. And I, for one, worried aloud that the apparently rather race-based (aka, ‘Afrocentric’) curriculum of the Academy probably wouldn’t help them on their non-Academy tests – including the standardized tests needed to get them into City gifted programs and, thereafter, colleges; and I worried this race-based curriculum might conspire with the racial exclusivity of the Academy’s admissions to further socio-cultural segregation (just like ‘balkanization’).
I confess that your description of the Academy’s funding left me still confused. You write:
That there is private money involved (from local companies and persons), I understand clearly. Is there public money as well – be it City money which isn’t part of the school budget but instead from another division of government; or City money given to a foundation or registered charity who, in turn, gives money to the Academy? I gather some ‘public/private partnerships’ work this way.
Even if you don’t know the answer or are disinclined to reply, I hope you’ll stick around this discussion forum, ‘catdog’.
Please, somebody . . . please don’t make me answer my own challenge. I don’t think I’m as intellectually nimble as Jack is.
Thanks for all of this helpful information, "catdog." It’s exactly what we needed.
I’d also like to point out that nobody (that I’ve seen) has criticized any aspect of the program as regards success or its usefulness to the students involved. On the contrary, several people appear to have gone out of their way to point out that this is likely great for the students involved. I’ve seen the students at Computers4Kids (which is not racially-exclusive, though most of the involved students are black) flourish, thanks to the program, and I have no doubt that the Walker Academy has similar results.
On the contrary, it appears that what concerns most people here is the racial aspect. Though it may be helpful to these students to be in a program exclusively for students of the same race, surely you can see that if we reversed this situation, it might look bad. Can you imagine if another local school — say, Charlottesville High School — established an advanced learning program for whites only? There would be an outcry, and rightly so. People would lose their jobs, hearings would be held and court cases would likely ensue. Could that not happen with the Walker Academy?
Please don’t think that anyone here has dismissed the value of this program or the dedication of the students, instructors and volunteers involved. As I read your very helpful explanation of the Walker Academy, I find myself nodding in agreement with you for the most part.
Except for this:
"Fourth, the exclusivity is not intended to disregard other races and/or gender, but instead target one specific group."
In a practical sense, there is little difference between those 2 characterizations. Whether someone works to exclude members of another race or agressively seeks to include only members of one’s own race doesn’t matter much. The result is the same; segregation.
What if I started a program in a public school and said that I don’t want to ban black children from it- it’s just that I only want white children there? You’d be furious.
No one here is shouting for blood or an end to the Walker Academy. The Charlottesville community consensus seems to be that the program ought to continue with a little more racial variety.
Here is an interesting (somewhat) related story on the issue:
"UC admissions a sob-story sweepstakes?"
You know, the more I think about it, the more useful I think it would be if some small percentage (say 10-15%) of the students involved in this program were white. Wouldn’t it be interesting for those white students to experience what it’s like being a outsider, as a minority member of a class that’s geared towards a different culture? Wouldn’t there be a benefit to having white students be exposed to a more concentrated dose of African-American history than they’d get elsewhere?
Come on, somebody . . . I don’t know what to make of the silence here.
Is closing this ‘gap’ not the priority for our schools, as voiced by our Council, the School Board, and principals? Wasn’t this a HUGE issue in the (failed) search for a new Superintendent? If our community has made closing this ‘gap’ the focus of our resources, someone certainly must know the reason(s) why!
Perhaps this thread would attract more responses if we were to open it up to people who don’t think closing the ‘gap’ should be the priority. Anybody?
First off, catdog, I would like to add my voice to those welcoming you to this discussion and to cvillenews.com.
Second, I would like to address your post. I believe, as do the others who have answered you here, that this Academy has the best of intentions. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this program is extremely helpful to those boys that are fortunate enough to be enrolled in it.
In fact, I believe my son would benefit enormously from being a part of this program. Indeed, he has every single one of the qualifications that you mentioned in your post, except for one. Can you guess which qualification he lacks?
Ok, now can you please tell me how to teach my son that discrimination based on skin color is wrong in some circumstances, and right in others? And can you please explain to me explicitly which circumstances are which? I find myself at a bit of a loss.
catdog: Fourth, the exclusivity is not intended to disregard other races and/or gender, but instead target one specific group. Through this targeted approach Mr. Brown is able to most effectively promote change in a small group of students, which he knows best, since he was once one of them.
I believe the key word here is intended. It is not intended to disregard other races and/or genders, and yet that is exactly what it does. Not only that, but skin color and gender are really the only limiting factors. I know several high-achievers personally, male and female, who deserved to get in the Quest program, but didn’t, for whatever reason. Why is this program not open to them?
“Yes, son, you could join the Academy, if only you were black.”
What is my son learning from this Academy? What are the children enrolled learning from this Academy? I’m sure there are many lessons there, but like it or not, this is one of them. The very root of the achievement gap in the first place.
Mr. Brown, and you, have the highest of motives. Of this I have not the slightest doubt. But your method will end up perpetuating racism, and I must disagree with that.
Please do understand that I do not think worse of you, or Mr. Brown, or anyone else for supporting this project. I can disagree with your methods without in the slightest disagreeing with your intentions.
To steal a quote:
Don’t criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you are a mile away and have his shoes.
Perhaps the biggest and best weapon against racism is exactly that. Empathy. Being able to place yourself mentally and emotionally in another person’s shoes.
I don’t know what to make of the lack of response to this. Is it that:
1) no one reading here agrees that this ‘gap’ is the ultimate task of public education;
2) some folks agree that this is the stated priority of our community’s schools, but have no idea why, and they disagree with this institutional focus;
3) some folks think it is; but have no idea why and therefore nothing to add here;
4) some folks think it is, and think they know why but have no inclination to respond;
If no one else — Jack, please . . .
I’ll take a whack at it.
I believe that the single most important goal of our educators is to educate children. Period. Full stop.
A problem arises, however, because some children are not receiving as good of an education as others. This problem is further complicated by the fact that no one really knows why this is. Or rather, we know lots of reasons why this is, but only some of these reasons can be addressed by our educators.
Problems that can be addressed by the school are things like discrimination, teacher education, class size, class makeup (gifted/remedial/etc), curriculum, etcetera. Problems that can not be addressed by the school are things like lack of discipline, uncaring parents/guardians, disabilities , etcetera.
Did you know that there is a much larger education gap between children whose parents take an active part in their education, and children whose parents do not, than there is in any white/minority split?
I admire the position that we want all of our children to get an equal education. However, I doubt that accomplishing this is within the power of the school system. They can narrow the gap, but it will take a collective effort by the school system, teachers, and guardians to truly change the course of most of these kids’ lives (IMHO). Because the issue is not just race, it’s many things, some of which are inextricably intertwined with each other.
I am, however, glad that they’re at least going to try. :)
 They can address disabilities to an extent, but no amount of government mandate can force a child’s chemical imbalance to be resolved.
One of the conclusions of a study done by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is that the most important link to a child’s academic performance is the income level of the child’s family.
So, if you really want to close the performance gap, I reckon you need to close the income gap.
The Walker Academy is not about getting these kids into the gifted program. It’s not about directly or indirectly "perpetuating" racism. It’s certainly not about what ‘looks good’ or satisfies the community at large. What it most certainly IS about is meeting the needs of the kids that it serves. At Walker School, one main goal is to make ALL students feel successful. The Academy one way to do that for a community of African American boys.
cvilleconcerned writes: At Walker School, one main goal is to make ALL students feel successful.
I’d rather have students be successful than to just feel successful.
That’s a scary link — but thanks for recommeding it for our reading, Indie.
Thanks for your link, harry.
Here’s one I can recommend on contributors to the ‘gap’.
Cvilleconcerned, I had hoped that I made it clear in my original answer to catdog, but perhaps I did not.
I do not believe that this program is about racism, or what looks good, or satisfying the community. I believe it is about helping kids.
However, it is perpetuating racism. Unintentionally, I am sure, but that doesn’t change it, nor excuse it.
I notice that you did not try to answer my questions… How do I teach my children when it’s ok to discriminate based on skin color, and when it’s not? Obviously some people feel that discriminating on the basis of skin color is “right” in this circumstance. Why?
Belle’s link to factors contributing to the performance makes for interesting reading. What particularly caught my attention was the following:
"It’s not only the education of your parents," said David Grissmer, asenior management scientist in Washington for the RAND Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif.- based think tank. "It really does depend on the education of your grandparents, because wealth does accumulate over time."
So… now we can think about the connection between the proposed elimination of inheritance taxes (or "death taxes", as the proponents would label them) and student performance.
I totally agree. For some kids at Walker, though, more than half the fight is to get them to believe that they can be successful.
Your questions ARE really hard ones to answer, and the concerns that you and others have raised about racism are extremely valid. I guess I see the racial issues regarding the academy as almost non-issues. For one, it was such a positive influence on the kids that were involved in it last year. Two, to my knowledge, there hasn’t been an instance when a student wanted to join and was told that he or she did not ‘qualify’.
Thanks Waldo, but "[reverse] this situation"? In order to do that, 510 years of American history would have to be completely changed.
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