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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

state of affairs, vol.ii--education chronicles

It's been 6 onths since I last broached this subject. And after viewing CNN over the weekend and mulling over Soledad O'Brien's special--Reclaiming the Dream, I learned something about black folks. Half of us are elitists-- and it doesn't necessarily mean they're pompous or arrogant. We mean well, but sometimes we must admit we're clueless. Okay Bellini, what are you gettin' at?

So, there was a segment on education-- how to increase the graduation rates of the youth. And, so they feature an economist (and forgive me be'cuz I can't recall the brotha's name) whose applying his theories into practice in a school district in Texas. And one of his solutions is to pay the students money to learn -- a nominal fee ~$250 for the year. Dr. Juliane Malveaux, another renowned economist and college president (Bennett College), wasn't having it. She couldn't fathom giving children money to learn and of course she was wating for the logitudinal study to affirm or undermine the other economist's theory. I must admit 5 years ago, I would have shared the same sentiments as Dr. Malveaux. But now, not so sure. I say go ahead and give the students the money. A friend of mine who teaches at an inner-city arts magnet high school has acknowledged that the students aren't amped up to do projects or extra without the lure of the carrot ta da money! Damn, his it come to this?

My rationalization for giving the students money is this: if students are more inclined to do their studies and perform better due to the lure of money --is that a bad thing-- when we have an exceedingly high dropout rate? And if we can grasp a child's attention from grammar school thru secondary school and perhaps they'll have greater self-assuredness to complete high school and thus graduate. And maybe I'm reaching (hold on folks), but perhaps the kids will associate brain power with higher pay and understand their worth?

When did it all get so complicated and convoluted like this ?

For those of you who don't agree, you're probably an elitist. Sorry folks, I got to call it as I see it. Unless you're able to state otherwise. And I will remind you being an elitist ain't doing the current generation or the next generation of children any good. The inner-city students is facing a different set of issues than most have been accustomed too.

If you're able to view CNN tonight (i think 9p.m. EST) they will debut their 2 part-series: Being Black in America. Watch it.




Terra said...

I watched that special on CNN as well. I recently read a book called “Punished by Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, As, Praise, and Other Bribes which pretty much goes along with what Dr. Julianne Malveaux was trying to say. The problem with rewarding children for what they should already be doing does seem a bit wrong. It gives kids the notion that if they do this, you will give them something in return. But what happens if they are not given something for their hard work? In our community, they just give up.

I think these kids need some motivation to learn the basics. At least with the basics the odds are better that they will finish high school and go to college. If the kids are motivated to go to school for $250 a year, then that’s great, but there will come a time when they realize that $250 is not a lot of money. I guess all we can do is hope by that time, the “kids will associate brain power with higher pay and understand their worth” like you said.

Bellini said...

@terra: i agree, i must admit i was a lil' leery typing this post. Our education system and society in general extols the extremes. The smartest, fastest, etc. And if you're only giving out 1 gold star "because they were the best", it leaves 14 other students feeling left out.

However Dr.Roland Fryer (that's his name)was unequivocal in stating our kids are dying. And to see those lil' happy brown faces looking self-assured on television made me proud. I hope CNN tracks the students down 15 years from now and the kids are able to reflect on their younger years.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

elitist dang
I don’t follow talking heads folk, jones here wasn’t raised like that. I don’t follow folk, I lead. all I got to say is "work hard and don’t complain"

Anonymous said...

i dont see anything wrong with recognizing a child's achievements in school with monetary compensation. how is this different from children from middle or upper class homes whose parents reward them with presents or money for good grades? i was raised in a middle class home and my family used this practice with me when i was in elementary school. it taught me that hard work pays off. i ended up going to college and have a successful career, which i partly contribute to the hard work and rewards practice my family used with me. low income parents cant afford to do this type of motivation 4 their children,plus their kids dont see the benefits of working hard when they r surrounded by struggle and pain. i believe the project will have positive results for these children.