April 05, 2006
Seattle Gets NEA Grant For Culturally Relevant Teacher Training

Seattle Public Schools are not alone among Puget Sound districts, in their embrace of foolishness. To one degree or another, all public school systems in the region would rather champion the gospels of managed outcomes and diversity pandering, over the revolutionary notion of showing true respect to minority populations such as blacks and Latinos by having the same high expectations for them as for whites and Asians.

But Seattle, as it moves toward a reckoning this summer with a plan to close some schools and cut transportation spending in order to stabilize district finances, shows no signs of putting aside the usual posturing, and coming to terms with the necessity for real, across-the-board academic rigor. Stefan blogged yesterday on news of an absurd, symbolic anti-military recruiting initiative being advanced by activists including school board member Sally Soriano, modelled after a San Francisco measure that was passed, but cannot be enforced. Today comes news Seattle Public Schools has won a grant from the national teachers union to train teachers of at-risk students in more culturally appropriate instruction. As posted online this a.m., the story included these words:

In Seattle, the money will help train teachers at eight schools to learn customs and effective ways to communicate more effectively with people of different cultures.

As opposed, I imagine, to "ineffective ways to communicate more effectively...." Anyhew, the idea that black, Latino and other minority students can only be better inspired to master reading, writing, math and science if more of certain folklorically-themed teaching methods are used, or only if more like-hued exemplars of achievement are cited in lessons, is soft bigotry of the worst kind. "Disproportional" outcomes in education result in large part from different choices made by parents about their own education, skills development, and family cohesion.

It goes against the Seattle district's emphasis on shipping kids of color across town to predominantly white schools, but the fact is, parents who won't engage in their kids' Seattle public schools experience would be under more pressure to do so if their kids had to go to neighborhood schools; something for the board to consider as it goes forward. The Southeast Seattle schools toward which the NEA grant is aimed suffer from a lack of community investment, not a lack of proper ethnic "customs" and "culturally appropriate" teaching methods.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at April 05, 2006 10:00 AM | Email This
1. Great points, Matt.

Seattle public school data shows that students from East Asian backgrounds consistently outperform everybody else, including Caucasians. Somehow, I don't think that's because teachers are better versed in Asian cultural customs than in European ones.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on April 5, 2006 10:27 AM
2. Why doesn't the NEA offer a grant to provide effective ways of teaching the three Rs? It seems as if this is a lost art (I know this is a generalization based on overall trends) that needs to be raised back to the top in the k-12 teaching priorities.

For that matter, lets get schools putting teaching ahead of politicals/PC, which was the original intent of schools.

Posted by: Fred on April 5, 2006 11:04 AM
3. Matt,

You've got a fantastic opening paragraph there that is dead on. What we need is equality of expectation. If you want to kill something, there's nothing faster that subsidy.

Posted by: Jeff B. on April 5, 2006 11:11 AM
4. Fred, teaching the 3Rs is not a lost art. It is the expectation of the school that I, as parent, teach the 3Rs to the kids. That is why my kids have an hour or so of homework, including reading, every night.

My kid may not know what 8 plus 4 is, but can tell me six ways how to calculate it.

And on topic, typical. Instead of raising or keeping standards, we dumb them down. I think it is the way Democrats want to keep the poor poor.

Posted by: swatter on April 5, 2006 12:47 PM
5. Smells like a steaming pile of Schram to me.

Posted by: Reporterward on April 5, 2006 01:25 PM
6. They need to spend the time and money teaching the kids cultural values, like for example, if you work hard and apply yourself, you will succeed. If you make excuses for your behavior because of your "culture", then you will fail.

Posted by: James on April 5, 2006 02:36 PM
7. James wrote:
…if you work hard and apply yourself, you will succeed. If you make excuses for your behavior because of your "culture", then you will fail.

Sorry James but the reality is:
…if you work hard and apply yourself, you will succeed. If you make excuses for your behavior because of your "culture", then you will recieve priority addmision to public universities, welfare and food stamps. If you sneak into this country illegaly, you will receive employment, welfare, in-state tuition, voting rights, free healthcare, free education and spanish translations on everything.

Posted by: Jeffro on April 6, 2006 10:31 AM
8. Maybe Seattle also needs some culturally relevant
neighborhood grants

Posted by: Steve on April 6, 2006 08:28 PM
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