Friday, February 14, 2014

Two Nations 5

My latest reading of Andrew Hacker’s Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal focused on education.

Is racial integration in education a good thing, overall, for African-American students?  My impression is that Hacker is rather ambivalent on this.  On the one hand, Hacker argues that many African-Americans do well academically at historically black colleges, that African-American students need African-American teachers to serve as role models, and that some have contended that the white classroom tends to discriminate against African-American learning styles (which focus on speaking and moving rather than sitting down and being quiet, and stories that are not linear rather than abstractions).  Even in schools that are racially integrated, Hacker argues, many African-American students are placed in lower tracks, so they are segregated from white students, anyway.  Hacker also appears to be open to curricula that impart to African-Americans pride in their heritage.

On the other hand, Hacker quotes the 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education Supreme Court decision, which affirmed that segregated schools are bad because they are an example of white society telling African-Americans that they are not wanted.  Hacker notes that colleges that are predominantly African-American receive less funding than many other colleges.  And I’d say that, overall in this book, Hacker argues that the separation of African-Americans from whites blocks African-American advancement.  After all, if whites stick with their own kind rather than trying to understand and reach out to the “other,” they will tend to promote their own kind while excluding the “other.”  Since white society is the dominant society, that means marginalization for African-Americans.

I think that Hacker would prefer to make integration work.  Rather than being happy with minorities attending historically black colleges, he would probably prefer that other universities help African-Americans to feel genuinely welcome.  Perhaps he would like for an integrated school to recognize African-American learning styles, to have more African-American teachers, and to teach African-American history.  I get this from my latest reading.

Hacker’s book was written in the 1990′s, and Hacker stated that 63.2 percent of African-American children are in segregated schools, appealing to studies that the National School Board Association conducted.  I did a quick google search to find later statistics, and I found an August 29, 2013 Washington Post article entitled, “Report: Public Schools More Segregated Now Than 40 Years Ago.”

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