Zoe McCauley Professor PJ FDN 2400 September 27, 2017 Prep Paper #5 I have always battled with the concept of racism. I have always loved people, but I grew up very secluded from other races than my own. Being homeschooled until 6th grade, I truly did go to a school of just white people. I never saw true segregation inside of an elementary school. Then when I went to private school for 3 years I saw what was always perceived to me as normal, which was a primarily white environment with only a couple of black upper class kids. There is a certain power that comes along with growing up thinking that you are the majority and that other races are living in your “territory.” It wasn’t until I went to a public high school that I observed all of the social constructs between different classes and races. Although we were perceived as a school without “clicks” with very little bullying in comparison to other public schools, there still was blatant classism and subtle racism surrounding us. I did not take a single “honors” or “AP” class the whole time I was there. I remember freshman year complaining that there were too many kids who were not taking class seriously. I ended up in some monstrous classes with rambunctious kids who barely got through on copying others homework and guessing on tests. I told a family friend who was a teacher that “There should be separate classes for the kids that do not want to learn.” It just so happened that these kids that had such a hard time learning and focusing were black kids, foster kids, and kids in the lower class. There is a relationship of cause and effect here, but what is it? Is their unwillingness or inability to focus and learn a result of purely outside factors? Or is it truly something that is wrong with the public school system and what changes need to happen as a result of this? Coming from a white upper class school, it just made sense to me that these kids should be in their own class so we can focus on our education. For many others with a limited world view like mine, that is what they think. They want those that are perceived as educated and desiring to learn to have those AP and honors classes that separate them from the rest and give them an opportunity to be more successful. But what success will it bring them? Maybe they will get ahead in book smarts, but they will not be well rounded social humans if they are constantly surrounded by people like them. This leads to tracking, students are often times tracked based on their “success” or “ability.” But why are we still adopting the concept that we need to focus on helping the successful to succeed while leaving the others in the dust! By tactfully integrating mixed classes in schools, I believe that everyone benefits. All races, classes, and abilities have something unique to bring to the classroom. By integrating variety, students are gaining much more than an education. They are becoming well-rounded individuals that understand what the world is truly like. Not only does it help those who are struggling in education to be influenced by those who are not, but the opportunity to be successful is there by allowing those who better grasp the concepts to help their neighbors. After all, the best way to learn truly is to teach! Now, with all of this being said, I truly do understand that desegregation and even detracking or re-tracking is much harder than it sounds, and that it requires tasteful and smart decisions. But public schools beg for more attention based on the way the tracking systems seem to think it is ok to treat certain tracks as a “dumping grounds.” Furthermore, parents should not feel like they should pull their child out of any public school because another public or charter school will cater to their child better! When that does happen, it is a huge red flag that this school is not doing things right and needs attention. This book not only encourages equal and fair treatment of your students in your classroom, but it also encourages advocacy in schools. I love that, because we are the children’s biggest advocate and we can see what’s best for them without them knowing anything is even wrong. Children could be taught their whole lives that they are not supposed to amount to anything more than what they are and they would believe it. Children could also be taught the opposite that they are better and more entitled to a higher education and they believe it. Our job as advocates is not just to make change within the school system, but to make change within themselves. When a child believes in their self and their abilities, their chances for success are much higher. I was listening to a Ted talk one time where a teacher said that she had a black student who wasn’t trying to succeed in her class. She had a quiz, and her student got 2 out of 20 correct. When she graded the paper she put “+2 ” on the top. The student inquired, “Isn’t this an ‘F’? Why did I get a smiley face?” She said “You got 2 right! You were on a roll!” The student continued to grow and get better after this and she explained in her speech why she did that, “’-18’ sucks all of the life out of you, ‘+2’ says you are capable.” The change truly starts with believing in yourself and someone’s entire success in their education can change off of what they are made to believe by something as simple as a placement in a track. That is why this corrupt system is so important and children need to all be told that they have equal potential.