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Education and Racism 1

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
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.