The Root Causes of Academic Under-achievement ⋆ Politicrossing
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The Root Causes of Academic Under-achievement

The disparity decade after decade, in virtually every U.S. school system, between African American students and adequately performing students groups is disturbing

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On the state and local level, as decisions are made about how and in what form we will educate the nation’s children, an age-old issue remains. The underlying cause of income inequality and brewing civil unrest likely has less to do with media-inflamed coverage and much more to do with the problem that apparently no one wants to discuss: educational disparity.

The disparity year after year, decade after decade, in test scores, math competency, reading proficiency, test scores, honor roll status, and graduation rates, in virtually every U.S. school system, between African American students and other student groups is disturbing.

A Cause for Concern

Any responsible American would be concerned. Here in the 3rd decade of the 3rd millennium, with a disheartening male African American high school dropout rate across the U.S., can anyone view the situation optimistically? Joe Biden can’t remember what he said about the topic, and Kamala Harris has no clue.

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“It’s remarkable,” noted Eric Hanushek, who is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, as well as a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Following Hanushek’s extensive analysis, he remarked, “I knew that the gap hadn’t been closing too much, but when I actually looked at the data I was myself surprised.”

No Sound Effort

When strenuous efforts to bridge the gap, in one town after another, do not bear fruit, invariably someone yells “foul,” as if some grand conspiracy is occurring and a magic wand, yet to be waved, could suddenly redress all. And, as if long-term, hard-working, dedicated teachers aren’t doing their utmost for each of their students.

Consider the school system in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, North Carolina. This locale, deemed, “The southern part of heaven,” by writers, is among the most progressive in the United States.

The teachers and educators here have more than a vested interest in demonstrating that their school system, beyond all others, can succeed in closing achievement gaps between whites and minorities.

Year in and year out, nevertheless, the gap remains. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education is primed to try anything.

Another in an endless line of supposed “fixes” was to eliminate the advanced math classes in the middle schools and to lump all non-pre-algebra students together, with similar plans to eliminate other advanced classes such as in language arts.

Erected on Quicksand

One cannot easily erect a sound building on quicksand: who expects to solve a decades-old problem by starting with a shaky foundation?

Taking a lowest common denominator approach to developing school curriculum has never consistently worked, anywhere. It frustrates the students and dramatically increases a teacher’s burden – all such students must then be taught at individual learning speeds.

Do you know any superhuman teachers? If so, could you afford them?

Truly closing the academic gap between underachieving students and the rest of the student population requires addressing reality – airing the truth about the disparity – not resorting to politically “correct” psychobabble and curricula finagling for another ten years, and then another ten, and then another.

The Disparity Has Reasons

This disparity encompasses such issues as adult encouragement for completing homework assignments, the number of hours the TV is on in given households,  rules concerning cellphone use and media use, a regular workspace, designated hours for quiet study, periodic performance rewards, penalties for dereliction, and development of long term expectations, among other factors.

Without rational analysis and exploration of programs that address these issues, no amount of political, public posturing, or wrangling with classes will prove to be the “winning formula.” And school boards will have no chance of effectively addressing the continuing problem of poor academic performance among student groups.

Those on the Left, however, have no intention of EVER considering the above factors. These self-proclaimed ‘social justice warriors’ are the first and loudest to proclaim ‘systematic racism’ and to concoct and espouse ‘Critical Race Theory.’ It is all total BS but it enables the Left to virtual signal en mass.

Meanwhile, in the world of reality, Nigerians, Ghanians, Haitians, and other dark skinned immigrant groups get into high gear, seemingly right off the boat, and within one generation or less become a part of the U.S. economic mainstream.

Students Eager to Learn

Detective Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s story The Sign of Four, says, “… When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The schools in U.S. communities routinely exhaust talented teachers with a task that cannot be solved by them, nor is it theirs to solve.

Satisfactory academic achievement, however improbable to those who wish to pretend otherwise, occurs through individual effort: one boy and one girl after another rising above and cracking the books, then coming to class eager to learn, and primed to excel.

Such achievement is never likely to occur any other way. Otherwise, expect that income inequality and civil unrest will continue for decades into the 21st century.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Mini-Movie Reviews, 6

Two out of three ain’t bad

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Here are three movies, each having received at least one Oscar nomination:

All Quiet on the Western Front — here is a remake of the 1930s classic, and I was prepared to have this be the same old trench warfare, with all the accompanying platitudes. Instead, I was surprised. This was well done, with decent acting, and a few hand-to-hand combat sequences unlike anything I have previously seen, some truly touching. It is a German production, but all in English. Although it’s on the long side, I think it is worthwhile.

Everything Everywhere All at Once — starring Michelle Yeoh, and receiving 11 Oscar nominations is alternatively amusing, excessively noisy, clever, confusing, and lacking boundaries. It is without a raison d’être, as with other movies during this awards season, notably The Banshees of Isherin and Tár. Everything Everywhere is getting rave reviews, but I say “skip it.” As one reviewer put it, the plot seems to suggest “that what makes life meaningful is the recognition that because there is no inherent meaning, all things and moments are equally meaningful.” Oh, sure thing….

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Aftersun — a subtle but touching recollection of a 30-year old woman, when she was on a long vacation with her divorced father, 20 years earlier, before the new school year starts. Not much happens, yet we are drawn to this twosome, and the screenplay and the director skillfully lead us to an articulated but implied conclusion. Newcomer Paul Mescal, as the father, received an Oscar nomination and (Miss) Frankie Corio, as the 10-year old daughter, is equally good. Aftersun is not for the masses, but I found it to be worthwhile.

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Faith

The Left Is Fueling a New Racism

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It’s my firm belief that the number of Americans holding racist views is small, whether white, black, or Hispanic. At this point in our history, the vast majority of Americans try to live up to the challenge delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. We keep moving toward the hard-fought dream he envisioned of an America where a citizen’s character would mean more than the color of their skin.

We are a different country today. I’ve presented leadership programs to hundreds of companies over the last 40 years. I’ve seen the work they’ve done to embrace diversity and advance capable employees and leaders from all races. Many minority members have advanced and earned their rightful place in making this great American economy work. At a time we should be celebrating and furthering our progress, our American culture is under attack from the left. Angry race-baiters are doing everything they can to increase our racial divide through pushing the 1619 Project, CRT, and BLM. They make extreme racist claims with a clear goal—to expand the government gravy train that only racial “victims” can justify.

I lived in pre-civil rights Atlanta where there were separate schools, separate bathrooms, and the baseball team was the Atlanta Crackers! Today, it’s more likely that leftist blacks are the ones who want separate schools, separate rights, and special reparations for their race.

As one anonymous post asserted, “Only in America can an ethnic group of black awareness month, black holiday, black only colleges, black only dating sites, and black only bars and clubs…and turn around and call everyone else racists!” You don’t have to look far to find evidence of extreme black racist demands.

In California, the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee released a report calling on the city to pay every qualifying black California resident $5 million and absolve them of their outstanding personal debt. This is madness. California was a free state and did not condone slavery, but the committee is doing all it can to justify reparations: “While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the tenets of segregation, white supremacy and systematic repression and exclusion of Black people were codified through legal and extralegal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement.” To the left, this “failure” warrants millions of innocent California citizens being forced to pay higher taxes to fund exorbitant benefits to one race they haven’t abused in any way.

In Washington, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is proposing a law that could codify black racism in America. There is a common mantra in her political speeches: White America is defined by institutional racism, systemic racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism. She attacks “white” America and seems to see the clan in the face of every white citizen. Such general attacks are evidence of a new racism—black racism.

Read for yourself Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s proposed law, the Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023. The legislation promises to criminalize criticism of any minority that is subsequently used to incite anybody else to commit a hate crime. The law reads: “A conspiracy to engage in white supremacy inspired hate crimes shall be determined to exist between two or more persons, at least one of whom published material advancing white supremacy, white supremacist ideology, antagonism based on ‘replacement theory,’ or hate speech that vilifies or is otherwise directed against any non-White person or group could, as determined by a reasonable person, motivate actions by a person predisposed to engaging in a white supremacy inspired crime.”

This is a chilling attack on freedom of speech against one race—caucasians. In short, if you criticize a minority and another person states that your statement was all the motivation needed to do a hate crime, you may be jailed because your criticism “motivated” a hate crime you did not commit. Get the message—be silent and conform or we will put you away.

Black racism is real and just as evil as white racism. Both must be soundly rejected by responsible citizens. As a Christian, I affirm my Savior’s claim that all God’s children matter! No responsible citizen should be shamed into silence by the irresponsible racist attacks of the left. Be proud of yourself and of America. Whether black, brown or white, success as a small business person or advancement as a good employee had to be earned by hard work, long hours, and diligent sacrifice. As with Americans for generations, it was not handed to you. You didn’t depend on government handouts to get ahead, you had to find a way to earn your own American Dream.

Reparations will never happen! Politicians can’t even afford to fund the entitlements they’ve already promised. Special black racist demands are unethical, divisive, and risk fueling a new racism backlash. Politicians from the left keep making the promises to fuel racist anger and secure special interest donations and votes.

Don’t fall for their racist rants and demands. Depending on government entitlements is never the answer. Instead, get busy following the models and learning from citizens of all races who have made America work for themselves and their families.

Let’s reclaim the American Dream Martin Luther King, Jr. affirmed. Do not judge a fellow citizen by the color of their skin. Celebrate the character of the vast majority of good American citizens you meet. Keep rejecting racism of any kind. It’s time to stand proud and applaud hard work and success wherever we find it, no matter what the race. May it always be so in this great republic we treasure…America!

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