Achievement Gap Thesis

Achievement Gap Thesis-53
We can measure urban decline and labor market discrimination to some extent through quantitative research.Tackling the “oppositional culture” explanation is harder.

We can measure urban decline and labor market discrimination to some extent through quantitative research.

Under these conditions the teachers are reluctant to teach and the students resist learning.” Clark’s research had been cited in the key Supreme Court decision banning state-imposed segregation in public schools, but one suspects on the basis of this quotation that he was already doubtful that desegregation alone would solve the problem of an adequate education for urban blacks.

Not, of course, that desegregation was simple: it turned out to be awfully complicated and has never been substantially achieved in northern and midwestern cities.

The first is the economic decline of northern and midwestern cities, which heightened financial pressures on the schools.

In a word, they simply didn’t have enough money to deal properly with growing numbers of poor and black students.

The head of the Chicago Teachers College said in 1940, the black “is warned to beware of the white man and many of his attitudes…are colored by this caution.

Teachers ‘pick on him’ not because he misbehaves but because he is black.… Every teacher…knows that the first reaction of a Negro when she threatens to punish him is to say, ‘The law won’t let you hit me.’” All this is long before the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s and the expansion of the rights of school children.Her research into the Chicago schools leads her to three theories of her own.First is the growth of segregation in the Chicago schools.The second is racial barriers to employment in the North, “more subtle but no less real” than in the South.The third possibility is the rise of an “oppositional culture,” in which “academic effort [was framed] as a betrayal of racial identity—‘acting white.’” On the issue of resources, she documents rising expenditure for the schools (in 1980 dollars) during this entire period; rising salaries for teachers, particularly in the 1950s; and declining numbers of students per teacher.She writes that “the public schools lost legitimacy in the eyes of the black community.” The second is the failure of vocational education to do much for black children.Vocational education began as an effort to connect to the world of work those children not headed for college, but in time it diverged between a higher track that afforded training that led to jobs, and a lower track that was simply an alternative to expected academic failure.Access to the top tier required at least basic numerical and language skills.She writes that vocational education “offers one example of how black students could be disadvantaged by policies that were ostensibly race neutral.” One reason blacks were denied the upper tier was that discriminatory trade unions would prevent them from using the skills they learned.Neckerman points to the opportunities in the public sector and the civil service, where there was much less discrimination, and in the independent professions, namely law, medicine, dentistry, and the clergy, which “offered a chance to avoid some of the discrimination that private-sector employees faced,” and all of which required education.She does not dispute the widespread degree and depth of discrimination, but holds that in this situation education offered some advantage, some hope: “The economic returns to education…was [sic] similar for black and immigrant workers.” Yet the gap in taking advantage of educational opportunities grew.

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