Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Questions on Diversity

Everyone is talking about diversity, ethnic vs socioeconomic, the supreme court ruling, and student achievement. I am going to chime in, in the new couple of days, but first I wanted to raise some questions that I haven't seen addressed.

1. Everyone acknowledges that diversity, whether by income or race, does raise achievement of targeted groups, but only if the targeted group is in the minority. Is the purpose of diversity efforts to expose students to another culture, or is it to supplant their current culture?

2. High achieving majority minority schools such as Achievement First and KIPP seem to impose a new school culture on students. Is this their way of eliminating the need for diversity, but just creating a middle class boot camp?

3. Is their a logical reason for white flight? Most diversity advocates say that middle class students academic achievement isn't hurt by diversity, but you never ever see numbers to back this up. Are white parents racist or looking out for their children?

4. Why do I get the feeling that the Supreme Courts decision won't really have any large scale effect on diversity efforts. Seattle doesn't even use their system any more, and its not like we read about x number of cities that are now going to have to change their policies.

I am still pondering these questions and more, but if you want to read some honest thoughts on the subject, go check out Teaching in the 408.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

>if you want to read some honest thoughts on the subject, go check out Teaching in the 408.<

If there's anything really interesting over there (which I doubt), why don't you copy and paste it over here? Who can read gray type on a black background? And why would anyone want to try when the author so clearly doesn't give a damn about his audience's comfort and vision?

TMAO said...

It's white type, sparky.

Anonymous said...

Everyone acknowledges that diversity, whether by income or race, does raise achievement of targeted groups, but only if the targeted group is in the minority. Is the purpose of diversity efforts to expose students to another culture, or is it to supplant their current culture?

I have no idea what the people pursuing diversity efforts think the purpose is, but I can tell you that in my corporate experience merging corporate cultures has always been a disaster. If you are trying to merge teams (and want it to work), you merge one team into the other team slowly. This allows/requires one team to assimilate the other one. Putting two largish teams together as a unit results in a we/they structure that is hard to break and very counterproductive.

Is their a logical reason for white flight?
Yes.

Most diversity advocates say that middle class students academic achievement isn't hurt by diversity, but you never ever see numbers to back this up. Are white parents racist or looking out for their children?
The parents are selecting a candidate peer group for their children. This can matter tremendously. As an example (from Laurence Steinberg's "Beyond the Classroom"), black parents actually do a *better* job parenting than SES equivalent white parents, *BUT* their (black) children perform worse than the SES equivalent white children. One reason is that the black students have a peer culture that is hostile towards education. Notice that the black parents often are *NOT* hostile towards education, but the child peer-group still results in much lower academic achievement.

White flight is an attempt (probably not clearly articulatable by the parents) to select a "better" peer group for their children.

Why do I get the feeling that the Supreme Courts decision won't really have any large scale effect on diversity efforts?
Because it probably won't. Current diversity policies will be renamed or the people running them will find proxies for race and continue doing what they are currently doing :-)

-Mark Roulo

allen said...

1. Everyone acknowledges that diversity, whether by income or race, does raise achievement...

Everyone acknowledges? The only thing I know of that everyone acknowledges is that over-large generalizations are always wrong.

Seriously though, I've never heard of any persuasive evidence to support the case that rubbing black kids up against white kids, without bothering to consult their preferences, is even remotely good. If it results in academic improvement I've yet to see decent evidence in support. Even if there were evidence in support I'd have to weigh that against the nasty implications of forced diversity.

Who gets what out of forced integration? Are black kids, on the wrong end of the achievement gap, supposed to be uplifted and improved by exposure to white kids and white culture? That seems more then a trifle patronizing, doesn't it?

And what are the white kids, who we are assured do benefit from forced integration, get out of it? We know it's not academic achievement, that's what the black kids are supposed to get out of forced integration by being in proximity to white kids. What then? Will they, having been exposed to diverse cultures, blah, blah, blah, be able to resist racial seduction by the Ku Klux Klan? Somehow, I don't think there's much likelihood of the Klan reviving any time soon even without the educational effects of forced integration or due to them.

2. High achieving majority minority schools such as Achievement First and KIPP seem to impose a new school culture on students. Is this their way of eliminating the need for diversity, but just creating a middle class boot camp?

If you can get the "high achieving" without the diversity doesn't that suggest that there's a cost/benefit analysis that ought to be done? What's being given up to get that "high achieving" without the diversity?

If a poor black kid knocks out a four-point, buries the SATs and heads off to a big-name college on a full-boat academic scholarship what would forced integration have contributed? Or if a kid who looked ripe to end up in the slam or the ground ends up as a dental hygenist would that kid have ended up as the dentist if only he'd had some white kids to show him the way?

Besides, if some black mommy or daddy thinks junior'll soak up white accomplishment pheromones by hanging around white kids then the glorious cause of diversity is advanced without having to deal with the insignificant issue of the trampling of parental authority.

3. Is their a logical reason for white flight?

Yes. They're called "freeways" or "highways" or some other colorful, local appellation. With these high-speed, limited-access roads it's practical to live much farther from your place of work then in pre-National Defense Highway days. To a much greater degree then before, people can live where they prefer without compromising on their employment.

In support of this explanation, white flight is being followed by "black flight" proving that the attraction of suburbia transcends racial distinctions.

4. Why do I get the feeling that the Supreme Courts decision won't really have any large scale effect on diversity efforts.

Because it's redundant. About the only place you're liable to find feverish support for forced integration is among people who obsess on race. Outside that small and shrinking group you'll find a lot of people who just don't give a good God damn. Black or white.

Historically black colleges and universities are in trouble because their single distinction is vanishing. The NAACP is in trouble because if you're interested in advancement and you're colored the NAACP isn't the only game in town anymore.

The only thing the Supreme Court decision does is knock some of the foundation out from under the people who are bitterly disappointed that that they missed the 60s and figure that forced integration will have to do as a noble crusade there being no other obvious outlets for their moral indignation.

Anonymous said...

>It's white type, sparky.<

Not on my monitor, genius.

TMAO said...

Might want to upgrade.