Race and Education: A Reader

What ‘white folks who teach in the hood’ get wrong about education, Kenya Downs

I think framing this hero teacher narrative, particularly for folks who are not from these communities, is problematic. The model of a hero going to save this savage other is a piece of a narrative that we can trace back to colonialism; it isn’t just relegated to teaching and learning. It’s a historical narrative and that’s why it still exists because, in many ways, it is part of the bones of America. It is part of the structure of this country. And unless we come to grips with the fact that even in our collective American history that’s problematic, we’re going to keep reinforcing it. Not only are we setting the kids up to fail and the educators up to fail, but most importantly, we are creating a societal model that positions young people as unable to be saved.

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too, Chris Emdin


Black boys know too well what it feels like to be a problem — let’s channel that knowledge into innovation, Andre Perry

In some states, fewer than 90 percent of black boys are reading at grade level and dropout rates for males of color continue to be much higher than for other groups. We certainly need solutions, but we don’t need any more “gap closing” measures.

Gap closing implies a white male standard, which actually is the source of institutional racism that needs to be fixed. In this regard, the achievement gap is a process and product that we need to smash up in tiny little pieces.

No one should be surprised that while black males achieve in schools and colleges a gap remains or has even grown. Success won’t be declared when black men and boys catch up to white men; organizations need to catch up with justice.

The overwhelming whiteness of U.S. private schools, in six maps and charts, Emma Brown

“The fact is that, over the years, African American families and non-white families have come to understand that these private schools are not schools that are open to them, especially in light of their traditional role and history related to desegregation of public schools,” he said.

The report recalls how private-school enrollment grew a half-century ago as courts were ordering public schools to integrate. The pattern was particularly pronounced in the South, where massive resistance to integration led to rapid private-school enrollment growth. Even as private-school enrollment has fallen across much of the country in recent decades, it has continued to grow in the South.


5 thoughts on “Race and Education: A Reader

  1. While the colonial mindset should be obvious to all, I am often bemused what I see as another kind of harmful racial bias. While we definitely need teachers of all hues, white liberals who have been working for social justice since they were teenagers deserve a little credit and it might be a good idea to ask them about their perspective. Most of us did not run out to heroically close the reading gap, we just got assigned to a school in a poor and minority neighborhood. Then we fell in love with the kids. I am often the only white guy in my class but those Mexican kids have become “mi gente.” I am not trying to save anyone; I am just one more adult trying to improve the community. But the implication is that because I am white I cannot have any true understanding or real empathy. People who are school and community assets should be praised not denigrated.

  2. I just read your book, Roadbuilders. I am wondering if you have had the opportunity to read Listen, Liberal. Thomas Frank offers a scathing criticism of meritocracy and the idea that advanced schooling is the answer to the problems of poverty. I just started this book but am intrigued with his criticism of platitudes offered by the liberal “professional class,” which I guess I am a part of.

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