One Explanation For The Achievement Gap

It always amazes me to hear people prattle on about holding black kids to higher standards, but never take a look at the actual environment surrounding the schools themselves. Here is a depressing article about a teacher assaulted by a student that highlights exactly what I mean. What people don't realize about most "failing schools" is that they are also "dangerous schools." When I was in middle school in Baltimore, I spent almost as much time trying to figure how not to catch a beatdown, as I did figuring out my studies. Eventually, I landed on a strategy that embraced violence more than it avoided it--always travel in a pack, and respond swiftly and immediately to any challenge. This is logic of so many of our kids.

In the article they talk about penalizing schools that are "dangerous," and I guess that's a start, but I think this problem goes beyond the schools. You start looking around, and you see that bad schools are usually a part of a failing ecosystem. Families are broken, brothers are out on the corner, mothers are scrambling for child-care. Kids do not come to school as empty vessels--they bring all of those social problems with them. Unless we can look toward comprehensive solutions (like, possibly, the Harlem School Zone) I don't think education can be fixed for black kids. The problem is so much bigger than the schools themselves.