At McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, PA, the administration has crunched the numbers and found that it wasn’t preparing a significant, identifiable portion of its student population for success, and is taking steps to address the needs of those students.
After bravely reviewing the data, the high school found that the majority of black students were not ranking as even “proficient” in either reading or writing, and rather than appear “politically correct” and continuing with the status quo, this district has re-arranged homerooms by race, placing the black students in single gender homerooms and for another 20 minutes a month in a race/gender segregated assembly (I assume). All classes are as they were before, all the children mixed together…
While it is still to early to tell if this change is helping these students, anecdotal evidence indicates this change is making a difference for these under-performing students:
In the few weeks since the mentors began holding their homeroom meetings, the mentors claim they’ve seen changes in their students. “You notice the level of interaction is different, the way they talk is different,” one mentor pointed out. “One of the simplest things you notice right away is, before, the pants were hanging down; now, they are up. The shirt is tucked in, where before, it was hanging out. That’s tangible.”
Only about one in three black students in this high school can read at a “proficient” level, only one in four black students is “proficient” in math (based on state-wide standardized testing). The school is failing this population, and absent the ability of parents to choose a different school the only option is for the school district is to focus efforts to help these students.
About three out of four of the other students are “proficient” in reading and two out of three are “proficient” in math. Until the black students are brought up to even these levels, focused efforts are justified, appearances be damned.
Critics will likely parrot half-understood constitutional principles, and refute scholarly studies supporting the effort, but the simple truth is that the current system isn’t meeting the needs of these students, and this appears to be helping.
As one teacher noted:
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,” one math teacher and mentor, Michael Mitchell, remarked, quoting the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mitchell now says he hopes to inspire his black male students during their short daily meetings, noting that some of them were even failing gym class.
“They’re all young. They’re all strong. They’re all athletic. But they’re failing because they chose not to participate,” he said. “That‘s an example of ’conscientious stupidity.’ You can do but you choose not to do. These are the things we need to get away from.”
The Blaze: PA High School Defends Plan to Segregate Students by Race & Gender
Strength to Love, by Martin Luther King, 1963 (Source of “’conscientious stupidity” quote)
Wikipedia.com: Political Correctness
Oyez.org: Brown v. Board of Education
The Journal of Negro Education: Single-Sex Classrooms and Academic Achievement in Two Inner-City Schools