It all depends on how we go about change. Do we pass laws that are the same as reverse discrimination—-the US already did this and little changed—and set quotas so minorities and people of color will have an advantage over Caucasians, or do we build schools where merit is a level playing field while providing early education as young as three to help disadvantaged non-reading students of all races to become more literate and learn to love reading. Literacy is the key and if a child grows up in a home where his or her parent/s do not instill a love of reading, those children fall behind and seldom catch up to children from families where literacy is valued.
For example, in 2003 in the United States, 7% of whites; 24% of blacks; 44% of Hispanics, and 14% of Asian/Pacific Islanders read below-basic literacy levels. Literacy and a love of reading begins in the home. Children who start school illiterate seldom catch up no matter what the schools do. In Finland, one of the best education systems in the world, parents start teaching their children to read as young as age 3 at home, and all children are literate and love reading by the time they start public schooling at age 7. Should parents in Finland feel guilty just because almost 100% of the population is white and literate but in Kenya only 87.4% is considered literate or, for more examples, Mexico where only 86.1% of the population is literate or Nepal where literacy is only 60.3%.
The other day, I came across a tweet about a Wisconsin school being investigated for teaching white privilege. Apparently, a parent at this particular school became very upset after reading the content of a course her son was taking titled “American Diversity.” The mother felt the curriculum was being used to teach white students that they are racist and oppressive. She also felt the lesson on white privilege made her son feel unearned guilt for being white.
I can’t speak to how the material was presented or what the exact lesson plans were, but my takeaway is simple: kids aren’t the only ones who need these lesson—adults do, too.
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