Public Schools and Concern for the Future


Over in Detroit, unionized public school teachers have shut down schools attended by 46,000 students, of whom, Lindsey Burke points out, large percentages can’t achieve proficiency on key academic subjects.  That’s just what labor unions do:  rig things in members’ favor, limit options for fixing problems, and then shut the system down when even friendly Democrat administrations can’t keep up with the demands.

Meanwhile, in Providence, some students are demanding that standard topics of history — key to the rationale of publicly funding education in order to maintain the nation’s sense of itself as a nation — be displaced in favor of telling them more about themselves and their ancestral backgrounds:

“We should be learning about more of the world than the United States,” said Diane Gonzalez from Central High School. “I’m Guatemalan and I have no idea about my history. They make it seem like our countries are meaningless…”

Licelot Caraballo, from E-Cubed Academy in Providence, said he wants students to “feel connected to their history, not to lose it because they can’t access it. Our history matters. We can make history in Providence, our history in Providence.”

According to the 2015 PARCC results, only 7.4% of Central High students are performing up to expectations in language arts, with E-Cubed doing a little better, at 14.8%.  In math, the schools do much worse, with 2.7% and 1.9%, respectively.  The proposal to dilute the school day with more history from other countries should be viewed with great skepticism, notwithstanding an academic study finding grade improvement with ethnic studies in California.  Even if we assume the results of that study are not biased or simply resulting from a flawed methodology, what they might mainly illustrate is that progressive obsession with race and ethnicity is a much more palpable detriment to students than most people would guess.  (That is, these students are so hindered by the racial-grievance mindset that even mild alleviation brings improvements.)

What’s most stunning about the Providence students’ statements, though, is the sheer passivity.  Nothing is stopping students from learning about the countries of their ancestors.  Moreover, the fact that the government doesn’t hand something to somebody doesn’t mean that he or she has no access to it.  (There’s a lesson that begs for expanded application.)

Both teachers in Detroit and students in Providence appear to have the attitude that activism is the only initiative that one need take.  Going out to achieve things on your own is out; demanding that other people give you things is in.  Look no farther for evidence that we need more American history, not less.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “I’m Guatemalan and I have no idea about my history…”

    Get it straight kid, you chose to become an American. You used to be a Guatemalan. Maybe it is important that you know about all those DWM’s who suffered and died at Valley Forge to make this country available to you. Can you follow on from “When in the course of human events”? Do you know any American Scripture? Do you know that YOUR new country delivered the world from evil at least twice, some would say thrice, in the 20th Century. Are you proud of it? Perhaps when you get all that, we can spend a few hours on the “lost white city”.
    I couldn’t fill a page with what I learned about the country my names comes from in public school. So, when it seemed interesting, I read a few books.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      In the interest of fairness, perhaps more Americans should know how the United Fruit Company ruled Guatemala.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Sorry to carry on. The statement of being a “Guatemalan”, like many such, serves to remind me of an incident from about 10 years ago. When leaving my polling place I was approached by an Asian looking high school girl to participate in a a survey, which I did. She insisted on knowing “what kind of American” I was, and would not accept “American”. Finally I mentioned that she appeared to be of Asian extraction, and asked how long her family had been here. She replied that she was third generation. I asked “do you think you are an American yet?”. That stumped her.

        • Christopher C. Reed

          Hmm…the history of Gaut.? Speaking of United Fruit…up pops the name ‘Walker’, as in George Herbert Walker Bush…as in Brown Brothers Harriman…well nevermind kid, nothing to see here…

          There was the usual railing in the Projo a while back about ‘imperialism’ in North America. And I quite agree that the study of North American history would be more accurate if it encompassed ALL of the empires contending on this continent. Not just the usual suspects, Spain, Britain and France (and Russia), but the bit players, like the Vikings, the Lakota Sioux, the (particularly) blood thirsty Aztecs, and not neglecting the especially rapacious Comanche. What a buncha horsebacked sons of anarchy they were.

          Who knows what a judicious citizenry the clear-eyed study of history might yield?

          The purpose of ‘ethnic studies’ simply put: Divide et Impera.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            Vikings! About 15 years ago, the Scandinavians decided to re-enact Lief Ericsson’s voyage in replica “long boats”. They even found a descendant of Lief Ericsson to lead it (he was a drunk and was dropped off in Greenland). They made a port call at India Point. I attended. there was a rather large crowd and I noticed that I could not detect a single “minority” face. A Viking joke offered by the captain “When Columbus landed at Hispaniola he invited all of the “chiefs” aboard his ship. He took them to his cabin and offered them all a glass of Madeira. They all raised their glasses to him and said “skoal”.

          • ShannonEntropy

            Divide et Impera.

            The Rhodent Version =►

            VENI … VIDI … VINNY

            Translation with local sub·text =►

            I got here … Now I know a guy … Vinny
            … Got a pra·blem wid dat ??

    • ShannonEntropy

      I couldn’t fill a page with what I learned about the country my name comes from in public school

      Let me guess … with a name like HARD·WICK you must come from a family of male porn stars amiright ??

  • Joe Smith

    Nothing is stopping students from learning about the countries of their ancestors. Moreover, the fact that the government doesn’t hand something to somebody doesn’t mean that he or she has no access to it.

    Well put Justin. And nothing stopping high schools from developing personalized learning electives in history or related subject that a student could take for independent research/directed study on such topics. Or putting together a lesson in an American history or civics class that has students consider the recent impeachment of the former Guatemalan president with impeachments of US presidents — or the election of a TV personality/outsider in Guatemala with the current US election drama..

    • Rhett Hardwick

      A study on Guatemalan-American relations might be interesting. We allowed the United Fruit Co. to govern it for several generations, much in the way that the East India Co.. governed India for a few hundred years. After they developed democracy we supported several dictators (to be fair, it was the Cold War, and their democracy was thought to be headed toward communism). The response to the last dictator we supported was extremely bloody. Older Guatemalans (40-50) can tell of learning as kids to walk around bodies in the street.

  • Northern Exposure

    My father (apologies for being Irish, I know all the privilege that came with) had a way of dealing with such questions. When seeking knowledge from him to avoid the heavy lifting, he would say, “Go look it up and let me know what you find out.” If it meant going to the library beyond our World Book Encyclopedia, well then, so be it. I suggest these young Americans try the same strategy to learn their heritage. I never had a course in Irish history, save the fable of St. Patrick and some snakes!

  • Jim Morgan

    Sensible as usual;.