California’s does not engage them. This paper references

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                           California’s
Racial Gaps in Achievement

 

Paaez
Emami-Marand

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          California State University,
Northridge

 

  Professor Hackett

 

        AFRS 417

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
Abstract

 

The California public school system
has been long suffering from racial gaps in achievement concerning minority
children and socioeconomically disadvantaged children. Aside from the usual
course of concern, the focus of this paper is to address how this gap was
created, and what can aide in closing this gap. The factors include, but are
not limited to, Proposition 13 causing a financial deficit within the system,
one size fits all standardized tests, and educators failing to connect with
children using monotonous curriculum that does not engage them. This paper
references studies that demonstrate how implementing culturally relevant
teaching methods have produced very positive results for children of color. There
are many different ways to engage students; moreover, low-income students, and
students of color may need educators to bring the motivation and excitement out
of them. They probably have dealt with teachers who drill information into them
hoping they mentally regurgitate it out properly for an exam that determines
that student, teacher’s, and schools financial
fate. The main goal of this paper is to examine this situation in depth and
assess what can be done to close the gap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   California’s
Racial Gaps in Student Achievement

 

There are many
issues surrounding the California public school system, but the most pressing
matter would be the gaps in education concerning minority students. Students
around the country are expected to meet unrealistic standards considering they
are not given the proper tools to succeed, the tools that their more affluent counterparts
have access too. So what can be done to ensure that our children of color excel
and are given the best education possible? It has been proven that culturally
relevant teaching methods help minority children in the classroom, partly
because they are able to connect a part of themselves in history within the curriculum.
Our society has seemingly taken a negative turn since the election of our
current president. This is a president who supports and perpetuates racial hate
and prejudice. Sadly, this affects everyone, even some of our smallest
citizens. They are already disadvantaged due to the lack of resources;
furthermore, Trump’s newly appointed Secretary
of Education, Betsy DeVos seemingly aims to increase that disadvantage. Her
voucher initiative will take the limited funding there is in public schools to redirect
and focus them on private and charter schools. With common core standards, ESSA,
NCLB, and other similar tests, children and teachers are penalized for below
average scores, while schools that perform well receive more funding. This
seems a little backwards. Yes, the schools that do well should be properly
recognized and rewarded; however, the schools that did not have adequate resources
to begin with should not be penalized. There are racial gaps in student
achievement in the California school system which can be attributed to lack of
proper resources, the absence of culturally relevant teaching methods, and the use
of one size fits all standardized testing.

There should be an
array of questions asked to determine why students of color, as well as
socioeconomically disadvantaged students are lagging behind academically. In
most cases the answers revolve around resources and finances. California ranks
astoundingly low as far as education standards are concerned, and ranked even
lower are minorities. Freelom, Bertrand, and Rogers found (2012) “There have been growing concerns about the educational
progress of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and immigrant families.
This focus in on educational improvement generally is addressing the achievement
gap that emerged before the great recession”. The
great recession of 2008 hit many people hard and they are stating that this was
actually an issue in California before the recession hit. The issue seems to
stem from Proposition 13 in 1998 which shifted the primary sources of revenue
for California public schools. Proposition 13 was a delight for homeowners,
freezing their property tax at one percent at the 1975 property values;
however, it was disrupted the funding for the school system. California does
not spend as much per student when compared to other the national averages.
Freelom, Bertrand, and Rogers found (2012) that “California
is ranked 43rd out of the 50 states in the nation, spending
$2,371.00 less per student than the national average.”
So when we think about why these children are lagging behind there is a strong
possibility it is because they are not given the proper tools to succeed. Many
teachers complain of not having books for students, and in many instances the children
have to share. Extracurricular resources are not available for teachers to plan
outside of the box learning activities, and in most cases the teacher has to
come out of pocket; nonetheless, this would be a part of per pupil spending. As
if there are not enough issues for students in the California school districts,
Donald Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education of the United
States. DeVos believes that we should switch over to a voucher program, where
the state pays for students to switch from poorly performing public schools
over to the private or charter school of their choice. Sure, this sounds
adequate in theory until you break down what will happen in the process.
Pushing funds towards private and charter schools ultimately leaves public
schools even more in the red. The children who are not able to receive these
vouchers would be left in a public school with an even more deficient amount of
resources. This would all be caused by funneling these substantial amounts of
money to this voucher program. Hutchinson (2017) also points out, “Put straight: The voucher agenda is a byproduct of the southern
states efforts to circumvent the desegregation mandate of Brown vs. Board of
Education. It was, and is key strategy in the white nationalist/supremacist
political arsenal that powered Trump’s
victory.” This presidency has proven to aide in
dividing our society, and unofortunatly public school age children are not
exempt from this tactic. The majority of public schools and charter schools are
occupied by White students whose families are financially stable; additionally,
with the voucher program schools will be strategically segregated.  DeVos is aiming to segregate on a socioeconomic
level, leaving children to do the best they can with the limited resources and apparently
no funding on the way. This is a formula for failure, just as red-lining
neighborhoods, and other forms of systemic racism that have been arguable
successful in keeping the people of color (some) economically disadvantaged.

            So
what happens when you mundanely force curriculum on students with limited resources
or concern? Well, in the United States we expect them to produce amazing test
scores on standardized tests, but how is this possible?  This is an active factor in the production of achievement
gaps within California public schools. Albers (2016) found, “In October 2015, the National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) scores were released with much concern in the decline in math
and reading scores of low income and children of color.” There has been much conversation about what could be the reason(s)
children of color score significantly lower than white children on these tests.
The many discussed rationalizations range from:

socioeconomic background, parent’s
marital status, psychological factors, innateness, etc. This is where cultural
teaching methods come into play, helping minority children excel. White
American children consume a rich history of their culture in most areas of
studies; whereas; African American or minority children in general, are very
limited to learning anything positive about their culture, let alone,
implementing it into other aspects of their lesson.  Ida B Wells is an all African American Middle
School, and is a great example of how African American students can “close the gap”
if taught with an innovative culturally enriched curriculum. Wiggins and Watson
(2016) found “This study investigates a
high performing African American school that embraces multiculturalism and
anti-racism education within its mission and philosophy…. the school performs at least 15% higher than the state and
district on standardized assessments.” This
is concrete proof that moving away from a monolithic European history and coinciding
perspectives yield very positive results for children of color. Another
disturbing issue surrounding these standardized tests is that teachers can be
penalized for poor scores.  Tellez (2002)
noted “In an era of accountability,
when standardized test scores are tracked like mutual funds and teachers are
put to increasing pressure to improve their school’s ranking, an emerging curriculum is unlikely for any
student.” When the classroom is
lacking engaging content, the connection and comprehension from a perspective
will as well. Julia Devereaux from Dreamkeepers
is a perfect example of a teacher going the extra mile. For example, there was
a student that no one wanted to “deal” with and was told he just want capable of learning to read.
Well, Devereaux looked the boy in the eye and said, “You will read, and you will read soon.” She shows her students that she believes in them and
actively helps them succeed. California started implementing the Accountability
Act in 1999, which ultimately holds educators, districts, administrators and
others responsible for the successes and failures concerning the scores for
standardized testing. The schools that perform well are given monetary
incentives, while the others are deemed “failures”. What kind of message is this sending to the students?
There is an immense amount of stress put on educators who are held responsible
for these test scores, as well as the students who can sense the tension. How
can you properly prepare a whole class of students (possibly up to thirty or
forty in some LAUSD schools) for a huge test when they all absorb the material
in different manners? Some would say integrate culturally relevant methods, and
this would be ideal, as long as it didn’t
cost too much and the teacher could pay out of pocket. Teachers are held
accountable to seemingly impossible standards. There are some teachers who really
give it their all, who should not be penalized; although, the teachers who
exert sub par effort, should indeed be penalized.

            Students in the California public school system all
deserve to receive an equal education. The reason these gaps are prevalent are
caused by a number of factors that may vary based on personal situations from
family to family. Proposition 13 initiated a deficit in the funds going to
public schools here in California, and it seems we still haven’t fixed the issue. Our students are starting off with a
disadvantage because they lack the proper resources to achieve. They are given
beat up books that they may still have to share. Teachers are having to come
out of pocket for supplies, and considering the pay is already minimal this is
an issue. This is why it is very obvious that most people who go into teaching
have a passion for molding young minds, and making a change; although, there
are some unfortunate exceptions. Betsy DeVoe’s
voucher program will divert funds even further away from public schools to
focus and private and charter schools. With the lack of resources adamant in school’s
teachers must strive to integrate culturally relevant teaching methods into
their lesson, because it is proven to have a positive effect on their learning abilities,
as we saw with Ida B Wells Middle School. This school scored above average on
standardized tests, probably because they strayed from “one size fits all”
standards.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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