Waiting for the other guy to change
Underachievement by black students, especially boys, is an issue in Britain, not just in the U.S. Read this debate on whether racism by teachers or an anti-school culture is most to blame. (Thanks to the Philosophical Cowboy for the link.) Tony Sewell, an education lecturer at Leeds University, has the stronger argument, in my opinion.
Much of our poverty is real, but I’m talking about a huge cohort of black boys who are not on the breadline but whose homes are impoverished. In these homes you will see huge television sets, cable TV, wardrobes with the latest designer wear , yet not one book. . . .
The real poverty that our children face is a poverty of aspiration — they have linked themselves with the prevailing anti-learning culture of their white working class counterparts. The sin that you commit is to give this “mentality” credence by reducing it solely to white racism. This for me is the new slave mentality, the one that keeps us from seeing that, irrespective of the pressure, you do have the ability to succeed. What are we supposed to do in the meantime, Lee? Wait for white people to change so that we can be free?
Waiting for someone else to change tends to be bad strategy. In this case, the cycle is self-perpetuating. If significant numbers of black male students are unprepared, unmotivated and undisciplined, significant numbers of teachers will expect less of black boys.