Ebonics is back in San Bernardino County, which is trying to raise the achievement of black students by . . . Well, it’s not clear from the story what they’re doing, but it seems to come down to the same old esteem boosting that’s done nothing to help students in the past.
The district is advised by Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at San Bernardino State, who says Ebonics is a separate language from English, not just slang.
“For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language.”
You’d think that would mean teaching English to these foreign language speakers, but apparently not. Instead, Students Accumulating New Knowledge Optimizing Future Accomplishment Initiative (sankofa is a Ghanaian word that means remembering the past) will celebrate students’ racial identity. The role of Ebonics is murky.
“Because Ebonics can have a negative stigma, we’re not focusing on that,’ (coordinator Len) Cooper said. “We are affirming and recognizing Ebonics through supplemental reading books (for students).”
An example would come in handy.
Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, teachers will receive training on black culture and customs. District curriculum will now include information on the historical, cultural and social impact of blacks in society. Although the program is aimed at black students, other students can choose to participate.
So the role of blacks in American society is going to be taught as a separate course, not an integral part of American history.
Remembering the past is all very well. Why not remember the failure rate of race-conscious school programs?