No watermelon for Black History Month

Plans to celebrate Black History Month with a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon have been canceled at a Christian girls school in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Principal Nancy Libby sent an apology letter to parents and held an assembly to discuss the issue.

“Chicken, watermelon, collard greens — these are stereotypes of black Southern culture that come from the same place where the N-word comes from,” said University of San Francisco Professor James Taylor. 

After the menu drew complaints, Libby consulted with Black Student Union members on campus. They nixed the watermelon,  but it looks like fried chicken and cornbread are off the menu too.

Powderpuff football is sexist, dangerous

800px-Powder_puff_football.jpg

Powderpuff football is sexist, divisive and dangerous, according to the principal of a suburban Boston high school. Newton South Principal Joel Stembridge canceled the school’s annual girls’ flag football game, which pits juniors against seniors.

On The Corner, Andrew Johnson links to a screenshot of principal’s e-mail on Acculturated.

The principal lists the five reasons why the tradition was ended, such as injuries and “destabiliz[ing] our normally supportive, welcoming, intimidation-free school environment.” The gender-specific nature of the game also resulted in its cancelation.

“In terms of gender politics, the name ‘powerderpuff,’ which most students still call the game, inadvertently serves to mock the hard-fought struggles of female athletes to be taken seriously and, we think, perpetuates negative stereotypes about femininity and female athletes,” the e-mail read.

In addition, the game “does not include the whole school” or “celebrate the diversity of interests of our students, nor does it encourage appreciation for the skills and/or expertise developed here at South.”

By this logic, Newton South should cancel varsity football too.

Should single-sex classes be an option?

Should public schools offer single-sex classes?

In an American Enterprise Institute debate, AEI scholar Christina Hoff Sommers said single-sex schooling could help close the growing education gap between boys and girls. Sommers, who authored the book The War against Boys, thinks schools are becoming “hostile environments for young boys.”

Lise Eliot, author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, argued that single sex schooling is bad for boys and girls and should not be an option.

Don’t segregate boys and girls in school, argues Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University. Single-sex classes reinforce harmful stereotypes about boys and girls, he writes.

Sex-segregated education is “often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence,” a 2011 article in Science concluded.

The power of suggestion

The Power of Suggestion

By Brain Track.com

Easy-Bake for all

Hasbro will meet with a 13-year-old New Jersey girl who wants a gender-neutral Easy-Bake oven suitable for her little brother.

McKenna Pope complained the oven  is only available in “girlie purple and pink colors,” she wrote in a petition on Change.org.

My husband asked for an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas more than 50 years ago. He didn’t care about the color. He just figured he could eat more cupcakes if he made them himself, instead of having to wait for his mother to bake.  Later he honed his cooking skills by working in a pizza place.

Gender scrambling is in, writes Hanna Rosin.

. . . Mattel unveiled the Mega Bloks Barbie line, which encourages girls to do what their brothers used to do to annoy them: take apart and rebuild the Barbie house. Lego’s surprise hit this season is a construction kit called “Friends” aimed at girls. Yes, it’s pastel colors, and the characters—Mia, Olivia, and Stephanie—are much curvier than your usual Lego figures. But their logos, printed on the boxes and online, are practical-minded construction type phrases such as: like, “Let’s get to work,” or “Let’s figure it out.”

Costco, meanwhile, is selling a “Police and Fire Playset” that looks remarkably like a dollhouse, with kitchens, bathrooms and loungy sofas and chairs, all in primary colors.

Other popular dollhouses this season stress “female independence,” writes anthropologist Lisa Wade. Instead of a “heteronormative” husband, wife, and children, kids can play with several Barbies and one Ken.

And we all know Ken is gay.

No red flags in single-sex classes

The ACLU is sending “cease and desist” letters to schools and districts that offer single-sex classes, reports Ed Week.

“We all want to fix failing schools, but co-education is not the problem, and single-sex education is not the answer,” said Galen Sherwin, a staff attorney for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, in a press release. “Over and over, we find that these programs are based on stereotypes that limit opportunities by reinforcing outdated ideas about how boys and girls behave.”

Single-sex classes are popular with parents, teachers, principals and students, writes Sandra Stotsky, who studied single-sex classes in two Arkansas public elementary schools. She found “no academic downside” to giving parents and students what they prefer.

In one school, single-sex students — especially boys — did better in reading than students in a mixed class. In another school, boys in the mixed class did better on one reading test than boys in the all-male class.

The teachers, parents and principals agreed that single-sex classes seem to provide less distraction for both sexes, better accommodation of each sex’s interests, better learning environment for shy or quiet children, more opportunity to use examples for academic concepts and class readings tailored to each sex and more opportunity for leadership skills of each sex to emerge.

On the other hand, a few teachers and parents perceived them as causing girls to become chattier and boys less polite and too competitive.

Girls were more likely than boys to request single-sex education, Stotsky notes.

More research should be done before banning the single-sex option, she argues.

 

Study: Bullying hurts black, Latino achievers

Bullied students’ grades slip, according to a new study (pdf) of high school students. High-achieving black and Latino students suffer the most academically, conclude Ohio State doctoral student Lisa M. Williams and Virginia Tech Sociology Professor Anthony A. Peguero.

The sociologists found that the grade point average of all students who were bullied in 10th grade dropped slightly by 12th grade. By their senior year, black students who had a 3.5 grade point average, on a scale of 0 to 4, as freshmen, lost almost one-third of a point if they had been bullied. The result was more pronounced for Latino victims of bullying: They lost half a point. That compares with a loss of less than one-tenth of a point for white students who had undergone such harassment, the researchers found.

Black and Latino students with high test scores are more likely to be harassed or teased at school, the researchers found in an earlier study published this year.  Another stereotype-busting group — low-achieving Asian-Americans –also were more vulnerable to bullying.

A year-long diversity workshop

A year-long class on diversity is an elective at affluent, high-performing Jericho Middle School, where most students are white or Asian-American, reports the New York Times.

Fifteen eighth graders at Jericho Middle School were considering a fictional case of stereotyping by hair color the other day, or how a boy came to be prejudiced against people with green hair, or “greenies.” From there, they extrapolated to the stereotypes in their own lives: dumb football players, Asian math whizzes, boring bankers.

Teacher Elisa Weidenbaum Waters hopes to “build acceptance, awareness and appreciation that people may be different than you.”

There are no quizzes or tests in the class, and homework is assigned only occasionally. Instead, there are free-flowing discussions about privilege, discrimination and oppression, and readings, like the recent one about people with green hair from “Prejudiced — How Do People Get That Way?” — a book published by the Anti-Defamation League.

School leaders say students growing up in Jericho need preparation for the diverse world they’ll encounter in college and beyond.

The class easily could turn into “amorphous mush” with little intellectual value, warned Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.  Class discussions could be slanted to “favor more popular, progressive views,” Hess added.

You know it’s a bad idea . . . when Crash is on the teacher-training syllabus,” writes Liam Julian on Flypaper.

A year-long diversity workshop sounds like a giant bore, even if students don’t have to do much work. It’s possible to learn a great deal about human differences and similarities by reading literature or studying history. Why not design a humanities class that deals with these issues while also asking students to read challenging books, not just pamphlets, and expand their knowledge of the world?