Thanks a million to my aunt Sabrina for emailing this article to me. My opinion on this matter may not be very popular, but I have concluded that the performance/identity/self esteem issues plaguing the African American students of the schools mentioned can not be accredited to the “segregation” of schools, as much as it can be accredited to the education quality variations, as well as the preconceived expectations of the teaching staff and parents.
Clearly, children will rise and fall to the expectations they are given. A higher quality education that provides multiple outlets for students (according to performance level) will establish an option for students to achieve more than average. However, the “bare minimum approach” to academics relays the message that students aren’t really expected to achieve more than enough to slide by. THIS is what perpetuates the stereotypes, in my opinion… Once someone makes it clear that they expect no more than average from you, you seek to define “average,” which will lead you to the stereotypes that are supposed to represent the group you belong to. Whether or not you succumb to the belief that your range of success will not deviate from the stereotypical mold, your entire life becomes centered around that particular stereotype.
As a former student of Adrian Taylor’s, I can recall being in a predominantly black academic environment as more of a positive “personal identity” experience, than a form of oppression. Being a student at St. Bernadette served as a reminder that (in spite of media-perpetuated stereotypes) people don’t necessarily behave, think, and sound exactly alike just because they are all from the same ethnicity. Also, since St. B’s provided a range of academic opportunities, I never felt as though I was being lumped into a group, and expected to slide by simply because I belonged to that group.
Although St. B’s is now defunct, I think schools such as the segregated ones mentioned in this 6 page article could take many lessons from our old system… In spite of being “mostly black,” it worked for me, and it worked for a reason.
Source: The New York Times