Truex’s Topics

Question of culture
Oh, how delicately we must tiptoe through the racial and cultural environment we find ourselves in today. There are so many topics to discuss but the norms of political correctness precludes many of them from free and open debate.
High among these subjects are what I choose to label the culture of blacks and whites and the differences therein. When we hear the word ‘culture’ many images come to mind. One of those images would be a mental picture of a person visiting an art gallery or sitting in an audience listening to a string quartet playing baroque pieces from the 17th Century. Compare this with a young black teenager listening to the latest rap on radio station, KROK. Different people. Different cultures. One as valid as the other. Both mostly unappreciated and unaccepted by the other ‘side.’ And mark me well, these are pretty well delineated opposites. This, I think, is where so much of our educational system is failing us. We need only to look at a few statistics to see how far apart we are.
We accept the reality of the private academy where the vast majority of white families send their children to be educated, separate and apart from black children of school age. I will not write of my opinion concerning the private academy movement in the South, beyond saying that this is America and how people spend their educational dollars is up to each individual. I will add that my own teaching life has been spent in the public school arena and this is where the public tax dollars are spent and where my interest is.
Back to the statistics I mentioned, and I bright them up to highlight just how bi-furcated public education is, here in Louisville. The student body population of Louisville Public School is 85% black and 15% white. At the same time, the teaching faculties of our school is 75% white and 25% black. Pretty close to perfect opposites. This brings me back to the question of culture. Yes. Culture can be fine art and museums and symphonies but it is also rap music and low hanging trousers and a certain difference in the volume tone, syntax and pronunciation of words and language. Is one ‘more valid’ than the other? You decide.
My point this week is this. I worry that the 75% of white teachers are not, in many instances, meeting the cultural needs of their black students. This is not to say they don’t try, they just don’t understand. The evidence of this can be seen in the lack of attention to taught material in the classroom manifested in behavioral problems and a breakdown of discipline both in the schoolroom and in the home of the students.
The failure of relevance’s is clipping our classrooms. The absence of mentors and role models for our young black males is the result of the breakdown of the family structure and the fact, as I mentioned recently, the young black professionals are not choosing teaching as a career. Until this problem is solved the attendance of our Alternative School keeps rising. Who are the enrollees of this ‘school?’ Young people who cannot conform to the norms of behavior expected in the classroom, that’s who. Who is supposed to be teaching those norms? The family? – (broken). Headstart? – (although with well intentions, in the states where I have observed – FL, OH, and MS – it has been largely ineffective.) Male father figures in the home? – (largely absent).
We need to have a community-wide brainstorming session to see what can be done. We tried a couple of years ago and had what I think was a pretty good beginning but before we really got down to the nitty-gritty the meeting was ‘hi-jacked’ by representatives from a national organization who had their own agenda. Our only agenda should be the well-being of our children and the cost effective use of our limited tax dollars.