Instead of offering bootstraps to poor black kids, demand true school reform and alleviate poverty.
If we let Forbes writer Gene Marks tell it, it’s easy to make it out of poverty and into prosperity. Step 1: Grab your bootstraps. Step 2: Pull really hard. Voilà! You are now on the fast track out of being lodged in under-resourced neighborhoods and schools and one step closer to the American dream.
In a widely read article, Marks advises poor black students to work their hardest and don their super-responsibility caps so that they, too, can beat the odds. The poor black student who does everything Marks suggests would be exceptional, in more ways than one. The catch is that one exceptional case is just that: one exception to a larger reality. Most black children born into poverty will not make it out of poverty. It’s not because of their lack of effort; it’s because of the structural limitations they face.
Recently, there has been an increased interest in urban school reform. Media celebration of charter schools and “no excuses” schools would make one think that for poor black children, school choice is a path out of poverty. In reality, while poor families have more choices, they’re still choosing between schools that on average do not equal or outpace their suburban counterparts in academic performance. Among charter schools “that work,” there are many things that remain unclear about what helps them achieve success and sustain that success.
Even if an individual child is resourceful enough to identify a well-performing school in his or her area, there is high demand for such schools, making them often out of reach. Plus, it is rare for a high-poverty school to beat the odds consistently.
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SOURCE: The Root
R. L’Heureux Lewis