Ebonics Debate

Ebonics: Just Creating Another Problem
It is clear there are many issues in our school system that must be addressed. However the use of Ebonics, African American Vernacular English, in the English curriculum is not one of the solutions. Using Ebonics as part of our kids’ curriculum is not only unfair to the forty percent of kids who are not African American, but it also does injustice to all the students by not focusing on teaching them Standard English, which is used in higher education and by most employers.
In 1996 the Oakland Unified School district decided that Ebonics was a distinct language. Furthermore they established that the superintendents were required to devise a program to incorporate Ebonics to aid in teaching youth. This resolution sparked outrage throughout the United States. The debate stemmed from multiple aspects of the issue: from the repercussions of determining Ebonics to be a different language, to the value of incorporating AAVE into the curriculum.
This debate over whether to use Ebonics as a learning tool sparked from clear trends that African Americans are behind in regard to their reading comprehension levels compared to their white counterparts. African American youth only fall further behind as they progress throughout their education. Michael Casserly demonstrated this in his presentation to the senates Ebonics’ Panel, “On a 500-point scale, African American students at the age of 9 are an average of 29 points behind the scores of their White counterparts; by the age of 13 they are 31 points behind; and by the age of 17, they are 37 points behind” (Rickford). Clearly something needs to change, but there are so many other factors at play. In general these students are taught by teachers receiving lower salaries who themselves have lower expectations for their students, in low quality facilities, and in unstable learning environments. I believe these are the more pressing and clear-cut issues that we should be addressing rather



Cited: Delpit, Lisa. “The Real Ebonics Debate.” Rethinking Schools, 1997. Web. September 2012. Richer, Elise. “Expanding Employment Prospects for Adults with Limited English Skills.” Center for Law and Social Policy, 15 July 2003. Web. September 2012. Rickford, John. “Ebonics Notes and Discussion.” Stanford University Department of Linguistics, December 1996. Web. September 2012. Rickford, John. “Using the Vernacular to Teach Standard.” Stanford University Department of Linguistics, 25 March 1998. Web. September 2012. “The Ebonics Controversy of 1996-97.” Illinois English Department, 2001. Web. September 2012.

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