Professor Lorna Condit
25 April 2013
The Plight of Inner City Minorities
Urban schools are facing increased problems as of late. They're experiencing dilapidated facilities, shortage in teachers, over-crowded classrooms, and out-dated equipment and curriculum (Kozol, 2005). According to researchers we're seeing an increase in resegregation (Kozol, 2005). Inner city schools are overwhelmingly populated by those of minority. We are creating an inequality in education that we haven't experienced since before the integration of schools during the Civil Rights movement. By re-segregating our minorities we have put distinct cultures under one roof. Although our inner city schools are increasingly racially and culturally unique, their teachers are mostly middle-class and white. The teachers, coming from a different culture may find it hard to connect while integrating the student's culture in learning (Rodriguez, 2004). This causes a problem for children of different cultures. They have to leave their own culture to try and learn (Rodriguez, 2004).
Richard Rodriguez (2004) speaks of this issue. Richard was a young latino boy growing up in the public education. He defines the kind of children that have to live in two cultures as “scholarship boys”. These students have to navigate between their home and school environment seamlessly, which are cultural extremes. At home he experiences intimacy and a feeling of public alienation. Time at home is filled with intense emotion. Then, at school, he's taught to trust reason only. At home immediate needs leads the pace of life. His family teaches him the way of spontaneity and knowing things irrationally. Then again, at school, he's taught that there should be thoughtful processing before an action happens. Eventually, to succeed, the student will have to choose the culture brought to him at school over his own. To teach to each culture would be an exceedingly hard task. (Rodriguez, 2004)
Its hard, however, to try different ways of teaching to students. Many inner city schools are in danger of losing funding for lack of test performances according to (Lomotey & Milner, 2005). Teachers have to teach to a test so that they can keep their job. That doesn't leave much room to try to connect to the students. Much of this teaching is of a B.F. Skinner style where direct attention and full control is kept over the class (Kozol 2005). This type of schooling can't be that appealing to students. Many schools in Kansas City, for example, don't have funds for the arts, sports, or even music. Some of my favorite times in school growing up was in band or playing soccer for school with my friends. That would be what got me through the day of tough classes.
This topic can all be rather daunting. There is a lot of work being done and good people that do a lot for the children of inner city schools. Hopefully these people will bring about solutions that plague our youth of minority. Solutions need to be brought about for this problem. Ideally we need to be able to bring people that are more accustomed to the culture of minorities or even from the culture so they can more easily connect to the students (Springer & Houck & Ceperley & Jane Hange, 2007) . I believe it would help to have more extensive training for inner city schools specifically. Shadowing of teachers in the school that have insight to the nature of issues with teaching “scholarship boys” (Rodriguez, 2004) would be invaluable. From a teacher's perspective it would be wise to integrate one self into the culture so that a better understanding of the children's environment could be learned. I really don't know what could be done to alleviate the problems of only being able to teach to a test. I would think we would still require some sort of standardized way of teaching.
According to Crampton (2010) more money could help. I have some friends in Teach for America. Teach for America is an organization that provides teachers around the world to failing schools. My girlfriend is a manager of teachers for them in Kansas City. She thinks that more money wouldn't fix all problems. It would definitely help but the core of the issues of creating an educational environment would still exist. Many children don't get adequate food at home and many come with old clothes to school. Without food, decent clothing, and good hygiene people will lose the ability to be fully productive in other areas. It seems like we need to meet these needs first in the communities before we can see extensive growth in education for these children. Solutions to these problems are probably the hardest to find but if we can help then most likely education will prosper.
To boil this down to just an essay is taking this subject lightly. There's thousands and thousands of books on this subject and probably even more articles that try to explain our issue of lack of education in inner city. There's most likely even more about solutions for this problem. Education of the general population about our inadequacies in education would be a good first step. The more I learn about it, the more I have a desire to help. Hopefully that would be the general thoughts of everybody that learned of the issue.
Crampton, Faith E. (2010). Educational Considerations, VoL 38, No. 1. Fall 2010 Kozol, Johnathan (2005). The Shame of the Nation, Random House September 2005 Lomotey, Kofi, Milner IV, H. Richard (2012).Urban Education 47: 347 DOI:
Rodriguez, Richard (2004). Achievement of Desire. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, Dial Press Trade Paperback (February 3, 2004) Springer, Matthew G., Houck, Eric A., Ceperley, Patricia E., Hange, Jane (2007) Journal of Education Finance 32:4, Spring 2007, 443-469