Center for American Progress’ Recommendations for Advancing Minority Academics Misses One MAJOR Point
Wednesday’s Google feed on Public Schools featured a post by Cheryl Mullaguru of the Center for American Progress with the clickbait title “Top Five Ways for Public Schools to Better Support Talented Student of Color”. Given the bold mission of the Center for American Progress, which is to “…improve the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas” and to “...not just to change the conversation, but to change the country” I expected to see some “bold progressive ideas” on Ms. Mullaguru’s list. Instead I read these five items:
- Improve Access to Selective and Academically Rigorous Programs. How? Through universal screening, non-verbal tests, and “holistic admissions processes and (the) use (of) criteria beyond just performance on intelligence and achievement tests.”
- Promote innovative alternative methods of instruction. Like what? Like personalized learning through “individually tailored instruction” and school-wide enrichment.
- Ensure that pedagogy reflects the racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of students of color. This idea is hardly “bold” or “progressive”. This could have come from a think tank in the 1960s.
- End the use of excessive discipline measures against students of color. This would apply to all children of color and is long overdue.
- Improve college match services. Ms.Mullaguru gives a lamentable shout-out to KIPP and a deserved one to the Posse Foundation… but both of these assume that giftedness results in college attendance and completion.
I would hope that a list of “bold progressive ideas” for supporting students of color would include programs that allow gifted students to find their own way at their own pace. The idea of screening students earlier assumes the traditional 12-year age-based-learning-model is inviolate. The notion of “individually tailored instruction” assumes a progression through a predetermined Khan-Academy-like template as opposed to the kind of individualized guidance program that helps each student determine their interests an personal strengths. And while increasing the number of minority teachers and counselors and reducing suspensions and expulsions are unarguably necessary, they hardly constitute “bold progressive ideas” that specifically address the needs of talented students of color. And the KIPP program, cited in the last bullet, is hardly an exemplary program when it comes to recruiting and retaining minority teachers and effectively disciplining children of color.
My thinking on the best means of supporting talented students of color in the short run is to ignore any attempt to screen them and to provide as much emotional, physical, and intellectual support to all children of color. In the long run, organizations like CAP who aspire to “…improve the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas” and to “...not just to change the conversation, but to change the country” should take steps to improve the housing patterns that contribute to the resegregation that is occurring today, resegregation that undercuts any efforts to support talented students of color.