Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Let People be People

Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 0:01
This news item was posted in Education category.
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The Christian understanding of God calls us to see all as equal in his love and grace.  But American public secular education is all hung up, spending millions upon millions of dollars to try to find inequalities in academic achievement between races. Evaluations have shown basically that Asian Americans tend to score slightly higher than the Caucasian Americans, Caucasian Americans above Black Americans, and Black Americans somewhat higher than Hispanic Americans in overall academic achievement. But there are individuals from every race who excel, so why not focus here?

Education is not determined by outward influences such as the amount of money spent, the quality of facilities and learning materials, the appropriate methods and curriculums, the right regulations established, and the best trained teachers and administrators in themselves.  What matters as well is the inner commitment and personal motivation of students who want to learn and are willing to responsibly seek the quest of knowledge.  We don’t educate races, but we are to educate people.

The integration of public schools greatly helped Black American achievement to climb, but the gap still remains.  With the great influx of Hispanics, both legal and illegal, the problem is only amplified.  But just how much does comparing racial quotas in educational achievement really contribute to educational achievement?  Each student is an individual, and we all differ. Placing students in racial categories is a fallacy that only tends to promote racial prejudice and the stereotyping it purports to be attacking!

The “No Child Left Behind” legislation instituted by President George W. Bush, and that seems to be accepted by President Barack Obama, can be said to be geared toward  developing mediocrity.  “One of the criticisms of “No Child Left Behind” is that it focuses on kids who are at the edge of proficiency,” said Ronald Ferguson, director of Harvard University’s Achievement Gap Initiative.  “Kids who are too far below or too far above won’t help you make Adequate Yearly Progress” toward the law’s 2014 goal, Ferguson said.

Our culture is increasingly becoming a combination of many racial groups. The Census Bureau estimates in 2010 about thirty-two percent of the U.S. population will be of African, Asian, Native American, and Latino origin.  Here is a dramatic increase in the number of ethnic minority students entering public education.  Black Americans were once the basic minority, but the scene is changing with a multiplicity of other minority groups in school.

Many students are not ethnically just of one race. It is not just white, black, red, and yellow, as we once learned in school.  It is an amalgamated culture racially, with many children of parents of different races.  Thus, to have laws of reverse discrimination that seek to increase minority students’ achievement, is a fallacy, for what makes a minority student?  Furthermore, to classify a person as a minority in no way means that he or she is behind in academic achievement.  To spend all of this effort in public education to evaluate the racial achievement gaps and to balance out academic achievement between the races is a fallacy!

President Obama is classified black, yet he is fifty percent Caucasian.  In fact, less than ten percent of  Black Americans are of one hundred percent sub-Saharan African descent, as most are partially Caucasian or combinations of other racial groupings.  Hispanics overall are a mixture of multiple races.  Many persons classified as oriental are mixed with Caucasian, black, or other racial groups.  Very few Native Americans are ethnically one hundred percent Native American. Why then do we continue to segregate students in the public schools by grouping them into racial classifications? Often, academic achievement is greatly influenced by the group in which one is classified.

A friend of mine who holds a master’s degree is black by contemporary categorization.  When he first enrolled in college, he was to fill out the form that asked his race.  The choices were white, black, oriental, Indian, and a number of other classifications.  There was a spot for “other,” and he marked his race to be “other,” writing beside it that he was of the human race.  His ancestry was Black and Native American, but he saw himself as a person.  His choice caused quiet a stir, for “other” was unacceptable.  He insisted on affirming his individuality—as racial classification was not adequate. Let people be people!

Galatians 3:26 & 28 speaking to the Christian community declares, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Christ is the key for affirming racial diversity and socio-economic unity.  This goes to the heart of the matter, which is the human heart, the basic inner personage in each one.  Here is what is basic to the freedom that was established in America—one nation under God.  It is tested each day in each one, and in particularly in each of us who know Christ—the call to glorify God in all we do, “studying to [show ourselves] approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

Public education is not Christian, but we need to follow the Christian example and do away with categorizing people by race.  Let people be people. Setting racial quotas does not necessarily improve educational achievement, and it can be argued that it may actually be harmful.  Doing away with categorization by race would be a good step toward improving American education!

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by Joe Renfro, Ed.D., Radio Evangelist, Retired Teacher and Pastor, Box 751, Lavonia, Georgia 30553, 706-356-4173, joerenfro@windstream.net

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