Actions Affirmative - The Jose Vilson

Actions Affirmative

by Jose Vilson on February 28, 2007

One of the teachers in my school said this in his ever-so-Dominican Spanish:

“What some of these kids need is another option besides the regular schooling system. Not every kid can be an engineer, a scientist, or a doctor. Some of them would be better put to work as a mechanic, a plumber, or some other repairman. They need to have more alternative schools for kids like that.”

Of course, I understood where he was coming from. As long as he’s been in the teaching profession, he has seen the pitfalls that many of these children fall into. Many of these children receive little support either at home or in their own schools, and they see no other fate but leaving school and participating in very dangerous extracurricular activities. I have also witnessed (as a student and as a teacher) my fair share of kids who thought they were hopeless, and fulfilled their own prophecies.
My only problem with that broad statement is that it might be interpreted as an indirect attack on our “affirmative action.” If we think about the principle of having affirmative action for those in underrepresented ethnic communities (read: non-Whites), it’s about making a better attempt to integrate these communities into the mainstream society; it also then follows that these communities would have the option rather than the obligation to chose “lower-end” jobs.

This educational system at times seems to contradict itself. The public education system publicizes how well it works, and how these kids are virtually hopeless, yet even the curriculum is set up so these kids can read, write, and do basic operations as prerequisites for the “low-end” labor force.

Those in more successful school systems (and of course, those that produce the leaders) tend to have a more well-rounded education, consisting of all the subjects every day. They may even host the same populations, but something about having higher expectations, a more structured and scholarly curriculum, and people willing to deliver effectively seems to inspire the kids to do better despite their issues outside of the classroom.

In turn, while I understand that some students may no longer have the mentality it takes to see beyond their dire straits, I’d like to believe that everyone needs a chance to get that whole education so they’re not just good students and test-takers, but better citizens and people, wherever they go.

jose, the educator

p.s. – It was just a thought. Yours?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

angelamichelle February 28, 2007 at 11:34 pm

well said and wholeheartedly felt.

yes, that is all i’m going to say. HA!

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pre_k March 1, 2007 at 1:13 pm

interesting post hermano. as far as the goals of these schools i think it is pathetic that they shoot for the low in. i almost want to call it morally reprehensible (who knows if spelled that right.). this whole getting people into the mainstream thing. mainstream seems to be a nice way of saying assimilated. And i think it is an atrocity that people should strive for such things. while i admit that communities need improvement I am certain that heading for the mainstream isn’t the only way to make improvements. anyway brother i am going to end this before i turn this comment box into a post itself. great post.. piece and blessings.

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LuzMaria March 1, 2007 at 10:04 pm

Some educators focus only on the academics becuase it is easier to plan for and to grade. For us to want to develop the “whole” child entails too much work and emotional and physical investment. Today we have to teach our children not only academics but how to survivie in the world before them. Some of us are still trying to fight the “hidden curriculum” and the “let me save the poor children mentality” which hinders our kids from the opportunity to actually succeed. Gracias por decir la realidad que existe en nuestras esculeas.

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Jonathan February 2, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Thanks for pointing us here.

So, ok, the guy meant well. But you nailed it. He’s wrong.

We should be shooting for strong academics. For everyone. Period. And when a kid has reached their limit, and then tried again, and then we put ‘em back at it, and it really is the limit, then, and only then, it’s time for some less academic options.

But open 15 vocational schools, and you’ll have elementary schools tracking Black and Puerto Rican and Dominican kids in 4th, 3rd, 2nd grade.

I know I sort of ran in my own direction, but it was a good post, and got me going.

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