Actions Affirmative

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?

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonActions Affirmative