Saturday, June 03, 2006

Segregation: you asked for it--you got it

AP Wire | 06/02/2006 | LA reporter allegedly attacked for investigating charter school

LOS ANGELES - Police were investigating a KABC-AM reporter's accusations that a man assaulted him and grabbed his tape recorder after he attempted to interview the principal of a charter school that a host at his radio station said was "openly segregationist." Reporter Sandy Wells was chased and tackled by the man Thursday after a school employee told him to leave Academia Semillas Del Pueblo campus east of downtown, said station spokesman Steve Sheldon...

The school came under scrutiny by KABC host Doug McIntyre after he received a tip from a listener...Sheldon said. The Web site for the school described it as a kindergarten through eighth grade public school "dedicated to providing urban children of immigrant native families an excellent education founded upon their own language, cultural values and global realities."..."It's exclusionary, it's separatist, it's openly segregationist," McIntyre told KABC-TV.

Here is the result of a bi-partisan effort by conservatives and liberals to promote segregation: a segregated "charter school" where poor Hispanic kids are taught Nahuatl, an indigenous language of Mexico, that boasts the lowest scores on standardized tests in the whole school district.

The conservative media have gleefully picked up the story and are quite informative.RedState has an extensive account. But they strategically ignore the fact that this school is a conservative initiative: a charter school, publicly funded but free to run its own affairs without the interference of stifling government bureaucracy. This is part of the grander program to farm out public facilities and services--schools, clinics and prisons--to "faith-based" organizations and entrapeneurs. Now the conservatives are upset because tax payers' bucks are going to support this enterprise--I doubt that they'd be any happier if it were self-supporting.

But if the money comes from a conservative initiative, the ideology comes from fringe left identity politics packaged in the multicultural gobbledygook of the education industry:

Our vision of education emphasizes a student centered school society that cultivates academic excellence, talents, humanist ethics, positive culture, and social consciousness for students grades K-8 and their parents. Our pedagogy is meant to enrich the human capacity to transform our reality into one that is more just. We believe our school will be an integral member of a community, capable of providing learning and leadership opportunities to the entire community.

Ancestral Mexican schooling ethos embodied social ideals and appreciations intended to develop the child as a complete person. The indigenous heart of our vision is a repossession of an identity denied from our children in standard schools.

Here is a fruitful collaboration by the left and right to warehouse kids who have been written off, run by a cultural entrapeneur who has set himself up as a "community leader" to get funding. The state pays him to act as boss nigger keeping his "community" occupied and keeping their kids off the street so that they don't make trouble. Poor but ambitious immigrant parents sent their kids to this charter school rather than a conventional public school because the imagined that they'd get a better education. Everyone smiled indulgently and jollied them along because they knew these kids would never make it into the mainstream much less become doctors, engineers or accountants. At best, they would become "community leaders" and "community activists," scrounging grants from the multiculturalism industry to staff crappy little projects in the slums--payoffs by left and right segregationists to keep them away from white neighborhoods.

Everyone was happy because they know jolly well what works and wanted to avoid it at all costs: integration, achieved if necessary through school bussing. No one wants to read about the school bussing program in Raleigh, NC that boosted standardized test scores for poor black and Hispanic kids. After blacks in North Carolina and elsewhere in the south fought for integration, whites on the left and right were delighted to hear the headmaster/community-leader of this charter school in Los Angeles assure them that he "didn't want to drink from the White water fountain." And now blood-and-soil conservatives have a bonus: they point gleefully to the shenanigans at Academia Semillas Del Pueblo, where kids are taught to look forward to the Reconquista of the US Southwest, to make the case that Hispanic immigrants cannot or will not assimilate and are out to take over.

Most immigrants and minorities manage to avoid this crap, but some of the poorest and most naive and others who are just unlucky, get hamstrung between left and right segregationists, pushed by the left to preserve or invent their culture, language and cohesive "communities" and then slammed by the right for failing to assimilate. Multiculturalism at work


Sanpete said...

Um, who asked for this? You blame Bush's immigration policy on multiculturalism too. Are you going to pin the Holocaust on it next?

Obviously this guy wasn't cut out for what he was trying to do, but there are segregated schools that have done well. Segregation in school doesn't entail a desire for segregation of cultures, no more than it does for women's colleges. Even if you want to attack the rather extreme and, in its current form, experimental notion of segregated primary and secondary schools, something not yet supported in general by multiculturalists, you still need to consider the whole of them, not just one. Your case against multiculturalism is weakened to the degree you focus on nonrepresentative cases. In this case I'd say you've shown nothing at all of significance about multiculturalism as a movement, not even plural monoculturalism.

I'm about halfway through your book draft. Some interesting things that deserve attention.

H. E. said...

I greatly appreciate your reading the draft of my book and look forward to comments!

Segregation doesn't logically entail inferior education but as a matter of empirical fact it sticks racial minorities with inferior schools. Sex segregated schools are quite another thing. First, most girls and boys live in gender-integrated families and have plenty of opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex. Racial and ethnic segregation in schools exacerbates pervasive patterns of segregation outside the schools. Secondly, as a matter of empirical fact, sex segregation doesn't undermine educational objectives and, at the high school level especially, seems to benefit girls--though this is contentious. Thirdly, there is strong empirical evidence that integration benefits minorities--see the NYTimes article I linked.

My question again though is: what is the moderate and sensible form of multiculturalism you suggest is ok if it isn't what I've described as "boutique multiculturalism"? Remember, I am not objecting to ethnic restaurants or folk dances or to teaching kids about different cultures. I'm objecting to the idea that, in virtue of race and kinship, individuals have a special connection to ancestral cultures that should be preserved or re-established and cultivated. This is fine if it's not taken seriously. It's fine for white people who can play at doing geneology, discover an ancestor from some exotic place, and then learn a few words of the language or investigate the cuisine and costume. White people can do ethnic or not as they choose. But it isn't so for "visible" minorities who are tagged with ethnicity and who, under the multiculturalist regime are pressed to re-establish or invent a connection to ancestral cultures.

The school I wrote about is extreme only insofar as they actually intimidated a journalist who was investigating. You know and I know that there are lots of projects like this in the slums--and lots of funding for them. They bankroll "community leaders" and members of the "helping professions" waste money and, to the extent that they aren't just game-playing set back the interests of the most disadvantaged members of minority groups--who would be better served by programs to promote integration, facilitate assimilation and stop discrimination.

Sanpete said...

I agree with you about the problems of segregated education. I don't know of any major multiculturalist who suggests we return to the system that already failed. There have been a few musings about the idea of doing segregated education better than it was done, but they haven't led to anything significant. Most multiculturalists don't favor any widespread segregated primary and secondary schooling, as far as I cant tell. Some are interested in small scale experimental schools to try to deal with special situations, especially where education is failing already. The goal isn't to isolate in the long run but to create a temporary setting that's geared to particular needs of, say, young urban black men.

What was it about my answer to your question you didn't like? (Maybe you haven't seen it yet, as I might have posted it a couple days after you asked, but it's there in the Hirsi Ali discussion.) You have polarized the options. As you see it, there's "boutique" multiculturalism, which isn't a very serious or deep thing, and there's plural monoculturalism, which is just harebrained as a general approach to multiculturalism. It is possible, and it's the primary aim of mainstream multiculturalism, to take seriously one's ethnic and cultural roots, and those of others who take theirs seriously, and to try to benefit from and preserve them, without resorting to anything like plural monoculturalism. This can include keeping or instilling linguistic fluency (not just a few words), participation in family and cultural traditions, rites and religion, spending serious time in some place where the culture is more fully realized, and so on. It doesn't entail or encourage lack of assimilation in the most useful ways. You don't have to be a lunatic to be serious about multiculturalism.

You make your task both too easy and correspondingly irrelevant by reducing multiculturalism to the extremes of the nonserious and the boneheaded. You might as well argue against the view that blacks aren't persons. Easy to do, and well away from any current mainstream debate.

You speak often of the "multiculturalist regime," as though there were goose-stepping, jackbooted troops enforcing culture. Multiculturalists, serious multiculturalists, aren't interested in forcing anyone to do anything in relation to this. People are free to leave their roots behind, or at least the distinctive parts that stand out--some parts are pretty hard to get rid of. Any pressures are familial and social, and can be a healthy thing to the extent that there are real benefits involved. Recognizing cultural differences isn't equivalent to prejudice and oppression.

The school you focussed on is extreme in several ways, very extreme. I don't know that there are lots of projects like that one.

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All that we have heard, touched, smelt, tasted and seen are stored in the recesses of our minds. The subconscious mind holds on to this information until we need to recall it. For example when you were young your curiosity lead you to investigate your surroundings. When you approached a substance that was dangerous, such as fire, your parents or guardians would most likely have rebuked or scolded you if you ventured too near the flame. Perhaps you may even recall an incident when you were physically burned. Your subconscious mind then began to relate scolding (or pain) with the intense heat of the fire and would therefore feed the feelings of the scolding incident back to you whenever you got too close to fire again, thus acting as an early warning system.
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