Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bourgeois, Smourgeois

Matt Ygelsias responded to my post critiquing this post. ED Kain also posted a very thoughtful response to my post.

First, I think that my and Yglesias's disagreement may be based at least in part on language, that is, lack of a shared interpretation of the terms we're using. He said "modes of behavior" and "conduct." I said "values." Then he said "norms." I see modes of behavior and conduct as growing from the values one holds as well as occurring in response to conditions. I see a norm as a standard of behavior. I acknowledge that Yglesias and others may have a different understanding of these terms and that it would be helpful if we arrived at a uniform understanding of them.

Otherwise, I don't see these lines as being subject to to much interpretation:
"Look. Children are children. They’re kids. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re irresponsible, they’re impulsive. They need to be taught. They learn from their parents and their peers and their peers’ parents. And if they’re parents have low levels of education and labor force success and so do all their friends’ parents and all their parents’ friends well then of course they’ll benefit from certain kinds of explicit instruction that middle class children don’t need."

No one is here is saying that kids don't need to be taught; rather, we are disagreeing about what they need to be taught. He is advocating for "bourgeois modes of behavior" (or conduct or norms), and I think we should focus on content and curriculum.

Furthermore, his chain of logic seems to be: Kids in general are irresponsible and impulsive. Middle class people are responsible and patient and teach their kids how to be the same. Poor people are not responsible and patient and that's why they have low levels of education and lack of "labor force success." Since poor parents don't teach their kids such norms or patterns of behavior, non-poor kids can teach poor kids this instead and in their absence, schools such as KIPP or others that adopt the No Excuses model can teach them this.

When he says "certain kinds of explicit instruction" I hear "work ethic" and "valuing education." His implication is that certain kinds of "explicit instruction" help make up for this lack of values. Certainly, at least some poor kids have parents who aren't educated, don't have steady jobs, lack a work ethic, and don't value education. However at least some middle class and rich people with children also aren't particularly educated, don't have steady jobs, lack a work ethic, and don't value education.

I am middle class. Yes, I was born into a family with bourgeois modes of behavior, but  mostly I was born into the conditions of privilege that allowed me the luxury of becoming educated. I am white, I lived in a safe neighborhood, had great healthcare, ate nutritious meals regularly, experienced no childhood traumas, had two professionally employed parents with advanced degrees whose jobs enabled them to be involved in my education and to impart their cultural capital to me.

(At this point, we also need to stop for a minute and clarify what we mean by "value education." Education for education's sake? Education to be a well-rounded person? An informed citizen? Education towards getting a job? Furthermore, what does it mean to be an educated American? Being educated enough to get a job? Being educated enough to have an intellectual life? A little of both?  I believe there is some core knowledge and basic skills that we as Americans should all have. Beyond that, being "educated" can take many different forms.)

Undoubtedly, kids learn norms and behaviors in school from one another--that's part of going to school. The value attached to these norms and behaviors all depends on, well, what each individual values. That being acknowledged, it's not my job as a public school teacher to teach social values beyond, say, teaching students how to get along, and how to peacefully resolve disputes that might arise in my classroom. Rather, it's my job to provide an education. Now, I do need to teach the values or habits of a good student, for example, completing assignments in a timely and comprehensive manner, reading as much and as often as possible, participating respectfully in class discussions, listening to teachers and classmates, coming to class on time, not plagiarizing or cheating, and I have no doubt that KIPP teaches their kids to have the habits of good students. But ultimately, to get students to practice these habits, I need to show them the value of what I'm teaching and that I value their time and effort.

I am not going to tell my teenage students that it would be wrong for them to have a baby at the age of sixteen; that's none of my business. Again, it's my job to educate my teenage students and not to express judgement of their values or culture. I did have some colleagues who made it a point not to acknowledge their students' babies or to fawn over them at all, but I always made sure to congratulate them and support them once the decision was made. Okay, you're a mother now and yes, being a mother is special. Now, how can I help you succeed academically while you're a parent? Likewise, as a civics teacher, it's not my job to teach which political party to join. Rather, it's my job to teach my students about how our political system works and about the duties of citizens in a democratic society.

Ultimately, "explicit instruction" in values or norms doesn't get you very far (ask people who teach ethics classes to MBA's). Just like you can't really teach kids to be good readers by teaching reading strategies, you can't teach kids to value education by telling them to value education. In order to get kids to to be stronger readers, you have to teach them about the content they're going to read about and then have them read developmentally appropriate texts about the content. Similarly, in order to get kids to value education, you have to show them how much you love knowledge, that it's interesting and that it's essential, and then you have to educate them. This should be true no matter who is being taught.

If rich content and practical skills are being taught while students are wearing uniforms or while students are instructed to walk silently in the halls, as long as such an environment isn't excessively rigid, what do I care? Structure is necessary to get kids ready to listen, support in the form of wrap-around services and some intensive academic instruction in deficient areas will help ensure they stay in a place to listen, but if you want them to really engage, you have teach them interesting and vital content. With a narrower, test-based curriculum and excessive teaching of skills such as reading strategies in charter and traditional, poor and middle class schools alike (though granted the lower the test scores, generally the more draconian and narrow the approach), no one is getting the content knowledge they like or the practical skills they need.

Today's commentators on everything are invariably experts on nothing. Yglesisas' writing on education  (I can't speak to his expertise on other matters) show he's is no different. He may be smart but he has a very superficial knowledge of how education works. When Yglesias, or anyone else like him, gestures vaguely at ideas about education reform, I'd probably do better to ignore them and respect that they're only doing their job. But I can't agree that this is how to have a serious conversation about education, nor can I pretend that it's a way to accurately inform the public of the issues in education and of their complexity. Seriously.

32 comments:

  1. My comment ended up so long, it wouldn't post here so I turned it into a short essay. OpineRegress: Matthew Yglesias' reactionary education policy pandering. I think it will add to this discussion in that it addresses many more reasons for Yglesias' intransigence.

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  2. Thanks for reading, Robert. I will ceratainly read your essay.

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  3. Keep up the good fight!

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  4. Michael E. LopezJune 5, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Rachel,

    Well it looks like I've run into the character-limits on your comments. I need a full blog post to get this point across.

    So I guess this is it -- it's time to get back in the game.

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  5. I think a good deal of this argument stems from Yglesias' unfortunate wording of his argument.

    Levy states:

    "Now, I do need to teach the values or habits of a good student, for example, completing assignments in a timely and comprehensive manner, reading as much and as often as possible, participating respectfully in class discussions, listening to teachers and classmates, coming to class on time, not plagiarizing or cheating, and I have no doubt that KIPP teaches their kids to have the habits of good students."

    Isn't that what Yglesias is essentially arguing?

    I think Yglesias, like Levy, doesn't see the habits listed above as an end to themselves, but as a tool to help students acquire knowledge and compete in a tough job market.

    The way Yglesias worded his argument came across as offensive. But, in the end, I think Yglesias and Levy essentially agree.

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  6. We cannot continue this conversation without confronting race. What Yglesias is really saying is that African American or minority students aka "poor students" are culturally inferior and need to be saved by a superior white culture. How about building upon students culture and embracing it? The KIPP model doesn't confront race. What are the implications for white teachers from out of town coming into poor communities with minority students from cultures they know nothing about with the assumption that they are bring cultural capital to save their poor black students? Learning is contextual and race matters. We need to start talking about race.

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  7. I just tried to submit a comment....not sure if it went through so here are some more thoughts.

    What is missing from this conversation is the issue of race. What Yglesias is really saying is that African American culture (and other minority culture) is inferior and needs to be fixed by the superior cultural capital of white or middle class people. How about building upon and embracing the culture of the students in the classroom? Learning is contextual and race matters. KIPP schools have mostly white teachers teaching minority students. Being white/middle class and having a college degree gives them the capital to "fix" their students by helping them to be more white or middle class? Isn't that essentially what Yglesias is saying? Minority students need to be taught that they live in a racist society and they will need to navigate that racist society by developing a fluency in Standard English and other mainstream norms. They need to understand that they need to learn this NOT because their culture and language are inferior, but because they live in a racist society. This cannot happen if white or middle class teachers come to the classroom with the common sense or taken for granted notions that Yglesias describes. The students are surely receptive to the messages that this gives out. Instead of reaffirming the stereotypes of the dominant society, the classroom should be a place where students are given a different story about who they are.

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  8. @MDS - Sorry your first comment didn't get through quickly enough.

    Certainly, race is an elephant in the room here--race matters rarely get talked about in the context of US ed reform. And I agree that in general it's very hard to separate matters of race and class.

    If you're interested, I have written a few posts about race & privilege in the context of ed reform: here, here, and to a lesser extent here.

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  9. IMHO, MDS' argument is messy.

    Good habits are good habits regardless of the race or class of the teacher assisting his or her students.

    What exactly is a "white habit"? What exactly is a "black habit"? Is this line of thinking really fruitful?

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  10. @MDS, your comments are spot-on and speak not only to Yglesias' paternalism, class, and white privilege, but to 99 percent of the corporate ed-reform junta. Hastings, Duncan, Broad, Fisher, Gates, Tilson, Alter, the Walton heirs, and all the other wealthy white males driving the corporate reform agenda fit the profile.

    Aside from enshrining the banking system of pedagogy, KIPP and similar charter-voucher schools actively encourage self colonization and abject acceptance of a world that they instead should be learning to change. Charters by and large are tasked with enforcing the dominant culture of the oppressors.

    We should be counterposing Freire's problem posing pedagogy since "A deepened consciousness of their situation leads people to apprehend that situation as an historical reality susceptible to transformation."

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  11. Sorry for the delay. . .

    @Michael- I really appreciate your thoughts-- training as a philosopher is really valuable (ha!) here. It's great to have someone help sort through the philosophical implications of these heavy words we're using.

    @Jeff - Thanks for your comment. You may well be right--it may just be Yglesias's bourgeois modes of writing that rub me the wrong the way.

    @MDS - I want to make one clarification. Race *is* spoken about openly in ed reform in terms of topics such as the achievement gap. What I meant was that (I think at least) that there are racial dimensions to some of the actual methods of reform (see for example my writing on ed reform in DC) such as improving "teacher quality."

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  12. @ Jeff - That was kind of my point in the first place--what's particularly bourgeois about working hard and behaving politely? But, yes, back to your original point, we could be playing a game of chicken and eggs here.

    @Robert - Your essay was very thorough. Besides not agreeing with the policies they promote, I am also troubled that the neo-liberal ed reformers are led mostly by rich, white men. We have enough of those guys in charge already--of our political system and of our economy and not with good results.

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  13. Keep after him, Rachel. I just recently discovered your blog and think it's excellent. The centrist "reformers" have had the field to themselves for so long that they're mystified when there's push-back. If educators (myself included) had been a little more out-spoken earlier on, people like Ygelsias, Rotherman, Alter, etc. wouldn't have been able to convince themselves that they were speaking for progressives.

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  14. The problem is, MY never really defines what he means by "bourgeois norms" and that strikes me as an intentionally evasive thing to do. Are sitting up straight, listening, respecting authority figures, and minimizing conflict with your peers "bourgeois habits"?

    If so, then Matt needs to spend more time in an actual urban public school because he'll find that many of those habits are present at levels greater than you find in middle class settings. I'm the product of an upper middle class white family. I also went to urban public schools my whole life and found that many of my non-white peers had far stricter parents than I did and were allowed to get away with far less than me, particularly when it came to classroom behavior and respecting the teacher. At the risk of generalizing about cultures, I find this to be true especially of kids who come from the West Indies. For the past few years I've been volunteering as a tutor at a middle school West Indian population and the idea that middle class white kids are better behaved than these kids is laughable. I would've been kicked out of the house by age 12 in many of those households (did I mention I went on to an elite university and graduate program?) It kinda reminds me of this Eddie Murphy stand up bit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsbk_lwioxY

    Does this level of discipline, which is admittedly probably higher in many immigrant households than others in poor communities, make a difference in educational and life outcomes. At the margins it does, but ultimately it does not really contribute to any large scale upward mobility because structural forces like racism and poverty (which are obviously inextricably linked) are more powerful.

    Ultimately, kids will value education when they have genuine reason to see it as a source of upward mobility. Trying to convince them to act like middle class white kids just isn't gonna do that.

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  15. @Don Z: Thanks for reading! Ed reform is indeed a place where liberals are more or less split into progressive & neo-liberal camps.

    @Matt: I found myself nodding in agreement as I read your comment. I come from a similar background--middle class white person who went through an urban public school system. I'd say, though, that the level of discipline you describe certainly applies beyond immigrant households. I hope you'll read & comment in the future!

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  16. Rachel, I certainly didn't mean to imply that that sort of discipline is exclusive to immigrant household, merely that I've found them to be a striking example. But yeah, I think the "culture of poverty" arguments are wrong - not to mention demonstrative of a stunning ignorance that could be corrected by spending about 2 days in a poor community - whether they're applied to poor immigrant communities or poor communities with deeper generational roots in the US. Kids in these communities often don't see education as a meaningful tool for upward mobility for very rational reasons and no ammount of telling them to sit up straight or, in the case of KIPP, actual corporal punishment is going to change that. To change that we need to address the environment they grow up in.

    Anyways, I'm sure I'll have more to say in the future on this blog. I'm glad to have discovered it. Its always useful to have more actual educators involved in the debate - lord knows we could use it since the vast majority of the villagers seem to have convinced themselves that a few billionaires and "policy wonks" (whatever that means) are all we need to guide education in this country. Keep up the good work.

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  17. @Matt - On the discipline point, that makes a whole lot of sense--thanks for the clarification.

    I was wondering if you could expand on two things you said:
    1)"Kids in these communities often don't see education as a meaningful tool for upward mobility for very rational reasons." Why would you say they don't & for which reasons?
    2)I know KIPP schools are on the strict side (which in it of itself wouldn't trouble me) but I've heard from some that they're not harsh (unlike the school described in this link from my previous post) & from others that they are quite harsh. (I can't draw too many conclusions myself w/out learning more.) Could you tell me what you meant by this: "in the case of KIPP, actual corporal punishment"

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  18. This whole business got me thinking about the difference between oral culture and literate culture, as applied to blogging. If anyone wants to read it, it is over at my blog: Cedar's Digest.

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  19. @ Jeff- the way I read Yglesias' piece was that it was extremely racially charged without explicitly mentioning race. We all have a culture and I believe that schools and classrooms also have cultures. My main point was that if minority students come to school and are met by a school culture based on the notions that Yglesias describes, then such a culture would communicate to students that their home culture is inferior. For example, certainly "bourgeois norms" would not value black vernacular, so if a student comes to school and perhaps uses the word "aint" and then has a teacher who says "don't use that word its not proper english" how do you suppose that student internalizes that if that is the way he speaks at home and everyone around him speaks at home? This is just one very simplified example. If a school culture is built on demonizing students how can we expect students to succeed? I can only understand and interpret this discussion according to race. I am not arguing for "black norms" or "white norms" rather I am pushing the point that we need to define "norm" as high achievement for students and because learning is contextual we need to consider the social, political, economic, historical and cultural location of the students being taught and build upon that.

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  20. @MDS - I hope Jeff will respond to you, but you've gotten me thinking as well, so I hope you don't mind if I jump in.

    You've really hit on something that originally set me off when I read MY's post. I call what you're describing Yglesias doing as "talking in code" and yes even progressives do it.

    For example "lack of labor force success" to me means "not able to hold down a job." Now perhaps this interpretation is all in my head or perhaps it is unduly uncharitable. At the same time, I've heard enough of this kind of coded language in the context of real misconceptions about poor people, black people, or immigrants to be confident I'm not always imagining it.

    As for vernacular & language & school culture, you've just prompted me to write a brand new post.

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  21. @ Rachel- I have experience in a charter school in New Orleans that built itself by creating a strong school culture. The culture was really created to support the white (mostly TFA and from out of town) teaching force. (also note that all the experienced (mostly black) teachers from the community were fired after the storm.) I say the culture of the school was set up to support the teachers because all it focused on was discipline and the notion that conforming to the school culture and being "extraordinary" and not "ordinary" would mean you would go to college. It was drilled into kids when they miss behaved that they were just being "ordinary" or acting "gangster" and that behavior and language was "certainly not the behavior of a "college bound scholar." I am sure you can see that there are some very strong racial undertones to this rhetoric coming from a "progressive" school set up to "close the achievement gap." I heard teachers use calling the police as a threat when they were looking to have kids offer up information about a problem that happened and in doing so aligned themselves with with the most corrupt and violent gang in the city of New Orleans. The police certainly do not make my students feel safe, rather the police are more likely to have killed one of their sibblings, or beat up on them, then ever offering them any sort of protection. Furthermore, I noticed that some of my students would start to change the way they talked as they started to figure out that conforming to school culture meant you were rewarded and favored. I would have other kids get upset when they noticed classmates speaking different to the teachers then they did to their peers. They would say "thats not really how studentX talks! why is she talking like that!" If you think about it, thats a pretty complex things for young kids to pick up on. The students are very aware that the teachers and school leaders dont have a clue about their neighborhood and that this bizarre school culture has no relevance to their lives. Constantly throughout the day these kids are communicated very complex negative messages about who they are and where they come from. I do believe that these students need to develop a fluency in standard english and that they can achieve at high levels but that will never happen in the school culture i describe (which is a sister model to KIPP).
    The topic of your new post sounds great. Some references that may help you are: http://books.google.com/books?id=3bdbxPpzexQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=theresa+perry+the+real+ebonics+debate&hl=en&ei=FXXtTcvLBcL1gAex5NzXCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    http://books.google.com/books?id=QGh_TU-6V_IC&pg=PA186&dq=theresa+perry+the+real+ebonics+debate&hl=en&ei=FXXtTcvLBcL1gAex5NzXCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=theresa%20perry%20the%20real%20ebonics%20debate&f=false

    look forward to reading your next post!

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  22. @ Rachel- to follow up on my last post I just wanted to add a few more thoughts...We need to place the language that MY is using and that I describe is being used throughout the culture of a school, the language you call "talking in code" into a historical and political context. We need to acknowledge that certain stereotypes occupy a dominant narrative in our society. So you can't just take language like "lack of labor force success" at face value because it exists within a distinct context and dominant narrative that associates being poor with being lazy. Another example could be the stereotype that African Americans are intellectually inferior. At one time in our history that idea was more explicit in the dominant narrative of society as African Americans were said to be less then human and uncapable of any intellectual capacity. Now that we live in a "free and open" society that stereotype takes form very often in language. I would argue some of MY's language would support this. I saw the intellectual capacity of my students questioned by the low expectations given to them by the teachers at the school i described and by the language used to "correct" them of some of their behaviors. We have to acknowledge how these stereotypes (which have been built out of an oppressive history) do exist and do influence the language we use and our collective consciousness as a people.

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  23. "Why would you say they don't & for which reasons?"

    The reason I would say they don't is admittedly a hypothesis that strikes me as plausible, but is probably ultimately unprovable - as is the case with any motive. The reasons that I would argue they don't regard school as a real source of upward mobility are grounded in the environment that they perceive that are a result of socioeconomic factors. I think that poor kids observe adults in their communities and see people for whom education has had little impact and don't see many/any positions in which education is critical as accessible to them, so they make the perfectly rational decision that schools aren't going to provide them with the skill set necessary to succeed in their community. I think a good analogy is all the behavioral economics work that looks at why so many sexually active people in Africa decline condom use even if they are well educated on HIV prevention. The hypothesized explanation is that they observe all the death and disease around them caused by non-HIV related factors (an observation backed up by data showing short life expectancies for HIV negative persons as well) and make the decision that the value of condoms for them is pretty marginal.

    From the perspective of parents, there is neither the understanding of how to operate the system to ensure the best education for their children (as a fellow middle class kid schooled in urban public schools, I'm sure you can relate to the feeling that you got a better education than many of your peers because your parents were able to get you into the right classes, help you with college apps, etc.) nor, as is the case with kids, the evidence that education means a lot for success in their communities. There is also the additional layer of economic feasibility. Its hard to convince poor parents (particularly when most of them are unaware of scholarships and other such options) that college is economically accessible - this may be part of the reason why uneducated middle class families do send more kids to college then uneducated poor families.

    Kids and parents of every class are smart enough to observe their surroundings and set lift priorities based off the internalization of those observations. Telling a kid to sit up straight and listen to his teacher isn't going to convince him that he'll be able to pull himself out of poverty by advancing his education. I think there needs to be concrete observable evidence that education is both accessible and valuable.

    The final point I'd make on this is that I've known a number of disciplined poor black and latino kids whose behavior fit into whatever folks like David Brooks and Yglesias seem to believe is the "bourgeois norm" and a number of middle-class white kids who were completely undisciplined and had extraordinarily poor impulse control. Granted this is entirely anecdotal, but I'm sure you can guess which group of people were more likely to go to college.

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  24. "2)I know KIPP schools are on the strict side (which in it of itself wouldn't trouble me) but I've heard from some that they're not harsh (unlike the school described in this link from my previous post) & from others that they are quite harsh. (I can't draw too many conclusions myself w/out learning more.) Could you tell me what you meant by this: "in the case of KIPP, actual corporal punishment" "

    The best example I have was visiting a KIPP school a few years ago in Chicago and watching them force a kid to stand in the corner and face the wall for an entire class because he had spoken out of turn. Now, I know that we traditionally think of corporal punishment as hitting a kid, but I have a hard time imagining many people observing this and seeing it very differently than I did. The kid was clearly physically uncomfortable standing for so long and when he tried to say something about it, his teacher immediately silenced him and warned that one more word would result in being sent to the principal's office where surely "the punishment would be a whole lot worse" (those were the actual words of the teacher.) When you combine that with the obvious psychological effects of such clear public shaming, I think its pretty obviously abuse.

    To think about it another way: imagine the outrage and horror by parents if a suburban school did that to a middle class white kid.

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  25. Just to add to the discussion of language that you guys are having, I think its pretty obvious that a critical role of school - whether you are wealthy or poor, black or white - is to teach kids to be fluent in standard English. I also don't doubt that wealthier kids learn that language much more easily outside of school. So I am not opposed to the idea that school curriculum ought to reflect this in some way. Schools ought to define what competency in "standard english" means, use their curriculum to reflect that and try to ensure that all students meet those standards. If that means a greater emphasis on teaching standard english to 5th graders in a city than is placed on them in the suburbs because of differing levels of advancement then so be it. It seems to me a fairly uncontroversial point that a student or students who are behind in any subject (math, science, english, etc.) ought to have greater emphasis placed on those subjects regardless of the reason (socioeconomic, learning disabilities, or just random bad luck.)

    The issue I have with KIPP and its defenders like MY is that they quickly go beyond these uncontroversial curriculum discussions and make evidence free assumptions about "norms of behavior" and "culture." As I've said in previous posts in this thread, I've known a lot of bourgeois white kids (myself included) whose behavior and self-discipline would've been far beyond the pale in many black households. There's also a large body of scholarship that shows many perceptions about the differences in behavior by young people of different economic and especially racial backgrounds are grounded in racism much more than actual fact. For example studies have shown that mild misbehavior on the part of white boys is more likely to be perceived by teachers and principles as "boys being boys" and not subjected to harsh punishment, while equivalent misbehavior by black boys is more likely to be treated as a serious behavioral problem by teachers and principles and the discipline they face is much more severe than their white peers.

    Its important to demand evidence for claims about behavior and culture when people cite them as justification for certain policies. I've seen plenty of convincing evidence poor urban students are worse at what schools have defined as "standard english" than their wealthier peers. I've seen very little convincing evidence that they are better or worse behaved or that this ends up being a decisive factor in their future success. As far as I can tell the arguments are based on the acceptance of a bunch of racist myths.

    Is MY racist? I have no idea, but his arguments certainly traffic in some very racist ideas.

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  26. @Matt & @MDS - Head nodding in agreement. Thanks so much for sharing all of your thoughts & stories. This is really powerful stuff.

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  27. My main problem with Yglesias's piece is that 1) he doesn't define "bourgeois conduct" and 2) he doesn't seem to think that middle- and upper-class kids need explicit training in what he calls bourgeois conduct. When he says bourgeois conduct, does he mean interacting with other people politely and respectfully? Showing up on time? If so, then I would definitely agree with Rachel that:

    "[Teachers] do need to teach the values or habits of a good student, for example, completing assignments in a timely and comprehensive manner, reading as much and as often as possible, participating respectfully in class discussions, listening to teachers and classmates, coming to class on time, not plagiarizing or cheating."

    Those are behaviors that will serve them will in later life and in school. However, it's a big mistake to think that richer kids will somehow pick this up from their peers or parents and that schools which serve higher SES kids don't need to address these issues. Lord knows, I've worked with plenty of well-off college students who failed to absorb these messages.

    I'd also argue that all schools should explicitly stress the value of education and training beyond high school, whether that education is a BA from a university, an associates degree from a community college, or an HVAC license from a technical school.

    Beyond that, I'm not really sure what Yglesias means by "bourgeois conduct." Being snotty about your alma mater and getting into a whispered fight with your spouse after drinking too much wine at the company Christmas party?

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  28. "Being snotty about your alma mater and getting into a whispered fight with your spouse after drinking too much wine at the company Christmas party?"

    I almost spit my coffee onto my keyboard reading this...good one.

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  29. I would like to know what they teach in these schools. They are keeping the kids for an inordinate amount of time. Depriving them of any spontaneous play and socialization. Why? Is it to keep them away from their home environments? The distractions of the media? A truly objective journalist ought to go and find out -- interview students, former student, parents, teachers, etc.

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  30. What KIPP schools teach is not 'bourgeois culture" but military values and "whatever works":
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/24518615/No-Excuses-A-Critique-of-the-Knowledge-Is-Power-Program-KIPP-within-Charter-Schools-in-the-USA

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  31. @Anonymous 7:01 - Thanks for the link. I'm giving it a read as we speak.

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  32. Hey everyone, esp. Matt & MDS -

    I've got that post up on culture, pedagogy, and teaching standard English. Read here.

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