Sunday, June 2, 2013

When Graduations Turn Ghetto

A few days ago I saw a story that some of our more refined citizenry would like to call "shocking." The rest of us would agree to the language only we'd be borrowing heavily from the Casablancan usage :

In Cleveland a Kindergarten Graduation turned into another day in the hood when some morons decided the venue was right to settle their philosophical disputes the old fashioned way by stepping outside. Here's the shot we've all seen one time too many :

Cleveland Police Commander Wayne Drummond said investigators were trying to confirm reports that a spilled cup of punch sparked the original argument.

And in this milieu I would like to hear from the self proclaimed "ed reformers" how poverty and family life have no effect on the education of our students. I would pay to see any of our local reform community you know -- the local rockstars -- insert themselves into one of these neighborhood brushfires and assert some of their claims about poverty and dysfunctional families having no effect on learning. As many of us all ready know, until the cops arrived this mess was the school's to handle and they might not have even shown up as quickly as they did if someone hadn't claimed shots were fired.  Some graduations I have attended felt like race riots. I have observed certain members of the community in graduation ceremonies treating the event as an "Up Yours" to the school more than any joint celebration of student achievement. If you subscribe to the theory of Oppositional Culture (Fordham and Ogbu, 1986) -- and I do by the way-- you'll understand that some of the attendants at any graduation are there to fuck things up and spit in some faces on the way out the door. Theirs is not the happy culmination of a collaborative effort between the school, the child and his family but a chance to get at some of those people they suspected all along of undermining their child and trying to keep him from getting an education. So they show up to school in varying states of intoxication, mental illness, rage and depression with varying amounts of legal trouble, neighbor trouble, self hatred, probation and parole. And when some dope goes and spills punch or shoves an entire plate of cookies in her purse ( I saw this one myself at a high school graduation) why are we to expect that people in these circumstances are going to rise to the occasion and remember they are attending a graduation ceremony for 5 and 6 year olds?

Tell us again Steve Polowitz, Amy Friedman, Hannya Boulous, Ephraim Martinez and any of the other ed reform band wagoneers in B-Lo,  tell us again how teaching kids from homes like these can be fairly, intelligently and accurately scored by using standardized test scores and VAM measures. And feel free to share your own experience as part of the educational structure when parents, sisters, godmothers, brothers, aunts and uncles showed up loaded for bear looking to get a piece of someone from the school they perceive to be their enemy. Please share with us all of your solutions to blow ups like this and explain what we should be doing to tell these family members "No Excuses" and "Zero Tolerance." I would love to hear it. 

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