Yesha Callahan

Does a Diversified or Predominately White School System Make for a Better Education?

August 27 is the most wonderful time of year in my household. Why you ask? I guess I should say it’s the most wonderful time of year for me, but not particularly for my son. It’s the first day of school in Howard County, Maryland, specifically Columbia, Maryland. My son is entering the 8th grade this year and is lucky enough to attend a school system that isn’t particularly failing its students like another school system in Maryland, notably the Prince George’s County (PG County) school system, which seems to run through superintendents like Walmart does cashiers.

When I first moved to Maryland, I lived in PG County and placed my son in an affluent private Christian school, and by affluent I mean costly. My rent at the time and his monthly tuition were competing neck to neck in costs each month and he was only in pre-K! Before moving to the area friends warned me about the school system in PG County and the dysfunction of the county as a whole. Mind you, this was way before Jack Johnson decided to flush money down a toilet and have his wife stuff $100s into her panties. After that first year struggle to pay for private school, I decided to move to Columbia in Howard County because of the better school system and quality of life.

Columbia, Maryland, has seemingly been described as a melting pot because of its diversity and sense of community. Recently it was ranked as the No. 2 place to live in the United States by CNN/Money magazine. Columbia is a planned community designed by James Rouse (whose grandson is actor Edward Norton) to eliminate things like racial, religious, and class segregation. The diversity in Columbia was similar to the area in New Jersey where I grew up. My son’s class photos had Asian, Latino, Caucasian, and African-American faces. His closest friends from kindergarten through 3rd grade were a set of Asian twins named Yin and Yang. (Yes, those were their real names.) My son loved his teachers and never complained about going to school. I was an active PTA parent and made sure I was involved with his school activities and interacted with his teachers.

The summer after his 2nd grade year, the housing market turned into a buyers market, and I thought it would be a good time to find a bigger house. I wanted to stay in Howard County, but as with everything in that area, it’s going to cost you. Reluctantly I started looking into Prince George’s again and found a nice single-family house in an older Laurel, Maryland, neighborhood. The house was close to an elementary school, and after researching the test scores of the school, it seemed like an OK school.

As the saying goes, “all that glitters isn’t gold.” I had the house of my dreams: big yard, two-car garage, five bedrooms, two fireplaces. But after a few months into the school year, I noticed a change in my son. His grades were dropping and he wasn’t enthusiastic about school anymore. I also noticed the lack of parental participation during PTA meetings. Half the time there would be only a handful of parents, and the other half of the time teachers didn’t show up to the meetings. My son also began complaining about some disturbing playground activities he noticed. On more than one occasion he spoke about boys inappropriately touching the girls and kids basically brawling during recess. He practically begged not to spend another year at the school once it let out for summer break, and I didn’t blame him. For the sake of my son’s education and well-being, we moved back to Howard County.

I will say that there are a few top-rated schools in PG County that cater to the arts and sciences, and Howard County isn’t perfect. It definitely has its fair share of issues. But I do know a stark difference in their educational system is due heavily to the racial makeup of each county. Do I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the majority of Howard County’s population is white? Yes. I also feel that PG County does a huge disservice to their residents, particularly ones with children, because of their sub-par educational system. Do I feel this has a lot to do with the fact that PG is a black majority county? Yes. When you couple the fact that a) you have parents who don’t care, with b) an administration that doesn’t care (not to mention the revolving-door care), the result is children receiving the short end of the stick. “Each one teach one” and “No child left behind” seem to have a lot to do with the racial makeup of a county and its administration.

Do you feel a diversified or predominately white school system makes for a better grade school education?

  1. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    I totally agree with the article. I have been telling folks this for years!! It is sad to say that education in our communities is just not as valued as it is in other communities. That is evident by the lack of parent participation. You will also see that a great deal of our children start off behind in school, lacking communication, analytical and comprehension skills. Again, a reflection of what is happening at home. Then couple this with the constant racist attitudes of the administration and lack of funding/resources at these schools.

    I am glad that I grew up in an area and went to schools that were more affluent (and therefore, mostly white). Even though in some cases , there were few students that looked like me, it prepared me to compete successfully in corporate America. Because realistically, we make up 13% of the total population. And we are going to have to learn how to compete with the majority and be successful at it. Otherwise we will continue to be marginalized and left behind.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Class and race are unfortunately intertwined in this country.

      People always blame parents. We don’t pay parents to parent in this country but we do pay teachers to teach. The quality of teachers have steadily declined especially in low income communities of color. I think we should strongly focus on what we can change and that is the adults we put in front of our students/children everyday who have a great influence on their lives. We can’t legislate parenting. You or anyone else guilt tripping parents who are working 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet and get out of generational poverty is not going to put them in the classroom or further participating with their children. Time is a luxury that many low income communities and communities of color don’t have live affluent White parents.We should be demanding more money yes-but we pay more per pupil in this country than any other country in the world and we are 17th in education. We need to raise the standards in the teaching profession and fight harder to demand better teachers.

      All of us respect teachers but I think it is pitiful that people would rather save someone’s job and/or tenure than save the education/life trajectory of a child. I think the teacher’s union is right in demanding more money for schools, I think they are wrong in saying that a teachers who teaches for 3 years regardless of performance, with no fair evaluations should be sitting in the classroom collecting a paycheck. Hell no-not my child. We all had that teacher in high school that took 45 minutes of our day and flushed it down the toilet because they were sleep, not paying attention, or just plainly sucked. We need to shuffle their asses to another profession. Teaching is hard-I get that, but what young black male in an American ghetto has time for a teacher to get their lives together? Not a single one I know.

      I think many of us who were born to teen mothers, no father, in poverty, or a variety of circumstances “made it” because of a great teacher who believed us. No our parents didn’t decide that they would sacrifice a job or two to make us homeless just to be at the school. Poverty is a challenge yes but it should not be the entire excuse as to why we shouldn’t be demanding new ideas, innovation, wrap around services, choices like high performing Charter schools (not all are), etc.

      Lastly, I think that zones schools have caused a lot of racial inequity. We are racially residentially segregated in this country (economics) and therefore zoned schools will be segregated. If we had a lottery in which students in the entire county had a lottery and parents had to send their children to whichever school in the district-I’m sure more people would change how they view public education in this country.

      • August 16, 2012 - Reply


        Taylor, it is not about saving sorry teachers’ jobs. I wish we could pay our teachers $70,000+. you could attract more ambitious teachers and have better quality. A lot of people go into teaching because they think it is an easy field. We can get rid of them. You are still missing my point. Many middle class black kids do go to better schools. They still underperform. If you could send all these black kids, to a better school, the results would be better but still not where they need to be because they are not studying at home enough. Look. I don’t hate low income families, but there are consequences for actions in life. When you get pregnant, you should get used to the fact that you will have to raise them. Educating children is NOT just the job of the teacher. That is the problem with black parents right there. Some of you all think that you don’t have to do anything but buy school supplies and uniforms. Education is probably 60% teacher, 40% parents.

        There is not much you can do about teachers. They have a pretty strong union, and the government isn’t thinking about education reform. If you are a parent working, you can STILL raise good kids. Get creative! Look. There should be no TV in your kids’ rooms. Try to organize an after school program at the library where kids who have working mothers at work can stay there and read and do homework until the mother picks the kids up. Do tutoring after school. Have study hall. Music lessons would be nice. They can play some freaking kazoos. How about after school sports programs? What about science projects on the weekends? You could teach an easy programming language from a $30 book after school. They could teach themselves how to create websites. A dedicated science teacher might be willing to run a science camp in the summer.

        There are lots of things that these kids could be doing for fairly cheap. I think some parents just don’t want to make an effort and use the TV as a time killer. Low income neighborhoods are not for raising children. The idea is that you will stay there until you can get out. The idea is that this is temporary not generational. You have your kids after you move out. Having kids in the ghetto is pretty much setting them up for a life of low academic achievement. The kids are here now, but that’s what I mean by consequences.

        Look. Adults need to get their crap together before they bring innocent children into the world because it ain’t pretty. Don’t have kids if you are on government assistance. That’s a good sign that you aren’t ready.

    • August 16, 2012 - Reply


      You know the saying that it is better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt? That is what I felt like after I read your post. :You said I hate blk people, no I hate blk people with your mind set. You really should be ashamed of yourself. Blk people like yourself and the “everyone’s fault but my own” mentality. So someone forced these women to spread it wide and become a mother at 15. Someone forced them to live in gang ridden sh*th^le, instead of planning their lives better for themselves and their children. 2 and 3 jobs huh? Whose fault is that, that some of these women are undereducated and have to take a few of these low level jobs to get by? Too busy having sex with a man that could give 2 good damns about them, I guess. So I guess none of these parents have “time” to read to their children and teach them something before they get to preschool, huh? Is this the spiel you are going with? What public school keeps teachers without evaluations? And teacher unions don’t fund schools, teacher unions are just that——unions for the teachers, not students! The parent is the advocate for the student. This shows that you know nothing of what you speak of. Just because you sat in a inner city classroom because your family could not afford to move you to a better district, does not mean you know what teachers or school districts should be doing to teach these children. I have an ipod, does that mean I can be the CEO of Apple? Exactly, stay in your lane.Do you even know what a charter school is? So then I guess you know that statistically charter schools do no better than most public schools. Speaking of charters, do you know the few good ones REQUIRE parents to put in a current numbers of hours at their child’s school? Something public schools have no power to do. I guess you are against that too huh? Just because you have a job does not mean you get to bypass parenting and pass your failures/children onto the teachers. TAKE RESPONSIBILTY FOR YOURSELF! I wish these parents would. I guess as long as we have excuse makers like yourself we will remain at the bottom of everything. You make me sick.

  2. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    From my perspective, this doesn’t appear to be a race issue but more like a class issue. Just as race issues bring about a certain mentality so do class issues. The valuing or devaluing of education is at the forefront of this issue across the board no matter what race one derives from.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Most definitely a class issue. It’s the same way in the white school systems, but of course the Black students get the bad rep as if to say “our culure” does not value education. Like so many others said, education starts at home and if students don’t have at least one person supporting them at home, then they are less likely to excel in school.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        Nope. Black kids at middle class institutions don’t perform at the same level as the white kids. Essence magazine itself wrote about education in the black community. It reported on a study that showed that poor white kids were at the same level or outperforming middle class black kids. The article also talked about how black people of ALL classes don’t read to their kids enough. It talked about how they don’t stay involved in school and accept and reward mediocrity such as making Bs.

        In a world where white kids are making As and Asian kids are making A+s, how the heck can a black kid with Bs compete? This is definitely a race issue. No. It’s a cultural issue with African Americans because black kids of African immigrants do well in school. African Americans think that they can send their kids to school and expect to get a genius. Many don’t stay involved.

        A dedicated single mother can raise a kid that can outperform these other kids. You all simply don’t try and then make excuses. I’m never surprised by these results. I mean we have eight year olds who know who Evelyn Lozada is and parents who think Bs should be rewarded. It’s the reason why our kids HAVE to get affirmative action scholarships. They’ve been raised to think being mediocre is okay. When you are mediocre, you can’t compete with the other kids. Affirmative action type programs are not really good. It’s preferential treatment for someone who is not as good. As a black person, I’d much rather have black kids perform well in K-12 so that they don’t need affirmative action type scholarships. They can compete based on their high SAT score.

        What black kids need is for parents to do their job. Is it impossible to work with your kids to bring home all As? Is it impossible to start studying for the ACT or SAT early so that you can get a high score and get into school? Are parents going to go to PTA meetings? Are black parents going to make their kids turn off the TVs and the iPods? I just don’t buy the excuses anymore.

        There was a video on YouTube of these toddlers asleep, and the parents were blasting some Wacka Flocka song. What the heck do you think lies ahead for those kids? Their parents are already exposing them to the crappery that is Wacka Flocka. This happens all the time with black kids. Black “parents” doing subpar parenting is the reason for so many problems. I know this. What if black people started parenting like Asian parents? Do you think we’d still have these problems? I don’t think so. Well not in these middle class neighborhoods. That’s how I know it’s a cultural thing. There is no white overseer that’s going to beat you if he catches you reading. But middle class black people are the worst about this. They have the means. They know education is important, but they still don’t do the right things.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        Nope. You wrote a great post.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        Dear Nope

        I think you meant well but I think you missed some stuff. Black students are put in front of on a consistent basis teachers who fail them day in and day out. They are more likely to be exposed to new teachers, veteran teachers who lack up-to-date training, and quality teachers. There are countless examples of Black students who come from poverty who overcame their circumstance through the profound impact of a high performing teachers.

        We have-as a people-struggled to get education culturally right. I agree. But while we are fixing that and making educational experiences a daily occurrence for our children at home-I think we should tackle it on the other end as well.

        We should not underestimate the person the child spends 40% of their waking hours with. We need way better teachers.

        (No I’m not teacher bashing to all the union nazi’s who are collecting their paychecks in the rubber room so pipe down.)

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        @Taylor – I definitely agree that teachers are subpar. I am from the country. I went to a majority black college where the teachers sat around and did nothing. I had one teacher who had his retired mother come in and teach. At least she new what she was doing. I did the No Child Left Behind thing and went to a majority white school with a decent size black population. It was slightly better. I had one teacher who painted everyday and braided cheerleaders’ hair for pep rallies every Friday. I still studied on my one to make high enough on the ACT to get a scholarship that payed my tuition. I made food grades in college and got another scholarship and all my costs were covered, and I am not a genius. I knew that education was I important though and did iton my own even though my high school teachers didn’t prepare me.

        I know it is very hard for inner city black people. But they have sent inner city kids to better districts to see what would happen. They still underperform. Maybe it’s because they are too far behind from their bad schooling. I personally think it’s because they still do the same stuff at home. The parents still have the same hands off mentality. Bill Cosby wrote a pretty decent book about changing things family by family. These things can be easily implemented. Imagine if all the mothers of one class decided that they were going to change for the better and they had a decent teacher. That class would see big improvements. Then you could do those changes for the whole grade. Then the whole school.

        I just think a lot of African Americans have not adapted to the shift from manufacturing to service and technology. Brains are more important than brawn. The Chinese and Indians understand this. They’ve adjusted well to this shift. African Americans are still behaving like there are millions of factory jobs out there. If our schools are subpar, we need to adjust. Black people had to create their own educational institutions in the past. Now we can’t think how to fix the ones we have. That’s very sad, pathetic, and defeatist to me.

        But I just think middle class black people are a mess. They have the means. They send their kids to schools with good teachers. They have no excuse. They need to change their parenting strategy, but they never want to be criticized. Black kids are hurting because of this. Black parents need to start shielding negative entertainment (hip hop, pop culture, most crap on TV).the average kid can’t handle that crap. They need to turn the TVs off, go to PTA meetings, help with homework, read some books to their kids, stop rewarding mediocrity, and stay up to date on parenting techniques. Buy a parenting book for goodness sake! Especially single mothers. They have to work harder. They need all the pointers they can get especially about raising black boys and girls in this dysfunctional black community that we live in.

        This educational problem could be solved if people would take some constructive criticism, and put 100% into doing the right thing.

        The only other thing I can think of would be boarding schools. The kids would be removed from the bad influences in the neighborhood. The administrators could decide what is acceptable enterainment. They would also have to instill those positive values into the kids. This is expensive. It would be much cheaper if black parents just said “Let’s stop. What we’re doing isn’t working. Let’s change our approach.”

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        I meant I went to a majority black middle school not college. I almost meant that I made good grades not food grades. Typing long comments on mobile devices is not easy.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Nope it is a lost cause. taylor is someone that obviously likes to make excuses. it is the parenting, POINT BLANK PERIOD! Either way you slice it, it always comes back to the parents. And the thing is all black parents think they know what they are doing. if that was the case your sons would not be in jail and your daughters would not be knocked up at 15. For God’s sakes, look around, find a parent with an honor role student and ask them what they are doing right. But no……. black women (because those are the ones that raise most of our children, unforunately) tell themselves “can’t no body tell me nothing.” I remember telling this blk fool that he should read a book on parenting and to watch what the successful parents do, he totally dismissed it. He also said it was ok to take a 3 year old to an R rated horror movie. These are the people raising our children and it has gotten us nowhere. We obviously don’t know everything about raising children or else out communities would not be in shambles.

  3. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    I think any school that receives the same amount of funding and the same quality teachers and equipment as all white schools is a good school, but we all know that doesn’t happen.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Unfortunately, teachers and equipment will not be enough. It would be a great start, but not enough. The success of a student begins in their home. What is taught before they enter school and the reinforcement of that education once they leave the four walls of school.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        You’ve hit the nail on the head @adiatc. What people don’t realize is teacher’s at Title I schools do not have access to the same materials and technology as teachers in wealthier districts. Couple that with lack of parental engagement, and this is the result.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        I agree with you, adiatc. Home life has so much to do with success in the classroom.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Unfortunately, schools can be in the same district and have much different resources b/c parents (via the PTA) can and do supplement a LOT. So while I went to private school, comparing my neighborhood school (which had an affluent student body) to a school across town was like night and day.
      Some parents are effectively able to supplement to the point that the public school becomes a “public-private” school.
      Teachers also come out of pocket for a lot of supplies, which is something that affluent PTA members can assist with.

      So money matters eve in the public school system, and goes way beyond what comes from the district.

      I went to private school and if I had kids, I wouldn’t bother with public schools either b/c the quality is all over the place. The best are amazing but the worst are a nightmare. And they can exist in the same cities/towns/districts and people get really territorial and racist about guarding their good schools.

  4. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    I agree with your article. We lived in GA for the past eight years where my daughter attended a racially diverse school as you mentioned. My husband and I noticed the schools in the predominately black side of town did not fair as well and there was a lack of value of education by the students. It was more of a fashion show for the children, and there were always budget cuts, superintendent changes, and even a cut in school bus service due to budgets. We were determined not to move to that side of town even though houses were much more affordable on that side of town.

    We have now relocated to Indianapolis and my daughter’s school is predominately black. They just began yesterday. When she came home, she said one student had already landed himself in in-school suspension, another girl had rainbow hair weave and a 6th grader had a REAL tattoo :/
    The school system had once been one of the “good systems” in the city, but they have experienced a decline.

    I hope to volunteer and make an impact in some way. But if I notice a change in my daughter’s grades and willingness to perform, we will be looking to move elsewhere.

  5. August 15, 2012 - Reply


    If you havent been reading Jonothan Kozol you would know that mo’ money mo’ money mo’ money doesnt work and it hasnt worked.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Well can you inform me of some of his works and articles then?

  6. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    Personally, I would rather send my children to a successful black school so they could always associate success, the importance of education, respect for authorities, etc. with people who look like them instead of busing them to a good non black school in order for them to get a good education. What are we teaching our children that we have to leave black folks into to live in a nice area, go to a good school, and lead a good safe life?

    Im sure we can cobble together a group of progressive blacks people, put them in a nice area, with a nice school, and adjecent to good jobs.

  7. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    white schools get more money……

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Yes. But this is because the income level of White people can support that.

      • August 16, 2012 - Reply


        Well why does that even matter? Shouldn’t we as Americans want everyone to receive a quality education? White government rules have decided how to allocate funds and it sure shows. It’s a travesty, who needs slavery when you can set up young black kids to be prisoners by age 17?

      • August 17, 2012 - Reply


        This isn’t a debate. I am only expressing that the reason predominately White schools get more money is because those schools are in areas where the residents have the income to support the school system.

        As for the rest of your inquiry – I certainly did not insinuate that only specific people where deserving of a quality education.

  8. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    I can relate to this post because I actually grew up in both the PG and Howard County school systems. Most of my schooling was in the Howard County school system. I think the primary difference between the two is that Howard County has more resources.
    In regards to diversity, I can say that Howard County is becoming more diverse as more people begin to move to the area (Laurel in particular). There is certainly a difference between how many people of color I went to school with in my elementary days versus how many people of color I see now when I visit my old neighborhood. Another thing I will point out is that in high school I was always one of the few black kids in the advanced classes which always led to a fair share of awkward race-based questions and moments from my peers. My school were pretty diverse, but it was obvious that for whatever reasons most of the black and hispanic kids weren’t in the advanced classes. In fact, I literally had to fight to be in those courses because despite having a capacity for learning comparable to my white and asian peers I was always looked over in regards to getting into advanced classes.

  9. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    The issue of education is not something that can be reduced to race. I agree with one of the commenters that said education starts at home. No matter what the racial makeup of a school, if education is not instilled in students at home, kids will not “behave” in schools. Saying education is not valued by the black community is wholly inaccurate. There is also evidence that shows culturally ignorant teachers suspend and expel black students at higher rates than other ethnicities. While my post may seem disjointed, I think it reflects the complexity of why so many black children and predominantly black schools are not excelling. And while race may be a factor, it is not a standalone reason. “Diversifying schools” will not fix it. We need to look deeper.

  10. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    It depends on the child, if they are not truly motivated to learn then they are not going to get any kind of education whether it’s diversified or predominately white. They have to feel confortable… i could say other things but this is family friendly station.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply

      @Tonia B. (@chicmodern)

      I think that’s a fundamentally false thing to say. Very broad and doesn’t apply to kindergartens or people who lack parents with expectations for their success.

      It’s scary that you would even think that.

  11. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    I agree with another commenter that the issue is far more complex than whether the school district is diversified or primarily white. First, Howard County public schools are now minority-majority as students of color (black, Latino, and Asian) make up the majority of the students. Second, Howard County is more affluent that Prince George’s County and in turn the school system staffing is more stable and better resourced. In turn, the staff of Howard County Public Schools are happier than Prince George’s County Schools personnel who are paid less to do a harder job given the higher poverty and need of its students. As someone else stated, the real challenge is the differential in resources and the different expectations that result – Howard County thinks its the best and acts that way while Prince George’s County Public Schools think they are losers and in turn treat everyone that way, including active parents. It’s a sad situation and I did not appreciate how sad it was until I moved from Prince George’s into Howard County. That the disparity in the quality of schools between these counties reinforces the stereotype that you have can’t live in a black community and expect decent services is troubling, but the real issues are resources and expectations rather than race or perceptions that black families care less about education than others.

  12. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    Being a former DC Public Schools teacher, I’m quite familiar with PG, Howard, and Montgomery County schools. The issues that you’re facing are issues of class, not race. A lot of the students in PG County, are displaced from DC. They’re brining that impoverished mentality with them. When you’re able to fully integrate a school, the benefit of positive peer pressure exists. But if the norm is ignoring the high expectations set for you by your teachers, and lack of parental involvement, any decent students will undoubtedly suffer.

  13. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    Eeesshh… I grew up in PG county, attended PG County schools, and briefly taught there. I don’t really like the general statements being thrown around. There are affluent areas and less afluent areas of PG County so it’s not an issue of poor black kids that can’t get a good education. I went to elementary and middle school (7th and 8th grade for those that don’t know) in an affluent area, then I went to a high school in a less afluent area with a great college prep program. I eventually taught students in a less affluent area. Unfortunately, I don’t have much personal experience with Howard county schools so I can’t dicuss it. However I do have a friend that taught there and he encountered his fair share of issues, like most teachers do.

    That said, I don’t think the issue is race because that implies black and white. It’s a cultural/community that extends beyond skin color. I’ve found that PG county is very materialistic and some parents put more emphasis on providing the latest for their children than being involved in their education. I taught/went to school with kids that had the latest technology, best tennis shoes with their school uniforms, and couldn’t go a day without being kicked out of class. Not a black thing, these kids were white. And they could have been hispanic or asian.

    There isn’t a single problem that separates a good school system from a bad one. There are too many factors to name. Parental involvement is a must. Competent teachers are critical. Fair and supportive administration is crucial. Proper funding and MANAGEMENT of that funding is something that is often overlooked in this argument but can easily lead to the downfall of a school district (some schools can have all the money in the world, but if they don’t know how to use it then they are better off flushing it down the toilet).

  14. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    It’s a shame that our internalized inferiority has us thinking that going to school with white children provides a better education. There is little to no validity in the author’s assertions that predominately white schools make for better education. Higher test scores do not indicate that a school provides a better education. Relatively little of the educational outcome of students is attributable to the school itself. The chief drivers of academic achievement are factors that exist outside the school. Simply looking at test scores provides you with very little information about the quality of education in a particular school. But even if test scores did say something about education, white schools still would not be better. After controlling for wealth and class, black students at predominately white schools are not out-performing black students at predominately minority schools.

    Moreover, black students tend to be disadvantaged in predominately white schools by poor tracking and relatively lower expectations.

    The anecdotal evidence the author provides cannot be attributed to the race of the student body. She fails to control for any of the other circumstances, such as class, that likely are responsible for the behaviors seen. Her implication that white schools might have less behavior issues based on the race of the students is also problematic. White and rich schools have different sorts of problems, not less problems. Affluent white high schools have a higher incidence of drug abuse, alcoholism, and even prostitution.

    Oh, and Dr. Hite has been superintendent in PGCPS since December of 2008. How long has Dr. Foose been the superintendent in Howard County?

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      That’s because it’s not really the schools that are the problem. IT’S THE PARENTS! I don’t think diversity for black kids is bad. It’s good. The world is diverse. Let them all learn together. I just don’t think black kids HAVE to go to a white school to do well. They simply need their parents to give a darn and the school to give a darn. When you send your kids to the same school that the white and Asian kids go to, but they still underperform, what could the reason be? The only time things are different from these other kids is when they are at home. White, Asian, and black people do different things in the home with their kids. The reasons Asians outperform whites who outperform blacks is because Asians value education more and push their kidss to achieve more than whites and blacks, and whites push their kids more than blacks. That is all.

      Black kids don’t need diversity if black schools are good. Basically black kids go to white schools because the black schools suck. If the black school doesn’t suck or if the white school is not superior, then it isn’t really that beneficial.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        @SMH – That’s just more excuses. You want to lay the blame on everyone but black parents. Now we are back to racist white teachers. Okay then what’s the problem at black schools? Oh right. Funding. You all think we need to throw more money at these schools. There was an article on this site about romanticizing black women of the past. I think I must romanticize African Americans of the past myself. I just can’t see them being so incapable of solving problems while whining about money and racist teachers when the problem is at home. The educational gap will never be closed because you all don’t even know where to look. African Americans of the past just weren’t so clueless and whiny. All African Americans do is talk, talk, talk while everyone else forms a strategy. Actually it’s more like whine, whine, whine.

        I was at a science school recently. There were white, East Asian, and South Asian people everywhere. Hispanic people might catch up one day. I would like to see black people out there too. Not just a few. That will never happen sadly because you all don’t put any extra effort into changing things. You all like to whine. It’s kind of pathetic when I think of the African Americans of the past and everything they went through (slavery, Jim crow South…) to see these new age folks so stymied about how to educate their children when there are soooo many resources out there. There are plenty of FREE resources at the library. You all never try to think of solutions because you are too busy whining about white people being privileged or not nurturing your kids.

        Do you honestly think that antagonism and lack of nurture from the teachers are the problem?

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply



      I love you!

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        love you too!!!

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      I lived and work in Fairfax County VA, Tyson’s Corner to be exact, which is a predominately white area, one of the richest counties in America, 30 minutes from PG county. I raised my son their from the 5th grade to the 9th grade. My son through all those years was one of the few Black kids in his classes. He handled the environment pretty good until about the 8th grade that is when things got vicious. My husband and I was constantly at his school fighting with his all white teachers about the curriculum, everything from History, Science to his Honors English class, which he was the only black kid in the class. It seemed like everything they taught had the N word or always talked about Slavery. Always making my son feel inferior. By the 9th grade my son self esteem had hit an all time low. He would come home from school asking me “what do I say when somebody puts their arm around me and say “Hey everybody look at the slave I own” while walking down the hallway. Or when the administration tried to press charges on my son for hugging a little white girl in the hallway. His Counselor tells me this is still the south. My point is at what cost do we risk in putting our children in these all white schools? White is not always right. Our children’s value and self esteem is much more important. I was always involved in my child’s education and schools. But he was still subjected to racism in the classrooms and in the hallways. They were teaching those kids that all black people are, are slaves and N words. We need to strengthen our kids, give them a chance to know and love our culture. For every hour we put our children in these all white schools, we need to immerse our children in black history, African history, and culture. To balance all the white wash they are getting in those schools.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        I’ve seen many similar things with black kids at white schools. Not saying this is always the case, but it is a risk.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      no problem

  15. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    every bit of research I have seen supports that. Diversity is beneficial for white students. No evidence shows that it benefits minority children.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      I think diversity benefits minority children in a different way than white children. When I mean diversity I mean getting out of a world where every looks the same. We need to have multi-cultural experiences as early as possible so that we are open to what the world has to offer. We have to work in the white world so it’s necessary to learn how to navigate that world as early as possible. Your identity comes from home. School is but part of forming your life experience.

      For white children – the only way they will learn about us is to go to school with us. They don’t learn truth about us from commercials and television the way we are inundated with their culture from the time we’re old enough to understand. They learn truth from sitting side by side in a classroom and having frank and open dialogue about what it’s like to be Black or Latino or Asian. I think that’s where diversity makes the biggest difference for them.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      The research I have seen shows that this doesn’t benefit minority children. This seems reasonable considering the degree to which society is already shaped around their perspectives and sense of normalcy. I don’t think it necessary to go to school with white children to be able to navigate the greater society.

  16. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    I can agree with this article. My brush with diversity came during the second half of 1st grade, until 4th grade. From then on until the end of high school, the schools I went to was predominantly black. Thankfully my zeal for reading, support from home, and their choice of schools prepared me. Plus, it’s in New Orleans, shockingly. It depends on class, the benevolence of teachers and administration, and the environment overall. Sometimes race can be a factor.

  17. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    DIDN’T bother reading the article, (will later), but i would not want my child going to a diverse school. Diversity should not be an issue that blks should concern themselves with.I certainly wouldnt be concerned, in fact the less blks the better. I figure this, the more blks your child goes to school with the more likely they will be influnced by hip hop, baby mama/daddy, lack of value for all things educational culture. Why take that gamble? You should strive to send your children to BLUE RIBBON schools. NOt charters, private, or “diverse” schools. All that doesn’t matter. For those of you who do not know what blue ribbon means, look it up. If your district school system is piss poor…. try to move to a blue ribbon district.

    Blks (overall) are underachievers no matter what social class they are in simply because of home factors. That is a fact. Blk people’s values are in the crapper. Untill that changes,nothing will. My chil will not be going to any “mixed” school with blk people because there is no benefit to that.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Somebody sue the RACIST alert.

      You’re pretty pissed at Black people. I’d suggest you exit now.

      • August 15, 2012 - Reply


        This is a black woman I think. I think she said on another article that she has West Indian parents. She is probably talking about African Americans and not all black people.

        I think she does come off as racist or self-hating, but I would send my kids to a majority white school any day if the quality of the school was superior. I also agree with her about the mentality of a lot of black kids. They think that African American culture is hip hop culture. A lot of black kids think they are gods of blackness and get to decide what is appropriate behavior for black kids. You don’t want kids who are not like-minded influencing your kids. If I could find a majority black school where the kids were anti-acting black and education was important there, I would definitely send my kids there, but black people have internalized a lot of the stupidity of hip hop culture which is pretty counterproductive.

    • August 15, 2012 - Reply


      Yes I am a black woman. i am not pissed at blk people, I just wished they would do better. Until then, I don’t want to be around them, also don’t want my children to be around disfuntion. I bet you were one of those people that argued that pregnant teens should have the right to attend school with all the other students. Guess you thought that was normal huh? Piss poor culture I tell you!

      • August 16, 2012 - Reply


        Piss poor culture is a big part of it. At the core of all our problems is the acceptance of deviant behavior. We are being judgmental when we say baby momma culture is ruining kids’ lives. We are self hating when we say black parents on average don’t know how to raise kids that can compete with other kids and go on and be productive members of not only the black community but the global community. Speaking English correctly and making good grades is acting white. “Acting black” is so dysfunctional. The kids don’t learn. The parents don’t parent. The men don’t know how to act like men, and the women don’t know how to act like ladies. At the heart of all this dysfunction is bad culture that makes excuses for and glorifies bad behavior. I mean African Americans PROTESTED for a child molester. They decided that the n-word was okay. It was okay to call women b***s and hoes. African Americans let hip hop and thug culture take over. There is no ethnic respect or cultural pride. What do we value? Hip hop culture? We don’t get married. We have kids out of wedlock and give them a mediocre or subpar raising. We don’t try to get the best education for our kids. Every time black history month comes around, I think about how unhappy our ancestors would be with what we are doing.

      • August 17, 2012 - Reply


        @ Rochelle & @ Nope

        I agree with what you’re saying. Pay no attention to those who call you self-hating for speaking out so strongly. Should you be silent? HELL NO! Being silent is enabling and worse! If you saw your kid about to jump off a cliff, would stand by and say nothing?

        Rochelle, you sound like you’ve given up! Please, nooo! We need you to continue sounding the alarm and beating the drum, no matter how harsh it sounds! Your words and tone will piss off only those who refuse to see what’s right in front of them and who want to continue the same bad behavior.

        Nope, you sound like you’re where I am: overwhelmingly frustrated, but still holding out hope and believing that we can and will do better as a community.

        Stay strong. We have to keep trying…for the sake of our kids who don’t exist in a vacuum.

      • August 17, 2012 - Reply


        It’s a shame that you get called a self-hater for speaking up loudly and calling out bad behavior…for refusing to sit still and be quiet…for telling it EXACTLY like it is. It’s a sign of just how sick…in the head!..our community is.

  18. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    Diversified schools (white students) guarantee that appropriate money will be allocated to the school.

    I remember in the 6th grade I had a science book that discussed the possibility of man being on the moon. IT WAS 1980!!!!!!!

    I attended a school in a southern state that was supposedly desegregated but the predominate white population was nearly missing from the largest school. Only the poorest whites who could not get a sponsor to attend the Catholic or the private school or who did not have a relative in a neighboring county to use their address so that they could commute to school in the other county, would attend my school. This happened only after the “white “high school was turned to an elementary school. But we finally got updated science books 😀

  19. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    Honestly, it might, depending on the school and the culture that surrounds it. I went to a small private school that was predominantly white for high school. I was already a good student, but the environment turned me into a GREAT student. A significant portion of our graduating class (2009) now attend/are graduating from UC’s and Ivy League institutions, myself included.

    Private institutions, and predominantly white institutions in wealthier neighborhoods breed bright-eyed, intelligent, competitive learners. Had I not been exposed to students of that mindset, I would not be as driven or serious about my education. It also teaches children of the minority not to be intimidated by white peers in any situation from that point forward. They will know they are just as good and just as intelligent.

    These traits are essential for their success later in life.

  20. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    There are so many dynamics that go into a ‘good education’ that it is never a simple discussion. You could take all the money and good teachers in the world and put them in a school but if the children who come to that school aren’t coming with the skills that allow them to be ready to compete, does it really make a difference?

    A child that is surrounded by learning – books, magazines, parents who read and read to me, siblings to could emulate…when you have discussions at the dinner table about current events and history, travel and art. When your mother makes sure you get to the museums and have music lessons or at least learn about music – these things give that child an advantage because his/her frame of reference and ability to connect to culture is ingrained. You can’t learn that in a classroom alone.

    Many kids get to kindergarten knowing how to read and write and do some math. They have started early with day care or some program on the home computer. They already know so much – they have been prepared, acclimated to the classroom and they are ready to learn – eager to learn.

    I had a little neighbor who at 5 didn’t know his colors or numbers. How is this child going to compete when he is already behind so much of the class? Reading skills level off and start to fall at the 3rd grade for many of our kids, particularly boys. Some kids don’t even know their real names. I have a kindergarten teacher friend who sends out a letter to tell parents to please tell little William that Boo is not his real name and he must learn to answer to William at school.

    Many of us are behind from the start. I think it’s a function of race, class, value system, socio-economic status – so many things. I have no answers.

    I did the best I could to make sure my daughter got a diverse experience in school because I know that it is important to know how to navigate this world. I paid tuition to make sure she was in a safe environment and that she didn’t have to worry about some of the things that plague so many inner-city schools. That doesn’t mean she was worry free or that she always felt like she fit in. But then who always fits in? No matter where you go there will be obstacles.

  21. August 15, 2012 - Reply

    Ahh, so this is post-racial America. Don’t know whether I should laugh or cry.

    I went to school in NYC, when there were some decent pubic schools left before our current mayor came in on a mission to destroy them all. My schools, from elementary to high school, were all predominantly Black, with a handful of Latinos. Almost all the Black students I went to school with were first or 2nd generation Caribbean and African immigrants, as were the surrounding neighborhoods. And we learned. I was in Honors classes, all Black students. There was no talk of “acting White.” My high school offered many AP classes, including AP English, AP Biology, AP US History, AP Spanish, AP Calculus. All of us Black kids taking AP and honors classes.

    I had relatives whose parents moved outside NYC, sending their kids to predominantly White schools, and bragged that they were going to better schools. Well, in those schools, they had to fight to get into the AP or honors classes. The classes that made it into, they would be one of maybe 2 or 3 Black kids in the entire class.

    I grew up surrounded by Black students challenging each other. I never associated being smart, speaking well, or being gifted and talented with Whiteness.

    Recently, the NY Times published an article on Black kids in charter schools, with the Black kids asking, “Where the White kids at? Why don’t they want to go to school with us?” Got these children believing that they NEED White kids in their schools, that diversity is better for them, because Black alone means their schools (ala Black kids) are not good, not enough, not successful. I nearly died.

    Black Americans have to get their act together, and stop with this running to White neighborhoods for their schools, putting your children in schools where they’re the ‘only one.” Why do we keep doing this to our children, in this day and age? We’re only perpetuating the White is better and superior to us myth. We have to stop.

  22. August 16, 2012 - Reply

    I am from Central Florida, I have never gone to a school with a high minority population. What I can tell you is that moving from my almost exclusively white private school to a relatively diverse public school and university made a great difference in my perspective on America, who I am, and how mainstream America really sees black america. The best feeling in the world is to be with other high-achieving African Americans and not being singled out as “white”. At my private school, I was an exception, being the only black person any of them knew personally, I was never seen as a prototypical black person. Why? Because in their suburban cookie-cutter minds, smart, well-spoken, level-headed, and calculated is not black. Thinking back on it disgusts me. At my high school and University, I faced similar obstacles, but never alone, and never without a great deal of people that looked like me, proving that narrative wrong. I feel as though we all need some diversity, because a lot of black people do not know how white people live and what drives their thought processes, by being among them, as well as Asians and Latinos, we all can see our mutual humanity. I would say avoid private schooling and try to find academically rigorous and diverse public schools.

    • August 16, 2012 - Reply


      I also feel as though there is a lot of merit in outclassing your white counterparts academically. It proves to them that yeah, we’re an academic force to be reckoned with. Don’t believe the hype, because they do.

  23. August 22, 2012 - Reply

    I see there is some unwarranted teacher bashing going on here. Yes there are some bad teachers,but there are some great ones too. I have worked in a few major urban districts where test scores, allotted money, PTA involvement varied widely. In my humble opinion, the most important factor in student’s success is the parent/guardian in the home. The great teachers I had only brought out the best in me and helped me, the not so great ones – well it didn’t matter much because I was taught the essentials and beyond AT HOME. A lot of my students are doing a million after-school activities, get home at 10 or 11 at night and then expected to perform in the classroom like Jimmy Neutron on 3 hrs of sleep and fast food. High test scores are great but not the single determining factor in how successful a student will be. Try finding a well balanced school or smaller district that practices a more holistic approach to education and a better home/school life balance.

  24. September 4, 2012 - Reply

    As an “ex” teacher (“ex” for some of the issues raised in your article) I can attest to the idea that on average a student attending a predominantly white school is probably going to get a better quality of education. I worked in an urban school district in southern Virginia and I saw first-hand some of the discrepancies in education. First off, teachers spend a great deal of instructional time handling behavioral disruptions. Often, when they try to contact parents about these behaviors there is either a lack of follow through, on the parents’ part, or the parent (or grand parent in MANY cases) starts to ask the teacher what to do because they have no clue anymore either.

    Next, there is the huge detachment from white student counterparts. Oftentimes, (white) students will be deemed as ‘honors’ even though they might not completely live up to that label. This is common practice because the parents who have more time and energy invested in their kids would NEVER allow their child to be in a classroom where kids are acting out of control. So then you have a feeling of segregation not only among the students, but some teachers will treat an honors class filled with white children completely different than they treat their “regular” students. But they are compelled to. They know that if a white parent calls into the school with concerns about their child’s education, they will be receiving an email or visit from their principal soon. Disruptions from black students are looked at as expected behavior.

    From there it is a cyclical process. White students continue to excel because they have been put into classes where they can find solace among each other and black students continue to decline in educational success because they either ARE the problem in the classroom or they are forced to be in a classroom WITH a lot of problems which, in turns, hinders their own ability to learn.

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