Sunday, December 13, 2015

Who Are the Students?

Quoting a recent article from the Atlantic:

If a hypothetical classroom of 30 children were based on current demographics in the United States, this is how the students in that classroom would live: Seven would live in poverty, 11 would be non-white, six wouldn’t speak English as a first language, six wouldn’t be reared by their biological parents, one would be homeless, and six would be victims of abuse.
These are good numbers to remember when thinking about education. 

I wonder how much that differs from classrooms 50 or 100 years ago (especially in terms of poverty, home language, and abuse). Maybe "those kids" were driven out of school at younger ages 100 years ago than today, so that a primary school would have looked more like this while a high school would not have; maybe tightening of immigration, strong unions, and something closer to income equality at mid-century meant students were financially better off on average and were more likely to speak English at home.

I wonder if the need to pathologize students was as strong in those other eras.


Michael Leddy said...

This article is especially interesting given that it appears in the Atlantic . Back in July, the magazine had an infuriating piece titled “Fixing Urban Schools Without Fixing Poverty Is Possible.” Maybe this new piece represents greater sanity.

It’s also interesting given the relationship between the Atlantic Media Company and the Gates Foundation. A passage documenting the relationship has disappeared from Wikipedia’s article about the Atlantic but can still be found in the revision history.

Daughter Number Three said...

Oh, Conor Friedersdorf. He certainly holds up the neocon end at the Atlantic. Great link to the Gates Foundation money trail. Hmmm.

As education critic Nikhil Goyal said on Twitter a couple of days ago, "Democrats and Republicans are always in agreement when it comes to destroying public education and supporting standardized testing."

Gina said...

I wonder if such statistics could have been gathered 100 or even 50 or 60 years ago. Abuse wasn't seen as abuse but as discipline by most folks back then, and handed down from generation to generation. The number of immigrants could have been observed, perhaps, as well as language to a certain extent. Poverty could sometimes also be observed in how kids were dressed. My experience in school in the late 1950's and 1960's -- I recall only knowing who lived in poverty. We had one Black family in town, and I don't recall any immigrants. In high school, post-Vietnam War, we had more Vietnamese immigrants in the area, and more Black families. Otherwise, my hometown was pretty white bread and middle class, from my memory.