Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups
By Chandra Alford
In the second half of chapter 2, the authors explore the concept of understanding inequality in learning. The statistics in the CLA report reveal that within the first two years of college, there is a major gap in the performance of students from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. Inequality in academic preparation is the claim the authors are making to explain and understand the growing gap in performance between white students and ethnic minorities when it come to applying critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills.
According to the authors, “Equalizing academic preparation between African-American and white students is thus a necessary but not sufficient condition for equalizing their growth in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills during the first two years in college” (50). The authors address an important point here, because they are implying there is more to this problem than what is address by school administrators and government officials.
The inequality in academic preparation may exist due to the structure of the class system in this country, which does not equalize the access to resources to those who are low-income. Consequently, a disproportionate number of African American students reside in low-income areas.
How does the idea of "equalizing academic preparation" or even the idea of "unequal academic preparation" affect your view of high school and collegiate education and success?
I think equalizing academic preparation has some benefits, in regards that everyone is on the same page. It gives everyone, no matter what background, an equal opportunity to succeed at a high level, whether it be at the high school level or college level.
The problem with "equalizing academic preparation" is that it does't really help students. What i'm trying to say is that, once the students are all on the same page, it's up to the students to actually develop those critical skills that are needed post-college or in real-life applications. Most students fail to develop these skills given the level playing field.
I believe the idea of "unequal academic preparation" is something that is a reality in inner city high school education and it is simply horrible! In the inner city, teachers do not have the same type of enthusiasm suburban high school teachers have. Teachers act as babysitters, teaching what they have to teach while students may or may not come to class (teacher doesn't care either way) and does the bare minimum of work. I believe many of those teachers believe that the students aren't going to make anything of themselves so why care anyways, just get the check and leave. The issue comes into place when inner city students do not get the same opportunity as those in the suburbs. In my junior year of high school, being in the suburbs, I was forced to take an ACT prep class in the second half of my lunch period instead of a study hall. Although I preferred to go to study hall at this time, that prep allowed me to score high enough on my ACT that I did not have to take a placement test coming into college nor complete any academic development classes my first year at SIUe. Many inner city schools would offer the prep class, but the class with cost money and be either before or after school, being a disadvantage for the student. I believe the government should step up and help developing schools to make districts more equal. Another step that needs to be made is teaching teachers how to be more appealing to students. It is there job to prepare students for the next step and if they are not doing such, they need to be fired.
I feel that for a long time now, there has been unequal academic preparation for minorities. They generally attend schools with less funding, not as many resources, and other negative environmental factors. With all of that being said, if an individuals is raised in this type of environment, both academically and socially, it only makes sense that they will be a bit behind. I think that in theory, equalizing academic preparation is good, but what does it really mean. If it means that everyone should get the same thing, I disagree. Everyone should get what they need essentially. For example, with the No Child Left Behind Act, the idea is that the standards are the same nation-wide and each school has to meet them. In theory, that sounds great, but in reality it is setting children up for failure. Every student deserves the opportunity to get what they need because it is only if they are getting what they need that they can get their maximum potential.
The idea of “equalizing academic preparation” seems like a small fix to a larger problem. I believe that “equalizing academic preparation” will definitely enhance opportunities for African Americans to experience success in both high school and college, but it is not a guarantee that the opportunity will be seized. In other words, “equalizing academic preparation” will only help African Americans as much as they allow it too. Will African American students use it as a stepping stone towards success, or will they not take advantage? It will all come down to the motivation of the students. If you have African American students that are motivated, eager to learn, but just don’t have the proper resources then “equalizing academic preparation” will be key; however, if the students lack motivation, no willingness to strive for education and success then “equalizing academic preparation” will be ineffective in closing that education gap between white and black students.
I think there is such a thing as unequal academic preparation especially in the inner city schools. Coming from a inner city high school myself, teachers did not push students enough, not like how they are challenged in college. I was in an accelerated program so I felt more prepared, but the preparation is unequal. So students come to college and they need extra help or have to take the remedial classes first.
I think if students in high school were given the same tools to learn (like problem solving skills, paper writing skills, and critical thinking skills) and not necessarily learn the same material, then they would be more successful in college. I think teachers focus more on the material than application or forming ideas from the material.
I agree to a certain degree that there may be some truth to this.
My reason(s) for being a proponent for "equalizing academic preparation" is that, there is much truth that lower income schools to receive lower funding and educational support and resources than the more privileged institutions. As stated in some of the other posts, everyone should be given at least a fair "advantage" out the gate. If they are coming from a learning institution where they were not exposed to the same education as students from upper-income environments, there is definitely a greater chance that there may be an educational mismatch and decline in their initial academic marks.
I however still believe, as discussed in the opening, that the responsibility is on the students, educators and government, at all levels to ensure that we are fully prepared. Although the districts with lower income and funding cannot afford to provide the higher education, there are other alternatives I believe.
For instance, in Maame Antwi's posts where she talks about "...being forced to take an ACT during lunch" I too agree that this is wrong. I too attended a high school that was on the brinks of being discredited because of low scores and income. However, we were lucky enough to have parents and faculty that stepped up and took the initiative to make sure we were up to the challenge. There was an increase in after school programs for studying and assessment preparations with assistance from volunteer parents and teachers to oversee these sessions. Also it was fought hard to raise the issue of more bussing. Now although some people see this as a racial divide, I thought it was a great solution. If I have the option of being sent to a school in the upper end of town, with better books, higher math and unlimited technology over being with my friends, I'm all for it!
As I previously stated, there has to be a collaborative effort. It is unfortunate, but the truth is that there is an educational divide. It would be nice if we could “equalize academic preparation”, have laptops for every student, college math courses and advanced AP everything in all high schools, but it’s not true. I don't think it's fair to look solely toward the educators to completely prepare us students and combat this issue alone. Everyone needs to get involved.
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