The Call for African-American Males in K-12 Urban Classrooms

The Call for African-American Males in K-12 Urban...

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HELP WANTED 1 Help Wanted: The Call for African-American Males in K-12 Urban Classrooms Terrance McKnight Teachers College – Columbia University
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HELP WANTED 2 Help Wanted: The Call for African-American Males in K-12 Urban Classrooms In his most recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stressed what he believes is the most integral factor to countering the United States’ slide as a global superpower – education reform. The students of the United States are performing at lower levels than children in other industrialized nations. President Obama’s reform push was reminiscent of President Kennedy following the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launching. This focus, catalyzed by a dwindling economy based on globalization, is an encapsulation of the accountability-test frenzy that has swept the nation’s educational landscape. With this frenzy has also come a focus on the achievement gap between the children in the country’s urban schools, and their more affluent peers. Closing this gap is the goal of the vast majority of reform initiatives in urban school districts today; hence the commonly- used name for the Elementary and Secondary Educational Act – the No Child Left Behind Act. For better or worse, there is an immense amount of attention and money being paid to urban American schools and students. Many ideas have been researched and tested in order to improve the performance of inner-city youth; this would close the achievement gap and raise overall international scores for America’s youth. However, no comprehensive reform has worked on a national scale to date. Because schooling in America is compulsory until age sixteen, testing only the students who know how to master standardized tests is not an option for schools in America, as it is in some competing nations. Compulsory education also causes educational institutions to absorb a disproportionate responsibility for ameliorating the negative effects of inequality in society (Cooper & Jordan, 2003). In his address, President Obama stated that he, like hundreds of researchers, believes that the most important people in reforming American education are teachers. A student’s teacher(s) has the most profound effect on his/her performance in the classroom. President Obama made a call for the citizens of the United States to become teachers. What has been
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HELP WANTED 3 an undervalued and underappreciated profession in recent American history has been placed under the spotlight. New test-based accountability measures with disciplinary consequences in many districts nationwide have made the profession undesirable for most at the present time. However, the pressure to change the performance of students in schools in the urban centers of this nation may trump the soiled viewpoints of the teaching profession.
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