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Volume 5, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Racial 'blame game' fails to solve 
school dilemma

Shireen Connor
Opinion columnist

Monday, I came across an extremely interesting editorial in the Houston Chronicle written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist William Raspberry. Raspberry, an African-American, wrote about the "blame game" he feels African-American parents play concerning the academic progress of their children. The column hit close to home for me, as I could not have identified with it more.

For one, Raspberry heavily referenced anthropologist and university professor John Ogbu's forthcoming book, Black Students in an Affluent Suburb, which is a case study researched in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland where I was raised from kindergarten through my junior year of high school.

Second, I am involved in heated consultations on the subject of minority education with a close friend of mine, who just finished reading a case study done by a University of Texas professor on a predominantly Latino high school down the street from our campus.

My opinion of the duties of the American educational system is one and the same, both for the white majority and our country's minority population. It is the job for a school to teach a student what is essentially the role of the parent.

In the case study done by the UT professor, she highlights that Latino students in the school are distressed that their teachers do not care about them as individuals. She believes that, coupled with poor funding, leads to the high school's dreadfully high dropout rate.

Similarly, Raspberry indicates that African-American parents are inclined to believe the school system, and its suspected racism, leads to the failure of black children at large. Fortunately, he challenges parents to take a second look at themselves before they blame only the school for insufficient academic progress.

This is precisely the root of the problem. It is painfully obvious the majority of public schools across the country are in need of better funding. One cannot argue against this. But it is silly to place the entire blame on school systems for not teaching students values that need to be taught at home.

I acknowledge that as a white student I am in danger for being placed in the red zone for "not understanding" the plight of minorities. My answer to this is that even though I attended highly ranked public schools, I did not feel my teachers cared for me as an individual, so why should they care for a minority as well?

Quite frankly, it is really not the job of the upper-education public school teacher to care for each and every student. How much love can one person, who is extremely underpaid at that, be expected to pass around? The only expectation of this individual is to justly educate his or her pupils to the best of their ability with all resources available to them.

They should not be shouldered with teaching their students the value of the education presented to them, the reasons why this higher education is valuable, etc. That is the job of the parent, plain and simple.

How many famous psychologists and their countless hours of research have stressed the importance of the parent in a child's life? Nothing in this world can replace the role the parent has in the child's mind. It is the duty of the parent to pass on values and morals important for being a positive, functioning member or society. Sure, kindergarten teachers need to teach their children how to share, but is it really the job of a high school teacher to convey the same to teenagers? In high school, students are expected to be mature enough to enter the "real world" in a few years. They can no longer be coddled in an elementary fashion, for as we all know the real world will not coddle them. 

As we know, racism exists everywhere, not only in the schools. It is the duty of the parent to prepare a child for this. To simply wait for a time where racism will be eliminated from the hearts of men could sacrifice the moral and academic education of an entire generation. Here, parents and people playing Raspberry's "blame game" will need to step up to the plate or prepare to lose out.

Connor, a junior psychology major, 
can be reached at

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