Jewish World Review April 20, 2004 / 30 Nissan, 5764
Teach kids the world is theirs
Let's face it, they say, those black and Latino kids just can't do it. Our
studies prove it; we're where we are because we're smarter, and they're
where they are because they're dumber. Sorry, they say, it's all in the
But, of course, genes don't explain it. Black Americans and Latinos are
so mixed up in their bloodstreams - plenty of Africa here, some Indian
there, some Asian on a near or far branch and, as often as not, plenty of
European. So, we have to think of something else. Too bad, you
phony-baloneys, fake science intent upon proving the superstitions of
racism remains fake.
Other things need to be considered. A number of them have been
uncovered by Dr. James Comer, an innovator in American public
education, who has a very provocative interview (annonline.com,
Comer has been working on educational projects since 1968 and has
concentrated on the components necessary for student success. All of
his models are based on bringing together parental support, teacher
involvement and whatever mental or personal assistance is necessary
to not only make the kids good students, but help them develop into
He has achieved such high results that his models have been adopted by 600 school systems across the nation.
One of the things that Comer finds essential - and that has worked in all
of his projects - is removing the sense of isolation from the students,
the school and the neighborhood.
Students need to feel that they are not only part of the community from
which they come, but that the city in which they live is theirs, as well as
the nation and the world.
In other words, they need to learn very early on that they have an
ethnic heritage as well as a human one and that it is their job to bring
the two together in ways that fit their individual goals.
Comer also believes that we have to consider the impact of mass media
on aberrant and anti-social behavior. That is because this is the first
time in the history of the world that uncensored images and
information of all sorts go directly into the minds of children who are
unprepared for them.
Comer's vision moves the discussion beyond the oppositional
interpretation of "authentic" identity as an individual or an ethnic
group that presently plagues our society.
If children, whatever their backgrounds, are able to define themselves
free of the ideology of alienation, they might well develop into those
who help our society find its way.
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JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy
of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994, Always in Pursuit: Fresh American
Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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