The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

School district funds spent on teaching questionable subject matter

No, I'm not talking about teaching creation or intelligent design. It's not THAT stupid. But the San Bernadino school district seems to be missing a piece of the puzzle in their quest to to improve black students' academic performance, send more of them to college, and have fewer dropouts. Their solution is to teach "ebonics."

Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, commended the San Bernardino Board of Education for approving the policy in June.

Texeira suggested that including Ebonics in the program would be beneficial for students. Ebonics, a dialect of American English that is spoken by many blacks throughout the country, was recognized as a separate language in 1996 by the Oakland school board.

"Ebonics is a different language, it's not slang as many believe,' Texeira said. "For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language.'

Okay, even if it wasn't just slang, aren't other students who speak a foreign language taught ENGLISH, not the foreign language they already speak? Isn't speaking regular English pretty essential to success in academic performance, college, getting a job and that sort of thing? Maybe I'm confused by the description of the class. Maybe it is essentially a mis-labled English as a second language class. If that's the case I can see the point. But is that the case?


  • Also, foreign students come from foreign countries where everyone speaks a foreign language. When they get here it is (debatably) healthy to have some instruction in foreign language.

    African Americans live here and are exposed to proper English all of the time. Lack of language skills is a disaster for succeeding in America (even having certain accents is damaging if you move out of the accented region). Encouraging main stream acceptance of non-main stream languages for a certain percentage of the population is just asking for that part of the population to fail. It is like requesting the reinstatement of segregation.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:18 AM  

  • The article doesn't really tell us much. Apparently there's been a pilot Ebonics program, but the article doesn't give us specifics about how that program is different from the way other students in the district are taught, or tell us anything about whether students enrolled in that have seen any significant changes on their test scores, school attendance, or any other measurable outcome. I always thought the whole point of a pilot program was to test its effectiveness, but I see nothing in the article to indicate whether that has happened.

    By Blogger MDS, at 12:30 PM  

  • I always thought the whole point of teaching English in schools is so that as many people in the country have a common language so we can all understand each other rather than fragmenting into various dialects which obstruct productivity.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 2:14 PM  

  • Me too.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:52 PM  

  • Maybe the program will be an ESL program of sorts. When you think of the evolution of language and compare languages that have evolved out of the same mother tounge, you see what defines them as a seperate language. Often the differences between languages such as Dutch, German, and Danish or Italian and Spanish are slight: different conjugation of the verb, a different spelling, a different accent. When you compare these things to Ebonics, you see that in time, it too has the makings of a new language. I'm not saying that the district should actually offer classes in Ebonics, but ESL type instruction may be more beneficial than standardized English classes. I personally think that it would be a waste of money to actually offer classes in Ebonics, as anyone who succeeds in classes taught in Ebonics will still fail in the economy of America.

    By Blogger RyanSimatic, at 7:01 PM  

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