Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Crisis In School Culture?

A new survey by opinion research group Public Agenda (info here) has found that many black and hispanic students often view school as a frightening, dangerous, and out-of-control place where little learning is going on:
It's not the kind of atmosphere most adults would find helpful if they needed to study and learn -- high dropout rates, kids promoted without learning, schools short on money, profanity and disrespect, fighting, drug and alcohol abuse. Yet these are "very serious" problems in schools, according to surprisingly large numbers of the nation's black and Hispanic students. These results are from Public Agenda's 2006 Reality Check surveys of parents, students, teachers and administrators nationwide.

According to the student survey, about three in ten black youngsters report very serious levels of disruption and unrest in their schools -- not just "somewhat serious," but "very serious." Black students (40%) are twice as likely as white students (18%) to say that "schools not getting enough money to do the job" is a very serious problem in their community. Nearly a third of black and Hispanic youngsters (29%) say that "only some" or "very few" of their teachers give students extra help when they fall behind, compared with one in five white students.

"Reality Check’s" surveys of students show repeated and troubling differences between the way minority youngsters describe their experiences in schools compared to what white students report. Asked to rate their schools on a range of key academic and social dimensions, black and Hispanic students are more likely to report "very serious" problems in nearly every category. Twenty-three percent of Hispanic students and 39% of black students say that kids dropping out is a very serious problem at their school, compared to 12% of whites. Likewise, 29% of Hispanics and 37% of blacks say truancy is a very serious problem, compared to 14% of whites.

Just half of black students (49%) believe that they will have the skills to succeed in college by the time they get there. And while it may be an unfortunate fact of modern life that youngsters across the board say problems like disrespect for teachers, profanity and drug and alcohol abuse are at least "somewhat serious" in their schools, these problems appear more prevalent and troubling for minority students. About 3 in 10 black students report very serious levels of unrest and distraction in their schools.
Read the whole eye-opening thing and see for yourself. MSM coverage here.
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