Saturday, July 23, 2005

Rarely Be Da Question Axed -- Izzle Our Chizzle Learnizzle?

Sociologists are trying to get the San Bernardino school district to add ebonics to its curriculum.

Incorporating Ebonics into a new school policy that targets black students, the lowest-achieving group in the San Bernardino City Unified School District, may provide students a more well-rounded curriculum, said a local sociologist.

The goal of the district's policy is to improve black students' academic performance by keeping them interested in school. Compared with other racial groups in the district, black students go to college the least and have the most dropouts and suspensions.

Oh, well shit, why don't we just get X-Boxes for everyone, if we're worried about keeping them from getting bored? Anything that's not entertaining is certainly not worth doing, and learning is just so boring.

A pilot of the policy, known as the Students Accumulating New Knowledge Optimizing Future Accomplishment Initiative, has been implemented at two city schools.

Okay, how's that been working? Who-what-where-when-why, people. Look into it. I have a feeling that there may be a reason why no figures regarding test scores or overall success rate are forthcoming from SANKOFAI -- an acronym which itself is a little-known ebonics term, usually referring to a beat-up Honda Prelude that has a $6000 set of rims and a 900-watt stereo system with 12" subwoofers.

Example: "Yo' sankofai is mad bumpin', dawg! An' check out them muthafuckin' rims!

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.'

Actually it is slang, not a formalized language with grammatical structure and proprietary linguistic patterns. It is largely a collection of modified words and phrase patterns to keep The Man from understanding what people are talking about. This is not exactly a secret.

How do I know? I spent every summer from 1975-1985 in either Compton, Bellflower, or Phoenix, being the only white kid in predominantly black neighborhoods. Some of the best moments of my childhood were spent standing ont he street corner in Compton doing the "dozens" [yo mama jokes]. I'm not sayin' I'm O.G. or anything, but I know the people, I know the culture, and I know enough about linguistics in general to know that "ebonics" is a scam perpetrated by sociology departments looking to validate a perceived inferiority complex (and to make it look like they're doing something).

Look, it's simple -- ebonics is a regionalism just like American Southern Crackerspeak is. Now, do we want to start incorporating various crackerisms and malaprops like "nucular" into a formalized educational structure, or should we gently remind people that no one besides Death Row Records has a paying position for someone who talks like a rapper?

Len Cooper, who is coordinating the pilot program at the two city schools, said San Bernardino district officials do not plan to incorporate Ebonics into the program.

"Because Ebonics can have a negative stigma, we're not focusing on that,' Cooper said. "We are affirming and recognizing Ebonics through supplemental reading books (for students).'

Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, teachers will receive training on black culture and customs. District curriculum will now include information on the historical, cultural and social impact of blacks in society. Although the program is aimed at black students, other students can choose to participate.

So it's all about the affirmation.

Teresa Parra, board vice president, said she worried the new program would have an adverse effect.

"I'm afraid that now that we have this the Hispanic community, our largest population, will say, 'We want something for us.' Next we'll have the Asian community and the Jewish community (asking for their own programs). When will it end?'

This is exactly it. The ebonics debate has been going on for years, obviously, and it is really just the usual identity politics writ small. If they worried half as much about getting these kids to read (which generally requires having parents who read), they'd be doing these kids a much bigger favor. Instead they want to cater to their assumptions about the kids' self-esteem.

Ratibu Jacocks, a member of the Westside Action Group, a coalition of black activists, said they are working with the district to ensure the policy is implemented appropriately.

"This isn't a feel-good policy. This is the real thing,' Jacocks said.

Jacocks said he didn't believe the new policy would create animosity. He said he welcomed the idea of other ethnic groups pushing for their own programs.

"When you are doing what's right, others will follow,' Jacocks said. "We have led the way before the civil-rights movement opened the door for women's rights and other movements.'

There is a huge difference between ensuring that minorities and women have equal rights in society, and wasting taxpayer dollars in an already disintegrating California public school system catering to kids who don't speak very good English. Quit wasting my money massaging their egos and teach them something useful, for Christ's sake, so they can have productive careers and more opportunities available to them.

[via gsand at The Perfect World.]

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