The Best of Our Knowledge
11:43 am
Mon February 19, 2007

The Best of Our Knowledge # 857

Albany, NY – A FREED PEOPLE'S EDUCATION: LEARNERS, CLASSROOMS AND TEACHERS -
In U.S. communities, where African-American students achieve well academically, many fear being labeled as acting white. In fact, Dr.
Roland Fryer, an economics professor at Harvard, has completed an
empirical analysis of the concept of acting white. Dr. Fryer has
published papers on that, as well as the racial achievement gap and
affirmative action. His data-based work was profiled in The New York
Times and The Washington Post. So to get a better historical perspective,
we went back in time, to examine the roots as Alex Haley referred to it in
his popular book and television series. We found Dr. Ron Butchart, a
Professor of Elementary and Social Studies Education at the University of Georgia in Athens. Dr. Butchart is involved in a life long project that began
as a dissertation, and which has now resulted in a grant from the Spenser Foundation. It's to study the formal education of freed slaves in the
American South between 1861 and 1875. His published research, thus far,
has found that when blacks were freed from slavery, they were craving
education. Dr. Ron Butchart's project is called, A Freed People's
Education: Learners, Classrooms and Teachers. It's an historical study of teachers who worked among former slaves, the schools, and the students. Historians found the American Civil War, and the decade following it,
ushered in one of the nation's most dramatic changes in formal education.
Within weeks of the opening shots, two and a half centuries of denying
education to African-Americans in the South came to an abrupt halt, as
freed slaves by the thousands sought out teachers and built schools
wherever union forces took control. Dr. Butchart tells TBOOK that after emancipation, African-Americans were not at all concerned with being
seen as acting white.
Jim Horne reports. (10:00)

EDUCATION HEADLINES AND UPDATES -

- Report from the National Center for Education Statistics says a
disproportionate percentage of degrees from for-profit colleges go
to black graduates. While black students earn 8.9% of bachelor's
degrees in the U.S., that number swells to 15% of the degrees
conferred by for-profit universities.

- Meanwhile, another study. This one by the Department of Education,
found that black and Asian students are less likely than their white
counterparts to get a degree from a top-ranked university. And
according to that same study, this puts them at a disadvantage in
the job market.

- Mideast violence has impacted academia once more. Two students
were shot to death and 35 others injured in clashes that broke out in
Lebanon, on the campus of Beirut Arab University.
Dr. Karen Hitchcock reports. (1:05)

LANGUAGE AS A CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE
From The SERIES: THE LANGUAGE OF LEARNING -
Bilingual education is inextricably linked with immigration, race, and class,
as a civil rights issue in the U.S., particularly in California. In June of 2005,
the Coachella Valley Unified School District in California sued the State of California to force the state to test new immigrants in their native language.
No Child Left Behind, the federal education law allows this. But California
law requires testing only in English after first grade. At least nine other
school districts have since signed onto the lawsuit. TBOOK just spoke with
the complainant's attorney in that case. She says a hearing is set for this
April 23rd. The lawsuit could take on national significance for the nearly
6-million limited English proficient students, also referred to as English
learners. In school districts where the population of English learners is
high, overall, school scores may reflect such a low average that, in NCLB
terms, they become classified as an underperforming school. That's why
at lease nine other states, also with large numbers of English learners, have already incorporated primary language tests and factored other
accommodations into their NCLB accountability system. Now, nine years
after California voters approved Proposition 227 and state lawmakers
sanctioned the California high school exit exam, many educators feel that
test and others remain divisive and are being battled in the courts. In this
part of the California Report's series called, The Language of Learning, we
hear why opponents say the exam jeopardizes the future of low-income
students and English learners and why supporters say the high standards
set by the graduation tests are the best way to level the playing field.
Future segments in this award-winning series will feature Dual Language Immersion and Teaching the Teachers.
Kathryn Baron reports (5:29)