White privilege is most potent when denied

  • Article by: MICHAEL SPANGENBERG
  • Updated: March 14, 2012 - 8:56 PM

Seeking to understand students' cultures and challenges isn't ridiculous, or even controversial.

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regularxMar. 14, 1210:01 PM

Thanks for a terrific article, Mr. Spangenberg. I'm so glad you're working in our schools. We need more people like you!

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SnippetMar. 14, 1210:10 PM

This whole "white privilege" argument is beyond wrong. Wrong would be an imrovement. It's upside down and backwards. Once you tell a student that it is not his responsibility to learn from and deal with any teacher (within reason), but rather the teacher's responsibility to understand the unique cultural/ethnic/personal situation of each student and respond accordingly, the gig is totally up. First of all, it is not possible. Second of all, there is simply no evidence that it is necessary. The best performing students are consistently from cultures that white teachers probably don't understand very well at all (China, Korea, India, Japan). No one tells these kids that they can't perform until their "privileged" teachers understand their culture. They would find the argument laughable if they stopped studying for long enough to waste a few moments contemplating it.

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pumiceMar. 14, 1210:34 PM

Re: "Certainly, improving parent education and early education programs, improving teacher training and evaluation systems, increasing the compensation and prestige of teachers, [developing Cultural Competency, extending the school day, extending the school year], and holding high expectations for students, parents and educators alike are among those solutions." Ah but, Michael Spangenberg, the operative question is "Which solutions can be implemented without increasing the cost of education?"

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presscottMar. 14, 1210:46 PM

Snippet: You are full of it. You've set up strawman arguements to refute. Nobody tells students they don't have to learn from their teachers. Where did you ever see or read such a thing? And what does China or India have to do with the black and native american students of this country who have lived with generations of unremitting bias and prejudice?

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rarmstrongMar. 14, 1211:02 PM

Presscot: Snippet is correct. The "non-privileged" (whatever that means) are going to have to live in the real world. Creating an artificial world within the school system, and teaching them how to live in that, might make them (or their teachers) feel good, but it only leaves them un-prepared when they eventually leave that artificial world and face the real one. Unless, of course, you believe that it is the responsibility of government to modify the real world into the artificial world of the school system. Heaven help us.

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ginny6Mar. 14, 1211:05 PM

Amen, Michael, thanks for the insightful commentary.

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countyobMar. 14, 1211:14 PM

@Snippet has already ably demonstrated that your need for the teacher to have cultural understanding argument doesn't seem to hold water where motivated asian students are concerned. So I'll just dispose of the alleged "white privileges" you got from Peggy McIntosh. "These benefits, as Peggy McIntosh has explained, include the ability to move to a neighborhood where you would want to live without worrying about apprehension from neighbors based on your race;" This is not so much a matter of white privilege as a general awareness that, historically, many communities declined as blacks gradually replaced whites. That concern doesn't seem to apply to middle-class asians moving in. "the ability to consume media that widely represents your race in a positive light;" There is media that caters to blacks so this concern may be overblown. "the ability to buy a bandage that matches your skin color," They are available now. "and the ability to send your kids to a quality school with teachers and students who share their background" I don't think all whites have this privilege, either. Also, the quality of a school is affected by the quality of the students.

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minn12Mar. 15, 12 1:24 AM

I knew his arguments were bogus at the point where he complained about the 'higher rates of suspension for students of color'. This is a classic liberal trick, designed to show racial bias where none actually exists. The REAL question, that he is apparently afraid to ask, is do minority students commit suspension offenses at a greater rate than other students. It doesn't matter what a student's race is, if they misbehave and break the rules, they get suspended. If students of one race commit more offenses, and therefore get suspended more often than other students, that does NOT show bias. Kersten, although hated by liberals, is right on the money about this new 'industry' of 'cultural competence' being bogus. If you are a teacher, treat everyone the same, and do not make excuses for bad behavior by anyone. Seems pretty simple to me.

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montaguezxMar. 15, 12 2:39 AM

Ms. Kersten's job is to emphasize the simplistic view of extremists in order to validate a political point of view. Ridiculous? yes it is. Fortunately we have people like the author of this article who goes forward and carries the load while the Kersten's of this world are content to bloviate and revel in their self imposed ignorance of reality.

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ammunraMar. 15, 12 4:55 AM

Snippet -- Let me ask you: Which is easier? Expecting an 8 year old to understand various mitigating background factors with regards to teaching and then adapt appropriately, or expecting a 30 year old to do so with regards to learning and adapt to it? Also, your argument concerning Asian students is not quid pro quo, because Japanese students happen to be the majority in Japan, etc.

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