Saturday, July 30, 2005

If you aren't for Multiculturalism in the classroom, you are a racist bastard.

.........or so the attitude that I'm getting from my Multiculturalism class that I'm taking to get my CLAD.
Sure Darren, go ahead and smile. You too Polski. You both gave me fair warning.

So I'm 4 weeks into the class and I've been called the following:
-a racist
-a bigot
-a capitalist pig
-a supporter of American imperialism (I have no idea why)
-a symptom of the institutional Racism so prevalent at American schools.
-a supporter of corporate America (then he listed Enron, WorldCom, Bechtel, and Halliburton as my choice picks)
-an ignorant supporter of racial profiling

and that is only from answering one question, What are the implications for today's immigrants?

Here was my answer,verbatimm:

It would seem that in today's America, one canĂ‚’t talk about immigration without being labeled a racist. If a person feels that the United States should close the border with Mexico, then that person is obviously racist against Mexicans. For this prompt, let us drop the idea of race, and focus about the realistic past, present and future for U.S. immigrants.

-The argument that "because this nation was founded and built on immigrants, then the United States should remain totally open to immigrants" is both naive and unrealistic. Every nation has a point at which the problems of immigration begin to outweigh the benefits that they provide. The battle for that line of cost/benefit is constantly being waged in California, where the states primary economic staple is harvested by the sweat of immigrant labor. However, the cost to the state is tremendous. Illegal immigrants are flooding into the state, creating a huge strain on infrastructure and social welfare programs. Eventually, a method must be found to make immigrants give more to the greater piece of the pie, because the current incarnation of social welfare for immigrants is destroying local governments.

-Thoughts about immigrants changed with 9/11. With the southern boarder of the United States so porous, terrorist access to U.S. soil is as simple flying to Mexico City, driving to the border, and walking across. Fair or not, laws that demand more from immigrants will continue to be passed in the near future as the current influx of immigrants poses a threat to national security. With laws like the Real ID Act (driver's license only to citizens), immigrants will have more difficulty successfully assimilating into society. Other laws in states have also began to press immigrants even further. Arizona, California, and New Mexico have created laws that punish companies that hire illegal immigrants, although Arizona is the only state that is actively enforcing the law.

-As national and local security become more and more of an issue, racial profiling will become prevalent. In my opinion, it is only logical until the respective communities decide to take it upon themselves to start solving problems. Nationally, the Muslim community (particularly Arab or Persian) has not been as valiant as it needs to be to stop Islamic extremism. The U.S. government responds by taking it upon themselves to racially profile Arab or Persian people. The question is whether the concept of profiling is worth the security it can provide. My answer would be yes. The same goes for local government policies towards gangs. The Latino community has a horrible problem with gangs that has now spread over the border into the United States. In Mexico and Guatemala, these gangs run rampant. In the United States, evidence of gang activity have multiplied over the last 8 years. Until the Latino community clamps down on the gang activity, local police departments (and high school administrations) are more adept to profile Latino males that dress or act in a certain fashion. Again the question is asked; is this profiling worth the safety and security of towns or school campuses. Again, my answer is yes. Tom Friedman said it best, "If we lived in a perfect world, profiling wouldn't exist. I can't think of anyone who likes profiling. But if Muslim nations don't start policing themselves, deciding to act against the element that is killing innocent people, then what choice do we have?"

However insensitive it might seem, these are decisions that the cities, states and the nation must make regarding immigrants and immigration.

I don't think that those statements are out of line at all. However, people go nuts over them. I'll ask you then, are they out of line?

Today it became a classroom issue and I'm interested in the response I get from my post. The question:
Taking as a given that simply good teaching already addresses student needs, in what ways might race and ethnicity influence the way you teach?

My answer:

If I am a good teacher, then race and ethnicity will not influence the way that I teach. I'm not saying that I wouldn't be sensitive to the issues surrounding race and ethnicity, but I'm not going to change my teaching style, something that I think I have been successful with, for the sake of race or ethnicity. Would I change my teaching style because my classroom has more girls than boys? Would I change my style if the class had more poor than rich kids, or more fat kids than skinny kids?
A good teacher in a good classroom will be sensitive to the needs of all the students, but teach in a way is successful for the maturation (academically, socially, emotionally) of all the students. This means that the SDAIE concept of Bridging is used so that the Students and the Teacher can find a link with backgrounds and the subject matter, but not because the student is of a different race. It would be done with all students.
In the end, students all have academic issues that need to be addressed, and those will be met on a student by student basis. Not all students of a different ethnicity have problems with English, and therefore don't need the support. At the same time, primary language students have a 3rd grade reading level and need more support. The issue is not race.
To be perfectly honest, this is a very bad question (speaking in an academic sense). It assumes that a teacher who thinks thdominantominent culture is the best for student's academic success is a bad teacher. I'm of the opinion that other than being sensitive to the needs of the student, a teacher is doing that student an injustice if they decide that learning takes a backseat to constantly tip-toeing around the norms of other cultures. Some of you will call this Institutional Racism. I disagree with not only that statement, but also the definition stated in the textbook. Not everything that is unfair or difficut for other cultures in the United States is racially motivated. In fact, I would say that race is much less of a motivating factor than is constantly charged. Must we forget that it responsibilitysiblity of the immigrant to adjust dominantominent culture? It is nresponsibilitysiblity of the system, which is also successful, to deprive its citizens on account of a culture that does not share all of the same mores and norms.

Let me stress thasensitiveenstive to the backgrounds of all of my students. Saying that, I was pissed about this question and the direction that the class is going in. It's as if teachers are supposed to feel that the educational system is inherently racist and that teachers are supposed to teach poor immigrant children different than poor white children.
Comments please. If I am way off base, tell me. While you are at it, explain to me how this isn't simply a bunch of politically correct crap.
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