Sunday, February 20, 2005

Dr Ronald Ferguson of Harvard talked about the achievement gap in schools between black and white students on Tony Brown's Journal on PBS yesterday. I know, I know, just reading that pulled a lot of chains in your mind but it was informative and objective.

Dr. Ferguson has studied the achievements of black and white students in the school systems of Ann Arbor, MI, and Shaker Heights, OH. Both are cities where both the white and black parents are upper middle class, yet the gap still exists.

Some conclusions:

1. Black and white students study about the same amount of time.

2. Black students watch twice as much television.

3. Black students, although middle class, start out without the verbal and reasoning skills of the whites.

4. Black parents tend to think they have done their part just by getting their children into the outstanding school systems.

5. Black and white children believe equally in the importance of education.

6. Black children believe blacks are as capable of achievement as whites.

Some surprisings findings there and there is good news and bad.

The television watching is particularly interesting. The more white friends a black has the less television he watches. The more black friends a white has the more he watches television.

The researcher asked the black students why they watched so much TV; they replied to "get material." Evidently that is what they talk about among themselves so they watch to have something to say.

(This is not just a black phenomenon. Has anyone studied it among white widows? This sounds like Julia and I. )

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