Re: A meeting on diversity in svs-model schools

Richard Bennett (Richard@Bennett.com)
Wed, 11 Sep 1996 15:11:51 -0800

On 11 Sep 96 at 17:11, anne romeyn pittman wrote:

> First of all, I feel as though the discussion has deteriorated into
> one about "bringing in" certain students or not. They are not
> educational materials to be "brought in" and no one here is
> suggesting coercion of any kind. I would agree that doing that
> would be self-serving, indeed immoral. I was trying to respond to
> the implication that many folks seems to make in their writing, that
> "we" (those who have a concern about the cultural homogeneity of
> schools) are acting out of "guilt" or charity or something.

I think the issue is whether recruiting efforts are to be guided by a
preconceived notion as to what types of children SHOULD be in the
school community, rather than which children (and families) WANT to
be in the school community or are likely to have an interest in this
kind of education already.

Long before you identify children by racial, religious, gender, and
age categories you have made a judgement that you are in a position
to design the perfect mix. Maybe you are in this position, maybe you
aren't; it seems to me one has to have god-like powers of induction
to place oneself in this position. Moreover, I find this kind of
thinking antithetical to the spirit of the democratic school.

Once you've determined you need darker children in your school, or
younger students, or hairier or chubbier or poorer or quieter, are
you going to be content to let them do their own thing in the school
iteself, or are you going to be walking around with a clipboard
monitoring the color mix of all the interactions?

What are you going to do if you recruit a number of Colombian
students and find they hang around in a clique speaking Spanish all
the time and don't have anything to do with the white-skinned English
speakers? Are to going to "suggest" activities to make them mix?

And if the Colombians go the school meeting and insist on more books
written in Spanish, how much budget are you going to give them? If
the school majority objects, are you going to insist, on the basis of
defending your recruitment practices, that their rights have to be
protected and therefore 25% of the book (and software) budget has to
go to Spanish-language books?

I don't argue that it's bad to have diversity of color in our
schools. The problem I see is actively seeking a certain mix rather
than allowing everyone in on the same basis, with the same
expectations, and the same privileges.

Leave affirmative action to the government.

RB

--
Richard Bennett                                    Cupertino, CA