Overview, Book List, Links

  • “I have no Black students in any of my classes.” I was curious how that could be true given that over half the students in his school were Black. When I inquired about this, he said, “I don’t see race, so all my kids are the same to me.”

    I replied, “You may not want to acknowledge the reality of race in your classroom, but I can guarantee you that all of your Black students know you’re white.” I then shared my belief that race does not have to get in the way of our teaching, but when it is denied, it probably is in the way. ~Gary Howard~

    Culturally Responsive Teaching
    The Amherst Central School District is involved in an initiative regarding the topic of Culturally Responsive Teaching. Since the 2003-2004 school year hard work, research and planning has taken place to examine the particular struggles that African American children face in American schools and how those struggles impact their achievement.

    Why this group of students over others?
    Because this is a growing population of students in our district and district data reflects disproportionately high representation in Special Education, suspension, and drop-out numbers as well as disproportionately low representation in Honors and Advanced Placement classes. This is also reflective of a national trend and dilemma that cannot be ignored. There are many theories suggested as to why this is occurring and our work explores these, gives the participants an opportunity to self-reflect about their own lives, examine the history of the country, the census and the American Education system as well as offers practical strategies to professional staff to implement in their school with their students.


    Reading List

    "Black on White: Black Writers on What it Means to be White"
    by David R. Roediger
    Difficulty: Average
    American literature boasts a long history of white authors writing about blacks. From Harriet Beecher Stowe's abolitionist novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, to Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's controversial study of ethnicity and intelligence, The Bell Curve, the right of white writers to examine the lives of black people is accepted without comment. But where are the commentaries by black writers on white culture? They exist, to be sure--Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Zora Neale Hurston, to name just a few, have all written on the subject of "white folk"--but little if any of this work ever makes it into the consciousness of mainstream America. This new anthology might just change all that.

    "Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom"
    by Lisa Delpit
    Difficulty: Average
    Children of color, as well as poor children..."other people's children" are often victimized by school administrators and others who see "damaged and dangerous caricatures" instead of able youngsters who are capable of learning in a mainstream setting. This is the observation of Delpit, who has used her varied experience in schools from New Guinea to Alaska to better understand and resolve cultural clashes in American classrooms. In the provocative essays collected here, Delpit unfolds her views on teaching African American children, based on professional research and her own experience of school as an alien environment. Defining the goal of educators as celebration, not merely toleration, of diversity in the classroom, Delpit illustrates ways that teachers, including African Americans, can build on students' home cultures to help prepare them for life after school. The author's vision of alternative perspectives should stimulate rethinking the complexities of multicultural inclusiveness.

    "Revealing the Invisible: Confronting Passive Racism in Teacher Education"
    by Sherry Marx
    Difficulty: Average
    This book examines and confronts the passive and often unconscious racism of white teacher education students, offering a critical tool in the effort to make education more equitable. Sherry Marx provides a consciousness-raising account of how white teachers must come to recognize their own positions of privilege and work actively to create anti-racist teaching techniques and learning environments for children of color and children learning English as a second language.

    "The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children"
    by Gloria Ladson-Billings
    Difficulty: Average
    Although statistics paint a harsh picture of the education of African American children, Ladson-Billings (Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin) integrates scholarly research with stories of eight successful teachers in a predominantly African American school district to illustrate that the "dream" of all teachers and parents-academic success for all children-is alive and can be emulated. The presentation of examples from "intellectually rigorous and challenging classrooms" emphasizes the cultural and social aspects of the issues in education as a whole. The author's own experiences as a student and teacher of teachers support the need to make the problems of African American children a central issue in any debate on the American educational system.

    "The Mis-Education of the Negro"
    by Carter G. Woodson
    Difficulty: Average
    This book ought to be required reading for every teacher, educator, administrator, and parents who interact with children of African descent. Woodson's work helps us understand that African peoples are truly mis-educated. We largely receive an Eurocentric or White middle class, elitist education that by and large does not serve the needs of our communities.

    "We Can't Teach What We Don't Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools"
    by Gary R. Howard
    Difficulty: Average
    If you've ever been called racist by your students, but you think you're not, than this is a must read for you. Howard takes the reader on a journey of self discovery, helping the reader to understand the subtle and overt elements of racial discrimination that are present in today's schools. While "tools" or quick fixes are not presented, the book efficiently and concretely addresses the underlying assumptions that form the basis of US society and education systems that promote discrimination and maintain the status quo. The author uses his personal and historical experiences to illustrate the nature of white privilege, the assumption of rightness and normalcy.

    "We Can't Teach What We Don't Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools"
    by Gary R. Howard
    Difficulty: Average
    If you've ever been called racist by your students, but you think you're not, than this is a must read for you. Howard takes the reader on a journey of self discovery, helping the reader to understand the subtle and overt elements of racial discrimination that are present in today's schools. While "tools" or quick fixes are not presented, the book efficiently and concretely addresses the underlying assumptions that form the basis of US society and education systems that promote discrimination and maintain the status quo. The author uses his personal and historical experiences to illustrate the nature of white privilege, the assumption of rightness and normalcy.

    "Young, Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African American Students"
    by Theresa Perry, Claude Steele and Asa Hilliard III
    Difficulty: Average
    Young, Gifted, and Black is a unique joint effort by three leading African-American scholars to radically reframe the debates swirling around the achievement of African-American students in school. In three separate but allied essays, Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hilliard place students" social identity as African-Americans at the very center of the discussion. They all argue that the unique social and cultural position Black students occupy, in a society which often devalues and stereotypes African American identity, fundamentally shapes students" experience of school and sets up unique obstacles. And they all argue that a proper understanding of the forces at work can lead to practical, powerful methods for promoting high achievement at all levels.
    Links
    We are committed to systemic social change and the development of schools and communities which honor and value human diversity. -the REACH vision statement
     
    The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB), is a national and international collective of anti-racist, multicultural community organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social transformation. The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, affectionately known in the community as The People’s Institute, considers racism the primary barrier preventing communities from building effective coalitions and overcoming institutionalized oppression and inequities. Through Undoing Racism™/Community Organizing Workshops, technical assistance and consultations, PISAB helps individuals, communities, organizations and institutions move beyond addressing the symptoms of racism to undoing the causes of racism so as to create a more just and equitable society. 
     
    A varied site that offers an on-line magazine as well as many other resources addressing race.
     
    A nicely done YouTube video.
     
    A map that indicates state-by-state organized Hate Groups that are active in the United States. 
     
    "Our mission is to promote racial tolerance by helping people understand the historical and contemporary expressions of intolerance." Ferris State University. 
     
    PBS tutorial about the modern concept of Race
     
    An interactive PBS site about the legacy of slavery in the United States. Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people. Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, "Jim Crow" came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States.