Part 1 of “Dealing with Dysfunction”
Another of Mr. Teacher’s idiosyncrasies is his view on race. Although he does not explicitly identify his ethnicity, apparently he is a White man. And despite having plenty of real-world experience dealing with Blacks and Browns he does not address race as a biological concept. When discussing the Program in International Student Assessment (PISA) that compares student academic achievement across national borders the author notes that “American educators produce similar outcomes as Finland and Korea when looking only at White and Asian students” (99). Okay, that is to be expected. But then he goes on to state that the PISA “results help to show that biology is not the leading or most significant cause for assessment differences between subgroups (eduspeak for races) because largely non-white United States Hispanics significantly outscore biologically ‘White’ Uruguayans” (101).
The above is pretty slim evidence to base a conclusion regarding the role of race in educational achievement. A closer look shows that AT’s comparison is not apt. While Uruguay is 88 percent White, that is within a Latin American context. In addition, Uruguay has a far smaller per capita income than the US, and spends a significant smaller percent of its GDP on education. As a result the South American country has a shorter school day, larger class sizes, and more basic educational facilities.
Strangely, later in the book the author gives evidence that race is a significant factor in educational outcomes.
Black Canadians are just 2.5 percent of the Canadian population. Black Canadian students in Toronto — the largest concentration of Blacks in any Canadian location — have a dropout rate of 40 percent — a much higher dropout rate than their Canadian peers. There is also a large scholastic achievement gap between Black Canadians and other Canadians (212).
In addition, AT notes that Black Canadian students have disproportionately high rates of absenteeism, suspension, and expulsion. So here you have two different countries with two different educational systems with the same racial disparities. This seem to be more convincing than the author’s Uruguay example. Mr. Teacher describes himself as an Orthodox Christian, and he affirms “God’s sovereign Will in human affairs” (213). He might not believe in biological evolution, which could explain his ambivalence on race. Read more