Even though America is now led by Barack Obama, it does not mean that United States is free from racism. Stereotyping, discrimination, marginalization, and oppression still exist in this country, especially in Urban Schools. There have been a lot of approaches applied to create equality and equity in the society and schools, but we can still feel the invisible boundary between minority and majority, poor and rich, white and color, etc. We can still hear and read from media about the discrimination of race, gender, faith, social status, and the like, occurred in schools. We tend to blame the gangster, criminals, and misbehaved students as the merely source of the problem in the Urban area or in the Urban Schools. As educators, we are too lazy to find out what have made them doing so-called criminalization or misbehaved conducts. In this paper I discuss: problems faced by minority students and what causes them, some approaches to solve the problems, and what impact to my school in Indonesia.
Minority Students’ Problem
The common problems faced by the minority students are the stereotyping against them as the low achiever, the criminal offender, and having language barriers. These three problems are emerged in almost every readings and videos I learned these few weeks.
Low Achievement. Minority students, especially African American students who have less attention from their parents due to the hard jobs and low parents education seem to have lower achievement comparing to the white students (Lareau, 2000). Villenas and Deyhle (1999), revealed that minority student tend to receive low teacher expectations, place in low-level classes, and receive a boring curriculum. I support the idea of Lareau (2000), and Villenas and Deyle (1999), that the minority students (students of color and low family income students) are categorized as the students who are below the bubble. Even though the fact is not true, since there are a lot of black students who then become leaders in this country, such as Condoleezza Rice and Barrack Obama.
Criminality. The video “Bloods and Crips, Made in America” shows us the stereotyping of black community as criminal groups and the invisible social barriers between black and white community. Black people were rejected in every activities of White, therefore some black people created groups as the way to protest the situations. In line with this, Brewer and Heitzeg (2007), wrote that the poor and the people of color, especially African Americans, are dramatically overrepresented at every phase of the criminal justice system. Thus, the criminalization and incarceration against minority is increasing. Michelle Alexander (2010), in her presentation argued about the criminal justice system occurs in the US against black people: 1. Labeling people of color as criminals, 2. Increasing number of incarceration of black men, 3. Using drug conviction as a way to justify incarceration, and 4. Using slavery by other name. Both videos “Blood and Crips, Made in America” and “Michelle Alexander” has opened my eyes that the criminal justice has become a serious problem in the US. I used to watch the gangsters from the TV and blindly blame the black Americans as the source of the problems. But these two videos have made me understand, that there are a lot of factors that forced African American to create gangsters. One of the causes is the discrimination and oppression against them, which is legalized by law.
Language barriers. Villenas and Deyhle (1999), argued that the language barriers could create castificication, marginalization, and oppression. I do agree with the idea of Villenas and Deyhle that language can create castification among studnets. The majority people will obviously make a distance for those who have language difficulty to interact with the prevailing students. I have felt these kinds of problems, when I felt some of my colleagues in the department create a distance with me, because I am an international students.
I have a belief that every student has the same capability and competency. The only problem is that they do not have the same chance. In this case, the different chances that students have are: 1. The lack of parents’ attention. The video “Bloods and Crips: Made in America” uncovered that most of the gangster’s ex-members admitted that they used to have less attention from their parents, because: their parents were to busy to make money, most of them were born in the single mother parent, and most of them are uneducated parents., 2. Low parental involvement at school. There are two reasons behind the lack of parental involvement at school. First, this is because the lack of capability of the principal to engage parent at school. And secondly, there is no awareness from the parents about schooling. The parental involvement is very important to support the students’ success. Therefore, both principals and teachers should understand how to engage parents to the school world.
There has been a lot of research revealed the importance of the parental involvement to the minority students. There are also some evidences that a lot of Urban Schools are successful because they are able to empower the parents to the schools’ life. Khalifa (2012), suggested that a principal should be able to enhance social and academic lives of children by serving as a school and a community leader. In line with this, Noguera (2004), contended that the form of involvement is not merely calling parents to be more caring to the students and more supportive to teachers, rather creating a developing partnerships based upon mutual accountability and responsibility. Besides, Lorreu (2000), asserted that principal should be able to engage parents no matter what social status of the parents are. From those definitions of parental involvement, I can conclude that parental involvement is the approach done by both principal and teachers to empower parents to work together in every single effort to achieve the school goals together.
How to increase parental involvement?
Khalifa (2012), wrote at least two approaches of a school principal to engage parental involvement: a. establishing a strong community presence to create community trust (by creating opportunities for parents to come into the schools, and through community-based advocacy, doing home visit, visiting a church, leading a rally against racism in schools, etc.), and b. Placing the community issues at the center of school (community partnership goals, and advocating for community-based goals). Lareau (2000), argued that since parental involvement is depend on social status, the government need to intervene the social condition to increase the social status of low-income family. Noguera (2004), contended that parental empowerment can be achieved by: respecting and acknowledging parents as partners in education of their children, providing them with organizational support, enabling the, to channel their interests to the benefit of the school, and helping government to realize some programs to change their social reality.
Connection to My School
The authors from both videos and articles have reminded me to the actions of my school principal in Indonesia. He has done a very good job in dealing with the parental involvement. There are some activities that he has done, such as: joining religious meetings every Thursday night in the community, joining traditional neighborhood watch on duty, doing home visits, and inviting parents to the school meeting. However, the actions done by my school principals are limited to the traditional parental involvement. For example, the meeting that held by schools is only the meeting about how parents can donate some money for school. There have not been activities that can create the mutual respects and responsibilities of the school goals. If I become the school leader some days, I will promote the idea of the authors that I read these weeks to be applied to my school.
In conclusion, to solve the common problems faced by minority students (low achievement, criminality, and language barriers), the school principal should be able to lead the building to work together to engage the parental involvement to the school life. Because based on the articles and videos these weeks, the school can work effectively when the principals, teachers, students, and parents can work together to accomplish the school goals (students achievement).
Lareau, A. (2000). Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education. New York: Rowan and Littlefield. (2nd edition)
Villenas & Deyhle. (1999). Critical race theory and ethnographies challenging the stereotypes: Latino families, schooling resilience and resistance. Curriculum Inquiry
Brewer & Heitzg. (2008). The racialization of crime and punishment: Criminal justice, color-blind racism, and the political economy of the prison industrial complex. American Behavioral Scientist.
Khalifa, M. (2012). A e-new-ed paradigm in successful urban school leadership: Principal as community leader. Educational Administration Quarterly.
Noguera, P. A. (2004) Transforming urban schools through investments in the social capital of parents. New York, New York: In Motion Magazine.
- Michelle Alexander: Dec. 15, 2010 at BCCC
- 2. Blood and crips: Made in America