Tired of labels.

Ed Whitfield, in an op/ed to the Carolina Peacemaker, points out some failings with one of Guilford County Schools’ college based high school programs.  Ed makes the case that different students needs must be met in differing ways, but each child is equally important.  I agree with him wholeheartedly.  If he had left it at that I would have no quarrel, but he did not.

Since August I, and many other parents, have been involved in trying to solve what we consider to be some serious discipline problems at Aycock Middle School.  Many emails have been exchanged and several meetings have been held in an effort to curb what many think to be an intolerable situation with a few disruptive students. 

In an apparent reference to this letter to Aycock Principal William Price, Whitfield writes, “I have seen e-mail messages from distraught white parents who talked about the need to put one of the middle schools under “martial law” in order to prevent disrupters from keeping other students from learning. This doesn’t strike me as being a very intelligent approach, and it smacks a great deal of racism and elitism.” 

Mr. Whitfield needs to know that the committee of parents who drafted the letter are not all white, nor are the disrupters all black.  How he thought he could discern skin color from email messages is a mystery to me.  The letter he refers to was only one in a long string of attempts to get attention concentrated on a very serious problem at Aycock which, as of this writing, has lessened considerably.

Whitfield asks, “What is the significance of some students learning and others not?”  I don’t usually answer a question with a question but, “Why should an entire classroom’s learning be stunted because of the disruptive behavior of the few?”

One child’s learning should not suffer because some other child chooses not to learn.  Both children’s educations are equally important but the problems that precipitated the emails and meetings were keeping both children from getting what they need to be successful.  School policies that keep habitually disruptive children in the classroom do not strike me “as a very intelligent approach”

Please explain what is “racist” or “elitist” about removing habitually disruptive students from the classroom?  I tire of such labels and submit that Whitfield’s references to concerned and “distraught” parents (“they”) is prejudiced and “smacks a great deal of racism”. 

Whitfield assumes that only white parents could possibly have the “chutzpah” to demand steps that they think a school should take to create a proper learning environment and he suggests that only “they” re-examine their approach to the problems.  Does he not believe it possible that black parents are just as concerned, obligated and empowered (and misguided in his opinion) as “they” are?

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