About Gail Thompson Dr. Gail Thompson is a professor at Claremont University and an educational consultant for numerous school districts. Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book.
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One day, during the time that I was writing this book, I watched an interesting episode of Tyra Banks's television show. On this particular episode, which focused on stereotypes and racism, Tyra interviewed several adults and children. One group of interviewees consisted of a white family—a mother, father, and their two children.
Although the children were only in elementary school, the parents had already programmed them to believe negative stereotypes about African Americans and Jews, and the parents made many blatantly racist remarks on the show. Back Institutional Login Please choose from an option shown below. Need help logging in?
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Click here. Don't have access? The difference age makes is evident in Ronnette's immediate family; her sister attended Packer from kindergarten through fifth grade "until the school started to scapegoat her blackness"—blaming academic or social difficulties to her race. Ronnette attributes this to her sister's age. For example, a parent is "invited," as Brown calls it, to meet with a teacher about their child's difficulty in some area. Then a breakdown occurs: The teacher assumes the parent has understood the message and will do what needs to be done; thinking the coast is clear, the parent or guardian changes nothing about their child's routine; the student's work or place at the school suffers until some, more drastic, action is necessary; the parent or guardian and teachers blame each other.
From Ronnette's standpoint, situations like these occur because schools lack experience relating to young, minority children and their families. It sucks because my mom struggles to reconcile the [overall] positive experience that I had, and the struggles my sister went through at the same place. After all, I don't believe kids should remain segregated until puberty. What is more feasible is for administrators to very thoroughly explain the culture of the school to incoming parents of color, and for parents of color to internalize those messages and not simply jump at the best financial aid package or best-name school.
Every school will have small class sizes, attentive teachers, and provide personalized college recommendations when the time comes. But not every school will wrestle with the same books in English class, or have a strong focus on the arts, or top-level sports teams.
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Sitra, a friend of mine and fellow Chapin alum, learned about the challenges of attending an independent school from a young age, as well as the variability of schools within the system. She graduated from the Grace Church School in eighth grade before going to Chapin for high school. Sitra hails from East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and entered Grace in pre-kindergarten when she was four years old.
The school accepted several church employees' children and helped to devise suitable financial aid packages for them, so Sitra was acquainted with one other boy whose father worked with on the custodial staff with her own. Overall, Sitra's time at Grace was positive in fact, after we became friends at Chapin, her Phoebe-esque phrase, "At Grace, things were so different…" was a familiar refrain , but she occasionally felt singled out or overlooked in ways that were subtly tied to her background.
In kindergarten, Sitra told a teacher that she knew how to read, and was "completely brushed off"—but a white student who made the same pronouncement was supported and encouraged. Eventually, another teacher realized the other's error and told Sitra that she would get to read to the entire class. Even at four years old, Sitra knew what had happened.
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Seun and Idris also pick up on the ways that they are different from their peers, and it affects their self-esteem. Seun tries to brush the brown out of his gums so that they will be "pink" like those of his white friends. Idris is penalized for getting into a fight with a white student he says he did not start—then penalized again for "lying" about it. Like the boys in American Promise , Sitra struggled with her identity at Grace, wanting "badly" to fit in when she was young, but also wanting to have her experience reflected in the curriculum in some way.
The book takes place in a different city, Chicago, but the protagonist, Esperanza, is also from a working-class, immigrant family. Sitra read the book excitedly, feeling like she understood the story "on so many levels. I didn't have to be silent about who I am, or ashamed to be different, because there are people who do talk about their differences and are accepted into society. We were reading one of their books in English class. Leaving Grace for Chapin was difficult. There wasn't necessarily more racial diversity at Sitra's first school, but there was "definitely more" socioeconomic diversity at the time.
For one thing, because of its location in the East Village, Grace students were present during the gentrification of the Bowery and the Lower East Side. Parents that sent their kids to Grace were also "super-duper wealthy," but many of them were artists and a bit more liberal, so they taught their kids about inequality.
In American Promise , one Dalton administrator claims that the independent school experience presents a "greater cultural disconnect [for] African-American boys" than it does for African-American girls. Lisa Waller addressed the remark saying, "I don't know that that comparison can be made or how that could be parsed by gender. Different people will manifest their sense of cultural disconnect differently should they happen to have it. He agreed that the question is a nuanced one. Boys and girls learn differently and have different social interactions.
What is more important is the fact that both men and women struggle in the same ways—but I think it looks different. I have never been incredibly graceful—and I felt even less so at Chapin as the tall, solid black girl who galumphed around in scuffed Nike hi-tops and wore my brother's sweatbands as accessories. Though I was mostly comfortable with myself, I was always hyper-aware of the amount of space I took up, physically and emotionally. Even when being loud or excitable, I always tried hard not to seem angry or aggressive.
Collin's experience as a black boy at an all-boys' school was very different.
Collin's parents were new to the country when he was born. They sent him back to Antigua to be raised by family until they were able to support him in their new home in New York, and he returned to the States when he was five. Collin's mother was particularly uncompromising with regard to his education.
In public school, "a lot of privileges went along with being the smart guy," even when Collin was rambunctious. He continued to do well academically at Collegiate and forged close relationships with several teachers. But he always felt "very noticeably black. So he fought. That changed after an incident in his sophomore year of high school.
Collin was playing ping pong with friends in the student lounge, and another student entered and took the paddle from him, declaring that it was his turn. Collin's friends demanded that the boy give it back—it wasn't his turn and, if Collin wanted to, he could take it back by force since he was bigger. Still, Collin insisted that it wasn't worth it and let it go; the other student agreed. It was like he was saying, 'My grandparents' grandparents went to Harvard, so my life is set. You got this one chance, but if you fuck it up you've got nothing to fall back on.
When Minority Students Attend Elite Private Schools
Though Collin says he knows female friends at other independent schools had similar problems, he doubts that he would have gotten into as many—or any—confrontations if he were female. A heightened degree of physicality or back-talk, or confrontation, or subversion is already expected from boys more than it is from girls; physical altercations may be more common for boys of color because they are boys, not because they necessarily have more difficulty adjusting to independent schools than black girls do.
Not every girl who smiles, or appears unfazed, is actually okay. American Promise uncovers the constant build up and breakdown of parents' expectations over the course of their independent-school journey.
Idris imagines that varsity basketball will be a highlight of his Dalton experience, and is crushed when he doesn't make the team. After being diagnosed with a learning disability, Seun and his parents Tony and Stacey Summers hope that he'll be able to succeed at Dalton with extra support, but his grades fall too low to continue at the school beyond eighth grade. Even after her son's disappointing experience, Stacey Summers wonders how it will be possible to go from Dalton to another school.
Still, Seun enrolls in the public, mostly-black Benjamin Banneker Academy where he meets nurturing administrators and pursues travel opportunities.
After what looks like a typically stressful college-application experience, Idris is rejected from his dad's alma mater, Stanford, and enrolls in Occidental College. I asked Idris's parents if, in hindsight, they believe their expectations of Dalton were unrealistic. What we have become increasingly aware of is that there are multiple developmental skills with which we must monitor our sons: Are they empathetic?
http://fensterstudio.ru/components/cymujufi/jeh-localizar-numero-do.php Do they care about other people?