I have been following this thread with some interest, because it gets at what
seems to be a core conflict in U.S. society: to what extent are the individual
person or the collective society (which, in a democratic society is putatively the
government) responsible to correct social ills? We all agree, at least since the
Magna Carta, that a government bears some social responsibility for the welfare of
its people.

I'd like to make sure everyone here remembers that since the civil rights laws, in
the struggle for whose passage people gave their lives, this society has
guaranteed a right to equal opportunity. It is not something one must earn, and it
is not a gift; it is a basic human right.

It is not politically incorrect to say otherwise. It is simply incorrect.

Let's not confuse equal opportunity with equal capability. Let's also not confuse
excuses with explanations. Let's also not blame. I hope we're talking about
problems and solutions here, not blame and punishment.

Steve Runge
St. Lawrence U.
Canton, NY 13617
[log in to unmask]

Prof Lorraine Lavorata wrote:

> You are so right, these kids are not stupid, many of these inner-city kids are
> very smart, just unmotivated. They are not cultivated and motivated. They must
> be forced to rise to standards in order to have equal opportunity. Equal
> opportunity is not a gift, it is something we all must earn. France
> ===== Original Message From Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
> <[log in to unmask]> =====
> >I think the issue of whose "fault" it is that inner-city students
> >fail is complex.  I've sometimes had the impulse to blame them
> >and then realize that I had many advantages and supports from an
> >early age that they didn't have.  On the other hand, if we are
> >too indulgent and allow excuses we are not helping the students.
> >
> >I try to deal with this dilemma by getting away from the "who's
> >to blame" question.  I don't blame students for not having the
> >knowledge or wisdom to make the best choices.  But I do expect
> >them to rise to appropriate standards because I want them to have
> >a better chance.  Sometimes I get annoyed when they are not
> >receptive, but when I can put that aside and not judge them
> >personally I have more success at reaching them.
> >
> >I also try to remember that, at 16 or 17 when they make choices
> >about their high school track, they are still kids.  Incidentally,
> >Mike Rose's book _Lives on the Boundary_ makes a good case that
> >students really don't make these choices themselves but get
> >tracked at an early age by adults who do or don't believe in
> >them.  He tells his own story as a kid who was mistakenly put
> >in a "dumb" track because his scores got confused with another
> >kid with the same name, and by the time the error was discovered
> >he not only believed he wasn't smart, he had missed out on a
> >whole academic culture.  His parents, Italian immigrants without
> >a college education, didn't know how to question what had
> >happened.  He was saved by a teacher who believed
> >he was capable of catching up and going to college.  His book
> >has many interesting observations about developmental students
> >who are trying but who don't understand the norms of the academic
> >culture and what is expected, and ways that teachers can help
> >once they understand what this is about.
> >
> >It also helps me to realize that often the behavior we see is
> >masking students' fear of finding out that they are stupid.  (I see this
> >especially in math.)  That helps me to be more patient and to
> >reach those who are ready to take more risks.
> >
> >Annette Gourgey
> >[log in to unmask]
> Je pense, donc, je suis, Rene Descarte
> Chacun ont deux pays et un de ils est France, Benjamin Franklin
> vive la France