There’s a quote I often like to bring up.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” - Richard Buckminster Fuller
So, I kind of came up with this term, trickle-down education reform/innovation. To me it describes the process where the newest and experimental methods in schooling start off with well funded upper class and white students. Once these methods seem to do fairly well and traction is gained with the data, they are then slowly applied to more schools down the class line until they reach the low-income Black & Brown. When I was much more engaged in reading academic research, I noticed a trend where old realizations were just being or had yet been applied to schools.
Certainly there is an underwhelming amount of scholarly research done by Black and Brown people for Black and Brown people. That endeavor could certainly use more however, to me, the work being done in that arena didn’t move at the pace that I preferred. So much time spent on a longitudinal study and meta analysis. Then waiting for that data to get attention and replication. Then maybe later it gets some major traction in the field and becomes a lot more popular, a buzzword is created. Some time after, state boards of education start to implement some of it as wide spread policy. When it reaches the underfunded schools, they don't have the resources or bandwidth to execute too well. I understand that this is the pace but, the poor, the Black, and the Brown can’t afford to move at this pace. We started off so far behind. The acceleration rates are already drastically different. Catching up or “closing the achievement gap” can never happen if the least advantage aren't able to grow and are moving at the regular pace of academia and policy creation.
Over the last few years, the hottest thing on the streets has been STEM and Project Based Learning. Specifically computer science, apps and coding. Everyone has a hard-on for computers these days. But to be honest, if you ask me, it’s a day late and a dollar short. Only now are schools requiring students to be exposed to this stuff. Only AFTER it has been proven to be a part of the modern economic model. Only AFTER that field has been founded and settled by the richer and whiter and more privileged in general. Black and Brown kids are now taking coding classes to fuel the economy, to provide employees for the new industries established by white pioneers.
Black and Brown kids are literally being held back from opportunity. We didn’t realize of course but we were actually learning to code in middle school by designing our xanga and myspace pages. But that was frivolous to our parents. Can you imagine that in high school and college, tech usage was strongly discouraged. NOW kids in certain schools regularly use tablets. Ed tech is a whole booming industry that is getting thrown obscene amounts of funding. What if, that high schooler HAD been allowed to have his phone out and use it in class? She would now have so much qualitative data about how tech could organically and productively be incorporated into the classroom that she could be a consultant. Imagine the research skills she’d have. Imagine how the information about actual parent-teacher-staff-student communications could be improved.
Can you believe that in college, between 2009 and 2013, I had professors who DID NOT ALLOW students to use laptops or cell phones in class?! WTF is that? WHAT THE FUCK!!!!
White boys with their safety nets and full access to resources were out becoming millionaires doing something Black and Brown kids were not allowed to do. (maybe later we can talk about the cannabis industry) AND NOW, now that they can make money for someone else, Black and Brown kids are being “trained” in STEM. *at another time maybe i’ll talk about how stupid STEAM is*
At my high school, we snuck onto proxy sites to access “blocked” social media websites and to win online concert & prom competitions. (THREE TIMES!!!!!) They actually BLOCKED social media and now corporations have well paying jobs for those who know how people use it and how to use it period.
The social media and phone app field was flourishing. Led and profited by those allowed and who could afford to explore these skills and tools as youth. NOW these same pioneers get to profit off of kicking their learnings to the hood. AFTER they’ve already secured a majority of the market.
My whole point is, yes more research will always need doing. And sure, as it accumulates, it will help out to some degree down the line. But that’s just not my lane. It’s not my ministry. It doesn’t make the kind of impact that I need to make in the time I want to make it. The impact that needs to be made. It’s too status quo and too slow. It's too behind. It's not about radical advancement. As it works its way through academia and bureaucracy it becomes watered down and hardly effective.
Check out this article, How Schooling Is Used to Determine Who Has Value in White Society.
The snippet that really matters to me, "Increasingly, I am becoming more suspicious of myself and others who are education scholars, policymakers, and reformers. Our hyperfocus on increasing college degrees—which generally means a bachelor’s from a predominately white university—is not about or for poor Black people. It is about using a white standard of what it means to be educated, productive, and valuable as our standard for Black lives" One day I'll write about how this quote especially applies to First Nations people.
A side tangent---- it's very hard to get white supremacy to accept Black & Brown testimony. It barely listens to experiential data. An undeniable amounst of research (which is hard because of lack of awareness, access to prior black scholars, active silencing of Black/Brown voices, and the hiding of anti black policies and infrastructure) has to be compiled and published by a most respectable negro into a provocative and emotionally stirring book or documentary for progressives JUST TO INCH THE NEEDLE FORWARD. It's not enough for me. That’s a fool’s game. fuck it.