” James McDaniel of ABC’s NYPD Blue and S. Epatha Merkerson of NBC’sLaw and Order described the Oakland School Board’s decision on Ebonics as adistinct genetically based language (Shister, p. 1). Civil Rights leader JesseJackson defended Oakland’s school over a controversial plan to recognize blackEnglish in the classroom (N.
A. , p. 1). On December 18, 1996 the Oakland School Board approved a policy affirmingStandard American English language development for all students.
This policycovers the effectiveness of the strategies that must be utilized to ensure thatevery child will achieve English language Proficiency (Hawkins, p. 1). Thispolicy is based on the work of a broad-based Task-Force, convened six months agoto review the district-wide achievement data and to make recommendationsregarding the effective practices that will enhance the opportunity for allstudents to successfully achieve the standards of all students. The data showsthe low levels of the student performance and lack of students in the AdvancedPlacement Education Program.
These recommendations focus on the unique languagestature of the African American Students (Shister, p. 2). One of the programs recommended is the Standard English Proficiency Program,which is a state of California model program. Which promotes English-languagedevelopment for African-American students. The S.
E. P. (Standard EnglishProficiency) training enables teachers and administrators to respect andacknowledge the history culture, and language that the African American studentbrings to school (Cambell, p. 2). Recently a “Superliteracy” component was addedto ensure the development of high levels of reading, writing, and speakingskills.
The policy further requires strengthening pre-school education andparent and community parcipitation in the education process of the District(Hawkins, p. 1). In the following, there are findings on African Americans in school: 53%of the total Oakland School’s enrollment were black, 71% of the studentsenrolled in the Special Education were black, 37% of the students enrolled inGate classes were black, and the average Grade Point Average of black’s inschool was 1. 80, which is the lowest in the District (Hawkins, p. 2).
Also, 64%of the students held back were African American, 71% of the African AmericanMales attended school on a regular basis, 19% of Senior African Americans didnot graduate, and 80% of all students suspended were black (Shister, p. 2). While Ebonics rages as a hot topic in the spotlight of American media, socalled Black English has played a quiet role in an Atlanta area school districtfor more than a decade. About 600 students in the Dekalb School District justeast of Atlanta is taking a course known as “bi-dialectal communication. ” InDekalb County Ebonics is not considered a language, but a dialect.
Specifically,it’s appropriate for the classroom. The course focuses on more than just thenon-standard English of Ebonics. The students learn they must project,enunciate and gesture properly to communicate. This is the 11th year of thefederally funded bi-dialectal program. Administrators cite rising test scoresin language arts and reading as evidence that it works. Parents also seem toapprove.
One parent said if they had something like that when she was growingup, she would’ve made it farther (Cambell, p. 2). On the Internet, Ebonics isn’tnecessarily a black vs. white thing. It’s more a matter of justice vs. joke.
Should Ebonics be considered a second language requiring special treatment byschool teachers, or is it merely a different form of English, to be correctedbut not accommodated. The debate has played out on the editorial pages, TVshows and talk radio across America, but for several reasons, it’s a subjectperfectly suited for the Internet. For 1 thing, the Net’s anonymity can cloakyour racial background or identity, loosening tight stereotypes. For another,you can find a virtual community that matches your take in the issue. On theWorld Wide Web, you can read tightly reasoned analyses of black history andlisten to people making cruel fun of the whole issue through such rewrittenworks.
Some sites offer to translate e-mail messages into Ebonics. But theliveliest Internet offerings have to do with the back-and-forth discussions,whether via news groups or web chat pages. Sheila Green has cited studiessupporting the validity of the schoolboard’s approach in several newsgroup posts. The Ebonics debate has served to highlight a growing number of online servicesfocusing on black cultural prospective (Boyle, p. 1). Oakland’s School Superintendent Carolyn Getridge, School Board PresidentJean Quan, and board member Toni Cook are going to testify before the Senate.
They will speak about the district’s recent decision to recognize Ebonics in theclassroom. Other witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing include RobertWilliams, originator of the term Ebonics and Amos Brown of the Civil RightsCommission of the National Baptist Convention (N. A. , p. 1). The national debateon Ebonics reached Capitol Hill January 23, 1996 as a Senate subcommittee tookup the provocative question of whether using African American dialect can helpblack children learn Standard English, and whether it deserves Federal support.
The hearing began on a combative note. Senator Lauch Faircloth denouncedEbonics as absurd and said that the Oakland school board’s decision to haveteachers recognize it in classes struck him. But Oakland school officials,joined by Rep. Maxine Waters adamantly defended the Ebonics policy and insistedthat it had been misinterpreted as an attempt to lead students away fromStandard English.
School officials said they simply want Oakland teachers todevote more time to students who rely on black English and help them betterunderstand the difference between their language patterns and standard English. Many other schools are trying to teach Ebonics such as San Diego and Los Angeles,who are considering on creating plans to teach it (Shanchez, p. 1). The controversy is still going on in Capitol Hill and has not been resolvedyet. The solution may come soon. Or it may be a long time from now.
Eitherway some people will be upset with the final decision.