Know Your Worth And The Belongings Of Schooling
There is nothing wrong with black people that ending racism will not end.
That’s Andre Perry’s keynote Know Your Price, published earlier this year by Brookings Institution Press. Perry’s book in particular refutes the idea of measuring black areas in terms of how they compare or appear to be lagging behind whites, but his aim is to see the importance of black economic empowerment and families.
The book travels to six US cities. Perry’s reputation as an expert, journalist and educator gives him the opportunity to share clear and honest thoughts on the questions he asks as he looks at everything from the hospital to the real estate market. Black goods, he says, have been under frequent scrutiny in the US, which poses a number of challenges, including difficulties in building and maintaining wealth for black people and black groups.
The book is powerful and moving; the stories of his childhood in Wilkinsburg, PA, and the medical difficulties he and his wife experienced can be seen and enlightened. But Perry also offers a variety of statistics, statistics and charts that one would expect from a Brookings Institution colleague.
Perry gives two book titles to the school. One, he pursues a small fortune in Wilkinsburg’s growing schools to see how school closures are detrimental to the region’s economy. Schools, they say, are an integral part of community development, and when they are lost, there is a collective cost. That’s when people gather to vote, at security council meetings, to send children to play in the evening square.
Schooling is economic and social. Perry cites the economist Henry Levin, who noted that a high school diploma earns twice as much money as a student.
Yet the increase in experimentation at higher prices has become a tool for schools. Last year they also saw a discussion on GreatSchools, a website that offers school exams to help families make decisions, but ended up using a method that some critics claim punishes schools in non-white and poor communities. GreatSchools relies heavily on the test results, and most have been biased because of race, the difference between those who test white and black. Chris Tienken (Seton Hall University) pointed out years ago that he and his research team were able to accurately predict school test results based on family knowledge and demographics. The test tests something, but it doesn’t seem like a good school, and the use of academic testing ends in providing opportunities in non-affluent non-white schools.
In another of his school-related topics, Perry returns to his experience after Katrina New Orleans. He moved to the city as part of a school reform program that followed the hurricane, making New Orleans the first US city without public schools. This unique role has led to extensive study and writing of New Orleans schools, including an interesting study published by Douglas Harris (Tulane University). NOLA is often identified as an example of the most important factors, citing the immediate benefits of many tests. But as careless critics of Harris’ book point out, research is strongly inconsistent with the change of prizes and principles of schooling, and as many other critics have pointed out, it is easy to change quickly on starting exams when you start on the ground, with New Orleans still there.
But Perry’s book discusses yet another major development that took place in New Orleans, changing the way the black economy operates. Like many leaders at the time, Perry says he considers himself “very knowledgeable.” But the leaders of what they were following were focused on questions (aka exams) and did not look at people’s finances. A few years later, Perry left the business business in New Orleans.
“If there was a time when New Orleans and black people needed teachers to be safe at work, it would have been Hurricane Katrina,” Perry wrote. Instead, 7,500 teachers, including 3,000 black teachers, were fired. The shooting was aided by a system that combines teacher monitoring and student exam scores. Between 2005 and 2014, black teachers dropped from 71% to 49% of teachers, despite strenuous efforts to bring in young, white, less experienced teachers, including the Teach for America recruits who volunteered just two years to work in the classroom — not the best way to motivate people or to establish order. Students often move from a local school to a charter away from home. And as Perry points out, the confirmation of the church authorities means that the city’s superintendents have gone from place to place throughout the country.
No one in power was asking, “Hey, what development resources do we have here?” Instead, says Perry, “after Katrina in New Orleans became a place where experimental growth became the main reason for ignoring local ideas.” Educators continue to call it “success” in New Orleans, but Perry says that “no one would want to imitate the experience of New Orleans in their community, children, co-workers and neighbors.”