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Ebonics In Schools Essay, Research Paper

Ebonics in Schools

Many black individuals have played their part in America’s history. Has

the Oakland School gone too far by wanting to teach a black slang language in

school. In this paper, you will see the peoples, teachers, and the student’s

opinion as well as the Senate.

A lot of people are speaking out on the subject, especially actors.

Arsenio Hall replied to reporters ?When I heard somebody from Oakland say the

word genetic, on TV, I ran into the kitchen so I didn’t have to be mad at

anybody.? James McDaniel of ABC’s NYPD Blue and S. Epatha Merkerson of NBC’s

Law and Order described the Oakland School Board’s decision on Ebonics as a

distinct genetically based language (Shister, p.1). Civil Rights leader Jesse

Jackson defended Oakland’s school over a controversial plan to recognize black

English in the classroom (N.A., p.1).

On December 18, 1996 the Oakland School Board approved a policy affirming

Standard American English language development for all students. This policy

covers the effectiveness of the strategies that must be utilized to ensure that

every child will achieve English language Proficiency (Hawkins, p.1). This

policy is based on the work of a broad-based Task-Force, convened six months ago

to review the district-wide achievement data and to make recommendations

regarding the effective practices that will enhance the opportunity for all

students to successfully achieve the standards of all students. The data shows

the low levels of the student performance and lack of students in the Advanced

Placement Education Program. These recommendations focus on the unique language

stature 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-language

development for African-American students. The S.E.P. (Standard English

Proficiency) training enables teachers and administrators to respect and

acknowledge the history culture, and language that the African American student

brings to school (Cambell, p.2). Recently a ?Superliteracy? component was added

to ensure the development of high levels of reading, writing, and speaking

skills. The policy further requires strengthening pre-school education and

parent 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 students

enrolled in the Special Education were black, 37% of the students enrolled in

Gate classes were black, and the average Grade Point Average of black’s in

school 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 American

Males attended school on a regular basis, 19% of Senior African Americans did

not 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, so

called Black English has played a quiet role in an Atlanta area school district

for more than a decade. About 600 students in the Dekalb School District just

east of Atlanta is taking a course known as ?bi-dialectal communication.? In

Dekalb County Ebonics is not considered a language, but a dialect. Specifically,

it’s appropriate for the classroom. The course focuses on more than just the

non-standard English of Ebonics. The students learn they must project,

enunciate and gesture properly to communicate. This is the 11th year of the

federally funded bi-dialectal program. Administrators cite rising test scores

in language arts and reading as evidence that it works. Parents also seem to

approve. One parent said if they had something like that when she was growing

up, she would’ve made it farther (Cambell, p.2). On the Internet, Ebonics isn’t

necessarily a black vs. white thing. It’s more a matter of justice vs. joke.

Should Ebonics be considered a second language requiring special treatment by

school teachers, or is it merely a different form of English, to be corrected

but not accommodated. The debate has played out on the editorial pages, TV

shows and talk radio across America, but for several reasons, it’s a subject

perfectly suited for the Internet. For 1 thing, the Net’s anonymity can cloak

your racial background or identity, loosening tight stereotypes. For another,

you can find a virtual community that matches your take in the issue. On the

World Wide Web, you can read tightly reasoned analyses of black history and

listen to people making cruel fun of the whole issue through such rewritten

works. Some sites offer to translate e-mail messages into Ebonics. But the

liveliest Internet offerings have to do with the back-and-forth discussions,

whether via news groups or web chat pages. Sheila Green has cited studies

supporting the validity of the schoolboard’s approach in several newsgroup posts.

The Ebonics debate has served to highlight a growing number of online services

focusing on black cultural prospective (Boyle, p.1).

Oakland’s School Superintendent Carolyn Getridge, School Board President

Jean 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 the

classroom. Other witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing include Robert

Williams, originator of the term Ebonics and Amos Brown of the Civil Rights

Commission of the National Baptist Convention (N.A., p.1). The national debate

on Ebonics reached Capitol Hill January 23, 1996 as a Senate subcommittee took

up the provocative question of whether using African American dialect can help

black children learn Standard English, and whether it deserves Federal support.

The hearing began on a combative note. Senator Lauch Faircloth denounced

Ebonics as absurd and said that the Oakland school board’s decision to have

teachers recognize it in classes struck him. But Oakland school officials,

joined by Rep. Maxine Waters adamantly defended the Ebonics policy and insisted

that it had been misinterpreted as an attempt to lead students away from

Standard English. School officials said they simply want Oakland teachers to

devote more time to students who rely on black English and help them better

understand 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 resolved

yet. The solution may come soon. Or it may be a long time from now. Either

way some people will be upset with the final decision.

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