Friday, October 24, 2008

Effective Interactions With African-American Males

There is a new course being offered at UNC-Wilmington in the spring semester of 2009. Before I go any further, let me assure you that I'm not making this up. The course, called "Effective Interactions with African-American Males," is offered for credit in both the Social Work and Education departments. Unbelievably, it is offered, not just for senior credit, but for potential graduate credit, too. A brief course description may help readers understand why I've asserted for years that social work and education are in a tight race to determine which can become the most intellectually vacuous and least relevant discipline in academia. I've reprinted each of the two paragraphs of the course description with a few questions for the professor (Dr. Lethardus Goggins II) following each paragraph:

"Using an African-centered philosophical worldview and a racial socialization framework, this class will use participatory education to equip undergraduate and/or graduate students, to "better" understand and effectively work alongside and with young adult African-American men. The core tenets underlying this class are racial oppression exists, matters, is ubiquitous and pernicious and that those most affected are often ignorant of this reality."

1. A university course using an "African-centered worldview" is deemed to be chic. Could a course call itself "white-centered" or even "European-centered" and garner the same enthusiasm from the diversity crowd?

2. If your answer to #1 was "no," is the diversity crowd really diverse?

3. Does "racial socialization" include constant discussion of race on behalf of social work professors? If they could ever shut up, could we as a country experience "racial un-socialization"? Wouldn't that be better?

4. Why the derisive quotes around "better"? Is there some suggestion that whites are not at all good at understanding and working around black males?

5. What if I am a postmodernist and believe that racial oppression really isn't an objective truth? What if my truth is that racial oppression exists only in social work and education classes?

6. Are the terms "ubiquitous" and "pernicious" African-centered or European-centered? What about the term "ignorant"?

7. Blacks (about 12% of the population) usually choose a white victim when committing armed robbery. Aside from carrying a handgun, how do whites make those interactions with African-American males more effective?

"Students will critically examine the social and emotional effects of racism on academic, occupational, cultural and relational well-being of African-American males. Students will discuss relevant readings, media analysis, community-based research, and self-reflection. Students will also examine and develop strategies to restore a healthy definition of African-American manhood and its significance for self, family, and community relationships; culminating in a community restoration initiative proposal."

8. Will students in "Effective Interactions with African-American Males" critically examine split infinitives?

9. Will the "relevant readings" in this course include articles by Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and John McWhorter?

10. How much class time will be spent on self-reflection?

11. Does today's college student really need to spend more time thinking about himself?

12. Does self-reflection ever lead to self-absorption? Does it ever lead to greater social consciousness, or concern for others?

13. Has there not already been enough talk about African American males' "manhood"? Isn't most of it stereotypical?

14. What would happen if you talked to a member of the Crips or the Bloods about "self," "family," and "community relationships"? Do you think he might pop a cap in your ass? Do you think he might make you his girlfriend?

15. How do I learn more about this "community restoration initiative proposal"? Will it be submitted to a community organizer?

16. And, finally, why were copies of your new course description sent to the Upperman African American Cultural Center? How can we have effective interactions with you when you continue to segregate yourselves from us?

I once believed the diversity crowd when it claimed an interest in bringing blacks and whites together for more meaningful interaction. Now I see them as specious and downright deceptive. I almost detect a colored quality in their statements.


Bill Ayers' Scary Plans for Public Schools

Will William Ayers be secretary of education in a Barack Obama administration? All parents should ponder that possibility before making their choice for president on Nov. 4. After all, Ayers is a friend of Obama, and professor Ayers's expertise is training teachers and developing public school curriculum. That's been his mission since he gave up planting bombs in government buildings (including the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon) and assaulting police officers.

Ayers brashly admitted that he was "guilty as hell" in planting bombs in the 1970s, and that he has no regrets and feels that he and his Weather Underground associates "didn't do enough." After successfully avoiding trial and prison because of legal technicalities, he picked up his Ph.D. at Columbia Teachers College for a second career, landing a tenured job as distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Ayers's political views are as radical now as they were in the 1970s. "Viva President Chavez!" he exclaimed in a speech in Venezuela in 2006, in which he also declared, "education is the motor-force of revolution."

From his prestigious and safe university position, Ayers has been teaching teachers and students in rebellion against American capitalism and what he calls "imperialism" and "oppression." The code words for the Ayers curriculum are "social justice," a "transformative" vision, "critical pedagogy," "liberation," "capitalist injustices," "critical race theory," "queer theory," and of course multiculturalism and feminism.

That language is typical in the readings that Ayers assigns in his university courses. He admits he is a "communist street fighter" who has been influenced by Karl Marx, as well as Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X.

Ayers speaks openly of his desire to use America's public school classrooms to train a generation of revolutionaries who will overturn the U.S. social and economic regime. He teaches that America is oppressive and unjust, socialism is the solution, and wealth and resources should be redistributed.

In Ayers's course called "On Urban Education," he calls for a "distribution of material and human resources." His left-wing notions would be very compatible with those of Obama, who publicly told Joe the Plumber that we should "spread the wealth."

Ayers's books are among the most widely used in America's education schools. Ayers even uses science and math courses as part of his "transformative" political strategy to teach that the American economic system is unjust.

Ayers is an endorser of a book called "Queering Elementary Education" by William J. Letts IV and James T. Sears, a collection of essays to teach adults and children to "think queerly." The blurb on the cover quotes Ayers as saying this is "a book for all teachers . and, yes, it has an agenda."

Unfortunately, Ayers's far-out education theories are already having an effect in education schools. One after another, teachers colleges are using their courses to promote socialist notions of wealth distribution, "social justice," diversity and environmentalism, and to punish students who resist this indoctrination by giving them low grades or even denying them graduation.

The U.S. Department of Education lists 15 high schools whose mission statements declare that their curricula center on "social justice."

Propaganda about Obama is already finding favor with textbook publishers. The McDougal Littell 8th-grade advanced-English literature book (copyright 2008, Houghton Mifflin Co.) has 15 pages featuring Obama and his "life of service."

Most of Ayers's socialist propaganda is financed with taxpayer money at state universities and teachers colleges. Some of the schools that have adopted Ayers-style pedagogy have received grants from ACORN or from Bill Gates' charitable foundation.

You might assume that Ayers's political ideas would put him on the outer fringe of the left-wing education establishment. However, his peers recently elected him to serve as vice president for curriculum in the American Education Research Association, the largest organization of education school professors and researchers.

Is an appointment to the U.S. Department of Education his next career advancement? Is Ayers's transformative public school curriculum the kind of "change" Obama will bring us?


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