Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, January 31, 2011

"A New Wave of Segregation?"

Driving to school this morning, I was listening to the radio. For any of you who have ever listened to the radio at 8:00 in the morning, the mainstream radio stations provide a plethora of "sleaze" radio, with contests to win concert tickets, news about what celebrities have recently checked into rehab, and other useless news stories. There was one story, however, that really caught my attention and got me thinking. The DJs on Hot 97 were discussing how McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania has recently implemented a new mentor program in which students are assigned mentors in an attempt to improve standardized test scores. There's a catch though...students are being segregated not only by skin color but also by gender. Black boys and black girls are in separate classrooms, not only from their white peers but also from each other. According to an article posted on, the McCaskey East teacher who developed this program, Angela Tilghman, found research indicating that "grouping black students by gender with a strong role model can help boost their academic achievement and self-esteem." From what I have read about East McCaskey High, reading proficiency test scores are an issue, but not only for black students. While only 1/3 of black students scored proficient or advanced on last years PSSAs, 60% of white students scored proficient or above and only 40% of all students scored proficiently. Math scores were worse, showing that only 27% of black students were up to par. There was, however, no segregation of white students; the only other group affected by segregation were those in the English language learners program. Aside from "academic achievement," these homeroom programs, which last 6 minutes per day and 20 minutes twice a month, are supposed to make students interact better with their peers, break down common stereotypes of both their ethnicity and gender, and think about their plans for the future.

I can't help but have an overwhelming feeling that this school's program is doing more harm than it intended. While the research this teacher found regarding black students performing better together may have some validity (I would like to see an actual study before making any definite conclusions of my own) I strongly feel that segregating students, not just from a racial standpoint, is detrimental. Making any one group of students feel alienated from their peers can severely affect social skills and further strengthen stereotypes. In fact, after the program first started, many of the students expressed desires to return back to their original homerooms. While school administrators and the teachers involved in the program are attempting to improve the students' learning, I do not think they fully understand the effect this segregation will have on the students from a social aspect.

What do you think??

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