The achievement gap is alive and well, like an ugly, open gash deeply carved in the educational landscape. Despite our efforts, it has defied interventions and seems to laugh at us.
The achievement gap is ubiquitous, from sea to shining sea, across the fruited plain. Where there are minority groups and schools, one finds the achievement gap.
I'd like to tell you that all minority groups are affected by this malevolent malady. They are not. African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans suffer the most from this all-American indignity. Notably, the achievement gap has existed for these groups since we began educating them.
Initially, no one knew or cared much about any gap. The few who knew probably blamed the struggling students. As we became slightly more enlightened, we began blaming teachers, schools, class size, biased tests, any aspect of education that seemed plausible as well as some that didn't. No doubt about it, the achievement gap was the fault of school systems or educators — most likely both.
Never miss a local story.
Later, a few people, much more enlightened and tired of beating "dead educators," began focusing on minority group students who were caught up in the gap. Could there be something about them that was impeding their education? Could it be that aspects of their unique subculture were impediments to their formal education?
Nothing wrong with the schools, the teachers or the cognitive ability of the students. Nothing at all. Consider that the sheer ubiquity of the gap, especially over time, affecting discrete minority groups should have been more than a small clue absolving educators.
To simplify my argument, examine only black culture. Note that what is called black culture is blacks' adaptations to the way of life forced upon them by whites, from slavery, through Reconstruction and the nefarious Jim Crow era, to the present unclear stance of "tolerance/acceptance."
So-called black culture is the white man's doing. Far more aspects than I can mention here, namely, misplaced and misguided values, black English, fear of acting white, enunciation, voice modulation, lack of interest in academics, poor vocabulary and on and on, all feed the achievement gap.
White America created the hostile and educationally starved environment that led to the educational-deprived, subcultural adaptations that are responsible for and maintain the achievement gap.
It's time we realize what we did and work to undo it.
The achievement gap can be narrowed by the assimilation of blacks into mainstream American culture. Simple solution, difficult to implement.
Far too many consider the term assimilation tantamount to some despicable, four-letter word — thoroughly vulgar and politically incorrect. They are wrong.
As I write this, I'm sure there will be shouting and screaming about people losing their culture: "Assimilation robs one of his true heritage." Baloney. Although blacks have a rich and extensive cultural heritage that must be preserved, that which assimilation removes from them has nothing to do with their true heritage.
Assimilation, while removing none of their real heritage, enhances their ability to succeed in a world where they are cast as a minority.
Blacks do not need to act like whites, but they do need to adopt certain aspects of mainstream culture necessary for success. Unless one has a very special talent in athletics or entertainment, one needs to read well, have math skills, speak standard English, follow mainstream values, use appropriate social skills, etc.
Those who do enhance their ability to succeed. It's a win-win situation.
Assimilation need not replace; it can as readily expand one's behavioral repertoire. Assimilated groups do not experience the achievement gap.
Throughout American history, groups that have been allowed to assimilate, do so without question. Assimilation works wonders for a diverse society as well as removing much of the achievement gap.