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The Problem of Drug Trafficking, Research Proposal Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1170

Research Proposal

Introduction

The United States prides itself on a progressive and democratic foundation, and one also of international stature.  Unfortunately, this is belied by a glaring and shameful circumstance.  The inescapable reality is that, long decades after legislation addressed gross inequalities between races, black children consistently perform at rates far below white children in schools.  The achievement gap here, once attributed to lack of opportunity for black men and women to provide for their families, remains immense (Gabriel, 2010).  Typically, community and governmental response has been in efforts at school reform.  However, the issues creating the problem are both deep-rooted in society and complex, and no such simple solution can be effective.  For black children to achieve at a level equal to white children, the many elements limiting African American potentials in all of society must be addressed.

Discussion

As must be evident to any serious examination of black progress in school as inadequate, the facts reflect a variety of components within the entire black experience today.  They are also consistently confirmed; the 2010 findings from the National Assessment for Educational Progress, which is given to fourth and eighth grade students nationally, reveal enormous differences in achievement levels between the races.  Basically, black boys and girls uniformly lag behind whites in reading and writing skills by over 30 percent (Gabriel, 2010), and poverty is typically viewed as an underlying cause.  To turn to poverty for this alarming discrepancy is valid, but in only when the multifaceted effects of it are taken into account.  Many assume, for example, that poor households typically are not environments where educational achievement is encouraged, and this is a reasonable assumption.   At the same time, poverty has pragmatic consequences far beyond lack of scholastic promotion for children.   A recent study in New York established that low-income families, predominantly black and Hispanic, do not have access to good public schools.  All the schools were ranked, and it was then found that children in five districts, including Harlem and other largely black arenas, are unable to attend any of the schools with a strong standing (Fertig, 2012). Diminished income, then, which usually dictates location of residence, directly translates to lessened opportunities for children of color, as most school populations are governed by proximity.

Poverty is, of course, also a reflection of conditions, as well as a cause. Its influence on the progress of black children in school is particularly pernicious simply because income tends to shape the entire range of living experience, from the location of the home to the actual presences of the parents. In the case of the black community, there has been a striking irony in evidence since the successes of the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s; namely, African Americans are more economically polarized than ever before.  Small percentages of black men and women earn high incomes, but most are increasingly caught within cycles where lack of educational opportunity perpetuates poor living conditions in urban, primarily black, areas (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, & Vocke, 2010,  p. 346).  Then, as each element of the black experience impacts on others, the factors of actual, familial conditions come into play, and in ways equally exponential.  On one level, the typical belief in the absent black father figure, or positive male role model, is reinforced by statistics; the 1999 U.S. Census survey found that nearly half of all black children live in single-parent homes with only the mother present, and invariably of low-income or poverty level status (Congress, Gonzalez, 2005, p. 97). Here, familial issues both exacerbate and are created by other social issues related to poverty, which is itself a product of social inequality. Clearly, the single mother struggling to care for children is not empowered to foster an encouraging home environment, and degrees of despair tend to become infused in such situations. For instance, it is widely documented that degrees of self-dislike, or self-hatred, are generated within low income black households. Throughout the 20th century, studies of this trait were so conclusive that a pathology was identified and accepted by sociologists, and low self-esteem has been documented as strongly in evidence in a preponderance of black households.  The cycle, then, goes on, as black males, imbued by hopelessness, abandon the homes and the children inherit legacies of both poverty and self-dislike.

What is less noted, however, is how these circumstances are addressed by the larger society, and in ways strikingly promoting more of the same. African Americans constitute nearly 30 percent of the poor in the U.S., yet over 60 percent of representations of the poor in the news media is black.  Even entertainment joins in the pronounced bias; in 1996, a study of the most popular films revealed that 11 percent of white females characters exhibited violence, as compared to nearly 60 percent of black female characters (Congress, Gonzalez, 2005, p. 96). This points to trends in the culture externally influencing the black community, and not in a positive way.  On one level, if these violent images in the media promote in whites more fear and mistrust of blacks, it may be reasonably assumed that black children are subject to the same impressions, and will view themselves as violent and antisocial.  On another, this type of widespread and often subliminal bias bespeaks racism as more deeply ingrained in the American psyche than is believed to be the case.  In simple terms, in a society wherein an inherent racist feeling is permitted to be manifested, it is irrational to expect that the same society would make substantive efforts to improve educational opportunities for black children.  Then, even if such efforts were forthcoming, they could not succeed when the essence of the society still evinces racial bias.  If the children are not doing well in school, it is not because they are incapable of meeting success rates of white children, but because a massive framework of self-perpetuating and discriminatory, if not segregationist, ideologies overshadows their lives, and renders scholastic achievement all the more unobtainable.

Conclusion

The problem of low achievement by black children would be far more easily addressed if it was based on the capabilities of children alone.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  American society, while legally and ostensibly anti-racist in character, nonetheless promulgates attitudes and practices which suppress the black family’s opportunities, and consequently deny the children.  Cycles of poverty creates further cycles of self-loathing, even as the surrounding culture reinforces stereotypical and racist ideas of black as inherently violent.  The problem, then, goes far beyond the schoolroom, for black children cannot achieve at higher levels until the many social issues limiting African American potentials are honestly addressed.

References

Congress, Elaine Piller, & Gonzalez, Manny J. (2005). Multicultural Perspectives in Working with Families.  New York: Springer.

Fertig, Beth.  (2012). “New Study Identifies ‘Opportunity Gap’ for Students.” The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/04/17/new-study-identifies-opportunity-gap-for-students/

Gabriel, Trip. (2010). “Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected.” The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/education/09gap.html

Ornstein, Allan C., Levine, Daniel U., Gutek, Gerald L., & Vocke, David E. (2010). Foundations of Education. Belmont: Cengage Learning.

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