A "Courageous Conversation" about "White Privilege" at Smiling Jack O'Connell's Racial Achievement Gap Summit Conference

This article from News10 in Sacramento is so much fun I have to mine two blog posts out of it.

One of the stars of this conference called by the politically ambitious California state superintendent of schools, Democrat Jack O'Connell, is O'Connell's chief consultant on racial sensitivity training, Glenn Singleton. The SF Chronicle wrote:

Also on center stage will be Glenn Singleton, the coach O'Connell hired for the Education Department's racial sensitivity classes. Singleton runs a San Francisco consulting firm called Pacific Educational Group and is the author of "Courageous Conversations about Race: a Strategy for Achieving Equity in Schools."

So, let's listen in on one of those "courageous conversations" brought to you by News10 in Sacramento:

For many people, especially white Americans, there were two words brought up at this week's summit as the principal cause for the achievement gap -- words that will sting. They are "white privilege."

The mention of such a term often brings a plethora of sighs and groans, while at the same time inciting others to say, 'It's time somebody called it like it is.

News10 brought together a group of presenters at the summit. Bill Huyett is the superintendent of Lodi Unified School District, where he has told his faculty and staff they must deal with the issue of 'white privilege' if they are to close the achievement gap.

Also at the table was a Lodi Unified Schools board member Ken Davis. Nicolina Hernandez is a college student who joined us along with Glenn Eric Singleton, a professor and education analyst who specializes in systems of inequity within school districts. What follows are quotes from that conversation on whether "white privilege" is at the core of our schools achievement gap.

HUYETT: It becomes clear that we've got to talk about white privilege. We've got to talk about race in our schools. We've got to address this issue.

SINGLETON: I often refer to it as the Disneyland reference. When you walk around the Magic Kingdom, you don't see a lot of people of color. And so all of those references, "It's a Small World after all," are not what we come to school with. We come to school with other references and so which references are chosen determines who gains access to the curriculum, and who gains access to the curriculum determines who achieves at a high level.

DAVIS: I went to Little Rock Central High School and when I went to class, there was a teacher who stood in the door way and said, "The law says that you have to be here, but I don't have to teach you." I'm not seeing teachers standing in the doorway saying that, but what I am seeing is what I identify as that attitude, that "I have you in my class, but I don't have to teach you" attitude.

SINGLETON: We see it within groups of color. Lighter-complected black people experience greater privilege. We don't need to talk across color lines to understand the notion of privilege.

NICOLINA: Within the structure of the school itself, you have more white teachers, more counselors that are white and don't speak Spanish and I think we struggle a lot with that as well.

HUYETT: If you look at our Latino kids, our African American kids, and in our district, our Asian kids, and the difference between their achievement and white kids, it's a significant gap. And then you look at the data, is it poverty? When you take the poverty out, it's still a huge gap.

SINGLETON: It's absolutely true that some of us can overcome some of the challenges, but it does not in any way dismiss the notion that there is an advantage in society.