May 23, 2003

Keep race out of curricula

In the May 16 issue of the Maroon was a feature, "Unique local school offers African-centric curriculum," about the Woodlawn Community School, which teaches an "African-centric" curriculum. (Apparently that term was chosen instead of the more common "Afro-centrism" to distance it from the mostly paranoid and incoherent historical theories of the latter.) I am concerned that the normal public school curriculum is biased toward European culture. This is a problem that needs to be rectified.

The problem is twofold: first, students of African descent are denied their cultural heritage. This is unfair. Second, the curriculum is provincial, nationalistic, and therefore myopic. Because of its racial bias, students remain ignorant of "peripheral" traditions.

For these reasons, many educated and civilized people, including the administration of the Woodlawn Community School, agree that Euro-centric curricula are inappropriate. But what have they done by substituting one racial bias for another? Chicago is already segregated enough, is it not?

The purpose of schooling, especially in public schools, should be education. It should not be the inculcation of any sort of racial consciousness. Perhaps if parents wish their children to have a racially biased (not to say racist...) education they might start a private school for that purpose. The city government, however, must not support segregationist education of any kind. If we are to choose a "center," then let us make public education truth-centric.

Patrick Kasarski