July 18, 2005

San Bernardino County (CA) schools to teach Ebonics

Here we go again.

A batch of lazy educators who aren't willing to teach students proper English are dumbing down the curriculum by teaching urban street slang as if it were some kind of "language" as opposed to the vernacular it truly is.

Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, suggested that including Ebonics in the program would be beneficial for students.

"Ebonics is a different language, it's not slang as many believe,' Texeira said. "For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language.'

"There are African Americans who do not agree with me. They say that (black students) are lazy and that they need to learn to talk,' Texeira said.

"Ebonics" is not a language. It's a form of slang. I don't see professors trying to justify hacker geek-speak or online shorthand as their own separate language!

When I grew up, teachers would demand that we, as students, speak in proper English. We certainly used slang with our friends on the playground and outside the classroom, but not in class. And we never would dare to use it in front of our parents or grandparents.

The politically correct-feel good mindset that has permeated our society allows a "dumbing down" of all aspects of life in order to placate those who refuse to take responsibility and work for what needs to be done.

Teaching "ebonics" -- urban slang -- will not provide a means for an individual to acquire a job, it will not help him maintain a living, it will not provide an individual with the skills necessary to compete in an academic setting, let alone a professional setting. It does absolutely nothing positive for the individuals that it is taught to. On the contrary, it will hinder individuals who are trying to learn to use contemporary standard English properly. It will provide a crutch for individuals who too lazy to do what is necessary to teach standard English in the nation's schools.

We already have ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for native Spanish speakers. What are these people going to ask for next, ESL classes for people who are born here and cannot learn English to begin with?

This measure is foolish, and a complete waste of resources, talent, effort, energy and time. It should be soundly denounced and eliminated from the San Bernadino schools.

(More coverage from Michelle Malkin, Resurrection Song, La Shawn Barber, Wizbang & others)

Posted by mhking at July 18, 2005 07:19 PM | TrackBack

I am so sick of this "if you can't teach them the correct way, then just call the wrong way right" attitude of so many "educators" today. Kind of reminds me of the "new math". Who cares if you get the wrong answer, as long as as you show how you got the wrong answer, its OK.

I only hope more people speak up, especially those like me, with children in school. If not, the problem will only get worse.

Posted by: Hurricane Andrew at July 19, 2005 09:21 AM

Do you want your children to use ebonics at school? It seems today that playground "ebonics"
with use of HOE for female is far worst that
anything done 50 years ago. The term ebonics
which combines ebony and phonics is relatively
new (15-20 years) but the use is very old. Would your mother have washed your mouth out for some
of today's uses? My mother died over forty years ago and I still can hear in my conscience things
she told me as a child and as a twenty year old.
James M. Barber

Posted by: James M. Barber at July 19, 2005 12:13 PM

Ebonics is a slang language that has permeated certain social levels of our society unchecked by those with the responsibility of teaching and guiding our children. It is beyond me how anyone can go through elementary school, middle school and high school without having been taught that there is a time and place for slang language and a time and place for mainstream grammar.

If students did not bother to learn proper grammar or their parents did not see to them learning and/or speaking proper grammar, then all I can say is there's a consequence for this slacking off. Whether it is on the part of the student or the part of the parent, it's all the same. I want to include the teacher in this but that's a lot of teachers to through and not one managed to get proper grammar through to that child. H-m-m-m

Professor Texeira means well but college is not the place to address what should have been dealt with in elementary, middle and high schools.

However I might agree on the idea that the approach to teaching someone who is heavily influenced by the culture of Ebonics may be something to brainstorm if we truly don't want to "Leave No Student Behind".

If there is someone in college whose grammar is heavily peppered with Ebonics, that tells me that perhaps through time and maturity they have learned that they want to try and do better and make up for what they have not learned.

There is a small possibility that there are some African-American children who come from an area where a certain type of grammar is spoken by everyone in their world and they just might not know any better. Creole, Patois, Geechee comes to mind and there is some language out of South Carolina that was spoken by the Blacks there, slaves and free alike. But even at that these people eventually became dual speakers to include mainstream grammar.

Let's let Ebonics remain what it is...slang.

Posted by: Gloria Wade at July 20, 2005 09:55 PM

Do these people really believe that ebonics will help a low-academic-performance group achieve any higher learning?

It is very sad that children are going to be taught that this is a proper or acceptable manner of speaking.

If these professors were so concerned with the academic performance of these students, they would surely put more effort into teaching them proper speaking, reading and writing.

Surely, a better education would ensure the education and success of these children. But a better education in slang is not at all appropriate.

I do not know one black person who supports this decision to allow ebonics into the school system. It will do nothing more than hold back any education these children may hope to achieve.

In 20-25 years, there will not be any place in the work force, business industry, or professional industry for someone with a major in ebonics - unless it is directly related to ebonics itself, such as an ebonics professor.

Therefore, teaching children ebonics will not only conflict with their understanding of proper language, but it will most certainly hold them back in life. Ebonics is only a guarantee that these children will accomplish nothing in life.

Posted by: Sharon at July 21, 2005 06:04 PM

I am an ESL teacher living and working in Paraguay and I am quite deeply immersed in the area of language acquisition. I am curious if the San Bernardino school district is truly planning to "teach ebonics", that is, promote it as a separate language and encourage both speakers and non-speakers to learn ebonics as such. OR, are they planning to use ebonics as a tool for ebonics speakers learning to speak standard American English, with the result being individuals capable of using both "languages" effectively, as context dictates. My hunch is that the San Bernardino schools plan to do the latter, and that their ultimate goal is to graduate students who are indeed highly proficient in standard American English. We would do well to communicate directly with representatives from the school district rather than to jump to hasty conclusions based on an article which may not be giving us the whole story.

Posted by: Nathan Kingsley at July 26, 2005 03:02 PM

Like a moth to the flame...

Ebonics is a word to be stricken from the vocabularly much like the n-word. Why? Just look at all the knee-jerk reactions that pay little attention to the intent of the school board and instead zero in on a made-up word.

"No child left behind" has mandates to improve student performance across all demographics. If the SBCUSD wants to devote additional funding to help black students improve their english proficiency, it is unfortunate that a word (Ebonics) is a mental barrier for so many, obscuring the basic fact the district is trying to do the right thing.

In addition, it is simplistic to describe "ebonics" as slang, or a failure to conjugate the verb "be," or a combination of double and triple negatives in a single sentence.

I say let's drop the term "ebonics" and support any school district that is working to help improve student achievement.

Posted by: brotherbrown at July 26, 2005 06:40 PM


On July 18, The Sun newspaper included comments from Mary Texeira, a sociologist who is not affiliated with the San Bernardino City Unified School District. The views she expressed in the article titled “Ebonics suggested for district” are completely separate from and unrelated to the work of the school district.

The San Bernardino City Unified School District is not incorporating Ebonics into our instructional curriculum, nor has the School Board ever considered it. The District remains committed to providing the best education possible to all students. The Targeted Instructional Improvement Board Policy #6154a-c (see attached) is a new and bold approach designed to accomplish this goal. The policy makes no references to Ebonics, nor does it imply that Ebonics will be utilized in the instructional program. The policy does address the need to increase the academic achievement of African-American students. It identifies measurable outcomes for African-American and other student groups whose academic achievement has lagged. Outcomes include increasing the number of African-American students in preschool programs, advanced learner, college prep, and other “gateway” courses to college, all worthy goals that cannot be disputed.
We fully believe that all our students must learn the state English language arts content standards, which are in place in every California public school.

The mission of our District is to create a learning environment that prepares our students to be the leaders of tomorrow. Our emphasis will continue to be to promote an excellent kindergarten through 12th-grade experience and a greater vision for our students to pursue higher education goals that include a four-year college degree.


Posted by: www.sbcusd.com at August 5, 2005 05:17 PM
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