Wednesday, June 22, 2005

2006 is also another chance to beat Perzel

The Speaker of the PA House, John Perzel had this to say about the School District's plan for a new required high school course on African and African American history (thanks to A Smoke Filled Room for highlighting this from today's paper first):

"They should understand basic American history before we go into African American history."
OK then...

For more white racist sentiments, read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, remember that Perzel is the most powerful Republican in the state House and possibly the whole state. Locally, he controls the Philadelphia Parking Authority, holds a lot of sway over the PA Convention Center and a large role in the management of the School District via his Republican cronies on the School Reform Commission (remember that the SRC is run by 3 Dems and 3 Republicans even though the city is 75% Democratic or more).

So, in short, let's dump Perzel, as well as Santorum, in 2006.


At 3:51 PM, Blogger Omar said...

In response to the Republican House Speaker John Perzel's comments concerning African American studies, I would urge him to recognize that African American history IS American history. And it is precisely because of his ignorant comments that all Americans need to be aware of and educated about the role African Americans and other ethnic groups played and continue to play in the formation and continued success of the greatest experiment in the history of the world: the United States of America. His comments are inflammatory and an apology is owed all of his constituents, white and black.

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chill out omar, admit it, you agree with John

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's remember that the School District comes to the State every year for money and they should have some say in how it is spent regardless of what percenatge of the city is Democratic. If not then go ask Mike Stack or Vince Fumo to bring home some money for the schools.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger J.Klein said...

I do not view Perzel's statements as racist at all.....I actually thought he was making a good point. He did not say that African history was not worth learning nor did he say that students should never discuss it. What he did say, and what I agree with, is that it is more important for students to be able to read above a 5th grade level, do simple math, and be able to properly speak. If we are going to start requiring certain educational areas be covered before graduation, I think those areas are more important.

On a personal note, I was offended by the school districts plan to require Arfican history as a graduation requirement. Again, this is not because I think that African history is unimportant. Quite the contrary actually, I think that all cultural groups are essential peices of a well rounded education. This is where my problem comes in....the school district chose one group to discuss at the expense of others, and that is not right. What makes Afircan history more important to a high school education than Asian history, or Jewish history, or Native American history? How about Spanish-American history? I think that a better plan, if the school district wishes to require another course, would be to require a general cultures class where students would examine all of the aforementioned groups. I think a basic appreciation and understanding of many cultures is more valuable than an in depth analysis of one.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger raider.adam said...

I also agree this is far from a racist comment. Black history is no more or less important from white, chinese, spanish, etc.

Does nto anyone think it is ironic that you have to "segregate" histories into separate classes? Personally, I feel the better and smarter approach is to design the history curriculum to properly include the required material.

Instead of adding another class that is specifically geared towards a single race, how about taking the single world history or american history class and make it two classes so as to be able to put in more information and address everything proportionally.

And it shouldn't even be a race issue. Should we make a women's studies class mandatory for graduation?

If we populate the curriculum with all the special interest groups, we won't have room for archaic classes such as math and English.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Friedman said...

I don't like Perzel's position on this issue either, but I'm not prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater and call for ousting an elected official from Philadelphia who is one of the most powerful pols in the Commonwealth and who is responsible for bringing home much bacon to Philadelphia and otherwise having a positive impact for our City in the 'Burg.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Anonymous said...

I know this is a far-fetched idea, but why don't we just require a GEOGRAPHY class for all Philadelphia school district students? Americans may have not heard of this class before, but it's a class where ALL countries, cultures and races are studied...what about it, folks? The more we recognise African-Americans as a separate entity, the more we, and they, will perpetuate poor race relations in America.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger DanielUA said...

It is pretty hard to call a group that makes up 2/3rds of the Philadelphia School District a "special interest group," don't you think?

The fact is that in public schools European history is constantly taught. Why is there no outrage that black kids learn about Henry the VIII, but outrage when white kids learn about African empires? Far from marginalizing anyone, it can be a way for a group of people to take pride in themselves, and for another group to hear messages that go against what much of society implictly and explictly tells them from birth.

And, lets not BS here. The history of Africa, Africans, African Slaves, and African Americans is far more interwoven into American history than any other group talked about. Until relatively recently, America was effectively a black and white Country (ie, Hispanic-Americans totaled 3 million people in 1960. They now total something like 35 million). That is not true anymore, but, when learning about American history through the 1960's, you are mainly talking about three groups of people and their descendants- Europeans, Africans, and American Indians. Learning about the histories of these three people especially, teaches us about who we are, how we got here, and where we still have to go.

And, generally, lets stop the "what about reading and math!" BS. Who said they were going to be taught less? Did you have only two classes when you were in school?

Now, can all this be taught without having a special African history class? Maybe. But I would like to see the lesson plan.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger raider.adam said...

Well, what class is going to be sacrificed? I don't think they are going to make the school day longer to accomodate for it, are they?

The point of the matter isn't if they were part fo American history. The point is "where do you draw the line"? You could argue that Native Americans were just as large a part of american history. We did conquer it from them. We have a large amount of states cities, bodies of water, etc named after them.

A special interest group doesn't have to be a minority. They are a special interest because they are promoting for a singular group.

So again, it is ok for a black community to push their interests when they are a majority, but not when another race is? Also, I asked the question earlier, should there be a mandatory Woman's Studies class? It follows the same rules as being laid forth for the african studies.

The real goal is quality of education, not singling out a certain topic. High school is not a college degree where you can choose a course of study. The goal is to get the students well rounded enducations and prepared for life afterwards.

Yes, there is a plethora of European history in the classrooms now. You know why? European history probably dictated 75% of the history of the world, with 15% goign to asian (even though they have a rich history in of themselves) and the next 10% Africa and then only because of Egypt and northern Africa.

So, in regards to world history, it has been a white dominated world that has shaped the majority of it.

It is still a better route to have the history classes better incorporating information than breaking out specific topics.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

Not only a economist, but a historian/statistician!

Hmm, ok, sooooo, lets see. That Jesus dude, or that Moses fellow, or that Muhammad guy we hear about.... Were any of them White, or European? I think they probably had a little impact, don't you?

Yes, European domination has had an amazing effect on our history, but all your little stat breakdown shows me is the perspective of someone who, I dunno, maybe didnt take enough history classes.

Lets see.... one example, Europe has dominated the world... How did they dominate during say, the entire middle ages, when they were a backwater? Where were inventions coming from? Where was writing coming from? Where was history coming from? Why, for example, do we even know the amount about Rome we do? Hint: Because while Europe was busy with bloodletting, the rest of the world still existed, and was still moving forward.

All sarcasm aside, basicallly, if you want to look at World Histoy from a perspective of who was ruling who, or who conquered who, then yes, Europe would dominate. But, I guess I see history as a hell of a lot different than that.

And, frankly the fact that you say Europe accounts for 75 percent of the history of the world, just shows exactly why having some class that focuses on "everything" is so hard; white people think that history starts, continues, and will end with us.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger raider.adam said...

Inherently that is my point.

A lot of schools have a mandatory American history type of class that needs to be taken and passed to graduate high school. Why is it a problem to just make sure those classes cover the material more evenly and able to include the whoel spectrum of nationalities (America is a melting pot, no?) as to only one other minority? If there is that much more material to warrant a second class, make an American history I class for junior year and an American history II class for senior year and include all the material together with a chronological break point (either the civil war or World War II). That way the students will learn it in context and not "X history" as a subset. Also, it will set the infrastructure for all aspects that need increased attention. Women's suffrage, affects of spanish and mexican immigration into the US, etc. All you then have to do is drop it into the appropriate chronological time span.

I am not against increased curriculm over topics that are not properly covered. I just feel they should be incorporated correctly and not dropped into a special category.

As for your "jesus and moses" comments, that is also sort of my point. Once the history classes start dealing in narrow schedules, like by decade, it is usually 1700s +. At this time frame it is a Euro centric world. history classes cover more material over the last 200-300 years than over the previous 2000.

You're trying to make it a "white dominance" issue, the school district is trying to make it a "blacks are being neglected" issue and I am trying to make it a "inadequate course material" issue.

Also, you glossed over my question of what class is going to suffer by addind the mandatory African studies one.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

As far as the classes, there is room. I am a product of a Philadelphia public school. Among the electives I took were media studies, photography and environmental science. So, really, the issue is not whether there are enough hours in the day.

Why is it a problem to simply add this to course material? Well, I guess because some people seem to think that Europe accounts for 75 percent of the history of the world.

Again, if you could show me a plan that adequately took into account African history, than sure, I would be fine with that. But, when you say that from the perspective of someone who says there is inadequate course material, how can you be taken seriously?

Maybe, instead you are saying history has to start in the 1700s. Why is that? One of the main points proponents discuss is that this will teach children that Africa started long before slave ships arrive. You seem to think that is impossible.

And, this is not just about American history from the revolution forward. This is abut learning that there is a lot more to African and African-American History than slavery. You are coming from the perspective that we have to start 1776, or some point n the 1700's, and then move forward.

But the reality is that, in World History as well as American history, we learn about where we (as in white, Europeans) came from, about what brought people to America, about the history of "civilization," etc. But, again, only as if "history" only happened in Europe. If you believe that, then maybe you should sit in on a class.


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