Can Public Education Save America’s Kids?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We look at the complicated relationship between race and poverty, and what America’s public school system needs to do in order to promote racial equity. Pedro Noguera is the author of The Trouble With Black Boys: And Other Reflections on Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education.


Pedro Noguera

Comments [16]


Mr. Noguera's point about investing heavily in pre-school should be well taken. Too many of our minority students come to school with no background knowledge or what used to be called a "common body of knowledge." Too often these students must play catch-up both academically and socially in order to succeed. Teachers have little time to teach anything beyond their own subject content when their effectiveness is measured by scores on the almighty TEST.

Jun. 16 2008 05:09 PM
Lucia from Westchester

A young boy with whom I am very close recently confessed to me that he hated being the only Black kid in his Westchester church and he hated how qiuckly he went from a cute child to a 'menacing Black teenager' when he has done absolutely nothing to earn the categorisation.
I hope the suburban middle and upper classes who rarely see minorities will learn to less defensive and hostile towards young minority men. And I'mnot saying that because someone of them are just as well off as you. They feed off the meanness they are getting from others and we needn't be foisting more anger on anyone.
Great show, as always, Leonard.

Jun. 10 2008 12:44 PM
Lucia from Westchester

I'm enjoying listening to Mr. Noguera. I think the fact that he is an ethnic minority and a father have heavily and positively impacted his research.
I wish someone would take a look at upper middle class and upper class Black males. You'd think given their environments and familial values, they'd be less susceptible to the kinds of ills that plague their less-resourced peers.
He speaks of the double culture of ethnic minorities in the inner city. The same exists to a different degree among Black youths (males,esp.) who live in upscale neighborhoods. Here in Westchester, a lot of the males got very angry at around ages 13 and up (*th grade +) not because they had to navigate a TOUGH neighborhood outside their homes and their schools, but because, they were beginning to notice, that all of a sudden, having reached adolescence, they were becoming THREATS to their mainly White neighbors+ community. The burden of feeling like a criminal or a thug when you have done nothing but reach teenagehood is TREMENDOUSLY crippling.

Jun. 10 2008 12:43 PM
Rafael from NYC

Generally, how long does it take for the audio from interviews to be posted? We'd like to add a link to

The Lopate Show responds: Audio from our interviews are available by 5 pm on the day of the interview.

Jun. 10 2008 12:43 PM
tete h. tetens jr. from nj

Teachers are alone and defenseless in regard to penetration into schools of the pathology in the larger society that schools are called upon to repudiate and remediate. Yet, they are expected to produce moral citizens. It is time for us to recognize that healthy societies have healthy schools, To call upon our schools alone to produce a healthy nation is to engage in fraud. And fraud is immoral.

This selection from John Goodlad's Moral dimensions of schooling [Journal of Moral Education, Vol. 21, No. 2, 1992], is a compelling reason that school administrators and superintendents of schools be more than just people involved in schools. School officials have a responsibility to be change agents in the society at large as well. Unless we move in this direction we will be perpetuating fraud. This doctoral program has a responsibility to prepare these change agents. Change agents for our schools, our communities, our nation, and our interconnected world.

Jun. 10 2008 12:42 PM
Dave from NYC

Mr. Noguera makes an excellent point about minority kids needing to be bi-cultural. Such students have to learn to adopt the dominant culture's norms of speech, behavior and dress in order to succeed at school. And they have to be able to thrive in their family and neighborhood environment as well. For many students this means being bi-lingual,and even those who are native English speakers may speak an entirely different form of that language at home than they the one they speak at school.

The ability to maneuver between the two worlds takes great skill and intelligence. The challenges of being bi-cultural shouldn't be underestimated not should the intelligence of those who meet overcome those challenges.

Jun. 10 2008 12:42 PM
susan mosler from Manhattan

training teachers is the crucial element
you have some naturally gifted teachers, they should be mentoring new teachers while in part of their education
watching and training with excellent teachers is the only way new teachers can become excellent teachers.

Jun. 10 2008 12:37 PM
Charles Brooks from Orange, NJ

St. Benedict's Prep in Newark,NJ is an example of a thriving urba school. including a residency program.

Jun. 10 2008 12:35 PM
greg from brooklyn

in ten plus years in NYC schools, I have worked with and, i believe, helped many struggling kids.  what happens when they are passed on to the next grade, or the next school and the landscape changes?about mayoral control, schools now have Empowerment options and there is less buerocracy than in the past.

Jun. 10 2008 12:35 PM
NC from NYC

Marco, I think those things were there first. Hip hop just reflects what's going on. They may help perpetuate it a bit, but those issues are bigger than music.

Jun. 10 2008 12:28 PM
Ellen from Brooklyn

I like Pedro Noguera, and I think he has good ideas, but I wonder if highlighting black boys is actually creating more of a problem for them. In Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, he highlighted a study that showed African American's did 50% worse on a test when they had to identify their race in the beginning. Could part of the problem be that we tell black boys they're failing the most... and therefore they fulfill that?

Jun. 10 2008 12:25 PM
MG from Brooklyn

Re: how to engage parents.

My children's NYC public school does not release the child's report card unless parent shows up at parent teacher conference. Evidently, if you do not come they call and visit your home! Seems like a good plan to motivate some parents--tho it would only identify but not solve deeper problems.

Jun. 10 2008 12:24 PM
Marco from Manhattan

Urban hip hop culture has been a disaster for inner city kids. Drugs, violence, assaultive pop culture.

Jun. 10 2008 12:24 PM
MichaelB from UWS of Manhattan

What about how our larger culture continues to emphasize media, media, media; glorification of celebrity; consumerism; instant success; and values that don't celebrate education & the arts?

Jun. 10 2008 12:22 PM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Bob Herbert's op-ed in today's NY Times is very relevant to this discussion -

Jun. 10 2008 12:08 PM
RJ from NJ

the culture of low expectation that has set in the black community needs to be looked at closely. most of the social ills plaguing this group starts from this, hopefully with with electing Barack as our president will give new confidence with in the black community.

Jun. 10 2008 11:00 AM

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