You may have seen today’s story by Doug Oakley, my Bay Area News Group colleague, about accusations of racism at Berkeley’s Oxford Elementary School. Oxford is located in a predominately white area of Berkeley, and a number of children are bused in from other areas as part of the school district’s racial integration policy (See the school’s demographic breakdown here).
Two families have yanked their children from the school since January, apparently because they felt their kids were in a hostile environment:
“I recently pulled my kid out of Oxford right before spring break,” said Kim Oliver. “There has been so much blatant inequity on campus and in the classroom that I just couldn’t take it anymore.”
Oliver and other parents told Oakley that they believe black children are disciplined more harshly and are blamed more often for problems. At least one parent criticized the school for refusing to change its teaching in response to “cultural learning differences.”
Of course, Oakland notes that he interviewed just eight parents at the school. Another source quoted in the story, an African-American teacher, said he felt the parents were unfairly playing “the race card,” and that the school had made progress in dealing with difficult race-related issues.
Do the problems reported at Oxford sound familiar to you Oaklanders? Do you think some adults treat black children differently, without even realizing it (and how do you know)? What have principals and/or teachers and parents done to address these concerns, and have the discussions been constructive or divisive?