What Can Be Done to Address Classism?
No other practices in the school system could be more controversial than ability grouping or tracking. Proponents
of tracking suggest that by grouping students by certain abilities, teachers can better assess and address the needs of students
more centrally. The advocates contend that by ability grouping learning is more personalized and students in top categories
need "grooming" in areas ans in ways that would not be possible if grouped with underachievers. Tracking is also functional
from a socio-economic standpoint, as it contributes to the maintenance of the needs of the U.S. economic structure. Where
ability grouping, or tracking becomes problematic is certain groups become vastly over represented in low track categories.
According to Jeanie Oaks,
"Many express particular concern about tracking’s
effects on poor and minority students, who are placed low-ability groups more often than other students and are less likely
to be found in programs for gifted students or in college preparatory tracks."
What results then, is an altogether different educational experience predetermined
by the ability groups students belong to. Studies have shown that students in upper tier ability groups
tend to focus more on "learning activities that stimulate critical thinking,
and less time on socializing, discipline, or class routines." (Oakes, 1994)
In aspiring to become educators, we must redefine "culturally relevant
pedagogy". We must take the meaning of the concept as to play an expanded role in teaching; one that realizes the
true effect of education takes place outside the classroom. The casual settings such as the church, the mosque, sporting
events, community lectures, activist functions, theatrical plays, all allow students to really connect to the "real person"
that embodies the Educator. Student must regard their teachers as human, after all. Warmer, friendlier environments help
to cultivate a sense of trust, without which, no "true" education can take place.