To the Daily:

While I agree with most of Brittany Smith’s Wednesday column, her assertion that “there is a real, ongoing and ever-growing achievement gap between students of color in underprivileged areas and privileged white students” indicates a motive that I consider to be anything but altruistic (Education shouldn’t be a crapshoot, 3/10/10). A more accurate view of the problem is that there is a real, ongoing and ever-growing achievement gap between all students in underprivileged areas and all students in privileged areas.

To state the problem as Smith does, seems to suggest, at best, that the only underprivileged students that matter are black. At worst, it would seem to suggest that a solution to the problem has as much to do with race as it does with socioeconomic status. My concern is heightened by the fact that Bob Moses, the leader of The Algebra Group — which Smith touts as helping to solve the problem — sees the current system as a “blatant display of Jim Crow.” Really?

Am I to assume that only black students live in underprivileged areas? Am I to assume that white students only live in privileged areas? To do so would be to conclude that poverty is merely a function of race. If that were the case, I would not expect to see any black children in Grosse Pointe schools or any white children in poorer Detroit schools. That is not the case. Using race to disparage the current system of schooling ignores the hardships of many children to which cries of “Jim Crow” do not apply.

I understand that the majority of children suffering inadequate education are black, but let’s not use race as a factor or justification when finding a solution. That’s where the difference between Smith and me lies: She seems to care about “students of color in underprivileged areas” because they are “students of color.” I care about them because they’re “in underprivileged areas.”

Joshua Wicks

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