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Principal Singles Out Black Students to Do Better

Principal Singles Out Black Students to Do Better

Published March 26, 2009

In Texas, a Black high school principal, Joseph Showell, is catching some flak for singling out Black students and pushing them to do better on state assessments, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Wanting to improve the school’s overall rating, Showell called in 60 Black students, who had narrowly passed or failed the exam last year, for a meeting last month and challenged them to perform better on the test. The results of the assessment, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), are broken down into subgroups and in 2006 and 2007 the Black subgroup has brought down the school’s overall rating. Still, some of the students were taken aback, by the meeting.

“I said [to the principal], ‘How can you call us stupid and not expect us to get mad,'” one of the students who attended the meeting told the paper.

Showell denies using any demeaning language.

“It’s not about being mean with the kids," he said. "That’s not what I do. But you want to have the kids understand exactly where they are academically, because for a lot of them, this is the first time this information has been explained to them this way. These are not students that necessarily need remediate … but just more motivation.”

The talks may have made a difference. The principal had a similar meeting with Black students in 2008, and the scores of Black students improved in that year. The school, Grand Prairie High School, was moved from academically unacceptable status to acceptable, the paper reports.

What do you think? Did the principal do the right thing by singling out Black students?

Written by BET.com Staff

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