Yesterday's Omaha World-Herald quotes Academic Questions editor-at-large Carol Iannone on whether emphasizing "white privilege" has educational benefits:
Critics, however, say that focusing on white privilege distracts from the real challenges facing minority communities and from back-to-basics academic approaches that have been proven to lift poor and minority students' performance.
Carol Iannone, a critic who received a doctor of education degree in English literature from State University of New York Stony Brook and edits a national academic journal, said she's not aware of any evidence such training will improve achievement.
"Because overt racism and overt prejudice is very rare nowadays, now they have to find some kind of unconscious residue that is working without even any intention behind it to explain why their inequality persists," Iannone said.
Focusing attention on white privilege distracts from bigger issues that disadvantage many minority children in the classroom, she said, offering as an example a lack of fathers in the home.
Carol also said that education should unite rather than divide students:
Iannone, who has criticized the teaching of white privilege in her writings for the National Association of Scholars, argues that a better approach would be to treat students as individuals.
Recognizing a certain amount of group identity is OK, but public schools should be a unifying force for students, she said.
"Heck, we're all Americans. And part of what public school education used to be about was giving a sense of unity to young people," Iannone said.
Earlier this year, Carol answered a mother who, after her daughter's school invited students to the White Privilege Conference, asked, "Is 'White Privilege' a Good Way to Teach about Race?"