Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Segregating Language by Color

        “The world is divided into those who see that there is a problem and those who deny that there is a problem. Many of the people that deny that there is a problem are the older folks in the profession who would have to admit that they have used bogus evidence to obtain convictions. And that is a hard thing to admit.”

        - The Brilliant mind of John J. Lentini, Scientific Fire Analyst, National Geographic Program, investigating Cameron Todd Willingham’s 1992 wrongful conviction of arson murder of his three daughters in December 1991. Despite scientific evidence produced on time to exonerate Mr. Willingham of the charges he was executed by lethal injection February 17, 2004.

         Another issue that caused me much harassment and defamation of character was inquiring about the practice of separating language by color and its implications to the learning process. This practice came-off to me as not necessarily student-centered. For one, it goes against preparing middle school students for high school and college especially since there is no existing high school or college which implements said practice. I also always wondered who selected, and why, the color red for the Spanish language; a color that is cross culturally saturated with negative connotations. Are we sublimely trying to repel learners from the Spanish language? 

        For a long while many teachers, on the side lines, have expressed reservations about the actual function of this practice and the specifics of its implementation but were too fearful to bring it up to administration.

        When I asked administrators to be guided toward finding some scientific bases for this practice they did not respond favorably. When I tried to do my own research, I found no scientific basis for this practice. This motivated me to create my own experiment.

        Below you will find two letters which were inspired by a one way shouting session of insults, threats, belittlement, and condescension, by administration for merely bringing up the above concern and a follow-up meeting that was promised to the teachers about this particular topic but neglected to ever occur, despite reminders. Somewhere close by you will also find the research which I conducted in order to quantify some of the dynamics I was noticing in the classroom as a practitioner, (Segregating Language by Color: Red for Spanish & Blue for English, Perez, spring 2009). 

Worthy Human

        I cannot wrap my mind around the idea that you believe that I am worthy of immediate termination and worthy of being blacklisted from working in the educational system, especially during these difficult economical times, because (a) Spanish charts in the classroom are not in the color red, and (b) because according to you, my grades are submitted into the system late although I have never actually exceeded the specified deadlines for submitting grades.

        After our disturbing meeting on Tuesday, October 1, 2011, I took a closer look at my room. It turns out that the Spanish written charts that were up on the walls were actually written in a brown/maroon color, which is the closest to the color red that I had available. Spanish information in the dry eraser board however was written in red but with a thin-tip dry erase marker because I was told that there is no other available type. As you already know, the extra emphasis on the budget cuts and scarcity of school supplies dissuaded me from making any supply requests.  

        On a similar note, last year we held a meeting where many concerns surrounding the segregation of language by color, (Spanish in red & English in blue), were discussed.

        One of the most important concerns raised was how this practice can make high school preparation difficult for learners since it is unlike anything they are going to encounter in high school, college, and beyond.

        Other concerns were - *the fact that the clever use of multi-colors seem to be more appealing to learners and thus calls their attention and focus to the work more effectively than the mundane use of single color, *the research behind the negative connotations to the color red (in contrast to the positive connotations to the color blue) and its affect on learner’s attitudes toward paired items with said color (in this particular case attitudes toward the particular language), *should comments written on student work, memos provided by the main office, worksheets, handouts, power-points/smart-board slides, text books, be color coded, *should students submit their work color coded, *will the school provide color printers, *have we considered the extra expense on ink, etc.

        You said that many of these concerns sound legitimate and that we will have a follow-up meeting about the practice but that for the mean time, since we were facing an audit, we should portray consistency through out the grades by separating Spanish in the color red and English in the color blue. This important follow up meeting never took place.

         Concerning the grades, although I never violated the due dates for grades submittal, I can understand what you mean about having the grades in the system as early as possible for (parents and students to view). My intentions this year was to have them in the system faster than I have ever before but I ran into some issues.

        The fallible skedula system now operates differently from last year which takes some getting used to; it takes some getting used to having to prepare and teach, back to back, without a single prep, Monday and Wednesday mornings and Tuesdays mornings without a prep because of case study meetings with B; last minute scheduling of administrative meetings which are scheduled without considering what teachers had previously planned for that prep (such as grading and preparing for class), inconsiderably taking away all preps from a teacher on a long 8:30 am to 4:05 pm day, despite requests to get this changed, last minute assignment to create the first 4 lesson plans for advisory for teachers to begin implementing immediately, having other teachers conducting class in your room during your prep, being the only teacher to prepare and teach two different subjects in the middle school.

        I honor and welcome the challenges and believe that many are genuinely constructed for good cause but I am only human.

Mr. Perez

“When you encounter someone greater than yourself,
turn your thoughts to becoming his…” or her  “…equal.
When you encounter someone lesser than you,
look within and examine your own self”.
– Confucius

Dear M,

        I noticed you had two witnesses taking minutes of our Thursday, November 10, 2011 meeting; KG (4th Grade Educator) & ER (Office Staff).  

        It concerns me slightly that one of your witnesses may harbor a particular bias concerning one of the issues that you raised because she is a lower grade school teacher and segregating language by color is a common form of controlling student behavior in the lower grades.

        As depicted by observational analysis attained from the most recent in-house teacher tours in "A", everyone is well aware that there is a significant negative correlation between the occurrence of segregating language by color and grade level. In other words, the practice of segregating language by color dwindles as grade level increases. This was evident across the board.  

        Additionally, both of your witnesses are probably not aware of the incessant concerns raised by middle school teachers surrounding the segregation of language by color, which you were made aware of on several different occasions. One of which you openly agreed and admitted that it sounds like we may have to begin weaning off the middle school students from said practice.

        Concerning grading, there are several significant obstacles, you are well aware of, which impede in the efficacy of this practice.  

        To place things into perspective I wish to share with your witnesses the letter I emailed you after our Tuesday, November 1, 2011 meeting. Thank you.

Dear K and E, please factor into the equation the forwarded email titled Worthy Human.


Mr. Perez