Ebonics on the Hill

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WASHINGTON: Oakland School District Superintendent Carolyn Getridge defended her board’s attempt to introduce ebonics into the curriculum on Capital Hill Thursday. "What is at issue here are the steps we are willing to take to address the chronic underachievement of these students," Getridge told a Senate subcommittee. She argued that judgments about the proper place of ebonics in the field of official languages are not her concern. Her goal, she said, is to address the 1.8 grade point average of black students in the Oakland school district, which compares with an average 3.0 for white and Asian students. One result: 20 percent of blacks who reach 12th grade in Oakland fail to graduate. While members of the subcommittee commented that teaching ebonics was “absurd,” the issue they must decide is whether to allow federal money targeted to teaching foreign languages to be used for the controversial program.