Education emphasis might be causing racial problem

Opinion section
Valley News - Opinion

Maybe the theory that Americans should be very well educated to eliminate racism might actually be the problem.

The emphasis on education involves college admissions requirements at the expense of vocational and performing arts electives and extracurricular commitments which bring Whites, Blacks and Hispanics together. Perhaps restoring these electives and extracurricular activities rather than emphasizing admission to a prestigious college would be the solution.

High school math and science requirements nowadays are primarily for college admission purposes. High school graduates who do not enter specific professions very rarely use that level of math and science outside of school. The elimination of requirements does not prevent those students who want math and science classes from taking them, but that would free up additional classes for electives in which Whites, Blacks and Hispanics truly work together. Ironically the encouragement of admission to specific colleges creates a more cutthroat environment where students are less likely to work together on academic classes.

In sports, Whites, Blacks and Hispanics see each other as teammates rather than as threats, and they become friends. The increased academic requirements impair academic eligibility for participation in athletics, and some students eschew athletics to focus on grades. In the days when vocational and performing arts electives were included in GPAs, those impediments did not occur and more students were able to participate on racially integrated sports teams. The focus on academics rather than athletics and other extracurriculars has been at the expense of racial harmony.

Not all students have the skills to participate in athletics, but some are able to be part of the band or the drill team which complements athletic programs. These activities are also racially integrated, and the students of different races work together and become friends.

Whites, Blacks and Hispanics also interact with each other in orchestra, choir, music, drama and dance classes. They become friends and work together with each other to make the entire production successful. Many of these performing arts classes have become victims of a curriculum which emphasizes admission to a higher-level university, and thus the support for students of different races has become a casualty.

The stereotype of Mexicans driving old lowrider Chevys actually brought Whites and Mexicans together, because the White teens loved those old lowrider Chevys. The stereotype of Blacks driving Cadillacs also had positive rather than negative results due to the Whites’ appreciation of the Cadillacs. Students of all races who work on cars in an auto shop class appreciate each other’s cars and that translates into appreciation of the car owners regardless of race. In wood shop and metal shop classes, Whites, Blacks and Hispanics can see the cool projects their classmates are undertaking and appreciate those of other races for their craftsmanship.

Not only do extracurriculars and electives bring students of different races together, but the equality of Blacks, Hispanics and others is shown rather than told to the students by a teacher, textbook, film or assembly speaker. The students’ positive opinion of minorities will thus likely have more of a foundation and be more defensible.

Increased education has proven not to be the answer to eliminating racism. A return to an emphasis on vocational electives, performing arts classes, athletics and other extracurriculars may return America to the level of racial harmony which was starting to be achieved before those school activities were scuttled in the name of higher academic achievement.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at