What was the role of Black English in the classroom?


(2 points)  The following text comes from a Law passed by the state of Oklahoma in 1997:


Ebonics shall not be recognized as a language art and shall not be taught as a course or class in the public schools of the state for which a student receives credit or which is counted toward fulfilling graduation requirements.  For purposes of this section, “Ebonics” means an Africanized form of English reflecting Black American’s linguistic-cultural ties to their African heritage.


Your job:  in a page to a page-and-a-half, please comment on the above law.  What do you think motivated it?  Do you think the law is appropriate or not, and why?  I’m not looking for one particular answer here; I just want to see some depth of thought.



(2 points)  For this question, you will need to find an African American interviewee, ideally one who is very familiar with (and at least sometimes uses) Black English.  Please don’t use a classmate as an interviewee.  I want you to ask questions such as the following as the interviewee reflects on his or her school experiences (you can include anything from grade school to high school):



What was the role of Black English in the classroom?  In the playground?


Did any teacher or administrator take an official stance on how Black English should or should not be used?  If so, what?


How did the role of Black English make the interviewee feel?


Looking back, does the interviewee approve or disapprove of the way that Black English was treated?  Why?


What does the interviewee believe to be the correct treatment of Black English in today’s schools, and why?


I expect that your report of the interview should run roughly a page or a little more. Then I want you to add an additional paragraph or two with your own opinions.  Do you agree or disagree with the interviewee, and why?


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(1 point)  California public schoolteachers must teach a set of state-approved “standards” to their students.  When it comes to English standards, there are two different sets:  one for native English speakers, and one for non-native speakers (often given the label ELD, for “English Language Development” or LEP, for “English Limited Proficiency.”).  Which set of standards do you think should apply to grade school children who speak Black English at home?  Why?  A decent answer will probably need to be at least a half-page long.

It is not necessary to do this to answer the above question, but if you like you can go to www.cde.ca.gov and search around for the various sets of standards.

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