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Northwest Herald from Woodstock, Illinois • Page 9

Northwest Heraldi
Woodstock, Illinois
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Northwest Herald Sunday, December 29, 1003 Pass 9 Mim1 wwi-riju 1 Q3(Mib1 Secretary general sure to displease greatest backers Educational gimmickry of Ebonics won't help blacks 1 HponrEboraca! Albright for shoving him into the job wul be to demand Secretary of State Albright use up her political capital to persuade Congress to pay up the U.S. $1.4 billion arrears. She was always saying it would never do that with Boutros--Ghali in there. To the well-known By DANIEL BERGER The Baltimore Sun Kofi Annan is not a household word in the United States. Some people even think that's HAnon.

But he is likely to become the best-known U.N. sec retary general in decades. And deficit-reducer, Presi" some of the people who put him there wul begin to wonder why. Hispredecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, was Washington's favorite for the job five years ago. The United Nations needed clean SEPOtS Sl 1 dent Clinton, Annan will say something like: Congratulations1 on your world' influence, that r-? will cost you $1.4 billion.

Sen. Helms under- 1 stands this and already invited Pif him down to Washington coffee (no pun in tended). ing up. Who better than an outsider? Boutros-Ghali was an Egyptian diplomat-politician-courtier who had performed nobly By GREGORY KANE The Baltimore Sun Just when you think it's safe to pick up a newspaper again comes this: "California school system accepts black English," the headline read. So right away I'm figuring California do stuff like this to torment the rest of us.

California is, after all, California. We expect a certain degree of weirdness. "Acknowledging that many African-American students do not speak standard English, the Oakland school board has approved a program the nation's first that recognizes a distinctive language spoken by some American blacks as a primary language. "The decision, which touches on explosive educational and racial issues, describes black English as not merely a dialect of standard English, but a separate language, with roots in Africa, which the district and some linguists call a combination of the words 'ebony' and Ebonics indeed! The Oakland school system is indeed in dire straits if its leaders have to resort to such nonsense. And newspaper story indicates school officials in Oakland are desperate.

Black students make up 53 percent of the 52,000 students in Oakland's schools. Some 71 percent of students enrolled in special education courses are black. The percentage of black students in the gifted and talented classes is 37 percent. The grade point average of black students is a dismal 1.8. It is with chagrin that I say black students bring up the rear, lagging behind every ethnic group in Oakland.

That includes whites, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians and the obscure category of ethnics known as "other." Some excuse has to be made for why black students are not doing well. So why not a linguistic one? We can put it right up there with the curriculum excuse that spawned the demand for an Afrocentric curriculum. If only the curriculum were African-centered enough, the argument went, black students would miraculously improve their reading and math skills. Of course, Afrocentrists didn't realize they were in essence admitting that black students were simply incapable of learning a Eurocentric curriculum the same peacemaking with Israel under U.S. broker A reforms-1 deal is in the ing.

He faced a glass ceiling (as a -r Air making. Not only Christian) in his own coun that When peace keeping was getting ing and math skills really believe in their hearts education is a white thing, the problem is with their attitudes, not the system. There is a long list of black Americans -some famous, most not who mastered education without Ebonics or an Afrocentric curriculum. Scholar and educator W.E.B. DuBois, singer and actor Paul Robeson and rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.come immediately to mind.

Abolitionist Frederick Dduglass had no formal education but learned to read and write on his own. He taught himself five languages, despite the "affliction" of growing up among slaves who didn't speak standard English. There exist in every nook and cranny of the nation highly educated blacks. In my day, they were held in high esteem as the ultimate role models. That was in the day before blacks came to dominate basketball and football.

Today the black who scores the touchdown or dunks the basketball is held in higher esteem than the black with an engineering degree or a doctorate. As long as blacks hold their educated elite in lower regard than black athletes, poor black students will continue to do poorly. And no amount of finagling or gimmickry with the educational system will change that. Gregory Kane is columnist for The Baltimore Sun. one Asian students learn with dazzling proficiency.

And actually, they were conceding black inferiority too. So now, we have the Ebonics excuse. Black students can't learn standard English, so just add Ebonics to the regular curriculum to help them do it. The approach sure beats holding black students to the same rigorous standards their elders were held to a generation ago in those much maligned segregated schools. All we did was learn standard English, math, science, reading and a couple of.

foreign languages to boot. I shall make yet another in what is becoming an endless string of appeals for black folk to abandon this nonsense. I shall reiterate some points I have made in the past, hoping someone somewhere will listen. We need to stop looking at curriculum and language and look at the students. It has been documented that blacks as a group watch more television than other ethnic groups.

Black parents need to grab their "youngstas" by the ears and steer them to some study material. If a black youth is below average in reading and math skills, has no books in his home but has a $200 pair of athletic shoes oh his feet, his educational deficiencies are caused by his and his parents' priorities, not the system. If black students who lag behind in read out of hand three years ago, they promoted Annan to be under secretary for it. Now he is asking benefactor nations to "set up rapidly deployable brigades and battalions that could be moved into the theater very quickly, should the governments decide to participate. Gee, does that mean the United States? Annan is likely to become more of an American public fig-' ure than his predecessors.

He is likely to have a sympathetic following among blacks who never really credited Boutros-Ghali with being African. And Annan made it clear that -he is not running for a second term. So he does not have to please any government. That does not mean he oppos-: es the tradition of two terms. It means that as a true, he understands that to mean two terms per continent What if Americans find they like him and want him to stay for a second term? Ah, then changing the tradition would be Washing- ton's problem.

It appears that the United States has put in charge of the U.N. machinery a skilled advocate of it which is not exactly what the- try, and deserved reward. Boutros-Ghali proved, from Washington's point of view, a disappointment. Ambassador Madeleine Albright and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms equally despised him. Annan, on the other hand, wasn't selected from across the globe.

He was just there, standing in line. If it had to be an African, this Ghanaian was ready. If others couldn't get enough votes, no country objected to him. If France insisted on one who spoke French, well, actually, he speaks it. Washington no longer thinks it a virtue to be an outsider.

So much better to have an insider in charge of clean-up. He knows where the bodies are buried; as assistant secretary general for budget and planning, he buried them. And it is no longer a virtue to be a back-room negotiator. So much better to have a bureaucrat's bureaucrat Especially one as affable, talking to a large group, as Annan was in his first news conference. Instead of an habitue of the corridors of power in Cairo, this man has been resident mostly in New York for three decades of service in the corridors of the United Nations.

The national politics he has been observing are ours. So Annan's first job is to put the bite on the hand that fed him. His thanks to Ambassador A lot of silliness dialect spoken by many urban black students as a distinct, unique language. Taking away from them the academic goal of speaking proper English is tantamount to taking away from them access to a better life. In our culture, communication is a critically vital tool for survival and success.

Now the Oakland school district intends to request federal funding for teaching its teachers street slang so they can better educate their students. This is absurd. If anything, the Oakland schools should be seeking federal funding to increase the amount of English reading and writing instruction their students receive. As one of those students might say, "The board be way off base on this one," and we can only hope someone in the Oakland schools would correct the child's grammar. (North San Diego County Times) lish.

They should be spoken to early and often in standard English and encouraged to use Ebonics only in private conversations. As the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, Oakland's Ebonics decision is an "unacceptable surrender it's teaching down to our children." Time and again it's been shown that children are capable of delivering on the expectations educators have for them. If Oakland officials expect black children to learn English, they will. To expect otherwise is an insult and a grave disservice to the children in their charge.

(The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.) Dialect as language? The Oakland school board has done something that is.sending shock waves across the nation: It has voted to recognize the A lot of silliness passes for educational theory these days, but the Oakland, School District has cornered the market. Last week its school board voted unanimously to classify "ebonies" the slang English spoken by many black Americans as a separate many job interviewers would hire a student who says something like, "I be graduated from Oakland Oakland officials argue that children who can't be taught in standard English should be taught in ebonies as a way of "maintaining the legitimacy and richness of such language and to facilitate their acquisition and mastery of English language skills." That would be a tragic mistake and will actually delay their mastery of standard Eng U.N.-bashers encouraging this policy intended. Daniel Berber writes editori- als for The Baltimore Sun. Conservatoids certain to go into cybershock over brave new words Prediction: The first half of the 21st century is likely to see an explosion of new words second only to the explosion that occurred in American speech 150 I 1 1 1 years ago. Fifty years hence our native -tongue will be richer by far.

Merriam-Web-ster's 10th Collegiate (1993) lists "cybernation," "cybernetics" and their immediate derivatives. That is all. The Random House College Dictionary adds "cyber vile, skanky stew." I understand that "skanky" means nasty or repellent, but it won't be around long. How about It turned uo in a column in the Richmond (Va.) i Times-Dispatch in July. This was a col umn on the use of a plural referent for a I singular antecedent, as in, "Does every pupil have their homework?" The columnist termed this an issuette, that is, a trivial matter.

Harumph! I would blackball "issuette" on general principles. The suf- fix means little, as in kitchenette, or it means feminine, as in majorette, and the i English language offers an abundance bf modifiers that aren't cutesy-wutesy. I would also give the old heave-ho to "liberaloid," which Time magazine test- ed a few weeks ago. Characters ina i Woody Allen movie were, "liberaloid neurotic, mildly dysfunctional." I love to see our language grow, but sometimesjanj innovator tries too hard. James J.

Kilpatrick writes for Uni-l versa! Press Syndicate. hard to get used to. Readers have sent me a handful of nominations for new words or new applications that seem likely to stick. Last July the Raleigh (N.C.) News Observer carried a headline over a story about a police crackdown: "10 stores caught failing to card." Twenty years ago the verb would have mystified most readers; today just about and especially teenagers understands that "to card" means to check an ID for age. The verb "to max out" has achieved universal recognition from those who live by their credit cards.

A columnist for The New York Times said the city is "threatened with mallification" as colorful old neighborhoods yield their traditional shops. Federal agencies now watch out for "backwardation" in commodities trading. Two citations of "skanky" are at hand. Newsweek in July spoke of an actor who played the role of "a hilariously skanky stoner who preys on high-school girls." A TV critic for Knight-Rid-der condemned "The Frighteners" as "a brought the same kind of word building in the 1800s that the computer is producing now. The caboose that once meant a ship's galley became the caboose at the rear of a train.

Metaphors gave fresh meaning to such verbs as deadhead, railroad and clear the track. We may reasonably anticipate that many neologisms of the Age of the Computer will still be greeted with scorn by mossbacks of the 21st century. Many novelties will come and go almost overnight; some will linger for a while. So it was with "bloomers," named for the 19th-century reformist and suffragette, Amelia Bloomer. Does any woman wear bloomers any more? Before I leave the topic of words from the Age of the Computer, let me ask about "mouse." All my current dictionaries define the singular form: A mouse is a device for moving an icon on a computer screen.

But let us suppose an Apple mouse is resting next to a Macintosh mouse. What do we have? Two mice? It sounds ludicrous. Two mouses? That must be the plural, but it will be words came forth! Mencken mentioned such compounds as gumshoe, butt in, carpetbagger, deadbeat, dugout, shotgun, stag party, horse sense and buzz-saw. Some total inventions gained acceptance: buncombe, conniption, campus, galoot, maverick, roustabout, bugaboo and blizzard. Who could improve upon square meal, fire-eater, logroll and pussyfooter? It was a period of uncommon vigor.

As the West opened, there were new things to be named and new experiences to define. Americans of thai; day, Mencken commented, were not content with lame nouns and insipid adjectives. In the 1860s some perceptive person coined a word for a sudden fierce rainstorm: It was a "cloudburst" At about the same time, dozens of lusty words appeared in print: roughneck, boiled shirt, blowout, homestretch, spread-eagle, comedown, bedspread, bottom dollar, back talk, pay dirt, tenderfoot, mossback, square meal and bellhop. The burgeoning railroad industry James J. KlLPATRICK THE WRITER'S ART punk," "cybersex" and "cyberspace." Neither dictionary defines "Web" or "Web site." What will you bet that their next editions will see a flowering of computerese? A whole new realm of lexicography awaits us.

H.L. Mencken, in "The American Language," dealt at some length with coinages (or new applications) that emerged in the 1800s. What delightful WORLD WIDE WEB Get connected with CIN.NET today! Home page: http:www.cin.netinfo.html E-MAIL newsgroups internet relay chat, Internet phone jSS. "Wi" fit- Tech Support: 815-477-1600 or e-mail Sales and Generals Information: 847-310-1188 or e-mail COMMERCIAL WEB HOSTING SLIPPPP DIAL-UP ACCESS LOCATIONS: Please call for more Infol DIAL-UP Glencoe Glen Ellyn Glenvlew Halt Day Harvard Waukegan Wheeling Wheeton Wlnnetka Wllmette Zlon Cicero Crystal Lake DeerNeld Dea Plalnes Dixon Qnmnmrn Grove Highland Park Hlfldale Hoffman Eatates Homewood Joliet K(mkl(e Roaelle SL Charles Schaumburg Summit Skokle Sterling Elgin Elk Grove Village Elmhurat Evanston Franklin Park La Grange Lemont Llbertyvllle Lockport Lombard Mrnoo Palatine Park Ridge Plalnfleld Rlveralde Rlvar Grove Rock Falia Maywood Mundeleln Napervllle Northbrook Oakbrook 0k Lawn Berwyn Blua Island Brookfleld Calumet City Chicago (6 sltea) Chlcqo Hf'fihta Arlington Heights Aurora Barrlngton Batavia Ballwood BwwwwIHa DEDICATED LINKS NETWORK COUNSELING.

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