Everyone’s talking about the new book club at Truesdell Education Campus in Washington, DC.
The club was started last December after 11-year-old Devon Wesley complained that his poor results on an English test didn’t reflect his true reading ability.
Devon and two of his friends were told to read Bad Boy: A Memoir, a book about author Dean Myers’s childhood experiences growing up in Harlem. They loved it.
Other students soon took interest, and with the help of Assistant Principal Michael Redmond, formed a minority boys-only book club that focused on books with black characters.
“The books that we read here, we can relate to,” says Devon.
Redmond, who wrote his college dissertation on the educational advancement of minority boys, says most people don’t expect black kids to be interested in reading. So he started a reading club that is only open to minority boys.
“What a beautiful thing, for teachers to be able to see boys who look like this be so into reading. We did not imagine that kids would be this serious about reading and about doing something that we didn’t ask them to do,” says Redmond. “We’re disrupting the notion of what public education can be and what little black boys can do and be.”
I’m sure Redmond means well, but his comment is the perfect example of the worst type of racism: the bigotry of low expectations. No wonder DC schools are failing so badly.
Black male students are the lowest performing demographic in DC, but that doesn’t mean we should applaud them for normal behaviors like reading.
The author of Bad Boy actually touches on this issue when he says he doesn’t want to be remembered for “Negro accomplishments.”
When asked about the line, 10-year-old Kemari Starks pointed out that “you can be smart, not because you’re black, but because you’re smart, period.”
Truesdell’s student body is comprised mainly of black and Hispanic students from low-income families. In 2017, just 33% met or exceeded expectations on the English portion of a national standardized test (up from 18% in 2016).
It is unclear whether the book club will boost test scores, but it certainly has changed the students’ attitude towards reading, says Vice Principal Steve Aupperle. “They are now seeing that reading is amazing and, through reading, you can find people to relate to,” says Aupperle. “That’s what reading is.”
The book club meets once a week 30 minutes before school starts. Next on the reading list is Monster, another Myers novel, about a teenager on trial for murder charges.
Editor’s note: Are we teaching children now that its OK to have a club that excludes people based on race? If a Republican said anything like this they would be fired and protested by hundreds. And yet this is applauded by the liberal media, indeed heralded on the front page of the Washington Post.
Having lived near D.C. for many years, I can tell you D.C. is one of the worst run cities in the country. It is an embarrassment for the nation’s capital to have such poor schools.