I was sitting down to fill out Lily's kinder registration this week and came across the section that I usually skip. The one where they ask you to fill in your child's race. Well this year instead of the normal (optional) written beside the section heading it has been replaced with (required). ?!?!??!?!WHAT!?!?!?! Required???? I'm being told by the gov't (the school is a gov't entity btw) that I'm required to label my child.
I looked a bit further into the paperwork and found the handout explaining the changes to the student enrollment forms for the upcoming year. In bold on that handout it states:
Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, the federal government is requiring school districts to follow new standards with regard to collecting student and stave race and ethnicity data. Oregon schools must make changes to follow these new reporting requirements.
Then following that they explain how to determine the correct way to report your child's race and ethnicity. Seriously? Why? What does it matter? It makes no sense to me. It didn't make sense to my nearly 9 year old son either. I asked him what race he thought he was and he answered, "American". BINGO! Exactly! If a 9 year old can get that race labels shouldn't matter why can't a bunch of supposedly well educated bureaucrats?
My kids are all HUMAN and they are all AMERICAN. Period. Enough said.
But apparently that isn't enough for the federal government. The new regulations will not allow the schools to turn in blank forms. That means that they have to fill in the information if you leave it out, and of course that means the schools have to determine what race/ethnicity my child is. Um no, I don't think so. I don't need someone labeling my kid. Could you look at my kids and know they had Hispanic heritage? What about children of mixed race. For instance my friends who's kids are both of Korean and European decent? What would the school bean counter choose for the form especially if they hadn't met both parents? Why the heck does it even matter? What happens when one child looks more Asian and the other more European. Does that mean they aren't the same race???
And then comes the question, what are they going to do with the information they collect???
I feel sorry for the schools who are obviously going to face other parents who question their right to collect such data when all they are trying to do is follow the stupid rules set by the feds in order to secure funding. And that brings me to the next logical step in this argument. It is no different than the census in my opinion, they have no constitutional right to gather anything other than the number of people living in my house, but they push the envelope and asked a ton of questions about race and ethnicity. Why are we still dolling out funds on the basis of race demographics?
Shouldn't we be passed that by now? I could understand it 40 even 20 years ago. But now when almost every school has a huge range of diversity why does it matter?? People will argue that it is so those who are ESL (English as a 2nd Language) students get the help they need. Well ok, so ask the question what is your primary language and what is spoken in your home? No need for the race question there. Others will say that schools with a high level of minorities have lower socioeconomic levels and need more funding. Not necessarily true. And why don't you just ask for a wage range instead of race if economic levels are truly what you are concerned about??
We live in a country where the highest office in the land is held by someone of mixed heritage and dark skin, we tell our children that everyone is equal and that they should look past skin color, yet we are still saying that skin color makes a difference and should be counted when considering funding for schools?? Seriously?? Talk about mixed messages.
In the end I left it blank. I will figure out how to keep it that way if we decide to keep the kids in public school. Right now we are seriously leaning toward homeschooling.
5 months ago