Is Ken Trainor right, that most people think the racial achievement gap can be eliminated if just one problematic variable is remedied [Myopia and the minority student achievement elephant, Viewpoints, Feb. 8]? Are we that narrow-minded? I researched the gap at Oak Park and River Forest High School in the late 1990s (Not Making The Grade: Barriers to Academic Achievement Among African-American Students at OPRFHS, available for check-out at the Oak Park Public Library) and argued that the gap is likely caused by multiple factors. Several years later another study, “The Learning Community Performance Gap,” conducted by the African-American Achievement Study Team at OPRF, argued a similar thesis: No one factor is responsible for or will solve the gap.

We have many fundamental inequalities in this country, and, like the achievement gap, I believe they require complex solutions. Unfortunately, though, most of us who are in the top 20 percent of the socioeconomic structure consume ourselves with maintaining that spot for ourselves and our children. We who are in the most privileged positions, surely do not do enough to develop and implement the solutions needed to rectify social and economic inequalities. We may do something every now and then to attempt a realignment of the status quo, but overall we are not a formidable part of the solution.

I believe the racial achievement gap exists for reasons greater than any one variable, and not just due to a lack of societal belief that black children can learn. It remains because of individual self-centeredness; it remains because people think “their way of achieving success” should work for anyone; it remains because those who have want to keep what they have.

Certainly there are solutions to the achievement gap within reach?#34;solutions for all stakeholders to participate in. Yet I also believe that until all of us, particularly the affluent, feel a personal stake in the resolution of this critical inequality, fundamental change will not occur.

Somehow, the privileged households in our society must find a way out of their own myopic need to maintain themselves in a consumer-driven society. If that can occur, then I believe creative and empathic forces will be released that will make a difference in resolving the social inequalities that surround us.

Denise Rose
Oak Park

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