Langston Hughes: Poem Analysis

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There is a middle school student who is the oldest of three kids, lets call her Lucy. Her father is in jail and her mother works two jobs to support the family. Each morning, Lucy has to make sure her younger brothers are awake and ready for school. She is also responsible to take them home from school and watch them while their mother is at work. Although this student is very bright and dreams of one day going to college, her performance on previous high-stakes testing has placed her in lower achieving classrooms. In these classrooms, Lucy is taught by poor teachers and surrounded by unmotivated students. Much like this young girl, the majority of students that have completed public schooling are familiar with the high-stakes testing and tracking…show more content…
However, this thinking neglects the opportunities high ability students are already given. In 1949, Langston Hughes wrote one of his most famous poems about the struggle of racial differences in higher education courses at Columbia University. Hughes describes the path he takes home after receiving an assignment from his white professor in his majority white class. Unlike the other students, Hughes begins his long journey to his room at the Harlem YMCA (Hughes). In this poem, "Theme for English B," the longevity of this problem is proven. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, socioeconomic status has played a huge role in educational systems. When other students have the opportunity to go home to nice houses full of educated people, Langston Hughes journeys to the YMCA where he stays with other uneducated African Americans. Applying this poem, it is easy to see how there is an apparent gap in the socioeconomic status and student achievement that begins before formal schooling. A study in 2013 showed, "Children from low-SES families are less likely to have experiences that encourage the development of fundamental skills of reading acquisition, such as phonological awareness, vocabulary, and oral language" (Buckingham, Wheldall, Beaman-Wheldall). Even before a child is sent to school, if he/she is from a low-socioeconomic…show more content…
However, the detracking of schools supports a classroom environment in which high ability students learn while assisting peers who may not be at the same level. This subject can be seen played out through history. For example, in the fight for racial equality in America, W.E.B Dubois proudly states, "We must strive for the right which the world accords to men" (Dubois). Dubois fought for the African American community to unite and work together for full-body change (Rudwick). Similarly, students of all educational abilities should unite together for real change to occur. This can only happen with the detracking of schools and the integration of classrooms. When researching schools around the nation who have done away with high-stakes testing, researchers found that, "When students develop insight into their own ways of knowing and learning, they become highly motivated students in the broader sense of the words, thirsty for a greater understanding of the world around them" (Oaks and Wells). This quote proves how lower achieving students thrived when integrated in multiple classroom settings. The scoring on a typical high-stakes test should not dictate the classroom a student is in, the teachers they have, or the friends they make within the classroom walls. When children are surrounded by peers with different learning
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