Austin W. So has a lot to learn. Just because he is ready to meld into some mold that others created for him does not mean that everyone has to do so. Since the SATs are culturally biased and he insists that "African American and Latino students [should] know what those things are [dividends, shareholders, checkmate, and chess]," he should also support the idea of integrating their cultural ideas in the test, and insist that everyone else learn them, too. Wouldn't it be nice if we were all familiar with the insignificant aspects of every culture that only the people within the culture find important? Then we would all understand each other, right Please.
Should people be forced to care about trivialities? What's important to you could be highly inane to me and vice versa. This does not seem to be a message that breeds understanding, but it is an idea that So needs to think about. I, personally, am all for "cross-cultural" learning; I actually think it ideal and beautiful, but I find it absurd and insulting that So insist some people conform or yield while others do not.
Secondly, the problem with initiative does not come from low self esteem and "apathy to education" as So and other people in authoritative and, unfortunately, official positions have expressed. It comes from economics.
Living in slums, seeing people killed every day, having to live clustered in an atmosphere that breeds resentment, hostility and hopelessness with no better outlook on life than death, is the idea that's perpetuated. Austin W. So should try living in Harlem as an African American for a decade, and he may come to understand that rising out of the ghetto and overcoming a system that is doing everything it can to keep you down and "out of it" is a difficult thing to do. Try working on living conditions and equality of quality within educational systems, Austin W. So, and then, and only then, will you be able to see some real, substantial and permanent results. You, and many others, really need to learn how to see. Garen E. Thomas '95