The Real Ebonics Debate

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In the winter of 1996, the Oakland school board's resolution recognizing Ebonics as a valid linguistic system generated a brief firestorm of hostile criticism and misinformation, then faded from public consciousness. But in the classrooms of America, the question of how to engage the distinctive language of many African-American children remains urgent. In The Real Ebonics Debate some of our most important educators, linguists, and writers, as well as teachers and students reporting from the field, examine the lessons of the Ebonics controversy and unravel the complex issues at the heart of how America educates its children.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A dynamic collection of high-voltage writings that bring sanity and passion to the great debate about linguistics, class, and race. —Jonathan Kozol, author of Amazing Grace

"Anyone in the field of education-teacher, administrator, researcher, policy maker-who is seriously concerned with issues of race, class, and the politics of language in America's schools should read this book. It presents the most comprehensive and thoughtful discussion of Ebonics in education that I have yet encountered." —Frederick Erickson, University of Pennsylvania

"This is the best pragmatic and theoretical treatment of the recent Ebonics controversy. Great clarity and common sense come from an excellent selection of scholar-practitioners." —Asa Hilliard, Georgia State University

"At last there is a book that talks sense about the Ebonics debate and makes a powerful case for honoring the many languages we speak. A must read." —Herbert Kohl, Georgia State University

"The comprehensive source for teachers who want to be successful teachers of African-American children." —Gloria Ladsen-Billings, author of The Dreamkeepers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807031452
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 636,450
  • Lexile: 1320L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Theresa Perry is associate professor and vice president for community relations at Wheelock College in Boston. Lisa Delpit is the Benjamin E. Mays Professor of Urban Educational Leadership at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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Table of Contents

"I'on Know Why They Be Trippin'": Reflections on the Ebonics Debate 3
What Should Teachers Do? Ebonics and Culturally Responsive Instruction 17
Black English/Ebonics: What It Be Like? 29
If Ebonics Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? (pace James Baldwin, 1979) 38
What Is Black English? What Is Ebonics? 49
Holding on to a Language of Our Own: An Interview with Linguist John Rickford 59
If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? 67
Ebonics: Myths and Realities 71
Embracing Ebonics and Teaching Standard English: An Interview with Oakland Teacher Carrie Secret 79
An Ante-Bellum Sermon 89
The Seedling 93
Kitchen Poets and Classroom Books: Literature from Children's Roots 94
"Listen to Your Students": An Interview with Oakland High School English Teacher Hafeezah AdamaDavia Dalji 104
Teaching Teachers about Black Communications 117
Ebonics Speakers and Cultural, Linguistic, and Political Test Bias 126
Removing the Mask: Roots of Oppression Through Omission 134
The Oakland Ebonics Resolution 143
Ebonics Resolution Revisions 146
The Oakland Policy Statement 148
Recommendations of the Task Force on Educating African-American Students 151
What Is the Standard English Proficiency Program? 154
Oakland Superintendent Responds to Critics of the Ebonics Policy 156
Linguistics Society of America Resolution on Ebonics 160
"What Go Round Come Round": King in Perspective 163
Opening Pandora's Box: An Interview with Oakland School Board Member Toni Cook 172
An Oakland Student Speaks Out 181
Ebonics and the Role of Community: An Interview with Activist Isaac Taggert 182
Official Language, Unofficial Reality: Acquiring Bilingual/Bicultural Fluency in a Segregated Southern Community 189
Black English: Steppin Up? Lookin Back 197
Resources on Ebonics 205
Clarifying Terminology 208
Notes and References 211
Contributors 221
Credits 224
Acknowledgments 226
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