Ebonics





Ebonics
The United States is filled with many different ethnicities, cultures, customs, languages, etc. Supposedly, our public schools are equipped with classes, teachers, curriculums and materials in order to educate that part of the student population whose first language is something other than the English language. Bilingual classes, transitional classes, ESL classes are just a few of the programs that have been developed to instruct non-English speaking students in order for them to acquire the English language.
However, there has been a "language" use among African American students; "language" that has not been examined closely nor acknowledged until recently. Ebonics is classified as "Black English" or "Black sounds", or "Pan African Communication Behavior" or "African Language systems" which originates from the West African languages such as Ibo, Yoruba, and Hausa (Amended Resolution of the Board of Education, 1997. P. 1)." During the times of slavery, ebonics was also spoken as Gullah, which is a combination of West African languages, and English. Ebonics is a term coined by psychologist Robert Williams, resulting from the combination of two words, "ebony" and "phonics" in order to describe its dialect (The Daily O\'Collegian Editorial Board. 1997. P. 1). The controversy behind ebonics is whether or not it is actually a language or and should it be instructed as a foreign language.
Language is defined as a "system of words formed from such combinations and patterns, used by the people of a particular country or by a group of people with a shared history or set of traditions (Microsoft Bookshelf. 1996-1997 edition)." Ebonics is a form of communication of feelings, thoughts, opinions and ideas at is being used by our students in the classroom who feel very comfortable using ebonics because they are accustomed to express themselves in that way.
As a result of many students using ebonics in a school setting, it has been recognized in our educational system and it is believed that the "understanding, the application, the principles, the laws and the structure of ebonics would help African American students (Amended Resolution of the Board of Education, 1997. P. 1)." Ebonics would be used to help learn Standard English. Therefore, ebonics has been studied for the last 15 years due to the State of California recognizing the "unique language stature of descendants of Africans (Amended Resolution of the Board of Education, 1997. P. 1)." As a result, the State of California is trying to mandate an education program that is in the "interest of vindicating their equal protection of the law rights under the 14 Amendment (Amended Resolution of the Board of Education, 1997. P. 2).\'\' The 14 Amendment states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject
to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of
the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any
law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of
the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to
any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
(Microsoft Bookshelf. 1996-1997).

The Oakland school district is trying to pass a program based on ebonics because it is considered that it will benefit African American students in their first language. In addition, the Oakland school district believes that if ebonics is these students first language that would make them bilingual and must receive some form of bilingual education. Under the Bilingual Education Act (1968),
confirmed by a Supreme Court decision (1974) and mandating help for
students with limited English proficiency, requires instruction in the
native languages of students. (Microsoft Bookshelf. 1996-1997).
Oakland\'s concern is based on the outcome of the standardized test of reading and language skills among many African American students, according to the Amended Resolution of the Board of Education (1997), the scores on the standardized test were below state and national levels. In addition to the low standardized test scores, Wasserman (1997) argues that the grade point average among African American students is D+. The program they envisioned "featured African American system principles to move students from the language patterns they bring to school to English proficiency (Amended Resolution of the Board of Education, 1997. P.2)."
According to The Daily O\'Collegian Editorial