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Isolation of Black Girls Said To Begin Early

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The treatment of black girls by their teachers in the early grades helps produce a pattern of school isolation among the girls later on, even though they tend to start school with a high degree of sociability, two university of Florida researchers argue.

The researchers based their findings on a review of more than 60 desegregation studies conducted over the past 10 years.

The researchers, Elois Scott, an educational psychologist, and San-dra Damico, a professor of education, found that beginning as early as kindergarten, teachers tend to praise black girls for their social and nurturing behaviors and white girls for their academic behaviors.

As a result, the researchers concluded, white girls are less likely to choose black girls as their best friends in the middle-school grades. At that age, Ms. Scott explained, girls choose a small number of best friends and usually those who are most like themselves.

The researchers also found that black females and white males fared about the same academically in the elementary grades, but teachers evaluated them differently.

"They said that white males would be able to do better, that they were immature," Ms. Scott said. "They simply said to black females, 'That's a good job,' without giving them encouragement."

"What you find," Ms. Damico said, "is that by the 4th grade, black females have the lowest concept of themselves as being academically capable."--lck

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