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In Germany it's worse. We don't have a distinct middle school as such, but we have three parallel tiers after four years of elementary school. One is only until grade 9, one until grade 10, the third is up to 13 years.

I'm leaving out a lot of details here, but basically students have to choose one track after elementary school. And upgrading is hard, especially because the lower tracks are "optimized for slower learners". Side-Note: As you might have guessed, the track selection has become more and more based on ethnicity.

Studies have shown that such a tracked system is worse in every imaginable way. But it is extremely attractive to conservative academics.

After a long discussion with little alternatives, my little cousin went to a Realschule mit Förderstufe. The problem with the school has less to do with ethnicity as i can see it but the fact that large parts of her class dont speak German good enough to be educated in it. And that they are not grouped up by language to help them catch up in their first language. Pair that with the "slower learner" approach and all of those kids are simply left behind. I dont think its an issue of racism but simply abandoning anyone who, for what ever reason, cant hold the pace. Simply no parent wants their kid to be in such a class with two multilingual teachers to at least partially cover multiple languages to try to communicate with the kids in their class. They have to deal with the consequences of not thought trough political maneuvers. And the kids who suffer from that are generally those that already live in precarious situations. Painting it as a problem of racism, misses the point entirely from what i have seen and I think framing it this way is deeply counterproductive when it comes to these fundamental issues of our education system.

It's not so much intentionally racist as it is classist.

When I was ready for secondary education, it was clear to me that Gymnasium or ("at least") Gesamtschule was where you went if you were later going to study in a university, Realschule was for trades and Hauptschule was for "stupid" (or "troubled") kids. Needless to say, it was clear to me that I had to go to Gymnasium and then university because both of my parents had attended university.

Of course those were unfair generalisations but when I was in university I met many people who retained exactly the same perception of those differences.

I think it only got worse. What you describe was also point of view when i had to decide between Realschule and Gymnasium. Its not so easy to justify sending your kid to a Realschule anymore. Most people are aware that its likely a dead end for their kid. On the other hand, Gymnasium got also a lot more stressful for kids with the change from G9 to G8 (reduction from 13 years school in total to 12). Either way, i can just feel extremely lucky that i didnt have to go through that. I doubt it would have turned as good as it did for me today.

You are kidding yourself if you think that system isn't also driven by racism. A few decades ago it was virtually impossible for Turkish children to attend Gymnasium, regardless of the grades.

It is hard to quantify, but the attitudes of teachers, in elementary school and beyond, does shape this process. If they don't believe those children can catch up, they won't...

The point is that the division pre-dates the racist impact it has now. Racism and classism go hand in hand in this case the same way they do in many others.

I don't think the multi-tiered system would be salvageable even if there was no racism involved. Whether you doom children to economic failure based on their ethnicity (or lack of fluency in German, which is often abused as a shorthand for "low intelligence") or because of their social status (manifesting in various ways that ultimately lead to "poor performance") doesn't make this system any fairer.

I didn't say it's necessarily racism, just that the division is increasingly determined by ethnicity. Just as black children in the US often can't attend the better schools because they live in different areas.

However, this is indeed structural discrimination, because those children don't get neither the resources nor the opportunity to catch up.

I dont think the comparison with the black population of the US is warranted. I might be lucky enough that i didnt get into contact with what you describe, but the main problem as I see it, is different to the US the difference in first language. The problem in my cousins class isnt that she is the only one with a German last name, but that she is the only native speaker. You dont have a level field if you dont speak the language to a useable degree and if your language level is below A2, you dont have much chances for playing along in the first place. I am not going to disagree, that dumping kids with lacking German knowledge into the Realschule is horrible, but i dont think thats racism. Differently put, you are not going to end up in Realschule because you are the son or daughter of a Turkish migrant, you end up there because your German is lacking due to it not being your first language. Thats not fair either, but there is a difference between being discriminated for your language skills and your ethnicity.

Your language skills are a function of your ethnicity, and so the "language skills" are easily substituted for racial stereotypes. Also, children at that age are naturally less skilled at any language. But in non-native speakers, due to the clear accent, it's blamed on the different ethnicity and quite often on a perceived lack of effort.

Children can reach A2 proficiency in a couple of months, given proper instruction. Who is supposed to give that to them but the teachers in a school?

Do you think your cousin is somehow more entitled to the help of those teachers than the immigrants? Would you prefer those children be deported into a country where they have to fear for their lives and their future? Would you approve the use of force and violence against the children to bring them there (because otherwise they won't go)?

The schools with the highest proportion of non-native speakers will often have the worst teachers. Often because they don't have the choice of the best applicants. And other resources seem to be lacking, on top of higher needs.

Language skills are also a function of economic status. Wealthier migrants are more likely to have the option to attend language classes.

There are free language classes offered to people living on social security (Hartz 4 in Germany).

Yes that's true, but poorer people are more likely to prioritise working over attending class.

I think your critique is one of the reasons why the system is as it is.

>Your language skills are a function of your ethnicity, and so the "language skills" are easily substituted for racial stereotypes.

Just no. This is nonsense, every last word. The language you speak is an essential prerequisite to get a degree in that language. I cant get an Japanese degree without speaking Japanese. You cant have a German school degree without speaking the language. There is also a clear distinction between not speaking the language and having an accent. An accent doesnt matter to communicate and understand new information. I am stating here, that you are unlikely to get a passing grade on your German literary analysis in grade 5 if you dont speak the language. If you are speaking on an A2 proficiency, you are unlikely to pass the bar for the German course for native speakers in an Gymnasium. Not a radical concept. The question should be how we can teach those kids the language if they want a German school degree. The way we are currently doing it, hoping they will just catch up to the normal curriculum is absurd. Realschule isnt meant for people who dont speak the language, its for those that cant keep pace with the tempo in a Gymnasium. Its not a language school, the teachers arent competent enough for this. That if you dont speak the language, you have higher chances to learn the stuff if its tought slower is a side effect. If you dont speak the language, its still torture at a slower pace.

>Do you think your cousin is somehow more entitled to the help of those teachers than the immigrants? Would you prefer those children be deported into a country where they have to fear for their lives and their future? Would you approve the use of force and violence against the children to bring them there (because otherwise they won't go)?

Do you eat kids? If not, why do do you disagree with me? Are you evil by any chance? Excuse the exaggeration, but it seems to be necessary. Your post has nothing to do with a a civil discussion on the topic. I said nothing of the sort and I am implying nothing of the sorts.

I am making a very simple point. Every kid in a class is entitled to be tought and learn what the curriculum has planed for that year. For that a certain bar has to be met from them. They have to have passing grades and in return, the school as to provide them with the information that they should know. That is how the school system is supposed to work. One approach which works for every kid due to standardized requirements and learning. If you are the only person speaking German in a German class on a native level, or hey lets say on a level above B2, what are your guesses how far the teacher will get with the planed material. If they have two teachers there speaking multiple languages to communicate even on a basic level with their students? You cant teach B2 or C1 material to people who havent reached A2 yet, its nonsense and a product of seeing critique of the language level as racist. Realschule isnt there to teach kids an A2 level of German. Its not even meant to teach German as a second language. Thats additional effort that someone has to be planed for and financed.

Our system just isnt designed for the case, that a kid not speaking German has compulsory education German, As i see it, the current system is just a "fuck it" because noone can be bothered to change the system. We have a certain time budget for certain tasks and we cant just add other tasks, kids are overwhelmed as they are. IF people want to get a degree in German and dont speak the language, we should give them every additional help to learn the language so that they can partake in the education in German. In addition to their degree, otherwise you are just cannibalizing the time they should use to learn something else. The curriculum of a Realschule doesnt have that additional needed time planed anywhere. This might take them longer, as the curriculum gets added another course, or even a completely separate curriculum to learn at least enough German to communicate in that language before trying to learn other basics in a language you dont speak. But all of that is skipping the question IF they should try to get a German Realschulabschluss? Do they plan on staying in Germany using their degree? If not, and for example they are refugees who wont be allowed to stay here, putting them a year into a normal school is just nonsense, cruel and useless. Its not benefiting them in any way to learn German, they are going to get deported if you and I like it or not and German isnt that usefull of a skill. That is what is going to happen unless you topple the government overnight and implement a new refugee policy. Its also not a crazy scenario, exactly this is happening every day and it has for decades. I had a kid from Afghanistan in my class in elementary school who spoke zero German and was deported after a year after he learned the basics to understand what the teacher was talking about. I think it would make more sense if we allowed for basic education in either their native language or something more acceptable universally like English. Because all the while they are trying to learn German, they are missing the content they should learn at their age.

We dont invest in 13 years of school just to pass the time till kids grew up, there is a rather compact curriculum for every year. It needs so much time to teach the content. It doesnt have enough time allocated for kids to achieve this in a second language they dont speak yet. You will have to prolong that time for people who cant speak German yet and this is going to cost time.

None of that is a problem, we just have to do it. Closing our eyes from reality and sticking to ideal plans of how it should be doesnt help if we dont give practical plans on how to improve the situation

>Do they plan on staying in Germany using their degree?

Ah - you betray yourself here. I thought you said it was just that they didn't speak the language, not that they were foreigners in a precarious situation, to be undeserving of a certain education. I guess I'm lucky that I live in the U.S. where we've had to deal with integration of various peoples from the start and have made peace with the fact that policies that end up excluding a certain group can indeed be called racist if the effect is so. Despite its contrition over the past perhaps Germany still has some growing to do.

I would recommend reading again what i wrote, its not that i view anyone as undeserving but that a German crashcouse doesnt benefit you if you are back in Afghanistan in a year. German is not a valuable skill. Speaking English or you know, Pashto, is.

The system simply assumes people will be staying, reality looks different. If entering the German school system is something you want to do, the current system is still nonsense. It assumes people will be able to learn a second language overnight and comprehend the course material in a language they dont speak in the same time as people whos first language this is. For that more time is simply needed.

You fail to understand that those children are equal in all of their rights to native children. It's not possible for the state to act as if their forced deportation into hopelessness or early death is already predetermined.

There is extreme reluctance to put children into "special schools" or classes. For one thing, they don't exist. For another, such separation is almost impossible without putting those children at a disadvantage, even if there is no intention to somehow keep them away from natives.

And then that's also the connection to the US situation, where they actually had segregated schools and decided that this is impossible.

> connection to the US situation

Tenuous at best. That was a different place and a different time. Different circumstances, different timelines, different politics, and even different differences.

Brown vs Board of Education was decided based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was specifically enacted after the Civil War to deal with the emancipation of slaves. Meanwhile during that same timeframe (1890s) governments of former confederate states sought to impose segregation laws clearly designed to oppress and disenfranchise blacks. The legal justification for these racially discriminatory laws was the "Separate but Equal" doctrine laid out by Plessy vs Ferguson.

So by the time of Brown v Board you had a substantial black population who spoke English and had been in the US for over a century(The 1790 census reported 17.8% of the US population was enslaved). You had a history of state governments enacting discriminatory laws clearly motivated by racism. You had legally mandated segregation in all aspects of life, not just schools.

It was not a case of sudden mass migration over a span of less than 10 years. And while you did have some ethnic differences, there wasn't a major language barrier. Furthermore, many of what you might call ethnic differences at the time (such as lower literacy levels) were substantially a consequence of slavery and discriminatory laws in the first place.

The connection I was referring to is that we exactly don't want to produce "special" schools.

Also there is a long history of "expecting" lower performance from certain ethnic minorities in Germany, putting them into the "special needs" category extremely easily.

I suspect that parallels to the situation in the US go a lot deeper still. But people aren't paying close enough attention yet and somehow believe that with our constitution discrimination is impossible and so all disadvantages must be the immigrants' fault by default.

You fail to understand that i dont want to infringe on anyones opportunity. I am saying plain and simply, if a kid is staying a year in this country during the asylum process, trying to integrate them into a system that doesnt benefit them in any way, and doing that on the cost of their education, is just not fair towards the children. This is not an abstract concept, like the kid from my elementary class this is happening already all the time. That kid was pressured from his parents to make the best of the school but he, naturally had to learn the language first. No one ever asked of that 8 year old would not be better off today if he had learned Pashto or English in that year. Thats what we currently do to those kids. Its not racism, its just being horrible. We are in my option not providing adequate education with kids stuck in the asylum process. Instead they, and every other kid whos first language isnt German are thrown in a "one system fits all" system that is grinding them down because they are starting at a major deficit due to the language barrier. And that is insane. Switching the language of you education midway through means in reality either delaying the education, (which is not a problem in Germany where you finish by passing the grade, but it is in Afgahnistan where you are expected to work from a certain age) or forcing more content on children then they can handle. I cant repeat it enough, but our school system is designed in a way to teach kids all you can teach them in that timespan. Everything additional, is putting stress on those kids.

>There is extreme reluctance to put children into "special schools" or classes.


Where the difference in view might come from, i do care about the people stuck in that horrible system instead of the way it is framed. I dont know what another perspective then "what aid can we offer the people stuck in that situation" really helps anyone but your ego. How anyone can construct an addition schoolyear to learn the language as racism is really beyond me.

An extra school year to learn a language sounds indeed harmless. But we don't have the schools or the teachers for that. We don't have the legal framework, so all of it would need to be voluntary.

It's completely ridiculous and impractical for the state to teach Pashtu to Afghan children in Germany. For English it is almost as bad. Also, learning German does help you learn English, and exposure to different languages does actually make subsequent language learning easier. Multilingualism is not a zero-sum game.

School education is not like a downloadable Database. If it were, it would be more efficient to teach them all the 13 years of stuff at age 18, because that's when they learn fastest. If it were all about usable knowledge (or skills) we should not teach arts, gymn, philosophy or music. Biology and History would also be on the brink for most children.

But it isn't. And yes, it would be nice to help them more specifically, but that's easier said than done. Since we can't recruit a few thousand non-existing experts on the fly, the existing teachers have to deal with it.


I find it repugnant to neglect children because they may (or may not) be somewhere else a couple of years down the road.

Studies actually have not shown that segregation is bad in every imaginable way. It really depends on what you want to optimize for. Segregation is excellent for letting intelligent kids reach their full potential. It's terribly for helping the children that struggle most.

There were studies made in India that showed otherwise. Without segregation the teachers were teaching to the level of the smartest students in the class, so the slower students were being left behind and became unmotivated. With segregation, the teachers were still teaching to the level of the smarter students in the class, but that level was much closer to the level of the slower students so they could catch up.

Keep in mind the actual reality of the situation might be different in each country, so it's not like one set of studies was necessarily wrong. Maybe teachers in the US teach to the level of the average student, so the results would be different there.

The assumption there is that the ordering of the students by performance is stationary, particularly in the first few years. Regardless of personal situation.

If a child catches a flu at the wrong moment, it will get stuck way below its level for all its career.

Khanacademy data has shown that students in a math class will progress at different speeds at different times and that their "ranking" can invert multiple times over a school year or beyond. It's not exactly the same, but their system makes sure students don't stay stuck.

That's really interesting. Do you perchance have something that might help me find those studies?

I found them on a book called "Poor Economics". The authors also teach an online class on development economics where among other things they talk about education in poor countries.


Is there any evidence that segregation is actually better for more intelligent students? And to what degree at what cost?

If you have a class full of "good" students, it's a lot easier to work and teach, than with a class where 1/3 is almost illiterate, 1/3 doesn't care at all, and only 1/3 actually wants to learn.

I attended a talk about this topic that used the PISA dataset to show this (well it showed that in countries with segregated schools the performance of students had fatter tails on both sides of the mean iirc). I think the data should be available online somewhere.

Yes. It appears that the more stratified educational systems are, the more variance in outcomes there is. e.g. [1] Which makes intuitive sense. While there's an intellectual argument for everyone benefiting from diversity of a student body, I'm not sure I'd expect to see a benefit in strictly measurable educational outcomes at least.

And it's fairly obvious some of the ways that motivated and high achievement students could benefit from more customized and self-paced study while it's also obvious why a group of students lumped together as low achievers will do less well.

[1] https://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/Vol4Ch2.pdf

I'd imagine the only reason it isn't so obvious as to need no justification is because children self-segregate by intelligence in schools anyway.

I went to a highscool where there were about 20-30 International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates and about 1200 students in regular, honors, and a handful of AP classes. My junior and senior year I was in all IB classes, but freshman and junior year I had to take a handful of the regular, honors, and an AP class and they were all absurdly slow and easy to be successful in to the point that I would entirely disengage. Had I not been in such a rigorous program I think I would have almost certainly made worse choices in relation to my education and life outside of school.

Similar in Switzerland.

Years 1-6 are for everyone. Then either:

- 3 years of Realschule

- 3 years of Sekundarschule

- 6 years of Gymnasium (where one earns the possibility to go to Uni)

Though it is quite normal to upgrade from Sek to Gymi 2 years in.

The first two options are then followed by an apprenticeship (3-4y) during or after which one can also earn the ability to go to Uni, with some limitations. These limitations can be removed by upgrading that piece of paper, which takes a year.

Complicated and I’m sure I forgot a few things. Point is that there are many paths and upgrading is quite possible.

Also having a large part of the population trained in a trade Is fantastic.

At least they can keep going to school after this system ends.

I know a bunch of people who either did Abitur (the requirement to study at a university) after going to Hauptschule or Realschule, or simply studied without Abitur, because the university simply made a test with them and lookd directly if they're smart enough.

I really liked the tracked system in the Netherlands. I feel like it really let the higher tier learn at a faster rate. Do you have links to the studies?

A minor addendum: in Berlin & Brandenburg it's 6/6 years rather than 4/8.

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