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date: 20 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, we begin by reviewing some of the competing theories that were first posited regarding Black speech patterns and their educational relevance. The “difference” vs. “deficit” debate is compared and contrasted with the concepts of “Elaborated” and “Restricted” codes, which dominated educational discussion about African American Language and corresponding academic policies during the 1970s. Ensuing debates about bidialectal educational programs, pro and con, provided grist for the Black English trial in 1979. In 1996, the Oakland, California School Board passed a controversial resolution declaring Ebonics to be the native language of African American students who attended public schools throughout that district. Since then, new educational initiatives have attempted to close racial gaps in educational disparities, but these efforts tend to overlook the specific needs of students who lack proficiency in Standard American English, especially if they are descendants of African slaves in the United States.

Keywords: “difference” vs. “deficit” debate, Ebonics, African American Language, Oakland, California School Board, “Elaborated” and “Restricted” codes, bidialectal educational programs

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