Friday, September 5, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

The Problem Is . . .



Let’s face it, America is a hot bed of racism right now. It’s the fabric of our culture; of our existence. Earlier this week, it was reported 90 schools in New York did not have one African American or Hispanic to pass a standardized test. Did I read this wrong? If I did not, where is the outrage? The constructs of Critical Race Theory espouse the institutional nature of racism is pervasive and exists in every facet of our lives.

Education is no different.


This summer has been one to remember. It seems injustice abounds and few care or know how to respond to the depravity. As a former teacher and parent, I am outraged. When I worked in an urban enclave, I openly said, “We (black people) are the only people who allow us to fail us.” If this were happening to White boys or girls in the masses it is happening to Hispanic and African Americans, the nation would be in an uproar.

Education is supposed to be the great equalizer. 

It is supposed to open minds so critical thinking and critical processing can occur. In America, our public schools are open to all – without regard to socio-economic status, parent's education, or any other factors – education is supposed to make the children better and prepared to encounter the next best thing.

It is not.

Education has become funky. If a person is lucky enough to live in a middle class neighborhood, then in most cases, their schools are better. If a person is on Section 8, poverty stricken, or homeless, their selection of schools is often are not the best. They suffer from low expectations from teachers . . . lack of resources and so many social ills.

This is not an attack on teachers.

This is not an attack on parents.

This is not an attack on principals.

What happened to school fund raisers? What happened to the equal allocation of funds? What happened to Title I? What has happened to the federally (un)funded programs created by Clinton, Bush, and now Obama?


Am I the only one who sees the purposeful nature of eroding the public school system? If the schools are under-funded, then the education lacks. We create a class of people who are not adequately prepared for brilliance. We are overlooking potential and the creation of a permanent underclass.

Is this America?


Yes.

This has always been the undercover plight. Now, the wool has been snatched from our eyes and we know what it being done. Now, what do we do? We know black and brown students are set up for a pre-K to prison pipeline. We know they say there is an Achievement Gap. We know. Now that we know, we are responsible.

It is not a question of who, but when will we act and re-engage in the ‘village concept’? Everywhere I go, I hear people say, “It takes a village to raise a child’ if it does, where is the village? When we find the village, what will be done?

We have to take back our schools. We have to protect and prepare our students. Parents must prepare students to attend school – how to sit, how to listen, how to write . . . Teachers must come knowing how to accept students – and knowing how to approach concepts without resources.

As an educator, I will admit, I was not the best. My best year was when I taught Kindergarten. It was explosive and exciting. Kids say the darnedest things. But in that space, I realized what to do with my own child. I learned what to feed and pack in his lunch. I learned children need structure, rules, expectations, and they need to feel good daily about what they did.

As an educator, I also saw what education had done to students. As an English teacher in high school, I met too many African American boys who had been overlooked and outcast because of behavior. One in particular was in the 9th grade at 16. He couldn’t pass the end of year test. He wouldn’t let me help him. He wouldn’t talk to me. He was bad. Awful. But daily, I went in and one day, I penetrated him. . . After several days of doing nothing – the fear of failing because he always had – he finally DID something, made and attempt. In that attempt, I only graded what he did. It was all correct. That moment changed us both.

Over the semester, I saw him try. I saw him work hard. I saw him learn how to read better. I saw him began to think. In thinking, he began to understand the intentional practices that worked against him. He also understood how he helped those practices. At the end, he passed the 9th grade exam. We hugged. He cried. I think I did a holy dance . . . His confidence changed. This student was re-born.

Over the course of months, due to extreme difficulty with the administration, I left. While this story was warm and fuzzy, it ends in the same way. This student ended up in a gang. He couldn’t pass the 12th grade end of year test – and couldn’t graduate with his class. Embarrassed and hurt, he left the traditional setting and entered an alternative school. In this place, he connected with a gang – and became a member. Unlike school, the gang welcomed him and trained him. I hear he is an excellent thief, wonderful at home invasions, and a father.

My heart is broken. The system won.

. . . As Free as I Wanna Be . . .
Goal D Locs 

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