Do you like to take road trips? I come from a family with a long history of taking yearly road trips. Although my husband was not a "road tripper" when we met, he has learned to appreciate them. As I am typing, we are returning from our most recent trip.
During this trip, I had a chance to catch up on my reading. In my stack of books, magazines and periodicals was the July edition of Ebony magazine
. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to read the May and June editions, but my interest has been sparked enough to find and read them soon. The July edition of Ebony Magazine features part three of a series called "Saving Our Sons
." This part is titled, "The Mis-Education of Black Boys."
When I first read the title, of course it reminded me of the book, by Carter G. Woodson
, that I have read many times, "The Mis-Education of the Negro
." However, I was most pleased to see that we are moving from thinking of students as not being educated, to understanding that many are being educated, just not to the extent that the realization of their full potential is the outcome.
I know you are wondering why I am telling you about this article, in a magazine that you may or may not read. The reason I decided to write about it is because it is universal. Although the title specifies "Black boys," I know that you can take the face off the student, and much of the information will pertain. It may be more prevalent in some races, but school failure crosses them all.
The first sentence in this article caused me to put the magazine down for a while. I needed to have time to contemplate how I really felt about what it said, before I continued reading. The article opens with this sentence, "If you set out to purposely design a system to ensure the gradual destruction of Black boys, you couldn't do much better than the American public school system." Can’t say I agree with that sentence. However, I can understand why some people believe this, but what an indictment on the institution of public education. The article goes on to tell you that in many large urban school districts, Black boys unable to read on grade level exceed 90 percent. Thank goodness, the article also talks about positives in education, and ways to turn the negatives into positives, part of the problem being the lack of execution, instead of innovation.
As an educator who has been around a large number of students from many backgrounds, I know that there are so many students who need our help. Many students fail to reach the end of their public education rainbow, graduation, for many reasons. I challenge you NOT to take this information and determine that the academic destruction of certain students is inevitable, but to take this information and determine what you are going to do to help alleviate the problem. There are many ways you can help change the outcome for so many students. Here are a few.
- Mentoring is one of the best ways you can help. If you are a parent, start with your own child. Find out what he needs and make sure he gets it. If you are a teacher, make sure you know the students who are struggling or at risk of school failure. Make it your mission to do everything you can to make your students academically successful. Don't let a child's failure be because you did not do your absolute best.
- Talk to parents about opportunities available for their children, especially if opportunities, such as tutoring, materials, after school activities, college road- trips, etc., are free.
- Help students develop goals and strive to reach them. Help them learn how to remove obstacles to their success.
- If you can, teach students and parents how to advocate for themselves.
- Give a child a book. (This includes high school students.) Don't just give them any book. Make sure that it's a book they can read on their own; it's relevant to their lives; and will interest them enough to read it. You read the book too, and ask them questions. Form your own book club.
Please take the information in this blog as a call for action. Just because something is statistical today, doesn't mean it has to be statistical tomorrow. We can't go "back to the future," but we can ensure that the reading rate is changed from 90 percent who can't, to more than 90 percent who can. We can help change the graduation rate to more then 90 percent
who receive a diploma in 4 years. We can help ensure that all students who want to go to college, can go to college. We can help hold educators and policy makers accountable for the effectiveness of all schools. There are so many things we can do to improve public education in our district, our city, our state and the country, but we have to start now. Our children can't wait any longer!
"We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need, in order to do this. Whether we do it must finally depend upon how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far." Ron Edmonds
From the desk of Dr. Lori