African American Education: Fixing the Current State
African Amercan Education-The progress of Black Education in America does not look good. There is still a significant achievement gap between black students and their Caucasian counterparts. Despite the millions of dollars dedicated such programs as “No Child Left Behind”, the state of African American Education is largely in the same predicament as they were in previous years.
According to Roland G. Fryer at Education Next, “On average, black students typically score one standard deviation below white students on standardized tests–roughly the difference in performance between the average 4th grader and the average 8th grader.”
This Achievement gap remains highly discouraging.
According to Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post, “The persistent gap in the District reflects on the questionable nature of some of the reforms that have been implemented in the city and elsewhere around the country — which too often ignore the outside-of-school influences that affect how well a student does in class.”
Non-academic influence plays a significant part in a child’s motivation to succeed in school.
No doubt, there has been some educational progress made on various local levels across the United States. But the overall initiative to elevate African American students to the level of academic competence needed to be successful in life has been elusive.
So the question is why African Americans students are still behind and why the achievement gap is so difficult to close. I believe there are several reasons.
Lack of Understanding of Life Skills
One reason African American student trail other students in academic achievement is the misconception of how life works. Millions of black students are not aware that hard work and perseverance is a necessity in life if success is to be achieved. These principles are largely ignored on the domestic front. Many African American homes are in turmoil day in and day out.
Poverty, drugs, crime and disregard for meaningful progress are the pitfalls of the black community in America. A mentality of living for today characterizes daily existence. The preference for pleasure over hard work and purpose is the dominant mentality, especially in many oppressed African American communities.
The parents are not largely to blame for this overwhelming preference for pleasure. African American culture, especially in the music sphere, has had a massive influence on the young black Americans. The entrance of gangster rap music in the black community played a significant role in hijacking the minds of young black men.
The negative messages sent into the black community created a poisonous perception of life, a life in which women are degraded, and bitterness against others is glorified. Others may disagree, but I believe this conclusion with immense conviction.
Before the introduction of gangster rap, a sense of brother and sister hood existed in the black community. Strong brotherhood, respect for women, teachers, and the community were powerful attributes of black culture.
Lack of Life Altering Discussions
The most important person in a child’s life remains his or her parents. Whatever words parents say or don’t say will lead and guide their children throughout life. A parent’s failure to have life altering discussions with their children is like allowing a toddler to walk toward an open well where snakes and crocodiles dwell in massive numbers.
If you examine the lives of the most successful people in life, you will discover that they attribute their success to an encouraging message their parents told them at a younger age. This parental obligation is the key. Parents must instill a success mentality within their child at an age (infant to 10 years) in which the child is still receptive.
But what should a parent tell her child? The most important words I think a child should hear from the lips of a parent is that they are” unique, loved, and made for excellence in all which he or she does.” A child should hear these words over and over again over the course of many years.
The sole responsibility of African American parents is to teach their children the value of success and progress in life.
Not only should a parent teach their children success, but they should also do all in their power to talk and walk success as well. Small children are imitative. For the most part, children do what they see their parents or other adults do.
Lack of Teachers of Color
Let’s face it. Studies show that African American Students, as well as Hispanics, Asian and Native Americans, can often relate more effectively with teachers that represent their ethnicity. Not to say the Caucasian teachers are not effective. This myth is furthest from the truth. Some of my best teachers were Caucasian. I related well to them. But I also delighted in sitting in a classroom where black teachers were in charge.
Studies show that black children often rebel because they are cast into an environment in which they cannot relate. They find it difficult relating to Caucasian teachers. Many come from oppressive homes and environments which are hostile toward Caucasian people in general.
Some students are going to be rebellious regardless of whether the teacher is black or white, but I have discovered in many instances were black children acted totally different when in the presence of a black instructor.
Warnings and Recommendations
In examining the reasons for failure in African American education community, the next step is to discover ways to resolve the issue. The plight of African American Education cannot be ignored. For society to pretend as if nothing is happening is a gross betrayal.
Initiatives which include all facets of society must be implemented to close the achievement gap between black and white students.
Districts must discover new and better ways to enhance African American Education:
- Get parents to make more life altering discussions with their children. Such discussions will help shape a positive mentality in students. Parental influence is the most powerful way of instilling self-esteem in children. Unfortunately, many young parents may have to be trained how to instill success within their child.
- Hire more teachers of color. There should be a massive effort to get more African American teachers into the classrooms. Having a more multicultural teacher force will enhance the entire school environment and create a sense of meaningful connection.
- Train more non-African American teachers how to relate the black children. Let’s face it many non-African-American teachers are at a loss when it comes to effectively relating the African American Students. Because of this sense of confusion, many teachers give up and become frustrated and settle for less than perfect efforts from black students.
- Offering classes which teach on black culture and oppressive communities will go a long way in understanding African American culture.
- Implement more effective programs than “No Child Left Behind.” An effective program must not place the burden of educating students solely on teachers. It will take a village oriented approach to healing the African American community and close the achievement gap among white, black and Hispanics students.
One new initiative offers great hope. Promise Neighborhood is an educational program designed to guarantee that ” all children and youth living in Promise Neighborhoods have access to state of the art schools and strong systems of family and community support that empower them to attain an excellent education and successful transition to collage and a career.”
The purpose of the program is to target and maximize the educational outcome of children living in the most oppressive communities. The African American education condition demands more programs of this nature. As I mentioned earlier, a village concept is the most effective approach for transforming African American Education and closing the achievement gap.