Understanding public education

William T. Robinson, Jr.

We have many students who are academically adept and can be compared unabashedly to their achieving peers nationally when rated on standardized and national tests. This can be attributed basically to parents who have personally guided their children, making sure they attend high performing schools and who have personally taken a vested role in working independently with their children.

The truth of the matter is that many parents are looking for schools to single handedly educate their child with little or no parental involvement. Wish if you may, but the schools that are on par academically have an effective working team comprised of the students, parents, administration and the community. Unfortunately, too many communities are composed of economically disadvantaged families—especially   young single mothers, many lacking the parenting skills necessary to adequately navigate their children   toward meeting their educational goals. However, this is not the case for many students from affluent communities who usually have college educated parents who value the importance of education. These parents relentlessly pick out the best schools for their children many times opting to put them in a private school to avoid the trials and tribulations associated with many public schools. This is not an option for many economically strapped parents, especially if transportation back and forth to a designated school is not included.

The factors impeding the learning process are numerous. Some basic hindrances contributing to most of the problems in public schools can be attributed to overly populated classrooms, excessive behavior   problems in the classes that negate effective learning, and lack of resources. These are areas that can be tackled with a vengeance to eradicate if the forces in charge really want to fix the problem. But the truth of the matter is that education is about big money. There are deals to be made to benefit an esoteric group, and these deals are not usually in the best interest of all the children. Many school boards need to come out of denial and face the fact that a majority of its students (especially those from economically and disadvantaged families) are not adapting to their prescribed cultural format. Teachers cannot always be used as the sacrificial lamb or targeted as the scapegoat. When many principals are overwhelmed with the severity of the problems and are slow to make gains, they find it easy to relegate the blame to the teachers. We must stop ignoring the fact that many administrations are overlooking some major issues that prohibit the academic growth of many students.

First of all, many school districts need to stop sugar coating the issue, acting as if it is slightly raining when there is a hurricane running rampant with the state of education. They put the children at the bottom on the educational totem pole. Let’s stop playing politics and using our children as pawns in a chess game. Those in the know can tell you that education is all about money, and that not all of our children are being groomed to be successful and productive. A percentage of our children are designated to be fed to the penal system (basically African Americans). These students are identified at a very young age, many say around the fourth grade. Little intervention is being made to correct the behavioral or academic problems to prevent these students from dropping out of school—turning to a life of crime, and eventually being incarcerated. Study after study has shown that the public school system’s Eurocentric curriculum often leaves children of color feeling ostracized and lacking self-esteem. The Eurocentric agenda is counterproductive to the African American culture that has a long history of spirituality and for the most part supports corporal punishment for its children.

Most African American children attend public schools, and often they don’t see enough teachers of color mirroring them. This leaves a subliminal message that education is a White thing. I find it very ironic that school boards spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on research firms and consultants to tell them what they already know. Often you have those promoting and implementing a Eurocentric   academic curriculum, which further creates a cultural divide. Common sense tells me that if I were serious about combating the problem, I would solicit a committee of teachers who have been in the trenches—then act on their advice. Contrary to what the public has been told, most teachers are hardworking and sincerely devoted to the children. Teachers need supportive principals who don’t waste a lot of time being manipulated by wayward students and parents circumventing the teacher. Generally speaking, when a teacher is reprimanded for failing students, they feel pressured to promote children who are not meeting academic goals. These children are not adequately ready to go forward.

The bottom line is that there are two losers in the public school system: the students who want to learn and the students who are depriving students of educational time because of behavioral problems. Sending   behavioral problems out of the class for a day or two is just providing a temporary band aide. Why can’t schools have an in-depth behavioral department that seriously looks into why a child is constantly acting out? Call in a team and find out if there are problems at home that could be corrected—or if the child is acting out because he or she is so far behind that a personal one-on-one teacher is needed to catch up. The problem usually can be fixed, but some say it is not cost effective. But it’s got to be cheaper than spending tens of thousands of dollars incarcerating these students in the future. We really need to get honest about educating our children. We need to hold the bureaucratic system influenced by lobbyists with hidden agendas responsible. It is only when we really face the truth that any real progress can be made.

I have provided much needed information to help correct the educational problem in so many of our communities for free. Stop wasting hundreds of thousands dollars on consultants and take advantage of this assessment based on reality and common sense.