Tonight I had the pleasure in taking part in a ground-breaking chat on Twitter that focused on issues facing Black children and their families. BlackEd, as it has been coined, is an opportunity for parents, graduate students, educators, administrators, and community organizers to meet and discuss strategies on addressing the opportunity gap (we are rejecting the term ‘achievement gap’ as it implies that students cannot learn or are responsible for not learning) that exists for Black students, regardless of whether they are from low-income neighborhoods, single or two-parent families.
More importantly, BlackEd was born out of a desire to move past ‘blaming the victim’ e.g., students, and start focusing on feasible solutions. What can we, as communities (not just the group of neighbors) do to help students succeed in school? How can we address the obvious school-to-home disconnect? What role does the school curriculum play in the opportunity gap? Why do schools or teachers have low expectations for Black students? These were just some of the issues raised in tonight’s chat.
I think it is important that I acknowledge we had a ‘mixed’ group of participants in the first chat. Both Black and White educators were present. I will admit that I didn’t expect very many to participate because many people are, in fact, uncomfortable about discussing the issue of race, especially its role in education and perpetuating the opportunity gaps. I am hopeful that those who attended will be regular participants and encourage others to attend. I am especially hopeful that everyone will be able to process the dialogue, recognize how (if) their school/teaching methods may contribute to the gap, and how they can begin making small, yet measurable, changes for the sake of their students.