Blacks, Latinos & Public Education: Who will be our voice?   4 comments

Several weeks ago, BlackEd (Thursdays, 9 PM EST – shameless plug) launched on Twitter. It is an opportunity for parents, teachers, and community members to ‘meet’ once a week and discuss different issues regarding the education of Black students. The interest has grown and I am glad to see many non-minorities actively participate in the discussions each week. However, I will admit that a medium such as BlackEd is long overdue and we have a lot of ground to cover. Here is my concern: Once we discuss these issues, how do we take what we have learned and apply it to the classrooms and communities in which we live? Better yet: How many of us actually have the power (or politics/money) to apply what we learn to the classrooms where our kids spend 6-8 hours each day? What if our communities do not want us to improve education for our kids, and instead, block our efforts at every turn? Now pose those same questions to our Latino brothers and sisters, who are trying to find ways to address the same issues for their children. It becomes very overwhelming, but we must do something now rather than later. Too many of our kids are dropping out, everyday. Too many of our kids are short-changed by the institution of public education. Too many of our kids are conditioned to become criminals and delinquents; not enough of them are trained to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. How do we fix this?

During the past few weeks I have limited the amount of time spent on Twitter in an attempt to figure out what I am supposed to be doing with my life and the amount of information swirling around in my head. Another reason for my Twitter ‘fast’ has been to avoid reading all of the education rhetoric that is tweeted and retweeted. Sometimes that amount of verbiage b.s. is just too much… I have also learned not to even comment on some stuff because, well, some people post things just to make themselves feel/seem important. As I watched the dialogue last night, I couldn’t help but wonder: If I were a man (first White, then Black), would I have fewer problems working in the Education system? It seems to me that the majority of those in positions to make important decisions have different genitalia. We could say the same words, in the same manner but I know no one would take me seriously or even listen for that matter. Do I really need to jump on the ‘blame the parents, teachers, or unions’ bandwagon to make things happen? Should I follow in that woman’s footsteps and start sleeping with men in powerful positions to gain entrée into leadership roles? Would I ever be able to go into a suburban school, fire all the (Black and ineffective) teachers and then accuse them of abusing children knowing that my job is protected because Gates and Broad believe that I am increasing test scores? Hmmmm…I doubt it.

Yes, we have a few Black and Latino leaders in education, but I can’t help but wonder if they actually believe everything they say? Do they really believe that blaming parents is productive and necessary? Or do they say those things to appease White people, e.g., district officials who call the shots? I can’t help but wonder why Pedro Noguera is not a household name (in households other than those with Latino names, that is). Why have we not seen him or Baruti Kafele featured on NBC Nightly News or 60 Minutes? Who will speak for the Black and Latino children? There is only so much information you can obtain from research articles and longitudinal studies. At some point, someone needs to ask a Latino how to serve his or her community effectively. At some point, someone needs to ask a Black, single parent what kinds of programs s/he needs to help their kids succeed in Math and Reading. Who will speak for us? Better yet, why won’t they let us speak for ourselves? Afterall, asking someone from a privileged middle-class background to represent kids from Southwest Atlanta is like asking me to be a spokesperson for the Asian community. And we all know that will never happen.

4 responses to “Blacks, Latinos & Public Education: Who will be our voice?

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  1. I guess you aren’t trying to make people laugh, but there is black (no pun intended, sorry, sorry) humor here… The last line got me. I suppose it’s no consolation that white women have similar conversations about not being male, huh? We had a lot of issues around the Obama/Hillary choice…BLACK male vs white WOMAN… God help us if the best candidate had been a black woman, but at least all us liberals would have been on the same page and known what to do. 😀

    I do think this gender thing will go away. More women than men are in college today. In the corporate world I work with more women than men on most of my teams. The very top management is still men, but most of the middle management is now women, I would say, just looking around. I think people are forgetting that it’s strange for women to be in charge. Public service areas are slower to change (and are also more hierarchical in nature, which needs to change), but they will. Part of this, unfortunately, is also a function of how we’re suddenly failing boys in our education system, which is another issue.

    But anyway, I’m interested in this question, too, which is very serious. How do we listen to community wisdom and incorporate what local experts want and need?

    • Sorry but I did not see this until today! Ugh!

      I think we need to be able to decipher between wisdom and rhetoric. I think we all are a little overwhelmed with the rhetoric right now because people will say anything to get money and their 15 minutes of fame, so to speak. I agree with your observation about women being in charge. The think that worries me is the fact the some people (women included) do not do the right thing once they have that position. Perhaps the most important issue now is that we find a way to bridge the gap (and mend fences) between parents and educators, as they are the scapegoats in the failing public education system. The two groups do not realize how strong they could be if they worked together. I think the dialogue needs to start there because alone we can’t/won’t accomplish much.

  2. You ask the question about whether it is productive to place blame. No, placing blame is a fruitless waste of time. My question is if parents aren’t ultimately responsible for their children, then who will be. I am a school psychologist and a mother and it is my responsibility to provide an appropriate education. The New York City Board of Education is not dedicated to providing the aforementioned and is not accountable to anyone, NOT PARENTS, NOT UNIONS, NOT ANYONE! Many parents are too busy to pay attention to what is occurring in the lives of their own children. WHO’S FAULT IS THAT? We all make choices. Many of us choose to live above our means and have to sacrifice time with family in order to pay for our lifestyle. I know, someone will read this and cry out that their are unforeseen circumstances that befall us. To that I say, yes shit happens, but far too many of us are unprepared.

    The answer, reexamine our lives/values and make better choices, choices that will first benefit us as families and then as a community.

    • Yes but pointing fingers does not solve any problems. Yes, parents are human and they make mistakes, but so do teachers, administrators, and politicians but we do not see the latter two groups being fired en masse, do we? No. No one wants to hold them accountable for their role in the education debacle, especially not the mismanagement of millions of dollars of education money. I think some people in the field are saying what they believe will sell books and get them some national press. In reality, they are simply beating a dead horse because again, blaming parents will not solve the problem. This behavior will further alienate them and strain already fragile home-school relationships.

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