What Is The Role Of Education?

What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice. – Carter G. Woodson

Today, children are suffering from a lack of human guidance. They exist in a virtual world of texting and social networking sites. Their role models live in cyberspace, doling out advice, instilling cyber-values and their own beliefs. Cyberspace is an exciting world where anything can happen. Unfortunately, some have used this space to exploit others.

What is the role of education in supporting children as they navigate the problems of community, culture, drugs, family, jobs, politics, race, teachers, the internet, sex, and well-being? Are children receiving an education that prepares them for the challenges of life, family, career, and sexuality?

The role of education was to prepare the next generation’s workforce, to sustain our economy and to keep the government going. However, that’s changed.  Children from inner city public schools and children of color receive a different education, one that limits their ambitions to a few fields where they work in the trenches. If children of color step out of line, many schools work closely with law enforcement to create a pipeline to prison for children of color.

Past studies such as the Perry Preschool Study showed tremendous benefits and cost savings from early educational intervention. Those savings and benefits were due to reduced incarceration. These (find notes on the two other studies)  found suspension and expulsion resulted in poor academic performance, reduced graduation rates, and increased incarceration.  Investing in early education significantly decreased the incarceration rate.  Reducing the incarceration rate was beneficial to society, the community, and even the economy.  (find the dollar amount return on investment)

  • Does zero-tolerance work? No, it leads to suspensions and expulsions.
  • Are out of school suspensions or expulsions effective? No, suspensions and expulsion decrease high school graduation rates.
  • Do suspensions or expulsions lead to appropriate behaviors in the classroom?  No, as children suspended or expelled often fall behind leading to more behavioral issues.
  • Why do schools suspend or expel children for minor behavioral issues when the risk to the child could be irreparable? Educations believe removing a child with behavioral problems from the classroom will discourage similar behaviors in classmates.  It doesn’t, but there is a disparity in the rate of suspensions and expulsions between white students and students of color.
  • Are suspensions and expulsions evidence-based disciplinary approaches? No
  • Is zero-tolerance based on evidence of its effectiveness in school children?  No.  Evidence shows zero-tolerance does not work in children and predispose children to criminal behaviors and incarceration.

If educators knowingly harm children of color, what can parents do?

Parents need to get involved. I know its hard for single working moms, especially single working black moms because we usually don’t have much support, even from family. Networking with the parents of your children’s friends will help your child take part in after-school activities that complement their academic day. The parents of your children’s friends become substitute parents for your children. Knowing your children’s friends and parents get you as a parent involved with your child’s education.  Also, teachers tend to be mindful of the grades of children whose parents are involved. Getting to know other parents and teachers helps your child get better grades and form support groups of other eyes watching and protecting your child as well as help with transportation.

Despite what teachers will have you believe, trust that you as a parent know your child. Don’t be deceived into thinking a teacher knows more about your child than you do. Beware many teachers go beyond their training to misdiagnose children and some recommend medication for children with undiagnosed behavioral or psychological issues that often are often not mental. Schools are compensated well for the mental health services their untrained staff provides. Make sure your child is diagnosed by trained professionals in that field who can develop a proper treatment plan.

In many schools, guidance counselors or social workers without much mental health training give therapy. Check out the national or your local school report on the number of students receiving in-house therapy? You will be shocked! Many children are on psychological medications to control their behavior without a precise diagnosis. That’s dangerous!

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be a blessing, let it work for you if your child needs it.  Initially, I didn’t want my child stigmatized, but after doing research, I changed my mind. Did you know a school is obligated to provide accommodations based on the IEP? That may mean finding the proper school for your child.  There is power in the IEP, don’t be intimidated into accepting the school’s assessment of your child’s needs, do your own.  In other words, get involved and get a second opinion. If need be get a lawyer to help, you get your child to a school that meets their educational requirements.

Black and interracial parents remember your child is immersed in a system that considers them inferior or of low aptitude. Their classes, grades, and teachers selected on that belief, it’s essential you understand this when interacting with the school and its staff. (Why?)

Our children need an education where they learn about people who look like them doing great things. We can get that for them only if we understand the system then advocate.  I found the education system responsive to outside investigations, at least it was until Betsy DeVos.  Complaints, marches, and protests can go a long way can go a long way and produce desired outcomes.  Many schools don’t want the attention or the accompanying investigation that would undoubtedly expose corruption, discrimination and who knows what else.

Make it mandatory that teachers understand their student’s culture not from government stats that only serve to justify stereotypes, but from authentic interactions and programs that incentivize graduating students to return to the community as teachers or educators. In this way, children of color will be educated in a supportive community where no dream is too big.

How many successful companies keep salespeople who do not understand their customers?  Why do schools keep teachers who are culturally insensitive to their students?

That was a long post geared to parents of children of color.  It’s based on my independent research and experience.

#LessonLearned:
1. Educational needs change with age.  However, in general, education should be teachers and parents working together to help children develop the confidence to think for themselves and make choices that will lead to economic independence, success and a sense of civic duty.
2. Parents must get involved by interacting with teachers and parents especially those of your children’s friends. While I didn’t mention this point, it’s a good idea to know the members of the school board.
3. Be skeptical and get a second opinion when any school diagnoses your child.
4. IEPs can be a powerful tool to help your child, understand how it works and let it work for you.

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