In my spare time, I am reading a book about the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. One of the chapters focuses on struggles during the 1940s and 1950s for equality in education. The author, John Dittmer, has a way of humbling readers as he talks about those in power and their plight to keep Blacks from having the same educational privileges as the majority. Despite these obstacles, Blacks persisted and either fought for greater educational access or operated within the parameters they were given. In both circumstances, education was not taken for granted.
I can’t help but wonder how our communities can return to that mindset- one in which education has value and is seen as a road to a better life. Students in many communities view school as a social hangout. Their focus is not on learning and bettering themselves. They give off the aura that despite the fact that they are at school, education is a task that is not worth their time. In the opinion of some, the students are not to blame. After all, kids will be kids, right? But educators’ attempts to increase parent involvement are often met with the same incorrigible attitude. When teachers inform parents that their child is infringing on the educational rights of others, parents resist and give the impression that educators’ pleas are inconveniencing them. I know this is not the case in all communities, yet many are falling victim to this predicament. Trying to determine ways to help our youth (and their parents) appreciate the value of an education boggles me.
After some thought, the situation becomes a little easier to interpret. Many of the parents I have spoken with over the years were pregnant before they graduated high school. Most of them did not get a college education. This may be the point at which the value of education became misplaced. Those parents were unsuccessful in school, skipped classes, and bore children at an early age. Therefore, the model of education in their household is likely one in which school is perceived as being difficult, that mediocre performance is acceptable, and one should go to school because it is required by law. Yes, I realize there are many parents who push their children not to repeat the same mistakes and their children excel, but there are even more who have not.
How do many school districts get in this situation? How do we rectify the problem? Many say we should start with what we can control- the students while they are inside the building. But without the parents’ support, much of that progress might be undone once the students walk out of the school doors. Others say that school reform must begin with the parents, but if parents are working two jobs or in school themselves, how do they find the time to engage in their child’s education? As a result, many of our youth are being left at home alone to raise themselves.
Within the public school sector, none can be denied or turned away. So, how do we make leaps and bounds within the system when students refuse to open their eyes to see the obstacles?If you enjoyed this article, please use the buttons below to share it with someone else who you think will also enjoy it. Thanks!
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