Education in the Black Community



            When Bill Cosby spoke out against the parenting of inner-city youth a few years ago, a firestorm erupted in the Black community.  Cosby argued that inner-city parents did not spend adequate time enforcing the importance of education in the Black community.

            Some called him elitist and out of touch, but in all honesty he was correct in his assessment of the Black community.  

Unfortunately, African Americans trail practically every other ethnic group across the country when it comes to standardized tests.  The high school drop out rates for African American males is approximately 50 percent and the incarceration rates for that group is approximately the same.

To combat this horrific trend, Darrell “Coach D” Andrews, motivational speaker, consultant and author of books like Believing the HYPE-Seven Keys to Motivating Students of Color and The Purpose Living Teen—A Teen’s Guide to Living Your Dreams is speaking out about problems concerning education in the Black community.

Andrews has been recognized nationally for his HYPE (Helping Youth Pursue Excellence) Program, which provides hope for students and parents of color.

“Parents and schools must get over their differences and unify around synergistic goals.  Reaching all of our students through effective relationship building and parental involvement should be two priorities,” he said.

“I have found that many African American and Latino parents are using their past education experiences as a foundation for their interaction with schools.  If the experience was beneficial, their children usually get high parental involvement.  If it was negative, they avoid the school like it was a plague and their children get little to no parental involvement,” said Andrews.

He added, “This has a damaging effect on student academic performance.  My mother had a negative school experience however she did not use this as a foundation for our academic experience.  She built effective relationships with my brother and I as well as the school.  As a result, both my brother and I have college degrees.”

Coach D suggests three strategies to improve education in the Black community.  He believes educators and parents should make student success the goal and the two groups should meet regularly to discuss the subject of student achievement.

Andrews also believes education in the Black community would improve if educators helped students identify special talents and gifts.

Lastly, he believes if students and parents receive rewards and praise for their success, it will motivate others to follow their lead.

In majority minority North Forest Independent School District in Houston, students habitually test extremely low on standardized tests, money is constantly mismanaged and the district is in now on probation from Texas Education Agency.

Classrooms are often filled with uncertified teachers and many of the district’s graduates enter college well behind their peers.

It has become so bad that many North Forest residents catch the city bus to attend schools in neighboring Houston Independent School District.  This sad reality is proof that students want a quality education if they are willing to transfer districts.  And although they may fail standardized tests, it is not them that are failing it is everyone else failing them.

In order for education in the Black community to become something required and demanded, it is up to adults, from teachers to parents, to demand more from themselves.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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