Sunday, March 23, 2014
Access and Advocacy are Keys to Change!!
It’s been a busy winter, weather challenges and traveling have kept me away from this page for a while now. I’ve also taken some time to rest a bit, but still paying close attention to issues and concerns related to educating children of color.
Most recently, a scathing report about the conditions in our schools for Black students in particular has raised the eyebrows of many across the nation. This report, released by the U.S. Department of Education cites numerous inequities that persist in schools that are creating egregious inequities. (An overview of the report was published in the New York Times- http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/21/us/school-data-finds-pattern-of-inequality-along-racial-lines.html?smid=fb-share )
These inequities are a major reason why so many bright and talented students are unable to succeed and are not reaching their highest potential.
In reference to access and opportunities for high ability students of color, the report cites:
1. Algebra II is not offered in 25% of schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students. 1/3 of these schools did not offer chemistry.
2. Less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students had access to the full range of math and science courses, which consists of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics.
3. Black and Latino students accounted for 40 percent of enrollment at schools with gifted programs, but only represented 26 percent of students in gifted programs.
This is the 21st century, and over one half of our nation’s students attend schools each day where resources are limited, teachers are ill-trained, and access to the coursework and programming they need DOES NOT EXIST.
Until we have full access to equitable high end learning opportunities in this nation, our students will continue to suffer discrimination that is unjust, unfair, and simply abominable!!
I know that it seems sometimes that this ‘access and equity song’ is getting old and those of us who argue and advocate feverishly to change conditions should be pleased with the progress we’ve seen and be patient. This report is SCREAMING to us that the progress that has been made is not enough and thus, our being patient with slow change is insufficient.
Patience will not help the mathematically gifted student attending a high school where Algebra II is not available at all, being patient will not help the budding inventor and scientist who has NO access to professional scientists or competitive science programs, or teachers who have an interest or understanding of the full scope of services available that will nurture and develop innovation and ingenuity. Patience will not help the verbally gifted student without a mentor who can expose them to career options for their giftedness or the artist with no opportunities to visit museums, be in contact with professional artists on a daily basis. Patience with these egregious conditions will NOT change conditions!!
As Americans we should all be alarmed and upset with this report!! Upset enough to join forces with others to ADVOCATE AND FIGHT to improve conditions in EVERY SCHOOL ATTENDED BY CULTURALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS IN EVERY COMMUNITY IN AMERICA!!
The data is clear, the numbers don’t lie!! Without access and opportunity, infinite numbers of young people with intellectual genius, talents, dreams, ideas, will power and motivation will never reach their highest potential!!
Each person reading this can do SOMETHING!! If you are a parent, make sure you know the full range of coursework and programming offered in your child’s school; organize meetings with other parents and educators who are concerned and develop a plan of action to address inequities NOW! If you are a community leader, bring these reports to the attention of your churches, community organizations, arrange meetings to discuss and develop a plan of action in collaboration with families and city/county officials. Everyone can do SOMETHING!!
The challenge of change always appears impossible! That is, until we look back in history and are reminded of happened when a few committed people determined that the status quo was no longer good enough!! The data revealed in these reports is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!! We can and MUST do better!! Our children deserve so much more and are counting on us to make a difference!! I encourage you to read the report, share it with others, and search deeply to determine what you can do! When you are called upon to join others, attend meetings, provide feedback, please don’t hesitate to act.
If you have been a part of a ‘change process’ that has effectively created better conditions in your community schools, please share your ideas here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to share positive, effective ideas to encourage others!!
PLEASE JOIN ME AND OTHER ADVOCATES FOR EQUITY & ACCESS IN THIS FIGHT! We won’t quit until conditions improve and access to high end learning opportunities, highly qualified teachers and advanced learning opportunities are available to ALL CHILDREN, REGARDLESS OF THEIR ETHNICITY, CULTURE, INCOME OR THEIR COMMUNITY!!