Bright, Talented and Black
As if in response to my last post, Where Are All the Black Kids?, comes this resource: Bright, Talented & Black: A Guide for Families of African-American Gifted Learners.
I have not read the book yet, but was hipped to it by my friends over at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (full disclosure, I sat on their board for a year, and the founder/Executive Director is a friend!). We’ll see if it addresses any of the issues raised in my post yesterday.
First of all, I want to thank you for the outpouring of support: I am still getting responses and private e-mails with feedback from the post . . . it seems the article resonated with you, and it helps me to know I am not alone in feeling as I do. And, when I am tossing something around mentally, I tend to gravitate toward learning more about it, and last night I did what I usually do when I get into “that mode:” I read. I downloaded a preview of The Bee Eater, the story of Michelle Rhee and the story of the Washington D.C. debacle that I mentioned in the post. I plan to purchase the book, as I found the preview interesting. I cannot tell how much they plan to get into deconstructing “Voucher-gate” (my term, not theirs), but I am hopeful.
So far the book has made much of a sign in one of the D.C. schools: “There is nothing a teacher can do to overcome what a parent and a student will not do.”
The book says that the sign basically absolves the staff for the kids’ failings:
“For those children, the sign was a daily admonition that the teachers at Slowe were not responsible for the students’ failings. We’re not the reason the test scores at this school are awful. We’re not why D.C. schools rank at the bottom of all the nation’s schools. Look to yourself, look to your parents. You are to blame.”
I’m not sure how I feel about that, because, as my post discusses, I think the Black community certainly could be more proactive. In fact, I dare say, we must be, if we are to reverse the situation. Many of the thoughtful responses I received have mentioned that our community tends to go on auto-pilot and trust what teachers tell us without questioning, or that Black parents are so burdened with other issues affecting our community that they feel that they cannot get involved, or that we tend not to think outside of the box, but are a monolithic bunch for the most part.
I think all of these rationales are true. Whether they are accurate remains to be seen (and again, these are theories put forth by respondents, not people actually arguing these points).
Without getting too much into what I believe politically (there are tons of my political opinions out there if you Google me or follow any of the links here on the blog), I think we do “group think” too much. We vote a certain party almost 96% of the time, and we do tend to trust what teachers tell us most of the time (how many of our boys are labeled ADHD … and I am the mom of one who truly is, so it’s not a bias).
I also mentioned that my mom worked full time, was single, low-income, and yet was fully involved in PTA and other school-related things. So, yes, I think we have grown complacent and apathetic. It’s hard to have fire in your belly after a long, hard day, I get that. But every generation, save ours, has done it. And, if we don’t get back to it, we will not see change.
This is a call to action, peeps. Single, married . . . Affluent, low-income . . . Homeschooling, public-schooling . . . Whatever your situation, what I am calling you to requires no money — just passion! The statistics are out there, (and, yes, I’ve even interviewed Dr. Rod Paige, Former US Secretary of Education and author of The Black-White Achievement Gap, who backed this up), now we need to rouse our community out of its apathy, and challenge them to ask questions about the conditions of our school edifices, about performance scorecards, about parental choice and involvement.