All over the United States students are going back to school. Some are being home-schooled, some are in private schools, and a great many are enrolled in public schools. Today, a basic public education is taken for granted, and is available to just about everyone, up through high school.
According to an online article by Stacey Lynn titled A Brief History of Public Education, “The idea of public school, or mass government schooling, was conceived many years ago, but we actually see it finally take root in America around 1905 and shortly thereafter. It also uprooted almost every single cultural tradition of the era and marginalized females, Native Americans, people of color, and those that did not speak English.”
Though education was available to all, African Americans were marginalized and were relegated to a segregated educational experience until the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka declared segregated education by race to be unconstitutional.
Today, African Americans (theoretically) have access to the same public education system that is available to others. The challenge is that due to a lack of economic parity, Black students tend to live in neighborhoods where education is not really equal because of conditions that surround them.
The truth of the matter, however, is that it is possible to ensure that the system provides the best education to students no matter where they reside.
When looking at the inequities in academic achievement between Black people and whites, the attitudes tend to be pessimistic, with the assumption that Black students will always get the short end of the educational stick due to economics.
Actually, this situation could change overnight if one ingredient is seriously employed: Parental Involvement!
Both Black people and white people pay taxes, which is how education is funded. Frequently, these are acquired as property taxes, which ensures that areas in the country that are more affluent will have access to greater revenue from property taxes for schools. Inner city schools, on the other hand, don’t have the same access to revenue, but they do have access to parents!
Unfortunately, too often in Black communities, parents have an incomplete understanding about education. They believe that teachers are solely responsible for the education of their children and underestimate the value of parental involvement. Because of this, they may not attend parent conferences, refuse to participate in parent/teacher organizations, and are negligent in monitoring homework assignments.
Yes, there are economic disadvantages when it comes to public education, but there are circumstances that can circumvent these disadvantages, which lie in the aforementioned parental involvement. If every parent would understand the importance of the part they play in their children’s education, the achievement gaps would be greatly reduced.
And make no mistake; parents don’t have to be academically adept in order to participate in the education process; the act of serving as role models by demonstrating an interest in education and by holding academic personnel accountable will go a long way in modeling for students the importance of education.
One of the saddest things happening nowadays, though, is the devaluation of education by a dumbed down population. One of the dominant memes circulating in social media is that education is not really necessary for a successful life. The very idea of education’s value is in jeopardy.
People are now fond of the notion that an education is not needed to make money, and they point to high-profile wealthy college dropouts to prove their point. They look at Bill Gates or Elon Musk as proof of this idea. What they fail to understand is that someone who has had the wherewithal to attend an Ivy League university, such as Gates and Musk, is already ahead of the game, and cannot serve as legitimate examples for the lack of education’s value.
Ultimately, education IS important, very much so, and parents, by being involved in their children’s education, can help ensure positive academic outcomes by serving as interested role models. This is what needs to happen as students go back to schools this new school year! A Luta Continua.