I encounter beautiful black children in my travels. Their coconut brown, amber, almond, yellow and vanilla faces often stay in my memory, and my prayers are with them. I pray for them because I know the dark future they may encounter if they are not properly prepared.
Preparation through education is the key that will unlock boundless opportunity for them, yet they live at a time and in places where education has become a broken relic, a ruin of black people’s past glory. Public schools are named for relics, great African-American educators and emancipators like Frederick Douglass, Benjamin E. Mays, Martin Luther King Jr. and others.
The buildings named for them have become holding cells that detain our children for four years or so and release them unprepared and ill advised to prosper in the real world. Truthfully public schools are barely giving them the most basic of coping skills: reading, writing and arithmetic.
We all know the problems. We all know the cities that host the problem of under educating our young: Atlanta, Little Rock, Detroit, D.C., Newark and the list continues to grow. I want to talk about solutions.
African-American children are in dire need of intervention. The schools must be fixed or closed. When Dead Prez rapped “Fuck They Schools,” we all should have listened.
Neal Boortz and Sean Hannity advised their W.A.S.P. listeners to pull their kids from public schools. They know the American public school system has become the feeder program to welfare and prison. The proof is in the pudding − where education fails, crime prospers and gangs prevail.
Babies were once fatherless in the 80s and 90s; now they are completely parentless. No homework help, no assistance with school projects, and now, no dreams or goals grow in these homes. Can parents who were failed by public schools help public schools succeed now? Yes!
Parents must first join the P.T.A. The Parent Teacher Association is the easiest way to directly affect school policy. Meet your child’s teacher and engage him or her often. This includes being present at the school for special events and functions to aid teachers on a daily basis.
The increased adult presence will help to restore order and provide an environment where focus is possible. It will also serve as a watchful eye on what the administration is or is not doing to ensure the best quality of education possible for our kids. This can be done in shifts to protect parent employment.
School board meetings should look like the club on a Saturday night. 100 percent of P.T.A. parents should attend and make concerns, needs and wants known for their home schools and the entire district. The loudest wheel gets the oil. Our kids need us to be loud right now.
Next is homework − two hours of no TV; the entire house must engage in homework. The kids will do required work, and the parents can read self-help books, study guides or fiction, so long as the children see them reading.
Children who see parents read become readers. Black pulp fiction does not count. What you read reflects your aspirations, get rid of the “locked in the game” street novels. Also do homework parties with their classmates and have the teacher’s cell on standby in case your kids lie about not having any like my kids do.
So now you are active in the school and the school board, and study time is a staple in the home. What next? Next is Saturday School. WHAT?! Yup, Saturday School. We are so far behind the curve now that we have to look to other communities for effective ways to further our children’s education. Our Jewish brothers and sisters have the answer, Saturday School! Our schools and churches can easily be used for three hours on Saturdays to bring in young talented college students to tutor in math, English, science and also foreign languages. This will not be easy, but it will be worth it. With the 10 hours of homework a week and an additional three hours on Saturday, our students will begin to “180” within weeks, not months. The strongest learners will help with the slower ones, and all older grades will be required to assist younger ones. Parents also can use these resources to do online college courses and earn GEDs for those who may need them. Learning must become the culture of our entire community again.
Lastly, make school the biggest deal in your household. Sheer enthusiasm for good grades and the expectation of a solid parent can feed the ambition in a child that will create a drive to excel well beyond all imagined expectations.
If we can do these few things consistently and nationally in the black community and create partnerships with HBCUs, we can reverse the last 30 years of public school neglect by the time a ninth-grade student graduates from high school. Public schools can be saved; it will take the public to do it! Our children are not lost when we guide them.
I gotta get some rest now. Aniyah is expecting me at her school in the a.m. Fin. -It’s Bigga!
BTW, kids … I believe there is a direct correlation between the dropping literacy rate and the rise of dumb rap. You cannot appreciate lyricism if you cannot read. So, I guess my challenge to the hip-hop generation is to make sure our children are literate, which will help them appreciate lyricism and ultimately will make rap better.