Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Children and Education

I was watching the HBO documentary, "Hard Times at Douglass High" on Monday evening and it truly upset me on so many different levels. As someone who very community minded and believes we are to help one another to achieve our goals, I couldn't believe the lack of resources in the Baltimore school system. Children shouldn't have to share books or wonder if there will be a teacher present on any give day. The "No child left behind" policy doesn't more than leave children behind. Nothing wrong in having standards for schools especially for teachers but solely using quantitative data just doesn't work in the school setting.

We have to pay more attention to our children. "Our" meaning the kids down the street, your cousin's kids, the kids in another school district with less resources, etc. Yep, let's be cliche.....Be the village...yanno.

At the same time, I'm both an advocate of community involvement but also personal responsibility. No matter the situation, you still can be empowered, even if its limited empowerment. I remember when I was in the 7th grade and we had an awful 7th grade Social Studies teacher. He rarely taught and just criticized the school and its students daily. I told my mother that I didn't know how I was going to get a good grade in this class. All my mom said was, "make it happen." She was from the thought that no matter how awful the teacher was, you can still learn something so get what you can get. Limited empowerment, personal responsibility. No matter how awful the resources were, I still had to do my part.

Poverty doesn't excuse anyone from morality, civility, and lawfulness. Yes, I understand trying to get over, get by and get through. I understand stealing cough medicine when your baby is sick and you don't have any money. Oh, I do understand the need to survive but as tough as that fight can be, there's a way to fight the good fight of survival. A parents lack of education doesn't excuse the parent pushing their own children to value education. Benjamin Carson, top neuro pediatric surgeon at John Hopkins, is the result of a mother who couldn't read but pushed her children to excel. Its a value system.

How do we change this value system? Personally, I don't think some children get to see the benefits of an education until its too late. The entertainment industry has a great influence on our community. This isn't about hip hop but celebrity. Celebrity just reinforces the materialism that has over taken our community. No one speaks of Jodie Foster putting her acting career on hold to receive her education from Yale or Kim Fields taking time to get her degree from Pepperdine University. Do the kids know that David Banner has his college education? Probably not. They know that Kanye dropped out though.

Our children watch more televsion that other group. Why? What is wrong with turning off the televsion and requiring our children to study? What time do our children go to bed at night?

Is it our own laziness as parents AND as a community?

I know I'm jumping all over the place but bottomline is there needs to be a shift towards valuing education again regardless of your economic status and those with the resources, need to share the resources. In the US, education isn't suppose to be just for the rich. Or maybe this is the problem? If we had to pay to send our children to school, would that make a difference? There are children literally dying to go to school in other countries and our children could careless. Value.

If Knowledge is power, we are becoming a powerless people.

I'll add more later....I'll edit and kill rambling

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