A select group of publishers who belong to the National Newspaper Publishers Association met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Washington, D.C., recently to discuss education issues that directly impact African Americans throughout the country.
Each publisher voiced their concerns which ranged from the closure of public schools and the onslaught of charter schools in urban school districts, which also includes the District of Columbia, to the future of public education, violence in schools and school security, along with access to higher education for African American and Latino students.
Duncan addressed those issues after sharing his concerns about the impact of the sequestration on funding for education programs that specifically serve minority communities. He said his major concern for the country, "not exclusively in Black communities, it's all across the country, but when it comes to dealing with Black communities, we don't have enough parents demanding a world-classneducation for their kids."
"A dropout today," he said, "is basically condemned to poverty and social failure. There are no good jobs today for a high school dropout. That wasn't always true. The stakes have risen dramatically for high-quality education. The issue we have here is very few parents demanding a quality education for their children."
Duncan proceeded to talk about America's "drop out factories" which he defined as school districts in communities that mass produce dropouts. "With a [drop out] rate in the Black community at 30, 40 and 50 percent, it is no way to sustain a strong middle class.
How can parents in communities allow for decades to be served by schools that are mass producing dropouts? How can we awaken parents to say that our children can't compete, can't get a good job if they don't get a world-class education? I struggle with that, and bany insight you have will be really helpful?"
Well, Secretary Duncan, clearly you are ignoring the facts and ignoring the outcry of Black parents.
If African-American children were provided equal access to an"world-class education", do you believe the rates would be so high?
Do you really believe that parents send their children to school every bday expecting anything less than a "world-class education" if bsuch an education exist and was made available to them? What do you expect parents to do?
Sure, greater parental involvement may be an answer but not to your question. The Black community knows very well the value of education, and it has suffered, historically, and it continues to reel from government policies that deny them access to high-quality schools. Next year will mark 60 years since Brown vs. Board of Education outlawed separate but equal education, but schools in predominately black and brown communities remain separate and unequal.
Schools do fail. But it's not always due to parents. In the District, parents are choosing schools that almost meet their educational expectations. Show them a world-class school and they will choose it.
We don't deny that there are an extraordinarily high number of high school dropouts and truants in the Black community. That's why The Informer has decided to zoom in on this issue each and every week. However, we continue to grapple with the idea that the victims of unequal education policies are also to blame.
We're reminded of Frederick Douglass' famous quote: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
So, the Informer will ensure that parents' demands on behalf of their children to have a "world-class education" are heard.
But Douglass also said: "Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."