Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Saving Our Boys, Part 2: Advocating for Education

Here's the follow-up discussion to the previous post, Saving Our Sons, with the same three researchers and advocates.  This piece is a bit longer, approximately 60 minutes.

The following are among some of the important points they're raising:

  • Children want to be respected by their teachers, and are particularly responsive when they sense a genuine connection with the teacher or other school staff.
  • The content and curriculum need to have practical relevance to the children's lives.
  • Strategies that allow children to problem solve and explore/engage their own community are particularly effective.
  • Black male teachers and school professionals are very important; not only as teachers, but also the impact their presence has on the school climate and the dialogue between teachers and school administrators about students and their families.
  • Research is important, and can also be misleading.  We have to use current research and data, and understand the research and data within the context in which is conducted/obtained.  For example, youth violence is indeed problematic, yet it is also less prevalent today than it has been in at least the last two generations.
  • We must be attentive to the family protective factors that really promote excellence in schools.
  • We have to be mindful of the consistent restatement of racial disparities and problems among.
  • The solution for an inexperienced and underqualified workforce is a more experienced and more qualified workforce.  (My note... This is most acutely relevant for many of the schools located within lower-income communities and/or schools that are lower-performing, many of which have a greater share of newer and less-experienced teachers.  They may very well be/become excellent teachers, but our schools should not be treated as laboratories.)
  • We know enough about what effective schools look like and do, and we have many examples of effective schools within lower-income communities, within African American communities, and among children with various types of challenging backgrounds.  This should drive our school reform and educational improvement efforts.  Educational excellence is absolutely achievable, and happens in many places every single day.

This is definitely worth  listening to, and a conversation we should all be continuing in our own families and communities.  Keep in mind a key point that Dr. Ivory Toldson continues to make, however, which is that we need to have these conversations with real and up-to-date information (including data and research) so that we're not trying to improve schools in 2013 with an understanding of student experiences from 2002.  Some of the outcome and experience patterns may very well persist, but the context continues to evolve.

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