We must pay attention to the dialogue of all those that come into our community and offer commentary on the “five failed schools saga.” While Arnie Duncan has it correct that that the state of our school are in can be equated to “education malpractice,” the dialogue that he is perpetuating, just as the Tampa Bay Times did, is that black children can’t learn if they attend schools with other black children. This is another attempt to retell our narrative.
What is even more disturbing is that African Americans have begun to sing that song not understanding what they are saying. The truth in Pinellas County is that black children in Pinellas County schools have not been learning for a very long time. It wasn’t until our children were placed back in neighborhood schools that the depth of the problem was highlighted.
People such as Marva Collins, Harlem School zone Founder Jeffery Canada and Capital Preparatory Founder Steve Perry have taught poor black children with great success. The three things these individuals have in common were an expectation that our children could learn in spite of their socio-economic status. They had the knowledge base to place the appropriate strategies in place to teach our children and they were committed.
If our children are to ever be free from the systemic social injustices associated with education, those that look like them must unequivocally and unapologetically reject the notion that our children stopped learning when they were placed in schools together and the notion that parents bare the blunt of the blame.
Poor teacher preparation, inappropriate allocation of public resources, public leaders who had little to no interest in our children’s academic success until they were called out are the reasons that our children have not performed as strongly as we know they can!
Those are the facts and we must not get caught up in the narrative that is being intentionally spun by those who have historically demonstrated very little concern about the social injustices that have run rampant in this community for years.
~ Maria L. Scruggs