Tools to help educate black children are available


ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is hosting two community-based conversations with Dr. Noliwe Rooks on Friday, April 6 at noon and Saturday, April 7 at 10 a.m. Both events will be held at Pinellas Technical College.

Dr. Rooks, who has roots in Clearwater, is an associate professor in Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is also the author of four books, with the most recent entitled “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation and the end of Public Education.” While her work is expansive, it is her research on several schools around the country that has educated black children successfully.

Noliwe Rooks EventThe Pinellas County School District has recently released its second-quarter data report to the community. A summary of the report includes the following:

  • The number and percent of black students who graduated on time with a standard diploma in four years was 69.3 percent. While some may be celebrating this two percent increase above the target, it is those type expectations only a community who is informed and demand excellence can demand greater.

  • The percent and number of black students in high school with a level at or above the Florida State Assessment is 22 percent.

  • The percent of 11th graders with a 3.0 grade point average is 21.4 percent. However, with many Florida universities moving toward or have already achieved preeminent status, the minimum entrance grade point average is 4.2. This means that if our 11th graders remained on this track, 79 percent of them will not be able to attend many Florida universities.

The St. Petersburg Branch’s purpose for inviting Dr. Rooks here is to provide all who say they are concerned about black children’s education with a resource person that can provide action and concrete steps to take.

The call is out to educators who have the primary responsibility of teaching our children and to elected officials who have the responsibility of bringing funds to Pinellas County for education and education initiatives.

The call has gone out to law enforcement agencies that the Florida legislature has made it a requirement to put law enforcement in all of the schools. While their focus is on security, a law enforcement officer’s positive interaction with a child in an academic setting can be the one spark that could potentially put a child on the right track.

Not-for-profit agencies and volunteers who design educational, mentoring, sports and dance programs can also carve out their agendas that result in academic success for our children.

The call has gone out to religious institutions that have a responsibility to ensure that the faith-based community celebrates and embraces the love for learning by providing quality programming with positive results as opposed to programs that merely use our children for grant dollars.

Lastly, the call has gone out to parents. If the parents fall down, our children’s chances of academic success are greatly diminished.

Please RSVP to Maria Scruggs at if you plan to attend the Friday, April 6 luncheon! There is no need to RSVP to the Saturday community breakfast. Pinellas Technical College is located at 901 34th St. S, St. Petersburg.

Maria L. Scruggs, President, St. Petersburg Branch NAACP

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