Speakers fault parents, doubt state will educate all children
A comment about how children at a summer camp are mostly there for math remediation set off an entire Forum focused on how the community can do a better job of ensuring that all children get a good education.
There seemed to be general agreement that, if children are not getting a good education, it is because the parents of those children are not taking responsibility.
The N.C. Constitution calls on public schools to afford every child a sound basic education. Every child, not just children with attentive and supportive parents. But most speakers didn’t seem to think that the Constitution’s mandate was worth the paper it was written on.
Older participants remembered being raised by a neighborhood of adults who shared responsibility for enforcing high expectations, not only on their own children, but their neighbors’ children as well.
At least one younger participant said that young parents today are stymied, and have no idea how to raise their own children.
This website’s standards for reporting on forums where there is no designated speaker are designed to facilitate free and open discussion. Following normal practice, speakers are not identified below by name, and comments that might readily identify them have been omitted. Comments were edited for clarity and brevity.
— “Brisbane Academy is having a summer camp at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church. Middle schoolers are there for refresher courses, remediation courses. A majority of the high schoolers are there for math remediation. That tells me that there is something more we need to do in the community with math for our students.”
— “She said she was thinking about starting her own school, and once she went there she decided she would stay. If we could do more of that: Instead of everybody trying to do their own thing, recognize the businesses that are already going on, and work together.”
— “We expect someone else to educate our children. It’s our responsibility. I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to integrated schools. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have private schools. But the primary responsibility of educating your young is your responsibility. I’ve been at Myers Park. You can see the parents sitting in the room, monitoring what the teacher is doing. Parents participate in the PTA. Parents make sure the schools have the equipment they need.”
— “At a young age, being dyslexic, my teachers told me I wouldn’t be anything. And to this day the schools are not really equipped to help such students succeed. They use those kids as bait to get the money. But not only the money: Those are the students that get suspended. Those are the ones going to jail. The mental health side of things has affected the learning curve. The majority of these kids are on medication. How can you teach someone who is medicated, who is supposed to be focused but the medications have him or her going to sleep, outbursts, they don’t eat the right way, they’re not eating breakfast. These psychotropic meds? You have to eat on this stuff. So when they go off, oh, let’s take ‘em to jail, but you didn’t really solve the issue.”
— “My wife and I were sitting in a deposition on the 37th floor, fighting for our business. And I looked out the window and thought wow, we used to be down there, and now we’re on the 37th floor. I went home and told my son, I don’t want you ever look at a building the same way. Look at the artistry behind it, but dare to go to the door. Go in and look around. On every floor there is something different, but you have to leave the street to experience that.”
— “The home is the source of the problem. We tend to put it all on the school system, when it’s not really their responsibility to raise your child. We as African-American parents send our children, we freely give our children, and don’t check on it. Whites don’t do that. They take the children and say what are you going to do? How’s my child doing? I don’t know how to solve that problem, but I do know that I’m sick and tired about people lining up to get money for [underachieving] students. Schools get all this Title 1 money, but when they take a field trip, guess who can’t go – the one who they got the money for. And guess who’s going – the ones they didn’t get the money for. It’s before they go to school, from birth, and I’m not putting it on Social Services, either.”
— “The North Carolina Constitution mandates that public schools provide a sound, basic education to every child, not just to children who have good parents. How should we proceed?”
— “I came from a community of parents. I couldn’t walk down the street without some type of correction. We have to explain to our children how important it is for them to pursue their dreams. Hampton University was started by a lady teaching ex-slaves under a tree. Booker T. Washington went to Tuskeegee with $50 and started an institution. Mary McLeod Bethune went to Florida with watermelon seeds and started an institution. We’ve got to get away from this idea that it takes all this money that everybody’s fighting for and doing nothing, and start taking responsibility to educate our children, not only academically, but manners too.”
— “In the ’70s Pam Crown and Dr. Joanne Springs ran a program in Fairview Homes that taught parents to be parents, and required them to be part of raising their children. Every center could do that, and get parents used to coming to PTA. You do it by feeding them, and having the children participate in some way in every program. We used to have Easter speeches, and Mother’s Day speeches. Even churches aren’t doing that anymore.”
— “The children facing the most trouble are the ones without fathers in their lives.”
— “I left education to go into mental health because I saw it as a major issue. But as African-Americans and people of color, we don’t talk about it. We just say Johnny’s bad, and move on. We don’t focus on treatment. When you take medications, parents have got to understand how to take the medication. They have to be well-versed in how the medication affects this child. And if they choose not to get on medication, what are different alternatives they can do?”
— “If you know your son isn’t taking care of his child, why are we pacifying him? You’re the parent, he’ll listen to you. You need to get on your child. He’s my grandbaby. When was the last time you’ve seen your child? Until we come to the point of creating the conversation in our community, we’re going to continue to be behind. We can throw money at the situation, but the money is going to go in somebody else’s pocket. So “no child left behind” begins with our community. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cannot raise our children.”
— “I often hear that the blame gets put on the church. I’m only 24. I grew up in the church. I didn’t have a choice; my mom was at church so I had to be there. It starts at home. If the parents aren’t there, what is the expectation for the children to be there to be taught? If the parents don’t help out, then the church is nonexistent and can’t be that aid that they were back in slavery time, that dependency that we had on them, is gone because we don’t go. The church can’t survive and continue to do what they did without the people being there, both spiritually and financially. There are so many parents I see that are my age and have kids and the parents themselves don’t know what to do with the kids.”
— “I know what the Constitution says, but when the schools get those children at age 4 or 5 they’re not on the same playing field. Some children know their ABCs and they’re even reading, and then you have some children that don’t even know their full name. ‘What is your name?’ ‘Pumpkin.’ It’s just really hard. That’s where parents come in. There’s so much learning that needs to go on before they even come to school. If they could learn those same basic things, everyone would be on the same playing field. Teachers haven’t even been trained to address that gap.”
— “I want to respect everything I’ve heard, but what I’ve heard is it’s the parents’ responsibility. So let me repeat: The N.C. Constitution, which is us, all of us, mandates that public schools give every child a sound, basic education irrespective of whether they have good parents or not-so-good parents. How do we proceed?”
— “A lot of the Constitution doesn’t fit where we are today. My mother had three jobs. The only thing she could do was look at our homework and make sure we had it. The responsibility was on us to do our work. Did I grow up mad because I didn’t have a man figure at home? No, because I had my uncles. I had my cousins. I had the men of the community. And all the men I knew worked. If legislators in these high places are serious, the will step down and fix what needs to be fixed. We can march on Raleigh, but what is it going to change? It’s going to take them to go to school and sit a whole school year to see what’s really going on and how they can change it.”
— “If you’re going to sit here and fantasize behind the Constitution that because the Constitution said so and the reality have to be so, we’re setting ourselves up for a big disappointment. We can educate all the parents, but some children are going to fall through the cracks. But we need to set a safety net for the children who don’t get through the third grade, or the first grade. No one will ever move at the same speed.”
— “We need to put solutions into action. I grew up in Maryland. Dad was in prison. Stepdad was in prison. What my Mom taught me by the age of 10 was that my decisions have power and accountability. Accountability in decisions is the key. It’s time for us to be going to community centers to teach accountability, to fix the problem instead of talking about it.”
— “I am a former middle school teacher. I’ve been subbing for 10 months at one school. If you want students, or people in general, to give you time and attention, you need to be consistent. There are a lot of groups that come into a school one time, they make a presentation, and then they leave. That’s OK for a one-time shot, but we’ve got to be sure we’re consistent in our children’s lives, whether it’s at home, at school, wherever we’re attempting to impact that child. I could have split my subbing in five schools, but I stayed at one. As a result, the assistant principal and I were able to mentor 15 6th-graders. You need to stay there in front of that child. If we could find one job that we can stay with and remain consistent with, we can help a child become that informed and engaged citizen that they need to be.”
— “At the awards ceremony for girls leaving the Teenage Parent Services program, all the babies were in the day care while their mothers were in the ceremony. The fathers could come and take the babies into the auditorium. No African-American fathers came to pick up the babies; the day care workers took them in. All the Hispanic fathers came for their babies.”
— “Project LIFT is in its second year and we’re seeing progress. The main objective was to raise the graduation rate at West Charlotte to 90%. When we started it was 54%. That’s 54% that were getting diplomas. That didn’t really mean that 54% were ready to go out in the workforce and make a difference. After one year it was 71%. To improve the outcomes at West Charlotte we’re going back further, to the feeder schools, to start as early as we can with the kids that will come out of West Charlotte, so that we don’t have to play catch-up. It looks like we’re going to see another increase in student promotion, the graduation rate, and the number of students at grade level.”
— “If you want to bring down the suspensions, get 20 men who can cover that school. There are only about 40 or 50 young men in any school who cause most of the issues.”