Why Can’t Shaniqua and Ray-Ray Read? AskDrO

Recent statistics show that only 50% of African-American students graduate in four years. I remember channel surfacing  on day and stopped on BET’s popular music show 106 and Park. Their guest for the day was Will and Jada Pinkett’s nine year old daughter at the time, Willow Smith. 106 gave her a plaque to celebrate the success of her song that was out at the time. Unfortunately, she could barely read it. While on camera, she struggled to read “congratulates” and stumbled through the rest. Now, this is not to make fun of a child, only to bring awareness to the problems in our youth’s education system and that too many kids focus more on extracurricular activities than the essential skills like reading and writing.


On the other hand 75% of Caucasion-Americans graduate in four years.  The statistics are more disabling as you become more specific to the African-American male (around 42% nationwide but the rate varies dramatically across America). Did you know that it is more likely for an African-American son of promise to go to jail than graduate high school?  There is a dramatic 66% rate of encounters for Black males in the criminal justice system prior to graduation. This is a crisis here in America; this post is going to hopefully stir conversation and controversy amongst the readers of my blog. Yes, people are faithfully reading but they are too quiet for me so I am not sure they are being challenged enough.

What are experts sharing as the possible cause of the failure of American schools:

1. Issues with teacher competencies.

2.  Poor to no parental involvevent.

3.  Conflicts and crisis in the leadership of our schools (School Board Mania).

Teacher Competence

The issues with teachers and their ability to teach is a phenomena unto itself.  Many college graduates can’t find work in the areas of their choice, and as a  result, they are resorting back to teaching. This is not good; there are programs like”Teach for America” that supposedly prepare young college stars for the classroom.  I have seen a couple of the candidates and I am sure that any inner city schools would most probably rip some of them to shreds easily.  The advent of the so-called  new “Charter Schools” is most probably NOT the right answer either. There has to be a “passion” for teaching and that just does not seem to be the case. The teachers that were around at the end of the last century are a dying breed.  They taught phonics, basic and advanced math and those wonderful AP courses.  Teacher competence is essential for the success of his/her student.  This is a vulnerable area in America’s public school system.

Parental Involvement

Do you remember the old and strong PTA’s (Parent-Teacher Association)? Back in the good ole days,  you couldn’t beat an afternoon bake sale with all of the parents raising funds for the new school library.  Sometimes there was a little too much parental involvement and the administrators would get a little restless.  However, that was okay for the most part with most of the prinicipals. Nowadays, every parent has to be involved in the progression of his/her child’s development. The hands-off and latch-key approach will not work especially if your child has a learning disability of the dreaded ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). A number of parents don’t know the difference between an IEP and a 504 Plan. Parental involvement is down in many of our inner city schools. This is a curse that further contributes to “Why Shaniqa and Ray-Ray Can’t Read!”

School Board Follies

If you have been watching Metropolitan Atlanta’s School Board over the last several years, you have been exposed to an all out zoo.  Two years ago, Clayton County Schools lost their accreditation. Just two weeks ago, six Dekalb county  school board members were suspended due to poor performance in their district on top of also possibly losing their accreditation as well.What this means is that essentially the diplomas earned during this era have no true value. It impacts your ability to obtain financial aid for college and even impacts your ability to gain college admittance. Parents, as difficult as it may be, relocate your family or your child when this happens to your local school system.  However, I know that before Atlanta Public Schools lost its accreditation, heads would roll and they have already.  Thanks SACS for saving the day; there were some board members who really needed to leave. Enough Said!

Five steps to take to stay involved in your child’s education process:

1.  Watch the local and national news daily.

2.  Read your child’s progress report closely.

3. Schedule at least 4 face-to-face conferences with your child’s teachers.

4.  Come home from work and spend time helping with homework. Demand excellence.

5.  Stop hollering at the child if he or she is academically frustrating.

Finally, I admonish each of you to schedule a face-to-face conference with your child’s teacher’s this month. The school year is coming to a close but it’s never too late turn a bad situation into a good one. Choose excellence and demand it from your child, his/her teachers and the local school board/superintendant.

Do you agree with the above post? Did Dr.O leave something out that is essential? Should Dr.O have included corporal punishment?

Picture source: http://ssofdv.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/why-black-children-cant-read/

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