To solve the “teach to the test,” achievement gap and other issues in educating children of color, the black community needs to take ownership and leadership of our children’s education.
As a black educator who was in the classroom for over 25 years, I believe more effort and money could be spent toward extra direct services. Enrichment activities through after-school, weekend and summer programs by and from black leaders and professionals could be piloted. As we have seen in the past when black teachers were teaching black kids, we did not have the pipeline from school to jail.
Moreover, ethnologists would agree that culture has significant impact in everything in one’s life including learning. Given the lack of exposure of black children to their own African culture, the scarcity of black staff and teachers in the schools, all children including black youth would benefit exponentially from a learning experience and positive relationship from professionals of African descent.
Hence, I would suggest investing in piloting in Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) projects in churches and community centers in collaboration with school districts and why not with other cultures that run enrichment and academic programs for their own children and youth. I believe small group instruction in the schools and culturally relevant ways to respond to emotional and social issues would have positive academic results as well.
In terms of scarcity of black and other teachers of color, based on the 2010-2011 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE’s) website, there are 1,554 black, 697 Asian, and 1,414 Latino full time equivalent (FTE) teachers in the Commonwealth.
The total number of full time teachers is 59,213.1; 55,189.9 are Caucasian. Most of the 1,554 FTE Black teachers teach in the city Boston (872 based on DESE’s website).
Given these numbers, blacks and people of color are underrepresented in the field of Education in the statet and increasing those numbers is not often part of the Achievement Gap dialogue.
The data indicates one of the reasons that black professionals, clergy, nonprofit and other stakeholders need to get involved in putting in practice the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
The “village” can not afford losing the next generation of our black children anymore.
Regarding use of the term “Buffalo Soldiers” — 54th Regiment as described in a photograph caption published in Bay State Banner’s May 24, 2012 edition.
They weren’t “Buffalo Soldiers,” they were “Colored Troops.” The term “Buffalo Soldiers” didn’t come until 1868, three years after the Civil War. Most of the uniforms worn by those troopers are from the Civil War Period.