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CCSD: Do You Know Enough Black Children?
4/30/2014 3:39:50 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

I remember reading a book some years ago by Stephen G. Peters entitled “Do You Know Enough About Me To Teach Me? The book is an insightful students’ perspective “to affirm and validate those approaches and strategies they are already using and an openness to accept the reality that today’s student need more.” Of course, they do. Today’s students have more problems to deal with than their predecessors. More than 60% of Black students come from homes with single parents, younger parents, joblessness and drug infested communities. Many of these children spent nights sleeping in shelters and underneath overpasses.

As I observe the direction Charleston County School District Superintendent and some members of the Board are headed, my question is “do they know enough about Black children to teach them”? Really?

At Monday night’s Board meeting, Superintendent McGinley thank the Board for her eight years and brought the Board up-to-date on her accomplishments. Even Ray Charles could see through the smoke screen. Sure some students are making progress but far too many are not. Many students still struggle with reading with comprehension, solving simple math problems and are lagging behind grade level.

Superintendent McGinley would lead you to believe that all is well and the district is making record and significant differences in reducing the number of failing schools and increasing the graduation rate. I am not as concerned with failing schools as I am with failing students. The Superintendent’s solutions to reduce the number of failing schools are close some, repurpose others and integrate failing students into other schools. Failing students are considered discipline problems and are now entangled in the Juvenile Justice System.

White students have fared off far better in terms of better teachers, fewer discipline referrals, more educational options and advance curriculum. Progress within the district depends on who you talk to and what side of the track they hail from.

Oh, so you think this is the rant and rave of a mad black woman? Visit Daniel Jenkins Creative Learning Center on Bonds Avenue and you will find practically all of the students are black. That sends a message to minority students that they are the only ones who act out. And while some of the offenses that land them there used to be handled by assistant principals and guidance counselors, the district has adopted a zero tolerance policy. Sure, it may be a different day and students may be a little more outspoken and aggressive but for the most part, they are not unreachable or unteachable. Some minority students are just misunderstood which brings me to my topic “Do You Know Enough About Black Children” to reach and teach them? Do you know that a high percentage of black children have been molested or abused?

Do you know that through no fault of their own, they don’t have sufficient or nutritional food and therefore come to school underfed and/or undernourished? Do you know that many are still latchkey kids that are home alone with little or no guidance? Do you know that black students talk back when you talk down to them?

Do you know that black students know the difference between teachers who care or those who dare or swear at them? Do you know that black students have dreams of becoming successful too?

Daniel Jenkins Creative Learning Center Middle School, named for a renowned black educator, has such an impressive name but is learning really taking place there? During the 2012-13 school year, 637 suspensions were recorded for the 180-Day Suspension Report. Out of the 637 suspensions 605 were blacks, 1 Hispanic, 28 whites and 3 others. The total number of days students missed were 1,410. Something tells me “You do not know enough about Black children” to effectively educate them.

One of the questions Keisha was asked in “Do You Know Enough To Teach Me” was “How do you feel about your teachers?” Keisha’s response was, and I have heard it time and time again, “Most of them I don’t care for ‘cause they don’t care for me. Some of them do things that make it clear to students that they don’t really care about us. Two of my teachers from last year I like and respect. They treat me like I’m a real person and like I can be somebody if I try hard. They also carry themselves like they are special. Those other teachers don’t have no business teaching nobody’s children.” “Out of the mouth of babes, comes the truth. Children know!! I know!! You know!!

Do you know enough about Black children to reach or teach them? If not, run for the hills! Enough marginalizing Black children! Enough is ENOUGH!!

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