Miseducation of Black Youth
Updated: Mar 20, 2018
Author: Antonio R.
It is often said “education is the key to success.” What do you think is missing from this statement? Perhaps, “education is the key to success if you have the necessary tools.” The unfortunate reality is that our American education system is lagging behind. According to the Program For International Student Assessment (PISA), American students underperformed, ranking America at number 38 in mathematics and 24 in science out of 71 countries. Beyond the technological advancements and financial support for education in other countries, the socio-economic disparities in America significantly affect how individuals are educated. Minorities are forced into areas of concentrated poverty and have to “survive” on a daily basis. Living under sometimes fatal circumstances does not permit all to maximize their potential; thus, social and class divides, surrounding race, suppress academic achievement.
Particularly in urban communities, public school systems are under-resourced and do not have the capacity to adequately instruct students, who, more than likely, are of color. Students are discouraged at times and unsure of who they can depend on. Moreover, they may have an array of emotional and psychological distress from their personal lives that impedes on their ability to perform well in school. The issue becomes both systematic and individualized. If my needs in my home-life and community are not being met and my self-esteem is lowered, how then can I succeed in school? School becomes secondary. Additionally, if my school does not prioritize my concerns, then how can I feel connected enough to want to excel? It is this logic that affects the perception American students, specifically of color, have towards education.
To begin solving this crisis of miseducation, there must be a two-prong approach: Schools and communities must work together to empower students and students must accept their responsibility to drive their education. Policies affecting the success of minority students will continue to exist if support systems in a student’s life does not advocate on the student's behalf. That advocacy includes daily conversations with school-age students, attending Board of Education meetings, being present and active in school functions. Too often, the blame is solely imposed on administration when both parties are accountable. There is an enormous responsibility on educators to not only educate, but almost guard students. Our students have inquisitive, beautiful minds that are left untapped because their educators and curriculums do not reflect their identity. A student’s attitude becomes negatively affected and they soon completely withdraw. Engagement and buy-in from students and whatever their support system may be is how students can take leadership and pioneer what it is they seek to learn.