All Articles Tagged "school"
A couple of days this week, I woke up to emails and Facebook messages from a Tracey Cox, Robert McCready, and full on harassment from Johnathan Bartles telling me I’m a “stupid racist.” About a year or so ago I sent my daughter to school with her curls out. Contrary to the self-hating sisters who commented below the article, curls mean curls in this instance. When I picked my daughter up from school her white teacher took it upon herself to “braid” my daughter’s hair.
Yes. this was a problem, and you can read all about it here.
No, I didn’t and still wouldn’t want a white teacher “doing” my daughters hair. Yes, it still would be an issue for me if the teacher was Black. My daughter’s hair was freshly washed and moisturized. She showed up to school with her hair done just as she did every other day.
The issue here that everyone is missing, partly due to my poor articulation, is that in 2016 Black girls are still being told their hair, and their appearance is substandard by Blacks, Whites, and others. It’s 2016 and Gabby Douglas is a highly-decorated Olympian yet all people can manage to say is she has bad edges and a bad attitude. It’s 2016 and Black girls and their families are still fighting school districts with POLICIES dictating and regulating how a Black child is allowed to wear their hair to school.
No one is telling Susan her is too long and must be worn in a bun, lest she face suspension. No one is telling Tommy he must cover his tattoos and get rid of his eccentric hairstyle lest he cannot walk at graduation. Andrew Jones however, the valedictorian was denied the privilege of walking his own graduation because he wore a beard. Maybe I am a stupid racist, maybe I’m reaching and this particular incident was innocent. There is, without a doubt, an undeniable compulsion from people who are not of color to control, regulate and police the physical appearance of people of color.
At the time, my daughter was about two-years-old, she was the only Black student in the entire daycare. There were no teachers of color at all. At two-years-old, daycare is where children learn and pick up many things from their interactions with their teachers and peers. I am always going to be “that mom” advocating for my daughter’s rights and self-esteem and confidence until she is knowledgeable and strong enough to do so on her own.
At almost 30-years-old, I’m working in a corporate, medical setting and I still hear white women say things like, “That’s your real hair? That’s not typical for you guys to have such long hair, right?”
Ignorance is truly bliss. To sit behind a screen in your home-office trying to berate and intimidate someone based off their personal experience must be nice. Unfortunately, I will not let you police me either. If you don’t like what the world has to offer stay in your gated-communities with limited perceptions of the social paradigms.
I am a Black woman who grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, and attended Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. I know very well what racism and microaggressions look like.
How would you react if your daughter’s teacher did her hair?
Last year, a photo was circulating on the internet of a little girl, who had just gotten her hair done by her teacher. To no one’s surprise this garnered reactions on both ends of the spectrum from the cyber world. As a mother, I was torn in my opinion of the situation, with no reason to think it could ever happen to me. As I read through the responses of Facebook friends, and their friends I thought, If I was a teacher, and a student came into class with her hair matted and linted, yes I would probably take it upon myself to spruce her up. However, in regards to my daughter this was not the case.
Then it actually happened to me and my daughter. One day, after a fresh hair wash, we were running slightly behind to school and I decided–against my better judgment–to let my daughter go to school with a headband and her curls out. BIG MISTAKE.
Thursday afternoon, like every day I went to pick up my daughter from her school playground. As she ran toward me, all I could do was mouth to myself was, WTF!? Seeing my reaction her teacher scurred behind her, quickly offering an exonerating explanation as to why my daughter didn’t look the way she did only a few hours earlier. “I did her hair, I hope you don’t mind?! She said she was hot.”
I was furious. My blood was boiling, and there were no nice words I could find. I offered a limp smile, and could barely utter, “it’s fine.” I was fuming. My daughter’s hair had been brushed, with whose brush? I couldn’t tell you, parted, and braided in plaits, and embellished with rubber bands and barrettes, out of the teachers own supply.
After about 30 minutes to an hour, I called the school and spoke with the director and asked that Lyric’s hair not be touched by anyone, at all, for any reason. She assured me she would talk to the teachers, but I could tell she really didn’t care. For days I debated with my cousin, a former daycare teacher about the violation, boundary infringement, and the subliminal message being taught to my daughter. My cousin argued the teacher had no ill intentions toward my child, and that she thought she was doing a good thing. She assured me her actions meant that Lyric was a favorite in the school, and now that I have made this an issue they will probably treat her differently now.
While I’m 100 percent sure the teacher had no ill intentions when she decided to do my childs hair, but more so just wanted to get her hands in some Black hair. Against my better judgment, I assumed the unspoken rule about not touching Black hair was well known. Needless to say, no matter what the circumstances may be, no matter how tired I am, that hair gets braided down daily! I refuse to allow my child to be mislead into believing her beauty, and worth are defined by what pleases the pale faces of the world. I am a patron of the facility not for beauty treatments, but to first educate, and second care for my child. Unfortunately, I have stigmatized myself as “that mom”, and prayerfully my daughter doesn’t suffer of any ill treatment because of this.
Would I feel as strongly about this situation had her teacher been Black, and decided to do her hair? Nope, because to me that would of been a sister looking out, a homegirl hook up because of the unspoken understanding all Black people share. Is that biased, ignorant, racist? Call it what you want, but because of the history of the Black body, in relation to White people, (ownership, and exhibition) I will never be ok with White hands in my childs hair.
What would you do if your daughter’s teacher did her hair?
Have you had a tricky situation that needed to be addressed at your child’s school? How did you handle it?
Back-to-school season means sale season, but the discounts aren’t just for the kids. Once you walk across your last stage, backpacks and pencils on discount flyers don’t seem worth your time. But they’re not the only thing being sold for the low at this time of year.
The beginning of fall means lots of retailers are making room for new inventory — by putting lots of items on super sale. Know what to look for and you could save just as much during back-to-school season as you do on Black Friday. At least when it comes to some items. So if you’re in the market for anything on this list, now is the time to watch the sales and head to the store.
If you snooze, you lose. These items might not go back on sale in this way until the end of the year during holiday season.
The summer before a child enters his or her freshman year of college is filled with excitement and consternation, happiness and remorse, confidence and concern. This period of anticipation is parents’ best chance to help their child with his or her final preparation – academically, emotionally and financially.
Family Mission Planning is a cornerstone of McManus & Associates, a top-rated estate planning law firm with offices in New York and New Jersey. So, the firm headed up by John O. McManus shared with us these great ideas that can help families stay on track with their individual mission statements as soon to be college freshmen leave the nest.
Balance – take it easy: Pre-med, Pre-law, Engineering, Science and Math majors frequently require challenging courses in the first semester. Many schools, however, have core requirements, as well as mandatory courses in areas outside your child’s expertise. For the first semester, encourage your child to take at least one or two courses that have a lighter workload in areas that they really enjoy; the adjustment to college life and all of its demands will be significant enough without an overwhelming amount of work. Some schools such as MIT and Johns Hopkins have “covered grades” for freshmen, meaning students take courses PASS/FAIL for the first semester or first year, taking the GPA pressure off and making the transition into college more sustainable.
Grades – yes, they do matter: A wise man once said, “College is a great time to have fabulous memories that you take with you the rest of your life, but grades also travel with you the rest of your life.” There are many significant aspects of learning both inside and outside the classroom that enrich the college experience and make for better human beings; there is no question your child should embrace every aspect of the college experience. That said, your child’s course load (over four years) and GPA will be leading indicators for the first job your child will land or the graduate program into which your child will gain admission. Surely one’s first job or graduate program is not the dispositive indicator for a rich full life, but a strong start is advantageous.
Walk, walk, walk and take public transport (and a cab/Uber when it’s late at night!): If your child’s campus and surrounding town are walkable and/or have ample public transportation, do not have your new college student bring a car to school the first year, if it can be avoided (McManus & Associates would encourage equal restraint in the following years, unless having a car is absolutely necessary). Walking and taking public transportation will enable your children to further enhance the college experience as they enjoy their surroundings and appreciate the life they have. When it comes to a night out, your child impaired behind the wheel is a horrible risk, but your child in a car with an impaired friend driving is equally unacceptable – lives can be ruined in an instant. Encourage your child to plan ahead and take a cab or an Uber.
How much did you spend?! For many children, college is a liberating time marked by freedom from the shackles of typical parenting when they lived at home. Parents may avoid putting their child on a budget because they feel as though they are constraining their child’s experience – until the first credit card statement arrives. It’s important in advance to discuss expectations of budget and to monitor the monthly burn. It’s the best lesson you can give your children in managing finances and helps prepare them for the time when they are truly out on their own and providing for themselves.
My child is not returning my calls, my texts or my FaceTime efforts. Should I call his or her roommates? Let your child lead on the communications front. In time, if you make the conversations interesting and supportive, your college freshman will likely want to communicate with you as much as you want to communicate with your child. Let them volunteer what’s going on in their lives. Update them on the positive stuff going on back home so that you’re not viewed as clinging to their lives, trying to vicariously share college with them.
Yes, you can enjoy college with your child, too! Stay plugged in with your children and gently give them confidence during periods when they feel homesick. Look through the event calendar at your child’s school and propose going to see a performance, premiere or lecture, to which you also invite your child (beyond Parents’ or Family Weekend). Save up for a hotel and schedule a special dinner, allowing them to break away from the now routine cramped quarters of a dorm room and cafeteria food. It may wind up being the best night of the month for both of you.
Oh dear, my child is a legal adult, but I have learned that the frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until age 25. Strong high school grades, solid ACT/SAT scores and acceptance into a good school do not mean that a child has developed the full discerning ability to make the best decisions all the time, especially when out at a celebration (and, particularly, if alcohol is involved). Whether your children like it or not, they need your guidance and expertise (help them come to that conclusion with you). Be that sage advice giver, but use it sparingly and be laser-focused about the issue being addressed.
Your child may be consciously excited AND consciously anxious to leave the nest: If parents think it’s tough watching their child leave the nest and spread his or her wings, imagine the confusion and consternation of that child who daily seeks to fly, but periodically seems so vulnerable and uncertain. He or she boldly, and possibly insolently, demands independence but occasionally looks over the top of the nest to see how far the drop is. This push and pull of confidence and vulnerability will be the paradigm for many years. Put aside, therefore, the less memorable times during the demand periods and be ready to welcome your child when he or she seeks the compassion and warmth that only a parent can provide.
Your chick is growing alongside chicks from other nests, too: A mature and understanding relationship with your child as he or she starts a new adult life away from home is the goal. But keep in mind that your child’s roommates and friends may not have that same relationship with their own parents. Showing affection and interest in your child’s friends’ and roommates’ lives will not only win your child’s companions’ affection who come to see you as a great parent, but your child will view this as support of their friendships and life choices, strengthening your bond during their maturation process. Your child may also view this open acceptance as an opportunity to share more frequently the events that occur in their social life, which will enrich your appreciation for your child’s experience and may also provide you opportunities to offer them wisdom.
Let’s get legal (So, who is in charge when your child is in danger?): While your child is an adult who can enter into a legal contract, vote for a public official, and choose his or her path in life, this does not mean he or she is immune from making suboptimal choices. The fickle fate of life means that they can get sick or hurt, resulting in hospitalization. At age 18, our kids are adults in the eyes of the law, and parents do not have the legal right to make decisions on behalf of an infirm child. The only way to protect against this is for your newly adult children to elect individuals to act on their behalf if incapacitated. This includes a Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Living Will and Release of Medical Information documents. Each time McManus & Associates learns about a child turning 18, the firm recommends that they come to its offices to prepare and execute these documents naming their parents and other loved ones to act on their behalf in case of an emergency. When John McManus’ daughter left for John Hopkins, she was no exception; indeed she wanted to know the relevance of every paragraph and negotiate every term before signing but, in the end, the whole family knew that this was in her best interest.
“Your child is like a kite that you fly on the beach,” McManus shares. “Sometimes you have to run with them to get lift off, sometimes you have to hold them back to avoid them getting swept away, but always you must enjoy their beauty as they soar through the sky. Most of the time you cannot fly alongside them, but never let go of that mighty rope and always be prepared to make that occasional save when there might be a temporary nose dive.”
I attended catholic school from kindergarten up until sixth grade. The school was predominately Caucasian and I can really only remember a few other African American students being there. Kindergarten through fourth grade was awesome. I had lots of girlfriends and we did sleepovers, camping trips, and shopping trips with our moms and then something happened suddenly. Around fifth grade not only did I start noticing I was different but the kids around me started telling me I was different too. There were subtle things like a girlfriend taking notice that our hairstyle might have been the same but that my hair looked different or a kid joking about my skin being darker. I went from feeling like everyone else to feeling like an outcast and I know that’s not everyone’s experience but it was definitely mine.
My mother noticed it too and by seventh grade she had moved me to a school that was more diverse. The friends I met there I still have to this day and I am 33-years-old. I stayed in touch with a few two girls from the Catholic school but only for a short time.
A recent study shows that interracial friendships decline as kids enter adolescence and that teachers may play a role. The study, led by researchers with New York University’s Steinhardt School, found that as students move through a single school year that their cross-racial friendships decrease.
Elise Cappella, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of applied psychology at NYU said. “We wanted to try to understand what might be influencing that change … and we wanted to go beyond simply understanding the opportunity piece [greater numbers of diverse peers] to understanding what parts of this social process or the teaching practices might make a difference in the changes that occur.”
The study’s authors calculated the racial composition of the students’ classes and used an index to measure how many same-race friendships would be expected if friendships were randomly distributed. The researchers found that the number of same-race friends grew for both black and white children over the school year and that white students showed the largest increases.
The study also found that children are very observant and their perceptions of teachers’ traits are very important. Cappella highlighted the importance of a teachers’ daily interaction with their students. “When teachers [show] that everyone is valued … that everyone deserves warmth and support, then that trickles down to the students, particularly at this age,” she said. “Those [actions] are the most salient and potentially the most powerful for influencing students in a more implicit way.”
Keffrelyn Brown, an associate professor of cultural studies in the education college at the University of Texas at Austin, said that “integration cannot only occur at the surface level. It must be seamlessly found across all [parts] of the … teaching and learning processes.” And she went on to say, “It’s about cultivating a community of learners who are invested in the well-being of the community.”
What are your thoughts on the study? Do you think teachers play an important role in fostering interracial friendships?
Flowers are blooming, the weather’s heating up and your child is already fantasizing about summer fun at the pool. Just one (big!) problem–the school year isn’t over yet.
The approach of spring means trouble for many students academically. Let’s face it: it can be hard to focus on school when summer break is just around the corner. But your child’s grades don’t have to take a nosedive as summer approaches. Here are 15 strategies to help your child stay focused and end the school year strong.
Chat with the teacher. Talk with your child’s teacher for tips to help him focus. Teachers have years of experience helping students recover from “spring fever.”
Take homework outside. Who says homework has to be done in the same indoor location each day? Now that it’s warmer, your child longs to be outside. Move homework to the patio or the porch, and reward the completion of homework assignments with some outdoor playtime afterward.
Update the school supplies. Spring is a great time to update your child’s school supplies with colorful pencils, floral notebooks and brightly colored folders. Your child will look forward to doing assignments to use these spring-inspired supplies.
Set a goal and give a reward. Encourage your child to finish the school year strong by agreeing upon a goal and a reward for reaching the goal. Does your child want to do better in math? Or boost her G.P.A.? Talk to her about ways to make this happen and agree on a fun reward when she makes the mark.
Use movement to motivate. Use your child’s natural desire for movement to their advantage. Have him shoot basketball hoops as he memorizes times tables. Or toss a bean bag with you as he practices spelling words. Or incorporate dance breaks in the homework routine.
Make homework time family time. Have the whole family help your child prepare for a test. Have siblings help write flashcards or give verbal quizzes. Your child will feel less antsy if he feels that everyone in the family is involved in his assignments.
Use creativity to break the monotony. Playing hangman is a great way to practice spelling. Have your child help with measuring ingredients for dinner meals to practice fractions or read recipes to build reading skills. Being creative will keep your child engaged and keep you on your toes.
Divide and conquer. Does your child hate sitting for long periods of time to complete their assignments? Break up their homework time into segments. Have your child start homework right after school, take a break for dinner, and complete the rest after dinner. The break may be just what they need to redirect their concentration.
Start the countdown. You know that your child is mentally counting down to the end of the school year, so use it to your advantage. Together start crossing off days on the calendar to countdown the end of the school year. Each time you cross off a day, give your child a pep talk: “Just 20 more days until summer! You’re smart so I know you can focus for 20 more days!”
Maximize the weekends. Make your weekends mini-summers. Take your children to the playground, the pool or the movies. Load the weekends with fun as a way to quench their desire for summer break.
Visit the school. Who wouldn’t focus and do their best if they knew mom was coming to school? Take a few days off work to volunteer in your child’s class. The teacher will love the help in the classroom and your child will be extra attentive knowing that you’re there.
Make assignments come alive with field trips. Is your child studying state history? Then take a weekend trip to historical state landmarks. Studying the solar system? Check out your nearest planetarium. Family field trips can make mundane assignments fun.
Showcase their work. Every time your child completes a challenging assignment showcase his work. Hang the assignment on the refrigerator or in a prominent place for the family to see. Seeing your celebrate his success will help keep him motivated.
Get a tutor. If you just can’t keep your child motivated, it may be time to get professional help. A good tutor will help your child stay focused and hold her accountable to complete assignments (and keep you from getting frustrated!).
Make summer plans. Spend time with your child talking about what they’d like to do this summer break. Have your child research the summer camp or program that they want to take part in. Acknowledging that summer’s nearly here can be the motivation they need to persevere until the end of the school year.
Yolanda Darville is a freelance writer focused on making a difference. Connect with her on Twitter.
Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson, and Keidy of Wildwood Elementary School in Amherst, MA, are sixth graders who are doing their part to make the world a better place.
In February, the boys’ teacher, Chris Eggmeir, assigned a project in which his students were instructed to find a problem in the world and explore possible solutions to it. Bryson had become interested in the Black Lives Matter movement and proposed to his group members that they take on racism, with Black Lives Matter being a potential solution to it.
After doing the research, the boys decided to draft a letter to President Obama, lamenting their thoughts, frustrations, and hopes as young Black males in America. Before sending it, the boys asked a paraprofessional, Mtalia William Banda, at their school to edit the letter. Banda posted the letter on his politically-driven blog, Soul Latte, saying “I knew immediately this needed to be shared.”
Upon posting, the letter has been shared thousands of times and the boys have been featured on Western Massachusetts news outlets. Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson, and Keidy recently read the their letter aloud at a Black Lives Matter forum in their home state.
In the letter, after addressing President Obama and introducing themselves, the boys state that because of Black Lives Matter, they want to voice their concerns about equal treatment by members of law enforcement. The four young men also explain the origins of the Black Live Matter movement starting after Trayvon Martin was gunned down and give statistics that ultimately suggest one of them could personally fall victim to the prison system in some capacity or another.
The most poignant part of the letter is towards the end. Many have been confused and against Black Lives Matter because they assume that it’s racist, while others have been asking “Why don’t all lives matter?” The four break this down in a manner that most can understand:
“… Some people take this movement in the wrong way by thinking that they are just saying that only Black lives matter but no, we are saying that Black lives matter too, which means all lives matter. Whites are treated like they matter by the police. For instance, one in three Black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police. This shows that blacks are treated unfairly. This movement advocates for our rights.”
As of yet, President Obama hasn’t responded to the boys’ letter. At Madamenoire, we’re just doing our part to make sure the message gets heard. You can read the full letter here.
Chad Milner is a New York-based writer who founded the blog Single Dadventures, where he pens his (mis)adventures with his daughter, Cydney. He regularly contributes to Madamenoire, as well as various websites, giving insight on parenting, dating, relationships and music from the perspective of a young, single Black father. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
If you’ve ever been a child, at an event, waiting for your parents to show up, you know how important it is for them to be there. It is with this fact in mind that California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat from Los Angeles, proposed that employees get three, paid days off each year to attend their children’s school activities.
KTLA reports that in a news release from last week, Gatto said, “Being involved in your child’s education shouldn’t be limited by your family’s income, and it shouldn’t come down to a choice between meeting with a teacher or volunteering in the classroom, versus paying the bills.”
Currently, parents, grandparents and guardians can take up to five, unpaid days for school-related activities and emergencies without losing their job. Gatto’s legislation wants to compensate employees for those days.
When he announced the bill, Gatto cited a study that showed that children with involved parents perform better and have fewer disciplinary issues at school. Yet, less than a quarter of parents with an income below $30,000 were very involved with their children’s education. Most of these parents said that there was a lack of time due to work schedules.
Gatto said that instead of continuing to complain about the state of public schools, we should begin to work to fix them. He’s hoping that the legislation will give parents a chance to be more active in their child’s lives without worrying about not being able to feed them.
“You shouldn’t have to be a cast member of the ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ to be involved in your child’s education,” Gatto said.
What do you think about the legislation? Do you think other states should adopt the policy?
Guess what? We need a total overhaul of the modern school system in America. This is a fact. the United States, which is supposed to be the bastion of modern civilization, ranks a mere number 14 in the global education rankings. We are number two in ignorance though. The kings and queens of education are South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. All Asian lands, they are kicking some serious global butt.
One of the reasons that those countries fare so well was that there is a “culture of accountability,” according to a report commissioned by education company Pearson. This means that teachers, parents and students all were equally responsible for the success of the child. They also believe that kids are able to become smart through hard work and dedication, but the folks here generally think that you are born smart or dumb.
So, now educators have been talking about how to usher children into the 21st Century with new learning techniques that will help kids compete in this global environment. I have some practical things parents should teach their kids that will pay dividends as they get older, wiser and eventually take over the world. We cannot afford to wait for America to make a change.
1. How To Manage Money
One of the main issues with Black people is we have all of this buying power, but we don’t generally learn the details of managing money. The most I learned coming up was “Save your money.” I had to tell my daughter recently that she needs to put away 10% of her money when she jumps into the workplace. From there I did the math from 20-years-old to 60-years-old. Not only did she get it, but I am going to continue to guide her on this matter into her 20’s so that she continues to understand that power of putting money away for retirement. Certainly, there are other investment opportunities and ways to make your kid’s money work for him or her, but that is an easy entry point. They can grasp the concept very easily.
2. About Their Heritage
Recently, Malcolm X “turned” 90. There were celebration all over social media. I personally went to the grave of the slain civil rights icon and his dear wife Dr. Betty Shabazz in upstate New York. Do you think Malcolm was celebrated on this day at all in my kid’s school? Not at all! I ended up sharing what I experienced with her via text and when I saw her I gave her a red, black and green flag. Obviously, Malcolm X is just one of many, but there is a huge book all African American parents should own, if they can get a copy. It is called Africana, the Black encyclopedia of encyclopedias!
This bad boy is rare, but I found one and we’ve been learning from it ever since! Kids get a sense of pride seeing all the history, legacy and heroes that they will likely never see in the walks of traditional school. They need to know that Black people were more than enslaved here in America.
3. To Develop Their Passion
My brother is a teacher and he introduced me to the concept of “multiple intelligences.” Before he brought it up, it never really occurred to me that such a thing existed. That was, until I thought about myself in third grade. I will never forget how the teachers wouldn’t let me partake in the talent show, because I could draw. “But, that’s my talent,” I recall saying pathetically. They wanted kids to sing and dance. I realized later on that the school system at that time was ill equipped to teach based on my “intelligence.” From there, I would cheerfully go through school doodling, day-dreaming and garnering average grades – unless it was art. As we ease into these new ways of teaching,parents must try to identify how their kids learn. Thankfully, my parents fostered that creative side of me and I do the same for my child even though her true passions lie elsewhere.
4. Learn Healthy Eating Habits
We talk about the obesity rate in kids all the time, but are we really teaching them about eating right? I don’t think we are. I will admit that early in my child’s education year, the school forbid certain food stuff, particularly those of a sugar variety. However, as she eases into the middle school years, they are easing up. The kids have more free will to pick what they want to eat. Now, I don’t even claim to know what they are serving, because I generally pack her healthy lunch when she is with me. This is directly related to her eating some greasy pizza at lunch one time. Let them know to stay away from processed foods and GMOs as much as they can. Lastly, teach them why they should stay physically active. The occasional double chocolate chip cookie serves as a great treat.
5. Good Ol’ Fashioned Etiquette (On All Sides)
My daughter and I were going into a convenience store to get me some coffee for a quick road trip recently. When we got to the door, she attempted to hold the door open for a brother coming out. He was about my age, maybe a bit younger. He said, “Don’t hold the door for a man – you’re daddy better tell you that!” We shared a laugh and I patted him on the back with a “Thanks, brother.” I laughed because I have taught my daughter all sorts of etiquette, particularly around how a man should treat a women. Most of our outings are like mini-Daddy/Daughter dates with me opening her doors, closing them and all that good stuff. This is for her to know exactly how somebody should be acting when she does start to date. The same applies to boys and they generally need such formal training more than girls. These skills will serve them well in life though.
These are just a few of the good things we can teach our kids outside of school. Do you have anything to add? Please contribute so we can get and keep these fantastic kids on the right track.
After a particularly frustrating week with some the teaching staff at my son’s school, I happened to stumble upon a short video titled “The System of Racial Inequality.” In this just over 60 second soundbyte, a white woman, Tilman Smith, who has experience in the education system, pretty much confirmed my greatest concern with a certain race of teacher and my son. Her brief dialogue was alarming when describing the way white teachers tend to judge children based simply on race of school-aged black boys in particular.
Smith gave an example and explained how white teachers would think highly of an “animated and cheeky” white boy in the class, label him “smart” and would all but dismiss his behavior because, “boys will be boys.”
On the other hand, however, if a black child in the class displayed the same behavior she wouldn’t be so quick to think his “animated and cheeky” demeanor is smart but instead would raise an eyebrow and take mental note that, “I might need to keep an eye on him.”
Smith went on to explain “we are afraid of these young boys. And, I’m talking young boys four-years-old and above. And instead of the teacher looking at him or herself and asking ‘what is going on with me that the same behavior creates fear in me instead of admiration?’ And we pathologize the boy of color.”
Education in our home is priority and my son has grown up with full awareness of his father and my expectations in terms of his academic performance. And thankfully, he’s been quite the scholar and has scored straight A’s since he’s been graded on an official A-F scale in the 3rd grade. He takes great pride in his academic diligence and works hard to maintain his honor role and Dean’s list status while playing sports year round. For the most part, he doesn’t have any problems with his teachers and we usually get the “he’s so smart, outgoing and funny! The kids just love him and I love having him in my class” at every parent/teacher conference.
But every once in a while, there’s an instructor who finds him “difficult” or “disconnected” and it seems he’s been placed with an instructor with similar sentiments this year. This particular attitude is usually coupled with the notion that somehow our son is incapable of grasping the information and apparently our son “seems to be struggling. Has he ever been evaluated for learning disabilities?” What, lady? No.
I wish I could say that it stops there but just last week, we stumbled upon a test which was graded unfairly. Our son answered the question correctly, however, he didn’t answer the way she “wanted” him to. After approaching her with our concern, she adjusted the grade making the difference between his original high B score which then became an A. Needless to say this is infuriating because now that we’re mid-way through the school year, we have to wonder if she’s been doing this all along (considering he got his first B in her class), has she done this to other children of color in the past and will she continue to?
His father and I don’t go into a school year expecting to have to deal with teachers like this but we most certainly have fought battles over seemingly biased treatment and grading based on our son’s race – nothing more. While it’s one of the most disheartening conversations to have had with our little guy – he’s well aware he has to work twice as hard to get the same A’s Timmy gets but it’s made him the relentless scholar who comes home and excitedly places his A grades on the fridge and occasionally counts them for sport. And despite these small hurdles, he’s still driven and eager to learn – from not only books but the people behind them.