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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Parents, Take Your Child's Education into Your Own Hands

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog warning parents not to put their kids in a public middle school.

I stand by what I wrote in that piece. I know from personal experience Public Middle schools are a cesspool designed to teach Black children the values of failure. Today this is the place where Black boys join gangs and Black girls learn how to booty shake and wind up on World Star Hip Hop. If you want a future felon who will be in and out of the prison system or a baby mama on welfare, sit passively by and let your kids get sent to one of these Hellholes where they’ll get a social education that will damage them for life.

Now the main reason I wrote that piece was because I want parents to get more proactive about their involvement in their children’s education.

I had to learn the hard way at sixteen to take my education into my own hands. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have my high school diploma today. I wouldn't have gone to college to get my degree.

And now I’m urging parents to take the same action in their children’s lives.

And I’m urging them to take that action sooner rather than later. Like Kindergarten. But if you have a child in public school right now it’s time to get actively involved in their education. It’s the only way they’ll get to college.

The earlier parents get involved in their child’s education, the better the earlier they’ll develop the study habits that will enable them to compete in High school and College. And the more they’ll value education as a part of their everyday lives.

This is more than about passing standardized tests. Standardized tests are garbage and don’t measure intelligence or mastery of material. They’re just statistics of how well a group of children are doing compared to kids in other parts of the country.

Someone can do well on a standardized test and be functionally illiterate. It doesn’t take much skill to bubble in a Scantron sheet.

Personally I believe a gorilla could pass a state standardized test. And score higher than a human being. That’s how easy they are.

Public Schools teach to tests. Black America needs to learn how to apply knowledge to their everyday lives so they can compete in the global marketplace.

Taking your child’s education into your own hands is about instilling the value of education in children when they’re young so that they’ll love to learn to learn on their own. So they’ll learn how to apply what they learn outside of the classroom in real life.

Want to know why so many inner-city kids fall apart in Middle School, High School and College? Because their parents see schools as some place to be warehoused while they go to work, not a place where they’ll learn what they need to compete later on in life. Because inner-city parents devalue education their children spend so much time on learning social rules that they turn to dust academically.

People who take their education into their own hands do not depend on the schools to do everything for them. They understand that a Public school can only do but so much. Long-term, children learn the value of education by watching us. Their parents, family members, friends and people in the neighborhood. We have to show them the value of education by reading to them, reading in front of them and applying our knowledge of things like math and science in our everyday lives.

When little ones hear adults calling education “White” and correlating it with being “stupid” it devalues it in their eyes. When we tell kids to stop reading and go play video games, it tells them reading is unimportant. When we tell a girl that she needs a man more than a High School diploma, it tells them that men are more important than their education. It’s little stuff like this that can destroy a child’s love for learning and put them on the road to self-destruction.

Education has been one of the backbones in building up the Black community. During slavery, our ancestors used education to overcome oppression. And when our slave ancestors were freed, they used education as the base to build up their own economy. They didn’t wait for anyone to give them anything like people of today do. They took their education into their own hands.

And just like our ancestors did back then, African-Americans today have to take our education into our own hands. We can’t depend on Public institutions to teach our children what they need to compete in High school and college.

In taking your education in your own hands:

Don’t depend on the school to give your kids books. Go out and get them for yourself. Go out and read them for yourself. If you can spend $200 on a pair of sneakers for your child or $100 on some jeans, you can spend $6.99 on a paperback. In fact, most literary classics are free online now if you have a computer or a cell phone. So there’s no excuse not to read.

Don’t expect the school to give your kids paper, pens or any other school supply. That’s not their job. Their job is to teach, not provide able bodied working people with free school supplies.

It always boggled my mind when I was in school how kids on had on $200 sneakers, $95 jeans and a $300 leather jacket but would ask me for paper and a pen. Almost a thousand dollars worth of clothes on and they couldn’t find $1.99 for notebook paper or $1.49 for a pack of pens. Then these same people’s parents complained that the school wasn’t helping their kids.

Now this mentality has escalated into entire schools providing everything from notebooks to winter coats for children. Seriously, when do Parents learn to take responsibility for their own children?

People who want their kids to learn will find a way to buy school supplies. Part of learning is improvising and adapting. Human beings who want something will make a way to get it. Parents and kids will sacrifice the $200 sneakers and $95 jeans for their kids if it’s paramount to them getting an education.

Don’t expect the school to know how your kids are doing in class.  Sorry, it’s not the school’s job to know how many credits your child has in High School. Or how many classes they’re passing. I learned that the hard way. You the parent and You the student have to keep on top of things. Keep a tab of your gradepoint average. Keep a tab of your credits. Keep a tab on whether you’re passing or not.

Don’t expect the school to know where your children are.  On occasion, I suggest parents drop by the school their children are attending. Unannounced. A couple of days per year. Especially in middle school and high school.p Talk to a guidance counselor. Talk to some teachers. Ask for attendance records, especially in Middle school and High school.

Why? Because some kids may leave the house, but I guarantee you they’re not going to school. These kids literally disappear. For months. Where are they? God only knows.

Kids disappearing has been going on since I was in High school. People show up on the first day of class and POOF! Gone for three months.

Or until Welfare recertification comes around. Then faces I wouldn’t see would pop up.

Most times here in New York City they’re riding around on the subway. Running the streets. Or at a friends’ house playing video games. Getting high. Joyriding in stolen cars. Shoplifting. Or having sex with adults while their parents in their homes while they’re at work.

Some may be involved in drug, gang or criminal activity.

And today, they may be filming their mischief and posting it on places like World Star Hip Hop. So I’d check that site out. And I’d check out their facebook and twitter and other social media.

Since they didn’t come in the school isn’t liable for them. Legally, they’re marked as absent. But you the parent are on the hook for their behavior. Any trouble they get in while out on these little escapades during school hours, the Parent is responsible for. So make an effort to find out if they’re going to school.

School is not a fashion show nor is it a social club.  Most kids today go to school to socialize. To show off the latest sneakers, jeans ipods, cell phones and other stuff. That stuff will suck your child down the drain.

People who take their education into their own hands realize that school is not a fashion show or a social club. It’ is a place where they’ll learn some of the skills they’ll need to get to the next level. The main priority is reaching the next level. Clothes come and go. Gadgets come and go. But the education one gets stays with them.

I learned the hard way at sixteen that school wasn’t a social club or a fashion show. At the end of the day none of that stuff mattered. When I started taking my education into my own hands I stopped looking at what was trendy and hip. I stopped looking trying to socialize. As I focused on graduating, my goal was getting the grades I needed to pass classes and get my diploma. And that’s what Black children need to be prepared to do so they can compete in today’s global economy.

The Black Community really needs to get serious about education. With 70 percent of Black males dropping out and 50 percent of Black girls dropping out, It’s time for brothers and sisters to stop looking to the government to help with educating our own kids. These are our children and it’s our job to be responsible for what they’re learning and how they’re learning it. We have to take the education of our children into our own hands and stop making excuses. 


  1. Shawn, this is a genuine knock-out-the-ignorance and bring-them-back-with-common-sense blog. Is anything more needed in the AA community? I don't think so. In this blog you outline much of what we need to elevate the AA race. This is a blueprint. let's take it on the road.

    It bothers me that this blog will not get the dissemination it needs to altogether take effect. Is there any way you can take it further? You're not a voice crying in the wilderness. Many read your blog. How about a drive for many, many more. We need you, we want you and we have presence and your help. You're putting on a great show. Kudos! And we're grateful!

  2. Shawn hasn't stated anything that has not been said MANY times before. However the main folks who are screaming that are school employees.

    We all see it. However when you try to hold parents accountable-guess who many run to. That politician running for office. That preacher who is more concern with money in the church instead of calling out his congregation.

    It's easier to fire a teacher or for a teacher to quit and go to white school districts than confront those parents.

    Why do you think charter schools have grown in number? They can enforce things a public school can not.

    Stuff Shawn left out-

    1) We are too willing to put our kids into Special Education especially for that state check.

    2) We don't want to provide correct phone numbers and addresses

    3) Our kid flunks a grade adn we won't go to teh school to see why. It's you are in teh 9th grade for the 3rd time-it's cool.

    And I could give you more-if Shawn wants to really put out the message-write a book. Start telling the stories and don't sugarcoat them.