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Education in the African-American community

Updated on July 19, 2016

Pre-Reading Question

Before reading this article, do you believe that there is a problem with Education in the African-American community?

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“I’m sorry sir, you are a great candidate, but this job requires you to have a college degree.” It is a sentence heard so many times, that it is almost heart-breaking; some of the smartest people unable to earn a higher source of income due to a lack of education, often because they were never shown the opportunity.

In the US, only 21.8% of “blacks alone” attain a “Bachelor's degree or more”[1]; a number which should open up the discussion of African-Americans and education. One problem that is apparent in many predominantly black neighborhoods is the lack of proper education; often we are presented with outdated text and with teachers who simply want to get paid and have no sympathy towards the students' lack of knowledge. In this article, I will address how we were led towards our current state and pave the way for further questioning.

[1] United States Census Bureau


Post Slavery-Ruby Bridges

After slavery, education was scarce for African-Americans. A bulk of the schools that were usable for people of color, were under the ownership of prior slave owners; a group of people who still believed that we were simply workers and directed the curriculum to consisting mainly of the skills needed to work on plantations, homes, factories, and so on.[1]

As private schools began to open to African-Americans, there was no relief from the hands that held back education. The government was still scared that if black men and women were to become too educated, they would fight back against white supremacy; leading to African-American schools to receive older books, worn down building, poorly paid teachers and less general funding.

In 1960, not even sixty years ago, Ruby Bridges became the first African American to attend a school that was intended for Caucasians. This battle was an uphill for Ruby, even then she received minimal educations as only one teacher agreed to teach a black student; the only teacher that she had for a year.[2] After that year, more students, black and white, entered the school and started to accept that it was okay for us to learn in one building.

[1] American Federation of Teachers

[2] Ruby Bridges Interview

Present Day

The Ruby Bridges’ story would be the ideal end, where everyone learns to accept each other and African-Americans gain nearly unlimited access to knowledge in the world, life is not a fairy tale with a happy ending. Although a few African-Americans did start to get an education in predominantly white schools, there were still challenges that they faced; challenges which we also face today.

First, I will focus inside of the actual schools, mainly at the teachers, there is a stereotype that African-Americans are not as smart as Caucasians. This stereotype can be traced back to the slave days when it was illegal to educate Negroes. Due to us not being properly educated, it was a fact that Africans were not as smart as their masters; however, this was not due to genetics, but merely because the system was made to keep slaves uneducated. Unfortunately, this stereotype is still alive and many believe that it still holds; preventing our youth from reaching their full potential. When you go into mainly white schools, you see mainly white teachers; when you go into mainly black schools, you see mainly black teachers. This in itself is not a problem, however, when the teachers who are white believe that people of color are less likely to succeed, they will spend less time with those students, whether intentional or not, and focus on others; why would you invest your time in something you believe will not yield benefits? These teachers of color will then go teach our youth and since they were not given top priority during their schooling, they will be unable to help the youth achieve all of their potential; a teacher cannot teach what they do not know.

The other major problem is location; you can desire to go to a flourishing school all you want, but your desire is useless if you can’t get there. Even public busing has its drawbacks, mainly that many of the districts have a radius; if you live x miles away, then we won’t get you. This is where the biggest problems occur; when catching the bus to your local school is free, many will prefer or can only afford this option vs. paying to transport a student to a different school. Since these students are staying in their school district, where their educational needs are not being met, they are being mentally restrained simply due to their environment.


Final Thoughts

Since you have reached the end of this article, whether you agree with what was said or not, you have an opinion on the matter.

If we simply do nothing, then a large group of people will suffer silently until it is too late to make a difference.

If we were to increase the range of busing it could benefit the students who fall outside of the current districts, yet it would mean the students/parents would have to get up earlier and stay out later to accommodate for the bus schedule.

If we were to balance the funds for all schools equally, it would benefit the struggling schools at the expense of the more well-off schools.

With even more options, it appears that there is no perfect answer, yet it is time we start the discussions.

Post-Reading Question

Now that you have read the article, do you have a better understanding on why there is a cause for alarm?

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© 2016 KeAndreMKing


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