One of the community-based initiatives that is gaining support from the Obama administration is Charter Schools, and their potential for creative approaches to improving education outcomes -- particularly in urban communities. More importantly, I have recently looked more closely at how African-Centered Charter Schools can more positively impact children of African descent. It is my belief that if we help our children get into the fast lane at an early age, their achievement, self-esteem, cultural awareness, and interest in education will better prepare them for competing in the global fast lane, where they must perform to close achievement gaps.
Take a look at the two profiles below:
Parent #1: Even though she is low-income, she has a relatively stable income. She also has extended family and/or community support. She is lucky because she happens to not be prone to substance abuse or mental illness. Even though she has always been poor, she has had the good fortune to acquire enough information and inspiration in life to permit her to adopt parenting values more aligned with America's middle-class. This results in her regularly, and consciously, making her very best efforts at raising her children with an educationally-minded approach.
Parent #2: She is also low-income, but her week-to-week existence is very unstable, some years worse than others. She is highly stressed and perhaps has a degree of untreated mental illness (likely mild to severe depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder). She also has substance abuse problems, ranging from either mild or severe. Her family and/or community support is weak, or abusive, and her parenting takes second place to moment-to-moment survival. Her life has been highly socioeconomically restricted, so she has never known anyone who could have modeled any different parenting style for her. In terms of her children, she is not very educationally-minded, because she has never learned what that approach is all about.
Which parent is more likely to seek a charter school? Which parent will be more likely to "appropriately" respond to teachers and report card results? Which parent will be more likely to turn off the TV and remind her kids that homework needs to get done? Which parent will still be sleeping at 8 am, leaving it up to her children to get to school on time, if at all. Which parent will be moving from apartment to apartment with her children in tow, year after year?
As we seek to help our children, we must also not forget the help that many of the parents also need.
Here is a perspective from one charter school:
What do you think?
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