Public Schools (what we didn’t learn)


221_imageI attended all black public schools my entire life. Elementary school was nice with good teachers who wanted you to learn and make good grades. Junior high was also pretty good, again good teachers and good curriculum. Then as I entered high school, I learned a very important lesson, when a large crowd gathers, it’s not always a pep rally and it’s best to scurry along because fists and bullets don’t know names. Sadly avoiding violence was a very large portion of my high school experience. True, there was plenty of teaching going on, but there was also plenty of violence going on and when you are forced to learn in an environment that has more distractions than positive influences, somewhere along the line many good students take a turn for the worst. Honestly I feel shortchanged of a good high school education. I feel as if I was not given the opportunity to learn as some of my peers who attended schools in the better neighborhoods.  When you attend a school where the distractions are many, oftentimes it can keep you from reaching your highest learning potential.

Along with not always having enough books for every student, and being without a Physical Science teacher for 3 of the 6 six weeks, I also feel that attending an all black public high school hindered me from the correct college preparation. If I had known or been taught half the things that should normally be taught to high school students concerning scholarships and college readiness maybe I wouldn’t have waited until my senior year to get serious about finding funding for college.

Now almost ten years after my high school graduation I have relatives who are attending all black public schools and honestly I wish I could just snatch them out of there. That may sound bad, but when I hear them saying things like “all of our homework is done from worksheets because there aren’t enough books for everyone to have one to bring home” or “we don’t do field trips, too many fights” or “we can only wear black or white shoes because certain colors identify with gangs at our school” I realize that things have not gotten any better, they have only gotten worse.

Now maybe I wouldn’t be so bitter about the lack of everything at all black schools if this was going on in all public schools in Memphis, but that isn’t true. The public schools that have a majority of white students or are evenly mixed have wonderful programs and each and every child has a book.

*It is quite disturbing to me that I even have to mention books as a plus. That is a necessity that should be mandatory across the board, that isn’t a perk!

It is also quite disturbing that all black public schools are still in the 1950 mindset and offer these Negro friendly programs and courses for students along with the standard curricula:

Cosmetology and Barbering

Wood Working/Welding

Auto Mechanics

Clothing & Textiles

(These programs aid students into becoming wonderful hairdressers, auto mechanics and seamstress)

Now those are all great programs that can lead to successful careers, but why is it that these are the only programs offered in the majority of the black schools, when the other high schools offer

Broadcasting

Acting for Stage

Film & Video

American Business/Legal Systems

Financial Planning

Interactive Multimedia & Design

Marketing I & II

Along with the vast difference in program availability also is the lack of concern for black children learning a damn thing about finance and economics. I remember barely passing the one economics class offered in high school and even with the one class offered I honestly cannot say it introduced me to anything valid to my adult life. Many black children are not taught much about money, saving money, investing or financial planning and with the lack of courses in their inner city schools, they are flicked into the world without the knowledge so they make little and spend big.

Each and every child should have the same opportunity to learn. No child should learn in below standard conditions because of their school’s location.  The school system has a motto “Every Child, Every Day, College Bound” but is that true? How can a child who cannot take a book home to study and has only limited college preparation expected to be as college bound as one who not only has a book to take home, but also has a classroom copy AND has a guidance c0unselor who is trained and ready to help them on the journey to college? Can the child who is only offered a few select programs to train in as prepared as the child who has a wide-range of career programs to choose from?

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4 thoughts on “Public Schools (what we didn’t learn)”

  1. So true. Just the last few days in a wintersession course I’m teaching, we’ve been going over the Booker T. – DuBois debate. It’s still relevant today, as you illustrate, through high school curriculum, employment patterns and career earnings.

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  2. As a non-US citizen i found these facts you mentioned to be be an absolute disgrace but not really surprising as the US lags way behind many Western and Asian countries when it comes to academic standards.Clearly, a complete overhaul is required but unfortunately it will be way down on the incoming Presidents’ “to -do” list.Good luck Mr. Obama,you’ve certainly got plenty on your plate.

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  3. I go to an all black school, and I feel as if my education has been hindered. There are many things in a book thats not in textbooks that I read about. For example, Im reading “Abraham Lincoln”, and in this book, I know all about him, but in the school texbooks, not enough, and honestly, I feel that predominantly all white schools are getting a better education than a predominantly all black school (no mean to be racists) but I see it.

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  4. My child is in a “regular” or “mixed” school and she STILL doesn’t have the things you speak on in your post in MIDDLE school. I shudder to think about what the high school conditions of learning will be when she gets there in a cpl more years. As a matter of fact, the “basic” curriculum that they’re teaching–history, science, math, english–those subjects all get taken up with the TAKS testing material. Therefore, my child isn’t learning half the stuff I learned leading up to high school.
    When I was in high school (although we only had ONE school for the whole city–Galveston, TX–we were exposed to all of the things you would call normal, but most of my classmates gravitated towards the “1950s Negros Standard curriculum” and didn’t want to take part in the other opportunities.
    I don’t feel like my education was hindered, so to speak, but there was a lot of learning that didn’t happen in the school BECAUSE of the school system, too.

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