• Donna Shannon

The Destruction of Black Americans Starts in Elementary School

I was trying not to write an angry blog, but there is still so much to be angry about! I am most angry about the minimization of our children, who are targeted in public schools by what is politely called “implicit bias” – as if white teachers are not aware of what they are doing. They know. Public schools are like little microcosms of society at large – the racist, bigoted, set-up-to-hold-Black-people-back society at large. Every opportunity is taken to label our children as having behavior problems or learning disabilities.

Based on what my son – a documented brilliant, well-behaved child without any attention deficit – endured in public schools (abundantly documented in my book Beyond Mis-Education), I am convinced that more often than not, those labels are lies about our children. Have things changed appreciably for Black people in American society? No. Pandemic notwithstanding, the public school approach to Black children – especially the boys – hasn’t either. As the saying goes, "ignorance is no excuse," and parental ignorance could make you unknowingly complicit in your child’s doom.

Does “doom” seem exaggerated? When Black placement in Special Ed class is highly disproportionate and the possibility (or probability) of a Black child’s giftedness being utterly ignored is common? Dr. Julia Hare considered Special Ed classes holding cells until the children were old enough to go to prison (see video). Sounds about right. In Special Ed, they learn all the skills they will need to be good inmates (be still, be quiet, follow orders) and not much else.

Is it not doom when this Black child’s mostly white female teachers (or brainwashed, obedient Black teachers) make plain in his class(es) that she does not like him, giving tacit approval to his classmates to abuse and ostracize him? Is it any mystery why this Black child ends up consumed with frustration and anger, hates school, and either barely graduates high school or drops out, and then cannot find a job so turns to crime and ends up in prison? Sounds like doom to me.

And how about the gifted young people who succeed at committing suicide* to escape a world that makes them feel like pariahs, or who choose homeless street life to get away from having to deal with people? [*The article lists isolation as a causative issue. It does not mention that ostracism-induced isolation in school is devastating to an otherwise happy and well-adjusted gifted child who is also struggling to cope with the limitations of his or her disastrously boring class(es), and the devastation is worse the more highly gifted the child is. I am qualified to say that since I observed it as it happened to my son. He did briefly consider suicide in elementary school, being mentally on a middle or high school level.]

Homeschool saved my son, as he would be the first to tell you. Perhaps homeschool can save your troubled public school student if public school isn't working and private school doesn't fit into the family's budget. I've been there. When all else fails, homeschooling comes down to how highly you prioritize your child’s education. Today, homeschoolers are not as isolated as my son and I were. Today, many families homeschool (the pandemic got some of them started, and many discovered they liked it), and there are abundant resources online. You can do all the homeschooling yourself, or perhaps you can find other homeschooling families to link up with and share the teaching. It's important to find out what the legal homeschool requirements are in your state.

Don’t let public schools sabotage your child’s future! You can ensure that they have the chance to pursue their interests and talents and grow up with confidence and dignity. Of course, Black children from more affluent families go to better schools where they are more fairly, if grudgingly, given similar treatment and opportunities to those given to white children. But the average American public school seems to be all about destroying Black students’ confidence and self-esteem, crushing their dreams and aspirations, and steering them into crime and that very real school-to-prison pipeline. Government statistics on Special Education placement, graduation rates, unemployment (of Black people, not the nation as a whole), and incarceration tell the story pretty clearly.

Will we ever unite, become our “village,” and stand up for ourselves and our children the way other ethnic groups in America do? Yes, slavery did a number on us, but isn’t it about time we stop hoping white people will start doing right for us? When are we going to get together and do right for ourselves and each other??? We have ongoing murder in the streets (and even in homes); inequitable healthcare, banking, housing, employment; the prison industrial complex… The African Holocaust still has not ended! Black Americans should follow the Jewish example: never forget, and never let anyone else forget.

If I had not experienced what my own son went through in public schools, I would have been oblivious to the plight of so many Black public school students. But since I do know, I keep trying to let other Black parents know that if your children are struggling to survive in a hostile public school environment, they deserve better! If we do not get involved and find out what is going on in public school that is hurting our children, our ignorance is no excuse and we will bear a sizable chunk of the fault if our kids end up on the street or in prison. It is not up to our white oppressors to save our children. It is up to US!

This has been my 2-cents. Maybe you have a nickel you’d like to share? Please feel free to leave your comments here, or contact me using the contact form on this website's Home page. Thanks for reading.

For the children,

Donna Shannon

Author, "Beyond Mis-Education"

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