• Donna Shannon

What if you knew public school was setting your child up to fail?

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

​The fact is that the public school experience for Black students tends to be quite different from that of white and other students. Let's look at this honestly...

I don't have time to put my energy into hating anyone. But I do happen to love Black people. Every other race loves themselves above all others, but as soon as Black people do that, something must be wrong. No, it's the most "right" thing African Americans can do to begin to lift our people up.

The most important people we should get busy lifting up are our children! So many parents can't wait until they're old enough to start school. We get them enrolled in public kindergarten at the tender age of 5, turning them over to strangers, most of whom are white women, and we heave a sigh of relief and go on about our lives. What makes us think we can put all our trust in those white teachers and counselors and principals? Do we forget this is the United States of America, "land of the free, home of the slave"?

Think about it! How often have you had to hear that Congress was voting again on whether or not Black Americans can even vote? Okay, not that specifically, but that's what it comes down to when states can limit Black voting and Congress is exceedingly slow to do anything about it on the federal level. You are or should be aware of the racist roadblocks to Black people getting the housing they want or a loan with decent terms. How often have you seen videos of the police harassing or beating or KILLING a Black man, woman, or even child? So what makes you believe you should have blind faith that public schools, ultimately controlled by white powers-that-be, sincerely have your Black child's best interest at heart?

You've probably heard enough to know Black children are disproportionately punished and failed and labeled and "sentenced" to Special Ed just as surely as Black teens and adults are dispropportionately arrested and sentenced to prison. You know this, so isn't it safe to assume they are probably setting your child up to fail in public school? Racists don't need a legitimate reason; they have the power to do what they want to do to keep Black children from doing well enough to compete with white children. Odds are against Black children getting a fair shake in public school, even with involved parents advocating.

When you get negative behavior reports from school about your child, do you just believe them and punish your child? Or do you take the time to sit and talk with the child and find out what goes on in class that causes him or her not to cooperate better? If your child hates school or hates a teacher, there is usually a good reason for it, and it's NOT necesssarily that there is something wrong with the child's behavior! If a teacher deals with students according to her implicit bias (or explicit racism), the child can sense that, and depending on the child's natural temperament, s/he may or may not be able to tolerate it well.

If you want your Black children to be able to break out of the mold public school tries to shape them in, there's no shortcut to you getting involved. Go to the school, visit the class, observe, look the teacher in the eyes and let her know you are paying attention to how she's working with your child. Your child needs to see that you give a d*** about his education and how he's being treated. Meet the teacher and trust your gut about her intentions toward your child. In case your gut ever tells you a parent-teacher meeting is needed, my next blog will go into how to approach these meetings without being overwhelmed by intimidation. You need to be strong and confident when you're meeting with the teacher on your child's behalf.

For the children

Donna Shannon


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