Today, I sit in my Principal's chair with my Afro-Caribbean curly, brown hair and my Dominican and Puerto Rican flags hanging from my shelf, while meeting with students that are dealing with similar challenges. Yes, the challenges are still there. I continue to fight for equitable systems that will allow all students to succeed.
I love you. But I have to ask you to do me a solid and make sure you don't ever come visit my high school. You see, Steph, if you come to my school you will be your usual inspiring, humble self and you will say all the right things. But the reason I don't want you to come has to do with what you won't say.
The challenge we face is that, in a majority of urban schools, the student population is more segregated than it was 60 years ago, after Brown v. Board of Education. At the same time, the teaching force has become "whiter," with as many as four white teachers for every teacher of color. Black teachers make up less than 7 percent of America's teaching force.
Some research suggests that charter schools perform no better than existing public schools. And even if we wanted to, it would be nearly impossible to take the charter movement to scale. So why are the billionaire "disruptors" of the hedge-fund world so hell-bent on establishing charter schools? Money and influence may help to explain it.
As a teacher, I can't do my job effectively if my students' critical mental health needs are not met. The 2008 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence shows that children are more likely than adults to be exposed to violence and crime. How can we possibly expect youth who are facing debilitating trauma to catch up with their healthier peers without adequate care?
New York City has extraordinarily segregated neighborhoods and radically unequal educational opportunities for its black children. Segregated housing patterns ensure that most black students attend poorly resourced public schools, while schools in predominantly white, wealthy neighborhoods have the resources to help children succeed.
What brought me to Jamaica in the first place to witness this wonderful exchange was because I was attending and presenting at the first International Conference on Urban Education (ICUE), Interestingly enough, Black scholars are also a rare breed (although becoming increasingly greater numbers in the past few years).
Many youth who know that they aren't treated fairly, and know that life isn't the way it should be, do not see themselves in a fight for their civil rights. They have been taught to turn a blind eye to institutional racism and structural inequity, and don't see that their civil rights are being violated in more subtle and dangerous ways than ever before.