As we watch the children return to school I can't help but wonder how many of the children who arrive there are D.O.A. - Dead On Arrival. There are three elements that play a part in having a positive educational experience and any one doing their job or not doing their job can cause failure of the student and can leave the student D.O.A.
The first is what is happening at home. Has there been a positive spin on the value of education to work hard and do well in school to achieve to do or be anything they want to? Be their cheerleader. Parents, in addition to being a cheerleader, you must also be prepared to be an advocate, for your child. You advocate by joining the P.T.A. and volunteering at your child's school, if you don't want your child to be D.O.A.
You must advocate in the home by teaching your child that they can't stay up all night, and not do their homework, and succeed. Teach them the old sayings like "early to bed -early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise." Discuss what that means. Teach them that studying is like practice in sports and music. Teach, "Practice makes perfect", or metaphors like, "no pain no gain."
The second element is the school and the teacher. The same positive labeling that goes on in the house where the parent is the cheerleader should go on in the classroom. Just as in sports where we teach that our team that they are the greatest at the rally's before a sport's game, why not have rally's where you promote excellence by promoting the best performance by your child?
One of my favorite stories is one that Dr. Benjamin Mays writes in his book, Lord The People Have Driven Me On, where tells about his experience at an all Black college (South Carolina State College). The Black students were told by one of his professors, a Professor Nix, that "those White boys at the University of South Carolina are eating these math problems up and you Black students can't work the problems." The reverse psychology was to make the Black students perform at their best rather than be beaten out by anyone else, especially white students across town. Mays, who later headed up Morehouse College while Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a student there, wrote "All of the forces in my environment had been designed to make me accept the notion that the quality of my mind was different from that of White boys." This was Professor Nix' way of challenging his students.
One of the problems with integration is that the rules of have taken away the challenge of open and obvious racial competition and racial pride as a motivator used by Professor Nix. The racial competition and pride factors are still available, but the majority of teachers and policy making school board members are White. White teachers and board members can't talk racial competition for fear of being sued. Further, teachers they don't relate to or see a need for Black racial pride, unless they, themselves, are Black.
The third element in my triad of what happened to Black education is found in Black cultural influences. When Blacks had empowering battle cries of, "Black in Beautiful" and "Black Power", they made great strides. The gains in education and civil rights resulted in the largest increase in the Black middle class, ever. Now the battle cries are self-hate, violence, and vulgarity filled rap music. The result is an increase in prison population by Black youth. We went from a winning culture that glorified education, justice and equality to a loser culture that glorifies crime and thuggism.
Jewish and Asian communities get around the restriction of racial competition as a motivator by holding Saturday schools. Black communities, unfortunately, don't utilize the Saturday school concept. Once, Blacks used their churches and Sunday School for the same effect of influencing their Black students, and it worked. It worked on Benjamin Mays, it worked on Martin Luther King, Jr. and fellow students, and it worked on the generation that fought the Civil Rights struggle.
Today, Black communities are far too involved in letting the ugly elements of Black
thug and negative rap culture influences the lives and image of Black students. One of the most painful experiences I have watched the Black church change before my eyes. Many churches are struggling to gain and keep youth by relaxing their standards, and the youth are still not there. Everybody is talking about what to do to get our children back. The answer is right in our faces. Use what has worked in the past. Our Black Institutions, the Black Church, the Black Press, the Black family, and have a set of standards that you cannot stray from without certain behaviors being demonized rather than embraced as if honorable. Otherwise we are attacking a problem with a plan that can't work and, as a result, our children are D.O.A.
They are D.O.A. If they arrive at school knowing how to curse in rap rhyme because but they can't read, write, or reason, they are D.O.A. If they arrive at a job and don't understand the culture of working, arriving on time, dressing appropriately, respecting co-workers, etc., they are D.O.A. What we need is a resurrection of the ways of old style. Just because something is new doesn't mean it is good. I'd rather be old style headed for success than new style and arriving on the scene D.O.A.