I remember community college being free and available to every student as providing a career path or a road to a four year college career. With three siblings and three sons, we valued education and it made the difference for even those who for reasons that are insignificant did not graduate. Somewhere along the way, it became another family expense. Not getting the education could have been even more expensive.
President Obama talked about a free college education as one of his initiatives. The governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, has introduced The Tennessee Promise, saying that education beyond high school is a Tennessee priority. To that end, he is promising that two years of community college be made available and free to every high school graduate.
At a recent White House education summit, 100 college presidents and heads of 10 public school systems discussed how to make education more available to more students across the nation. First lady Michele Obama also participated in the summit and told the crowd that they needed to do more to recruit and maintain Black and minority students.
“Many low income students don’t believe they have the potential or the money to attend college, therefore, they don’t apply to college,” Ms. Obama told the crowd, “Including foundations and non-profit organizations, it is our job to help them understand their potential and get them enrolled.” The President echoed her concerns and said, “We still have a long way to go to unlock the doors of higher education to more Americans.”
Sadly, here we are in 2014 and there are more young Blacks in jails and prisons than there are in colleges and universities. Parents, as well as students, will determine whether the student follows the path to prison or college. Moms and dads, when have you taken an inventory of your child’s friends and associates, that should be one of the factors that tells you which direction your child is going.
I could tell you the story of my three boys and how they got to their education and careers. I could tell you mine, but let it suffice to say that inspiration and support played a major part in all of our decisions. Sometimes the inspiration was a kick in the butt, and always there was an open eye to who our friends were.
Also, there was always the exercise of parental power to veto friends and habits. I followed my parents’ methods of raising me and my three siblings. We couldn’t dress certain ways. We couldn’t hang out with certain young people or in crowds. We had no power of decision making in the matter. Parents made the decision, even to the point of ordering us to go to church.
The White House Summit promises and college pledges promises includes: (1) connecting more low income students to the Institution that are right for them; (2) ensures that they graduate; (3) increases the pool of students preparing for college through early intervention actions; (4) levels the playing field through advising and test preparation; and, (5) seeks breakthroughs through remedial education.
Black Americans have the President and First Lady to thank for their real life example of how to rise from poverty to greatness. He’s from a single mother household. She’s from a family with a disabled father who went to work every day, from the Southside ghetto of Chicago. Now they have achieved success through education. They read and got their school homework done. They both made choices about who they ran around with. Then, with parental support, they chose the simple formula of going to college. That is their Black History story. What is your Black History story?