I remember sitting at the dinner table with my parents at 8 years old. During that season, the “no elbows on the table” rule was in full force. In addition, my mother constantly chided me for using slang as opposed to proper English. Those three to four years seemed like hell on earth. Nonetheless, years later, I could trace my success in school to my family dinner table and a few great teachers.
My parents always said, “For a black man to do half as well, he must be twice as good!” For them, education was almost a “sacred privilege,” which had been denied my ancestors because of the black and Native American social status. Today, I am shocked by the almost unfathomable swing from my black community’s sense of excellence and purpose to an entitlement mentality.
Not long ago, both The Washington Post and The New York Times reported a growing national trend: Black students are suspended and expelled from school at two to five times the rate of white students. Both articles highlighted the unintended bias of teachers and administrators, zero-tolerance school discipline policies and school leadership styles as possible causes for this development—and undoubtedly they are contributing factors.
But I wonder whether forcing teachers to sit through another mandatory sensitivity seminar or lobbying to relax school discipline policies will improve the long-term prospects of black students in America? read more