Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Work to Do

. . . in the immortal words of the Isley Brothers.

I could have left this Achievement Gap Summit after the first session I attended, by three brothers, three warriors on the front line, about what these brothers have done at their school to raise up the children.

One of the co-founders, Fluke Fluker, described a trip he made to Africa, and in so doing, told us that Masai warriors greet one another by asking, "How are the children?"

So here we are, well-meaning folk all I am sure, talking and listening about the achievement gap. Black students and Latino students are attending college at half the rates of white and Asian students. Three times as many Black men are going to prison than are attending college. (Obviously, the problem here is also the criminal injustice system, not just the lack of equity in education.) Tavis Smiley said this morning that education is the civil rights issue of this decade.

But, people, let us stop laying all the responsibility at the teachers' door. We are our brother's keeper. We all have a responsibility. We are all accountable for the education of our children, which means we are all accountable for their welfare.

Do they have food? A hungry child can't learn.
Are they receiving dental care? A child sitting in class with a toothache can't learn.
Do they receive preventive health care? A child who is ill at home is not learning.
Are their homes and neighborhoods safe? A child who is afraid will not learn.

Talk. Listen. Read. Learn. Teach. Vote. Do something.