Punch and Judy (Part I)


I’m having a moment. Admittedly, it has building for the last weeks now, but came to a boil when Dr. Steve Perry came to my church just last night. There was so much political spinning about vouchers, charter and failing schools, I got dizzy. Per usual, I’ll dish.

The conversation started out pretty well. Dr. Perry made some valid points. When did it become acceptable to wear pajamas as street wear? He said that people nowadays have no shame, and I would have to agree. He spoke specifically to Black, single, mothers and suggested they get some help to raise their sons. Having strong, positive mentors around young, Black men would serve as positive reinforcement and a deterrent to other negative forces.

Dr. Perry made another valid point, stating a child’s income should not determine their level of intelligence. Again I concur. Just because you’re from the proverbial “other side of the tracks,” doesn’t mean that you were not born with talents, gifting, and abilities. It was shortly after this point was made, that the waters began to get murky. His statement, “We don’t have an achievement gap; we have an access gap,” could be open to interpretation.

Not having an achievement gap could infer that social scientists simply made up the term to advance their research careers, publish, get tenure and secure grants for a phenomenon that is a figment of some very vivid imaginations. What this means is that data that is used to compare the academic progress of Black & Brown children is almost always against their White and Asian counterparts. The statistics tend to show the former groups light years behind the latter groups.

There is more than a grain of truth that children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds often have limited access to health care, quality food, technology, good housing, a host of social services, and most importantly, high-quality education. I was with the good Dr. until he stated the reason children aren’t learning, is because teachers aren’t teaching. My nostrils flared; I grunted like a bull, and mentally, I took off. No wait, I snapped off, as the young people say.

Every academic failure of children was officially laid (at least in my church) at the feet of teachers, as if no other factors even slightly contributed to some children’s lack of progress. Rather than make this an extended op-ed piece, which I could very easily do, I’ll have to break this up in chunks. I’m so mad, I could just scream. If you want to read more, promise me you’ll come back. In deference to a man who is highly esteemed (and paid) to espouse his ideology backed by statistics, CNN and other groups with deep pockets (I’m not mad; I’m just sayin’), my purpose is to present the faulty thinking behind just blaming teachers, without offering viable solutions to address education’s shortcomings.

I’m just glad there are no breakable items within my reach right now. I might be tempted to throw something.



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