What is time? What does time mean to you? To a father watching his baby girl going to school for the very first time with a tear in his eye, time may be moving too quickly. To a 16-year-old who obviously knows everything and needs to move out of her parent’s house, time may be moving too slowly. To a lonely 83-year-old widower going through the pain of dialysis, time may be over.
In every civil rights movement from Nat Turner to Black Lives Matter, the recurring theme for the oppressed is that the time for change is now. I ponder daily on the words of so many people who are pressed for time but never really progress. They never meet their goals. Most folks talk a good game but are comfortable living life as-is and when they look up, years have faded and their dreams have gotten away from them.
I say no more when it comes to educating our children. No more talk. It’s truly very cheap. I’m done. So, what does this mean?
Let’s break it down for the cheap seats.
Since 1990, I have heard about the strong effort from the education powers that be to close the achievement gap for children of color. Almost 30 years later, the gap is just as wide as the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, this is after we have spent trillions of dollars trying to figure out the why and pushing new programs to help close it.
Educators are aware of the school-to-prison pipeline. There have been thousands of articles, blogs, podcasts, books, Twitter conversations, etc. written on the topic. However, we are still suspending children of color at a rate of up to 6 times greater than white children.
Educators have airtight legal statements on creating a diverse teaching staff. They say they are actively recruiting people of color, so students can learn from people who look like them. Still, in 2019, white women hold the majority of teaching and administrative positions in schools across the country.
The most disappointing is that we are actually still having conversations about where children learn. We agree that every child should have a world-class education. We just don’t all agree where it should come from—traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet, parochial, home school, etc. We all think we know better than parents. The sad arrogance of it all—at the expense of our children—stagnant year, after stagnant year…
Sigh…and double sigh…
I’m done with all of the empty rhetoric. Like Auntie Maxine; I am reclaiming my time, for our children, our children’s children and myself.
Time. We don’t have a ton of it. So in 2019, I pledge to beat the bricks off of my hopes and dreams. That begins with not just talking about education equity for Black, Brown and poor children, but accomplishing the necessary goals it will take to close the achievement gap and destroy the school to prison pipeline—for real. This means in any way I see fit to have forward movement.
I pledge to:
- Continue to work overtime to ensure students have a safe space to understand their classwork
- Partner more often with teachers to improve the academics and culture in their classrooms
- Visit even more parents in their homes and including them in all education decisions about their children
- Build even stronger relationships with my students by listening more and fussing less
- Create times in our schedule where students can have a larger voice in choosing their education trajectory
- Suspend less by putting in the necessary preliminary work to keep children in school
- Include the school social worker immediately when I notice trauma in our children
- Authentically address and find solutions to racism, sexism, classism, and biases of educators on the job, especially my own
- Continue to improve my skill set by attending conferences, shadowing other educators and visiting schools across the country that are doing the damn thing for children of color
- Partner with people of color and allies to fight for education equity in all zip codes
There are a host of more actions I will complete this year for our children. I am excited about the forward movement of my One Voice sisters and myself. Please join us. There’s no better time than now.
Ashe and One Love…