For the past three years or so, I have used this column and space to express a point of view on a variety of topics with my favorite one being the all-important business of education, which someone once described as “the single most important job of the human race.” And I couldn’t agree more with that assessment.
It has been my focus to address primarily the myriad influences that impact the child’s educational process, with a particular emphasis on the education of black children since blacks were largely excluded from the educational world in early America, down through the Civil War and after.
Just recently, there was a community conversation that explored the 2017 National Black History Month theme on “The Crisis in Black Education.” The local branch of the NAACP and the county chapter of the NC A&T State University Alumni Association collaborated and organized a panel discussion that focused on the divers challenges black students face in public education today.
Without exception, every panelists identified the most critical challenge facing black education today to be the lack of strong parental involvement, advocacy and support that improves the likelihood of higher student success and achievement. The school reform research is very clear when it comes to defining the positive impact parents have on the success and achievement of their children. And the good news is, this applies to all parents from all income levels and from all backgrounds. With that said, parents should have no excuses for not being involved in the education of their children.
Clearly, parents need to be there for their children through every year of their educational experience, lending their support to help improve the likelihood that their children will earn better grades and test scores, take higher-level courses, want to attend school regularly, behave better, finish high school and pursue some post secondary education. As a matter of fact, parents must be about the business of making education a family affair, starting as early as possible to develop early literacy and learning skills that will transfer to school.
Additionally, parents must instill in their children the value of learning and the importance of education to their future. Parents must also become that inspirational force in their children’s lives, encouraging them to excel in their studies.
So, if we want to see the achievement gap close, grades and test scores increase, an increase in motivation and better school attendance, lower rates of suspension and explusion and fewer instances of violent behavior, let’s get parents more involved in their children’s educational process.
Now, how do we get this message out to our parents and encourage them to become advocates for their children. Plainly, it is no secret that “support from parents is the most important way to improve the schools.” If something is not done, this will only add to the growing crisis in educating many of our most vulnerable students, with the crisis only worsening.
Larry Sutton is a retired teacher from Clinton High School.