What should be the role of public education in saving our families?
On Feb. 18, 2011, the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc. (NSFNM) conducted its Board of Directors’ meeting in Memphis, Tenn. in conjunction with the Salute to the Families Celebration. This article is a recount of the presentation I provided to the board outlining the educational roadmap for saving our families. It gives me great pleasure to speak before you as the National Superintendent of Education for the NSFNM and provide the educational roadmap for saving, sustaining and strengthening our families. As you know, America’s schools are faced with numerous challenges in today’s society such as the lack of family stability and involvement; the high suspension, expulsion and criminal offenses of African- American children; the peer pressure; the safety and security of schools; the offering of a well-balanced curriculum for all students, the selection of effective school leaders and teachers, the grading of schools and the budgetary shortfalls.
All of these challenges are leading to a significant number of students, particularly African-American students, not graduating from school. In 2007, about 46 percent of all African-American students in America’s public schools did not graduate from high school with a regular diploma. Annually, about 1.2 million students drop- out of school, which equates to 7,000 students dropping out each school day or one child every 26 seconds.
Some of the reasons for the dropout rate of African-American students include failure to pass high school exit exams, home environment, poverty, peer pressure, poor academic achievement, low teacher and parental involvement, school curriculum and discipline, violence, drugs and criminal offenses. In fact, the Office of Justice Program reported that there were 2.18 million juvenile arrests of children under the age of 18 in 2007. Of that number, African-American juveniles accounted for 51 percent of the crimes although they represent only 17 percent of the youth population. The most serious offenses of African-American juvenile arrests were for murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, weapons and drug abuse.
While the dropout rate for African-American students is disturbing, it is equally disturbing when one considers the dropout rate’s long-term impact being poor health care, inadequate parenting, low civic responsibility, imprisonment and unemployment. For example, the average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005 was $17,299 compared to $26,933 for a high school graduate, a significant difference of $9,634. Over a lifetime, college graduates on the average earn about one million more than high school dropouts according to the America’s Promise Alliance.
Since we know the causes and effects of the high school dropout rate, the questions to be asked are what should be the role of public education in saving our families? What can the NSFNM do to combat the problem and other educational concerns hindering our schools? In the opening board meeting, I outlined six key strategies we can implement to address educational concerns. The roadmap includes (1) creating charter schools or academies, (2) incorporating educational programs and practices, (3) establishing community partnerships, (4) completing competitive grant applications, (5) organizing educational summits and (6) publishing newsworthy articles on public education.
Specifically, NSFNM will create charter schools or academies in the states such as Florida, Georgia and South Carolina where African-American boys are having difficulties in graduating from high school. These schools will provide families an alternative to low performing public schools in their communities through innovative curricula, programs, and services. NSFNM will incorporate educational programs and practices utilizing the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Inc. Model as a framework for preparing our students for college and careers.
NSFNM will establish partnerships with various churches, corporations, groups and agencies to help promote and fund our schools and enrich our communities. NSFNM will also complete competitive grant applications to help fund our schools and be resourceful to other schools regarding the grant process. NSFNM will meet with leaders in targeted states to articulate the purpose and objectives of our schools. Finally, NSFNM will publish weekly in the Capital Outlook articles on public education as an avenue to address concerns in education and provide information on resources to improve America’s schools.
In the words of Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” In this information era, America’s schools must be competitive and resourceful in the times of comfort and controversy in order to equip our students with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to succeed in a complex global marketplace. The NSFNM takes a strong stance in saving, sustaining and strengthening our families through bold initiatives. As we work collaboratively together, we will be able to improve our schools and communities at large.