Perspectives

Education genocide and calling out Black adults

By Richard B. Muhammad -Editor- | Last updated: Jun 28, 2012 - 12:44:44 PM

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ATLANTA (FinalCall.com) - Byron V. Garrett isn’t a radical. He is a man on a mission and wants to make sure Black America knows failing education is killing the community.

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Killing is my description but Garrett—a Black former school principal, former National PTA CEO, education consultant and executive director of the National Family Engagement Alliance—wants to call what is happening genocide.

Some think his description goes too far. That’s part of the problem. Denial. Education is failing all Americans, Black people and Black males are hurt most, but some are worried about sounding alarmist? It’s like a crowded theater in flames with people afraid to shout, “Fire!” to save lives.

In a June 21 session at the National Newspaper Publishers Association convention, Garrett delivered straight talk and actual facts: If you haven’t noticed Black males are failing at tremendous rates. Here are some Schott Foundation numbers for Black males, and remember these are high school completion rates: Pinellas County, Fla., 21 percent; Charleston County, S.C., 24 percent; Buffalo, N.Y., 25 percent; Cleveland 27 percent; Detroit, 27 percent; Jefferson Parish, La., 28 percent; Philadelphia, 28 percent; New York City, 28 percent; Orange County, Calif., 33 percent; Atlanta, Ga., 34 percent; and Guildford County, N.C. at 48 percent. Among places ranked below Guildford County were Chicago, Boston, Nashville, Houston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Dallas. But wait, there’s more. Garrett showed a photo of a young man who graduated from high school in New York City in 2012. The only thing the graduate could read on the diploma was his name.

But wait, there’s more. If Black males get into college, they often drop out because they are ill-equipped for college. Looking at paying for classes to have skills they should have learned as high schoolers, many can’t afford the cost and walk away. Athletes on “scholarships” don’t do much better. Black graduation rates for schools in the 2012 NCAA men’s basketball tournament fluctuated from the rare 86 percent at the University of North Carolina to 14 percent at the University of Connecticut. Graduation rates for White athletes were consistently at or near 100 percent.

Garrett notes Connecticut and Ohio school districts had Black moms prosecuted and convicted for stealing education. They enrolled children in better schools but did not live in the districts, which happened to be majority White. In Ohio, the mother registered her two girls in the district where their grandfather lived. Vigilant school officials tracked and investigated her. Money, of course, was spent to prove the mother was “stealing” education.

No one has been jailed for failing thousands of Black children every year, whether they drop out or are passed without the ability to read or write.

This isn’t an academic discussion, numbers for Black males in prison nearly match rates for those who dropout. Without education, Blacks get trapped in low wage jobs, cannot pay high enough taxes to fund schools and services, nor break a vicious cycle of ignorance, crime, poverty and neighborhood decline.

Garrett is begging parents, churches and anyone who can hear to do something. That could mean opening churches during the week for youth, helping teen parents and fighting those who benefit from the current system, since most of education funding decisions are made at the state and local level.

Garrett wants to break the numbers down so we can understand what’s happening. But he can’t make us have the love and courage to fight for school support, services and a relevant curriculum rooted in self knowledge and self love. And if it is genocide, are those plotting or allowing our destruction going to do anything? This isn’t about children, it’s about adults. We have the truth. What are we willing to do?

Final Call editor-in-chief, Richard B. Muhammad, can be reached at editor@ finalcall.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and @RMfinalcall on Twitter.

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