Throughout history African Americans have viewed education as an essential to the quest for equality. Education has been linked to notions of equality and “uplift” by both blacks and whites for almost two centuries. The notion of uplift, and the necessity of education to achieve this goal, was a constant theme at Negro conventions and in black newspapers during the antebellum period.
Every child in the United States, enjoying the advantages of a proficient education during the formative years will do more to secure equity and equality of condition than any guarantee of equal rights and / or constitutional amendments. In other words, equity and equality can be achieved far swifter through education then by legislation and/or laws.
Likewise, an essential component of academic success for the disenfranchised is liberation.To this end, the African American experience cannot be separated from the history of education for Black people in America. Too often, Black children suffer in schools because school staff, who have the power to label, categorize, and define, do not always have the best interest of these children at heart. The question of education for Black people in America is a question of life or death. An educator in a system of oppression is either a radical or an oppressor.
Education has not come easily for African Americans in much of the nation’s history. Before the Brown verses Board of Education decision Blacks were knocking on the schoolhouse door demanding entrance into all-White communities.
More than 50 years after the Brown decision (Brown vs. Board of Education, 1954), African Americans have made substantial gains in educational attainment. However, despite these achievements, racial disparities between Black and White students in educational test scores, outcomes, and attainment remain. In light of the Brown decision and its focus on creating equality of educational opportunity through school integration, racial gaps remain troubling in integrated suburban schools where socioeconomic status is significantly different than urban school districts.On the surface, these schools seem to be the fulfillment of Brown's goals-racial integration coupled with high achievement. However, underneath the surface, a persistent pattern of racial inequality exists.Some these reasons include, but are not limited to lack of culturally pertinent curriculum, bias view that black culture is deficient rather than different from majority cultures, and demographic perspective concerning a critical shortage of black teachers who serve as role models.As a result of racial discrimination in employment, skepticism about the ultimate payoff for educational investment, and perceptions of unfair treatment by school personnel, members of the Black community disengage from the educational process.
Educating African American children more effectively continues to be an ongoing dilemma and a number of solutions have been proposed.Although some of these solutions are grounded in fundamental thinking, others are unsuccessful system changes that continue to govern U.S. public education but do not improve the teaching and learning of these children.
Based on current statistics and projected outcomes moral, social, and economic standards must compel academic stakeholders to invest in the educational development of African American and other underserved and underrepresented groups.
Educating African American students successfully is a complex process involving big-picture considerations and specific pedagogical practices; at the very least, students needed to know that adults in their lives truly care about them. From this foundation, trusting relationships develop and serve as an essential context for learning. While this bridge from caring to learning is necessary for a successful school career, it is vitally important for African American children who tend to experience more challenges in their personal and academic lives. These students benefit from the type of support that nurtures emotional growth as well as optimal conditions for effective learning.
The teacher / student relationship is critical for optimal student learning and success. Moving in this direction, however, requires a tremendous amount of thoughtful planning and focused energy, and this type of caring has its greatest value when it supports students' learning.
Prior to the Brown decision, there was a sense of community in Black segregated neighborhoods.The community felt ownership for the schools; teachers engaged in social work, public health campaigns, racial uplift, and interracial diplomacy. The greatest contribution of African American schools prior to the Brown decision was that they took students from a variety of settings and nurtured them in a caring environment, which molded character and provided high quality education.The best testimony of the quality of education is the number of students that went to college and became productive citizens that contributed to society as a whole.
Linda Brown, who was at the center of Brown vs. Board of Education recently died and over fifty years have passed since this landmark legislation became law of the land, yet the question remains: why is there a reluctance to replicate the success of African American Schools prior to Brown versus Board of Education for the African American student population and other students who represent diverse backgrounds and situations as well?