Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Expectations For Our Kids

This must be my week to receive impassioned e-mail messages. The following message was received earlier today from an old friend of mine. I haven't talked to him in over a year, so I was a bit surprised when I saw his e-mail address. I get loads of junk mail on a daily basis, but I try to read them before sending them to my SPAM folder... thank God I read this one!

My friend has a daughter who had been in a private Christian school until it shut down after last year. She is finishing her first year in a public middle school here in the Metro Atlanta area and he had occasion to attend the awards program at the public school. The school has a sizable Black student population, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the awards program. His e-mail message is his candid reaction of what he saw. I have not changed the content of his message:

Subject: Expectations For Our Kids

This is something I want to share with everyone ESPECIALLY those of you who have kids. I went to my daughter’s Middle School Awards program this evening. I was very happy for my daughter, but I became soooooo ANGRY when I looked at the ratio of kids that were being honored.

There were around 250 kids. I counted 20 African American kids and only 3 of them were boys. Only one of the boys received all A honor roll. So, that means that less than 2 percent of the kids that made at least all A’s or A’s & B’s for Seventh grade were African American boys.

I became even angrier when I saw almost all of the other minorities (Middle Eastern, Chinese, and other Asians, etc) receive multiple awards.

WHY IS THIS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It comes down to Expectations!!!! Other minorities don’t expect less than A’s from their kids. Most whites expect an A or maybe B sometimes. If you talk to most African American parents, they will say, "Just as long as my child passes to the next grade, I’m satisfied". They could care less what grades the[ir kids] make. It has come to a point where it’s not cool to be smart in school or referred to as “Acting White”. So... what does being African American suppose to mean... acting dumb?

I know that 90% of the time all of our kids CAN DO the work and make A’s and B’s, but we don’t push them or set expectations for them to make these grades. I know that I wasn’t pushed to make only A’s and B’s as a child. Every child will not make A’s and B’s, but we should push them to do their best.

This will follow our children as they go to High School and College. We [should make it] embarrassing for them to have low grades when they have to apply for a scholarship, an internship or even a job.

One major thing we have to do is to reward our kids when they do well in school. It would be a special treat for them to get extra things for putting a little extra effort to do well in school. It’s so easy to be hard on our kids when they get in trouble. We need to make sure we show a lot of appreciation when they do well.

It’s going to be VERY competitive for our kids now and even harder for them in the future. Most of them are not strong in Math and Science and they are reading far below their grade level!!!!

Take that extra time to make sure your kids have done their homework, get them a tutor if necessary. Make them read different books or a number of books each week and turn OFF THE TELEVISION. Let’s take them to a level where ALL of us can be proud!! I don’t want to go to another Awards programs and be disappointed!!!!

Please pass it on !!!

plez sez: i promised my friend that i would pass this along and share it with others. like him, i am passionate about my daughter's education: she is 5 years old and is finishing her 3rd year at a private school. my wife and i understand the value of a quality education, but more important, we understand that we cannot squander the opportunity to make it easier for our daughter to have a better life than ours. it would be the height of irresponsibility to not equip my daughter for the rigors of life in the "REAL WORLD" because of a faulty education. we have the means to send my daughter to a nice private school, but even if we were subject to the dingiest inner city school or poorest rural school, my daughter would be reading books, learning math, and gaining an appreciation of the arts. we are our children's first (and only real) teacher!

my wife and i often wonder: WHO is going to be available for my daughter to marry? how many Black men will she have to choose from? i'll be honest, i've already started looking! and when i replied to my friend, i told him that he'd be wise to keep tabs on those 3 boys who received awards at his daughter's school!

the bell has been rung, it is time for us to answer it!


CapCity said...

Hey Plez how r u? Hmmm, how to keep my comment short (don't know if i can)? As a former alumni/teacher in "elite" indep. schools i learned the high price of ed. When many of my Black peers got "paid" they felt that the schools I suggested for their kids were "outrageously" priced, but they'd make sure their kids were dressed w/ the latest & had cellphones by age 12 (yes, my eyes r rolling).
How do you teach the true value of education & in this society WHERE can u really get the BEST education? That is what I'm working on now & pray that The Creator will bless me abundantly as I work for His kingdom in this way. I watch too much $quandered away by too many "paid" individuals...

great post despite the sad, but true stats & i KNOW that the email is not tampered with nor an exaggeration...

David Sullivan said...

When it comes to the nature vs. nurture what is the one common denominator?


If the parents don't value education, the kids won't no matter the race or apptitude.

Many black parents don't value education because its another "system" and as a black man can you say you trust "the system"?

I'm sure your daughter will find a good man to marry with a strong daddy like you around to "monitor" the situation. :)

plez... said...

you siad it, too many of my neighbors are driving (benzes, lexuses, escalades, jaguars, etc.) around today in what should be their children's tuition payments!

my only fear is that things will continue to ge worse before they get better. and i am serious about keeping my eyes open for "suitable" suitors for my daughter! *smile*

and no, i did not touch the content of my friend's e-mail message... it is as i received from my friend... he sent me a follow-up e-mail when i replied with some questions. the situation in the school is a lot worse than what comes across in his message: there is a lot of violence/fights, there is a lot of overt sexual activity with boys and girls, and the school is being stressed with a large influx of non-English speaking Hispanic students, as well.

plez... said...

you hit the nail on the head... parents are the key. my parents were on my siblings and me from Day One (nursery school) until all five of us graduated from college! yeah, all of my brothers and sister and i graduated from college as a direct result of my parents' "hands on" approach to ensuring a quality education.

that is the main reason my daughter is in a private school now. i do not want to risk her suffering the adverse affects of being around other students whose parents do not value a quality education like i do. i have neighbors who will openly admit to being "too busy" to participate in their kid's school's PTA... i've heard the horror stories of my area's public schools and that is one risk that i'm not willing to take.

mark said...

"When many of my Black peers got "paid" they felt that the schools I suggested for their kids were "outrageously" priced, but they'd make sure their kids were dressed w/ the latest & had cellphones by age 12 (yes, my eyes r rolling).
How do you teach the true value of education "

mark bey: Isnt it funny how sistas can sit in a chair for 2 days and get thier hair braided but while thier sitting in that chair they cant make sure thier children are study, the absolute same goes for brothas who can play video games for hours and hours but at the same time have children failing in school.

Lori said...

Plez, Thanks for sharing your friend's email. Our boys are under a lot of pressure these days from peers, the media and society in general to be LESS than they can be. It's up to those of us who truly care to keep them from succumbing to shiftlessness and negativity.

My own son has a baseball game tonight, a band recital on Monday night and participates in the accelerated math program at his school. While we strive to provide him with a variety of opportunities to explore and expand upon his God-given talents and abilities, our primary hope is that he grows up to be a happy, caring, productive and well-rounded individual who enjoys a variety of interests.

If I'm not mistaken, it was Maya Angelou who once said something along the lines of--Life isn't some kind of "either/or" proposition. It is rather, an "and . . . and . . . and one."
Personally, I think we do our children, ourselves and our community a huge disservice when we teach them otherwise.

I don't doubt that your own daughter will find a "good man" to marry. But given all that's going on in our world these days, it's highly possible that "good man' will be someone other than a brother . . . We need to stop playing around and recognize.

plez... said...

with that said, i gotta ask, how old is your son?!? *smile*

Christopher Chambers said...

Can I blame Russell Simmons and hip hop again? hahaha ake a look at the vidoes and listen to the lyrics...notice how many have "college girlz" and girls who don't talk like they're on public assistance and parole loving/dating/screwing thugs? Sad. Then you have parents who don't seem to care, reinforcing this crap.

My friend in PG Co. Md--supposedly an "afluent" black burb of DC--says there are NO males he'd even remotely allow his 3 daughters to hang with. In other words, this nonsense has infected the middle class as well.

I hate myself for sounding a tone like my blog subject this month, Clarence Thomas, but damn it what are we going to do?

CapCity said...

My question: What are each of us doing specifically to promote or provoke the change we deem necessary? My apologies if u hear my frustration with our blogging rhetoric. I'm asking this same question on many blogs - not just picking on u, Plez (u know u're one of my favorite blog-spaces:-).

plez... said...

my friend's lives in DeKalb County, GA - supposedly the "OTHER" affluent Black suburb (here in metro Atlanta). we are smack dab in the middle class, too! i would venture to say that this issue is WORSE in the 'burbs, because there is no excuse for successful Black parents to have children doing so poorly in school!

i welcome your comments and commentary... any time! *smile*

short answer to your question: each parent with a school age child needs to ask himself/herself what expectations are the setting for their children.

if a parent (especially, a parent of a Black boy) is not supporting their child's educational development, then that parent is shirking his/her parental responsibility.

Keith said...

Black boys in this country have been in trouble for some time. Strangely the topic has become part of our national discourse only recently.

As the father of a four year old boy I know that I have more pressure than most parents to help raise someone that will one day substantially exceed societal expectations.

As for black folk not having high enough expectations for their boys, I think it's cyclical, not rap music. When I see a black woman with no man in sight (or ring on her finger) cursing out her son in the supermarket I cringe. I know that she is raising a likely statistic, but I also know that it's probably the same way her mother raised her brother. It's all the mom knows. We have to somehow break the cycle and give our boys a chance.

My son is going to be worthy of marrying Plez' daughter if it kills me!

plez... said...

i'm gonna hold you to it! as you know, i'm a big fan of your blog and your son's antics. *smile* keep up the good work.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Great post, Plez. And thanks for commenting on this issue at my blog. To me part of the Afrosphere cultural goals is to create a climate in which Black people can speak eloquently, acknowledge and mobilize our educational and career attainments on behalf of our community without being accused of acting white by our own folks.