Every day is Ferguson
By Darrell Allison
We are all justifiably outraged at the events occurring in Ferguson, Mo.
Headlines scream almost daily about a new incident of racial violence boiling over in a town that is struggling to over-come its troubled history.
While prominent African American leaders shout their outrage from microphones and television studios and the rest of us express our sadness and anger in the barber shops, salons and churches; we fail to realize an essential hard truth.
Incidents like Ferguson happen every day in classrooms across America.
Although non-fatal as Ferguson, an academic assault occurs each school day as the needs of students – especially African American students – are neglected, ignored or buried at the bottom of another batch of standardized test score results.
Consider the following statistics compiled by the Black Alliance for Educational Options:
- 42 percent of Black students attend schools that are under-resourced.
- Poorly performing Black males are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their white peers.
- Black boys are 2.5 times less likely to be enrolled in gifted and talented programs, even though they have proven they can do the work.
What’s more alarming than these dismal student statistics is the ambivalence or numbness exhibited by us adults. Where’s the outrage? Where’s is the By Any Means Necessary mentality in this case as we are so quick to show in cases like Ferguson?
Despite these sad statistics, there are pockets of transformational change happening across the United States where leaders of color are doing so by any means.
Geoffrey Canada, the former president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone (now serving as president of its board), created a ground-breaking, block-by-block approach to tackling academic and economic poverty in urban neighborhoods, including a network of Promise Academy Charter Schools.
The Chicago-based Urban Prep Academies, founded in 1992 by Tim King, has boasted a 100-percent acceptance rate to four-year colleges and universities for all of its high school male seniors for four consecutive years.
Dr. Steve Perry, the founder and principal of Capital Prepa-ratory Magnet School in Hart-ford, Connecticut, has achieved sending 100 percent of the school’s predominantly low-in-come, minority, first-generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since 2006.
These strong African American male education leaders are doing what is necessary to educate our children; however, the means by which they do this is parental school choice. As schools of choice, these leaders have the flexibility, leverage and authority to customize an education program that has the best chance of truly reaching every kid.
At the end of the day, who cares about the politics of parental school choice, especially when it is our children who are suffering the most? If we don’t have honest discussions about what school choice means for our children and consider replicating the successful models offered by Canada, King and Perry, it will continue to be just another day in Ferguson in schools across America.