Saving our schools
By Marie Carrie Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sept. 26, parents, teachers, school board members and concerned citizens welcomed Dr. Steve Perry to the 2013 Title 1 Parent Orientation at Dillard High School.
Dr. Steve Perry is the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn.
Since graduating its first class in 2006, 100 percent of Capital Preparatory’s graduates have attended a four- year college.
In addition to his leadership role with the school, Dr. Perry is the host of the successful docudrama “Save Our Sons.” He is also a columnist with Essence magazine; an education contributor for CNN and MSNBC; and the best-selling author of Push Has Come To Shove: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve-Even If It Means Picking A Fight.”
When Dr. Perry visited our district on Thursday night, he was definitely suited up and ready to do battle… for our children!
“If you can’t teach poor kids, don’t teach!”
Dr. Perry was addressing what he sees as a prevalence of low expectations and wide-spread apathy among teachers in high poverty schools. In fact he admonishes such teachers, “Ain’t nobody begging you to stay ‘Bounce.’”
According to Dr. Perry, many teachers work in schools they wouldn’t even send their own children to. “(They) take their paycheck, go somewhere else and send their child to a tawny private school.”
Unfortunately those of us in District 5 know this reality all too well.
Dr. Perry then went on to talk about the achievement gap between minority and white students. This issue is one that has plagued Broward County Schools and specifically Title 1 schools for awhile.
According to Michaelle Valbrun-Pope, executive director of the Student Support Initiative, “Like many districts across the nation, we struggle with our minority sub-groups achieving at the same level as their counterparts. If we are going to be successful in changing outcomes for our minority youth and our Black youth in particular, we need a much focused effort on the part of everyone to make it happen.”
One of Dr. Perry’s goals in addressing our community was to assist in this effort by re-defining the issue as one of access, not ability. Interestingly enough he used the I-Phone to demonstrate his point.
According to him, if Black and Latino students from a Title One school are given I-phones and white students from a non-Title One school are given I-phones, not one would be un-able to show you how to use it. And the I-phone is one of the highest forms of technology.
He states, “Because they are both given equal access we are able to engage their minds and because we can engage their minds we can actually find out that they’re both the same.”
Perry believes it is the role of the school and specifically the teacher to equalize this issue of access in the classroom.
A key player in ensuring that this happens is the school principal.
Dr. Perry hit on a crucial point that is not often talked about in non-education circles. While teachers bear the brunt of ensuring academic success for each child, it is the school based administrator’s job to ensure that the teacher is able and capable of doing just that. And far too many are not.
“Too many of our administrators are not taking the time to either train up our teachers or get rid of them.”
While many of Dr. Perry’s comments may have seemed brusque, they were all rooted in love, tough love. At the heart of his message is the belief that loving our children is not always about doing what is easy and feels good, it is about doing what is best and right for them.
Luwando Wright-Hines, Director of Title 1, Migrant and Special Programs couldn’t agree more. Her comments regarding Dr. Perry’s presentation sums up the most important takeaway we should all leave with, “Children are capable of improving academically. It’s just that we need to embrace the different strategies that will meet their needs. It’s not about the adults, it’s about the children.”