Monday, March 31, 2008

Detroit Public Schools Misses The Point on Educational Reform by Akindele Akinyemi

The Detroit Public Schools are restructuring 4 schools in my area. These schools are Cody High School, Henry Ford H.S., Osborn H.S. and the 9th grade academy at Cody. Vetal Elementary (which is walking distance from where I live) will also be restructured.
While the teachers will be reassigned to other schools in the district the principals will lose their jobs because they are not unionized. How come the teachers will not lose their jobs? Can we say Detroit Federation of Teachers?
The DPS restructured schools are, for now, being called: The New Schools at Cody, The New Schools at Cody 9, The New Schools at Henry Ford, The New Schools at Osborn and the New Schools at Vetal.
While on one end this is an attempt for DPS to save what's left of their student population DPS still is not a safe place for families and our children are still losing out. Not all DPS schools are bad but if you are going to restructure you have to take a closer look at the middle and high schools.
For instance, how come there are only 35 Black male principals in DPS and 1 Hispanic male principal in DPS? This is not diversity at all in terms of the balancing the gender gap. If you want to reform anything start at the top. Where are the brothers at?
According to statistics recently released by the National Education Association (NEA), men made up just 24.4 percent of the total number of teachers in 2007. In fact, the number of male public school teachers in the U.S. has hit a record 40-year low.
Ok, Dr. Connie Calloway is following the No Child Left Behind guidelines but what will it take for people at Detroit Public Schools to understand that big government schools have failed these children for at least 2 generations?
True reform is more than just replacing failing schools with more "unique" programs like math engineering and science academies. While these academies are necessary in an ever growing global economy what ever happen to teaching our children the basics?
It is a conspiracy on all levels in traditional public and charter schools that our children do not know civics, economics and geography. These three subjects are being removed from the classroom or being rolled up into social studies. Children in Cuba know more about U.S. Government, can tell you the 50 states and capitals as well as understanding a mixed economy more than our children here in the states. So why are we stressing education from one dimension?
Educational leadership is lacking in our schools and community. We cannot always blame the teacher in the classroom or the leadership in the school. Most of our children have a hard time learning because of the lack of parental support from the home. Most parents are illiterate themselves so what makes you think they can support their children?
First, if anyone wants to change their schools or school district you have to change your perception of how education is viewed in the world. A more conservative approach to education is part of the key to transforming our community.
Allow me to concentrate on our young Black men. The low representation of Black men obtaining college degrees, in particular, is fueled by disparities in the number of Black male youth who graduate from high school, take college preparatory courses, score adequately on achievement tests, and have the financial wherewithal to attend college. Of those Black male youth who do enroll in college, many fall victim to problems that make achieving an acceptable level of retention a critical factor. In general, circumstances that result in underrepresentation of Black male students in college begin long before freshman year. Overwhelmingly, the K–12 school system is failing to impart to black male youth the skills and aspirations necessary to enter, persist, and obtain higher education degrees.
There is considerable evidence that the low numbers of minority, and Black male, teachers in particular is a great hindrance to young Black men successfully navigating the academic experience and emerging with the prerequisites for successful college completion. Black male educators and male single-sex schools may provide an optimal environment for success in increasing the pool of well-prepared Black male college entrants. First, retention in high school is greatly affected by disciplinary actions. Behaviors disproportionately identified with male culture are often the basis for disciplinary action, and, far too often, become cause for suspensions and expulsion, with the increased likelihood of termination of these youth’s educational career.
Personally, I do not feel that Detroit Public Schools is a place for any Black male student and unfortunately, Black male teacher or educational leader. Regardless of the all-male Frederick Douglass Academy at the former Murray-Wright High School until DPS decides to either reboot the Limited License to Instruct program through Wayne State University or embrace Alternative Teacher Certification chaos will exist in our school district overall. This profession is so dominated by women that many of them are stuck in their ways. While men have dominated other professions like engineering, business and even the auto industry the field of education has always been looked upon as a "woman's" job. When we are going to tell our women that they cannot raise a boy into a man?
But I am for single-sex schools in DPS. There is an emerging body of research on single-sex education that overwhelming reports positive effects for boys when attending all-male schools. Historically, the issue of single-sex education has been posed in terms of creating conditions where the needs of female students could be addressed. Now this understanding of the gender-specificity of developmental patterns is being employed to explain beneficial effects found in all-male schooling environments .
If Dr. Calloway wants real reform she will embrace Alternative Teacher Certification to increase the number of Black male teachers coming from the private sector with hands on experience to educate our children. Also, instead of embracing smaller high schools (which is a good idea) try expanding the school year from 180 days to 220 days like other countries in the world.
While the female dominated DPS system are running the show they forgot to explain how 31.9 percent of Detroit students graduate in four years. Statewide, the graduation rate in 2006 was 72.9 percent. Furthermore, the graduation rate for boys enrolled in Detroit Public Schools is just 25 percent, compared with 39 percent of girls. These children are not moving out of state. They are on the streets or at home with their mothers helping run the house. These children did not move to charter schools they are skipping classes at school.
So as long as 90% of women dominate the school district nothing drastic will get done. I am beginning to understand why there is a lesbian problem at Mumford High School and other high schools in Detroit. Where are the males in the building to balance out the equation of educational leadership in the school? If you have females dominating the educational spectrum they eventually will move out of their natural position in life which is to let the man lead because he is the head of the house. The spiritual house. But feminism and womanist thought have led many women in education thinking they can reform our boys into men through an educational system that is based on liberal policies that do not work.
The answer to the problem is simple. Attract more male professionals into the field of education. All of us are not dead, gay or in jail. Many Black men want to teach in the inner-city but refuses to go through that rigorous certification drama. Why do a man with a Ph.D in mathematics or biology need to be certified?
Making an impact on the problem of our children in DPS at-risk for disengagement from academics and low rates of college attendance and completion will require a concerted effort between research and community action. While we seek to understand the causes, we must also seek to understand the array of forces, particularly those positive to change, that have not become empowered to overcome the forces of inertia and decline. It is important that our research efforts tie into better strategies to convey information about inner city academic performance to families so they can keep their sons from sliding away from the college-bound pipeline.
Second, it is critical that we hold accreditation agencies accountable for selecting a pool of educational professionals representative of the communities they must serve. It is not enough to have abstract standards if those serve to create an alienating environment without cultural congruence for black youth, males in particular. This is not an equal education. We must also collaborate effectively with after-school providers, such as faith communities and businesses, as partners, particularly given the difficulty some parents experience in providing academic support for their children. Given the large numbers of young men behind bars, particularly those of low socio-economic background, and African American and minority males in particular, greater availability of education in prisons should be pursued.
Conservative education is how we transform schools like Henry Ford or Cody. Otherwise these schools will do no better than Inkster High School.


Anonymous said...

Dps is taking shots in the dark hoping that they hit the mark...DPS will never be fixed by making minor shifts because history has proven that it won't work...DPS needs to admit that they need a complete restructuring from top to bottom and from parents to students...The system is in peril and Comedy Calloway cant save it with these unproven ideas...In order to build we must also destroy...

Anonymous said...

this is a good piece but you really need to quote your sources....

"The low representation of Black men obtaining college degrees, in particular, is fueled by disparities in the number of Black male youth who graduate from high school, take college preparatory courses, score adequately on achievement tests, and have the financial wherewithal to attend college."

this is directly from a paper by Dr. Obie Clayton from Morehouse....