At school board meetings, I always have anxiety when I’m in a room full of White folks, who are listening to the same horrible academic-performance stats about my race. It is the kind of information that painfully pierces a Black person’s soul because we know that that ‘unintellectual’ and ‘undisciplined-people’ stigmatization continues to layer. We Black folks want to explain ‘the why’; however, there isn’t enough time in any single meeting to explain to folks why Black students are still lagging academically. The first insecurity we fight is wondering if White America is apathetic towards closing the gap.
Teachers, you have the political will to build on recent school funding successes toward a demand for sustained results, and you’re building the political power with scores of new education candidates running for state and local offices who can actually transform proposals into policy.
There is an anti-charter school movement that is sweeping the US like an uncontrollable wide-fire. Black students, once again, are unfortunately caught in the crossfires amid drive-bys taking place between the Red and Blue political gangs; that are the Democrat and Republican parties. Two political bodies seemingly fail to harken on the ambitious that black Americans actually wanted during the Brown v Board of Education debate in the early 1950s, which was equity in education from academics to administrations.
Oklahoma has surpassed Louisiana to become the incarceration capitol of the world earlier this year. Studies have shown that suspending students out of school leads to negative educational outcome and a higher likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.
Recently, I have seen a shift in the discussion about education in our community. More and more, we are beginning to have some real conversations about equity and the actual challenges: Decades of inequitable systems have deeply segregated our community. When I see school leaders boldly acknowledging these disparities to our community and committing themselves to the thorny and laborious path toward equity, I am inspired. Though the decision made over this past year by the Tulsa Public Schools’ Board of Education around whether to eradicate the name of a warrior for slavery from a public school was fraught with struggle, ultimately, the board did the right thing and listened to the voices of those most impacted.
While teachers and school administrators across the state speculate and correlate low test scores to the flocking of ‘good’ teachers to neighboring states for better pay, their theories do not negate the fact that black students tested 18 points lower than their white counterparts. This continuation of lagging test scores in Oklahoma reveals clearly: There exists a disconnect between Oklahoma teachers and their black students. 80 percent of Oklahoma teachers are white.
My heart knows that investing in our children is an investment in the future. I’m excited about Destination Excellence, about the vision of where we can be, and about the opportunity to fight every day as a member of our Board of Education to bring that vision to reality. The commitment to each other to affect progress, make change, and foster success resonates deeply with my own convictions.