An Essay on the Lack of Equity in the Classroom Curriculum
I spent my primitive scholastic years at John D. Rockefeller Elementary School on 55th and Huff in Cleveland, Ohio. An environment overwhelmed with black faces, we created the Charles Darwin paradigm in hallways and gymnasiums. We ate free lunches and fought in the bathroom for respect regardless of weight class. We flew paper airplanes while the penetrating sound of plastic spoon butts broke spoons in half. Classrooms full of potential; ironically drowning the kinetic energy used to be “disruptive” and “out of control”. At that moment, we were solely in that classroom for the purpose of completing what academic requirements were present. Now, 14 years later I’m a
At that moment, we were solely in that classroom for the purpose of completing what academic requirements were present. Now, 14 years later, I’m a Class of 2015 graduate of Kentucky State University with a B.A. in History and a minor in Pan-African studies. I’ve spent time both as a student and an educator of global blackness. We are a people of much substance, intellect, beauty, diversity and talent with the unconditional ability to love even our antagonist. Those qualities aren’t nearly celebrated and taught with the fervor, deliberateness, and accuracy in the classroom as it should be. Based on the foundation of Afro-American existence in the U.S., it is clear that there’s a systematic effort to deprive Black students of accurate historical accounts of global and American Blackness in the education system.
Those qualities aren’t nearly celebrated and taught with the fervor, deliberateness, and accuracy in the classroom as it should be. Based on the foundation of Afro-American existence in the U.S., it is clear that there’s a systematic effort to deprive students of accurate historical accounts of global and American Blackness in the education system.
The Reconstruction Era was the foundation of public schooling; and with this came the enactment of the Black Codes which innately created segregation. Due to the ‘more than separate, less than equal’ environment, Afro-Americans were forced to find a way to create Independent Black Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (more than often with the financial backing of a White Christian Minister, abolitionist or the state).
These institutions provided our community with African and Afro-American based curriculums, black faculty and staff, educators, coaches, etc. It also subconsciously re-created that indigenous confidence we once had prior to our forced trans-atlantic relocation. Furthermore, it set precedents for the push towards advances in education equity.
The ruling in the Brown v. The Board of Education case allowed the integration of Black and White students in the classroom in most states. With that came the consequential loss of many Black educators jobs, multicultural curriculums and most importantly some Black Institutions. Black students overwhelmingly populated public schools nationwide yet, over 80% of public school educators are White (Mokoto, Rich “Where Are Teachers of Color”).
This disproportionate ratio of Black representation in the classroom leaves opens up room for misinterpretation of Black students behavior, beliefs, and style of learning. In addition to White teachers teaching history written by the victor of systematic oppression which directly correlates to the Black plight. Granted, it’d be unfair to assume that all White educators are disinterested in the accuracy of Black history. However, there’s a reasonable correlation to be drawn between racial identity and subject priority.
Not only are black students not being thoroughly educated on their history, neither are white students. Factually, black history is also American history. Curriculum writers have no desire to prioritize Pan-African studies, Blactdak theology, or Black related politics into their agenda. However, most curriculums require students to complete “general” history and theology related courses; that ironically reinforce Western Civilized thought and rhetoric. At the collegiate level, most Predominantly White Institutions (PWI’s) do offer a diverse selection of Afro related history and theology but most are taught by White and Other professors. Whereas at HBCU’s there’s more equity in the Black teacher to student ratio yet those institutions lose funding and accreditation more heavily.
The culmination of these issues correlates to the fact that the importance of Black History in the classroom is more than a letter grade and three credits. It is reinforcing positive perspectives in the minds of Black faces. It is the literal discretionary effort made by educators to go the extra mile to teach thorough and accurate information. And at bare minimum, it’s the truth… We owe ALL of our students the thoroughness of their history, especially our minority ones.
And we owe them that history, year long. Not just during the shortest month of the calendar.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The reality is with the election of President Trump and appointment of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, we need to strongly consider generating more IBI’s and supporting our HBCU’s more. My presumption is that the mass production of charter and private schools will monopolize the education system and leave poor and working class citizens uneducated. This will further strengthen the “drop-out” to prison pipeline and being educated even at the primitive level will be a privilege. As our communities are gentrified, our school systems are closed down and/or integrated with predominantly White women teaching through fellowships. Our combat is necessary to our survival as people. And uneducated people are a socially and culturally dead people.