Saturday, August 20, 2011
I believe the low income neighborhood culture, or "the Hood " culture is impeding most African American children from succeeding in school.
This idea hit me when I was giving a career day presentation at a Chicago high school on the Southside. I told the students when my children were little I don't not allow them indulge in the culture of "The Hood". That meant no BET, no Hip Hop Music, and no interaction with the neighborhood children. The high school students told me I raised my children incorrectly.
Years ago I was in downtown Chicago and ran into Arne Duncan, then CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. I told Mr. Duncan if the a child did not have a parent that valued education and could help their child with their homework, that child was doomed to a life of underachievement.
Yes, there are some exceptions. There are the success stories of the student who lived in the most dangerous neighborhood, and attended the worst school in the ghetto, and went on the become a nuclear physicist.
For every one of those exceptional children there were millions of children who grow up to live a life of mediocrity. There are probably millions of students who are currently being conditioned by the culture of the hood" to underachieve in school. Some of these underachievers terrorize and destabilize low income neighborhoods. They may also go out of their "hood" to terrorize the more affluent sections of town.
One way to change this way of life is to persuade the producers of the hood culture to inspire children to read. This means the urban cultural icons producing music, TV shows, and movies showing that education is worth the effort. Ironically the hood culture icons can help to end this anti intellectualism in the African American community.
Low income African Americans need to more examples of how higher income parents raise their children. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will not allow the hood culture to influence their children. When they were in Chicago the Obama's sent their children to the University of Chicago's LAB School. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sending his children to the LAB School. You cannot get mad at them. President Obama and Mayor Emanuel want the best for their children. Those of us who live in or near the hood should help our children get the education from schools our children attend.
More low income parents need to value education. They should not allow or at least limit the culture of the hood in their homes. You can be in the hood, but not of the hood. Unfortunately it is hard to value education when you're wallowing at the bottom of Maslow's low order needs. So the responsibility lies on the educated to replace the hood life with a mindset of hope.
Boards of Education, and Teachers Unions, should develop new education models for students who are lazy, undisciplined, unfocused, and uninspired. New education models, where attending a four year college is not the goal. A bachelor's or master's degree is not needed for success, but every children deserves a high quality preschool to 12th grade education.
Education, the antidote for the hood.