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Oct 06

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Expert addresses local educators

One of the nation’s most respected experts in the education of black males, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, recently addressed the faculty, students and  parents of Ned E. Williams Elementary School.  Kunjufu has authored 32 books, including national bestsellers Black Students: Middle Class Teachers, Keeping Black Boys Out of Special Education and An African-Centered Response to Ruby Payne’s Poverty Theory.  He has consulted on these topics for most urban American school districts, and has appeared on Oprah and Black Entertainment Television.  Ned E. Williams Elementary is the Longview Independent School District’s (LISD) first campus built south of Interstate 20, and caters mainly to economically disadvantaged and minority students.
In its inaugural, 2010-2011 school year it earned the Texas Education Agency’s ‘Recognized’ rating for academic excellence.
Kunjufu’s speech filled the school’s cafeteria with listeners and then some as many parents had to stand.  Principal Cynthia Wise did not tell how she convinced so many to attend.  The LISD has long been plagued by poor parent participation, but Williams Elementary student parents are an exception as they packed the venue to learn how to insure the best future for their children.
Wise also made certain that child care was provided and that parents were served cold water and tea during the lecture.  The parents began arriving early to make sure they got seats.
“We have sent a note home inviting the parents to this event,” said Wise.  “That accounts for the packed-out cafeteria. We were very creative.”
Kunjufu provided his listeners with some sobering statistics, and then quizzed them on their parenting and children’s study habits.
He revealed that the reason Asian students’ average 1600 on their SAT tests are because they study 12 hours per week.  Caucasian students average 1582 on their SAT because they study 8 hours per week.  Hispanics score 1371 by studying 2 hours per week.  African-American students study just one hour weekly, averaging 1291.  He asked the parents how many hours their children studied the previous week and how many hours they watched TV.  They averaged 30 hours with television and/or video games, 18 hours listening to music, and 11 hours playing outside.  All this time was spent not studying.  He also revealed this is the first generation of blacks and Hispanics that will not exceed the previous generations in education.  Those living in East Texas may well never leave home.  Their bedrooms are provided with televisions, telephones and Genesis X-Boxes.  The children have free, five-star hotel rooms.  Why would they want to leave?  Such circumstances stifle ambition.
After acknowledging the large percentage of fathers in the audience, Kunjufu stressed the importance of parents spending time with their children.  He outlined a pattern for future success–the Lord, the House and neighbors who care.  He emphasized the value of parents engaging their children academically by taking them to the library, buying books to read during summer break rather than sitting around idle, and playing basketball and other sports with them.
He also pointed out the need for healthy nutrition and avoiding promiscuity and STDs.  Parental expectations are also a great help.  Asian parents expect an A.  Caucasian parents expect A and B else changes will be made.  Black and Hispanic parents are content with a C and the ability to read and write.  He also stressed the importance of sincerity.  “Don’t do as I do. Do as I say,” is not acceptable.
Both sexes need to be delegated household chores equally.  He made this clear to the mothers by telling them, “Imagine telling a nine-year-old boy that he is the man of the house.  You just became his girlfriend.”   When he is 16 and you want him to respect you, you buy him Kobe shoes and the latest fashions.  That is why he is later 40 years old and still at home–a mama’s boy.  He may shack up with his girlfriend, and if she kicks him out he moves back in with you.  “How long can your son stay at the house?”  Kunjufu pointed out that when he speaks at graduations the top 10% are females.  Boys drop out in the 9th grade.
He described two styles of parents.  One is a permissive type who worries their children might not like them.  In this case the child is 13, mother is 26, and grandma is 52.  The other kinds of parents are those interested in their kids’ betterment, and so came to his lecture.  These parents are authoritative like the coach of a good football team, and who have a plan to win.  He also cautioned against placing too much faith in a school’s ability to train students in etiquette.
“It is not the school’s job to train your child on being polite. Etiquette should be taught at home. A student before enrolling in school should have been taught to follow instruction, respect and care for others. “When the police pull your teenager over he should be respectful to authority because he has learned that at home,” he said.  “Parents and teachers used to be on the same side.  These days some parents curse out the teacher because they are friends with their child.”
He closed by outlining a plan for success.  He described some of the ingredients for success as consistency, having dinner at home without TV or radio’s interference so families can discuss the day’s events, visiting and mutual participation in school activities, and making sure children have the right kind of friends.

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