Monday, September 27, 2010

Center for Education Culture Reform

This blog is long overdue...and I am surprised that I have not come across any others with this mission. Direct and to the point: The author of this blog is of the conviction that we need to focus on the cultural factors that play into student achievement. This applies specifically to the areas and communities that in the most critical state, namely those areas that are black and Hispanic. While student do benefit from better teachers and schools with better technology, we should also understand that changes in cultural have just as great of an impact--if not more of an impact--on the status of the acihevement gap. In conjunction with good, equitable policy, communities must develop a grassroots approach to instilling a culture which venerates education, and to eliminate those aspects of subcultures which tear down this paradigm.

So many netizens (a majority of whom are frustrated teachers) maintain that parental involvement is the missing factor. Yet parental accountability is pitched to education power brokers, there is an outcry of injustice and insensitivity to a very complex issue in our communities and schools. While the issue is complex, it is not hard to understand why culture is so important. Brilliant policies have already demonstrated the importance of culture. Take school choice for example. The reason why school choice helps so many students is because students are placed into a new culture where new messages about the value of education are being promoted.
What people fail to realize is that we have essentially set up a catch-22 which sabotages our well intended efforts to improve the state of education in America: We obscure the true value of education, we generally lack high expectations and do not possess the cultural template which require parents to play the roles that are necessary in student achievement (all the while ignoring the fact that parental roles and the home are most influential). We do not object to the cultural values which obscure the natural incentive to obtain an education. Then we expect our dollars to magically produce results when the real issue has never been addressed. The point of this blog is to discuss ways in which we can create a culture of education in communities and establish parental accountability in a sensitive, fair, and progressive way.

What is a culture of education, you may ask?
Culture was defined in my third grade social studies book as a way of life. Such would be the totality of habits, world-views, priorities, and ways of relating to others in our relationships, homes, and communities. If we can tackle each of these aspects and inculcate a serious veneration for education, perhaps we wouldn't need as much money for school reform. Of course, it is much easier to stream millions of dollars in schools than to transform communities. Transforming communities, as Geoffery Canada has showed us, takes work and time.

Now is the time to put away the excuses. Let's remember struggle as a means of survival. Let's declare a cultural revolution.


  1. Followed you here from the AJC "Get Schooled" blog. I'm a white homeschooling mom who taught a while at a private school, so take this for what it's worth, but I just wanted to say that I commend you for your passion and agree with what you say. The only real change that can happen has to start with the cultural values we learn at home. I graduated from public school in 1986, and am saddened to see how much local schools have declined since I was in them. And my experience teaching in a classroom taught me that there is only so much a teacher can do. That particular school attracted the "problem" kids whose parents could afford to pay tuition and took them out of public school. Needless to say, they didn't fare any better in private school because of their lack of values. I know you're predominantly addressing minority families that lack the resources to choose private education, or even homeschooling, but if there is a lack of integrity in the home, it's going to follow a child wherever he goes--and handicap him for life. I don't know what it's going to take to get parents to wake up and take responsibility for creating a love of learning in their children, but something has to change or I fear for our future. Anyway, just wanted to encourage you to keep speaking out and doing what you can to create the change you want to see! :)

  2. Thank you for your encouragement! You're right--what I have to say is largely directed at minority families, but please know that people from all walks of life have to be involved in this, as the detriment of one community often spills into others. I am just tired of the reform efforts...and even some of those that call themselves revolutionary but really just end up accepting the status quo. The communities that will benefit from such a movement have to be the ones who are involved in making it happen. Not representatives. Not government. Just individual, regular people who do their part. When shouldn't run from responsibility. Governmental policies are often enablers in this respect, as they give parents a way to place the blame on everyone else but themselves. Obama is the first president that has directly asked parents and students to do their part. If there is any president that can make a cultural revolution happen, it is him.

  3. Interesting blog. Yes, a culture of achievement is important and historically the values imbued in the African heritage transmited to our young, starting with our contributions to knowledge how the legacy stolen from us. We do have the cultural values for high student achievement reflected in our history and the high value for knowledge and education rooted in it. Good blog. Keep up the good work.