Education and Community

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By  Stanley Kinard

It seems like my column is becoming an obituary column.  I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge persons that have given their entire lives to advancing African liberation in our community.  Such was the life led by the late Barbara Smith Boyd, who recently made her transition this past week.  Barbara was the owner of Ties that Bind along with her husband Hakika.  While selling African clothing and art, the business served as a cultural center with Barbara serving as facilitator.  Ms. Boyd also served with distinction as President of School Board 13.  She always stood up for what is right, even at times when she was the lone voice that we had advancing an African-centered and progressive agenda.  In making this transition, Barbara joins sisters Jeanette Gadson and Aliyah Abdul-Karim, all major pillars of our community. 
I received several e-mails last week regarding the mandatory Black History classes taught in all Philadelphia high schools.  New York City is far behind other major cities in this regard.  Again, I will state that we need to get behind the resolution by Councilman Barron calling for Black History to be mandated as a requirement for graduation from high school.  A hearing of the City Council Education Committee can be held if we begin to make the demand for it to happen.
In 2009, the Department of Education shall revisit mayoral control of schools.  At a recent parents meeting in the Bronx, hundreds were turned away from a meeting regarding school disorganization.  The reason given was they didn’t have adequate space to accommodate the parents.  This was a poor excuse from the Klein/Bloomberg Administration that has all but eliminated real parental involvement.  Parents in Brooklyn must begin to organize so they, too, can have input in how schools are structured and run in our communities.  At recent meetings of Operation Power, education has been a major topic of discussion.  Brother Akinlabi of Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence made a presentation on BNYEE’s platform.  Others have questioned the role of charter and independent schools and are proposing them as the absolute strategy for educating Black youth. 
The opportunity to have input in the education of our children is right now.  The Bloomberg/Klein Department of Education is in a state of disarray.  We can win the cultural right for Black History to be taught in our schools.  My neighbor disagrees with me and feels that we need to teach Black History to ourselves in churches and after-school programs.  I agree with him about the latter, however, the public schools are a community property belonging to parents and residents.  We pay taxes to support these institutions and, subsequently, we should control everything that goes on in these schools and particularly as it pertains to what our children are taught.  There needs to be a major conference of education where these matters are fully discussed, a plan put in place for organizing and implementing the agenda and platforms coming out of this conference.  In the meantime, the slogan remains “Black History Now! Just Teach it and Let’s Learn it!”  Even though Black History Month is over, the education of our youth demands that Black History be taught every day, every month.

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