By Joan E. Gosier, CEO of HBCU kidz, Inc.
Definition of GAP [a problem caused by some disparity] Pronunciation: \gap\ Function: noun
Science +Math +Artifacts of Culture +Reading +Test Taking Tips=Gap Closure
It is a brand new year with a clean slate of paper to begin a new chapter in 2008.
We have so much to reflect upon and build upon that it would take a page just to list those blessings. However, I am inspired by the events that shaped my life in the month of December. I reached outside of my comfort zone and made an attempt to connect with over 800 people and 250 black parents via the internet. It was a very uncomfortable gesture but one that I felt compelled to do. Last month, I received a chilling and tear jerking testimony from a distraught single mother of five children. Three of the five are handicapped. She is at wits end just trying to cope with her broken life. She wishes she had the motivation and energy to spend with her children to do homework. She confided that she would rather spend a day in prison vs. spending a day listening to her screaming children. So this month of January and the first day of our new year, I want to discuss the risk factors our nation’s munchkins face in academic achievement. Why are there such glaring gaps between black students and white students? What are the political, economic, sociological, and technological implications for today and tomorrow? What can we do to close the gap for a more even playing field?
There is a 42% gap in having 1 or more risk factors for hindering school success between black students and white students. These risk factors cited by experts are the following:
Having a mother who has less than a high school education
Living in a family on welfare or receiving food stamps
Living in a single-parent family
Having parents whose primary language is a language other than English
Source: US Department of Education NCES Status and Trends in the Education of Blacks
Determine at home what risk factors apply to your child
Determine at home what impact this has on him or her being able to enjoy learning
Determine at home what information God has placed in your heart to teach a child
Determine how your child feels about these risk factors and what resources in the community could help overcome this challenge
Determine how others who are consistently around your child feel about the above ideas/options
Compare how you grew up and whether you faced any of the 4 risk factors as a child. Looking back, in my home growing up, I did not have any of the above risk factors. However, that was unusual in my neighborhood. Most of the parents in my neighborhood seemed to marvel at the fact that my older parents really seemed to care about my educational opportunities. After spending a summer in Baltimore visiting with relatives, I vividly recall telling one young parent how much fun I had. She sadly looked at me and said, “Joanie, you just don’t know how lucky you are. Your parents see to it that you get out of New York every single summer and see other places. I am 22 years old, and I have NEVER been across the George Washington bridge.” Those words ring in my ear as if it were only yesterday. Whenever I cross a bridge, I see that pained look and I hear those haunting words echoing. So I am sensitive to the fact that exposure to the risk factors is prevalent in many communities. However, it is important that we realize, celebrate and appreciate that there are survival tactics that have enabled many to be successful and beat the odds and shame the naysayers.
In your opinion, what factors made you beat the odds? Who helped U see a new life , a new possibility and a new dream for your life? What did he or she tell you that made it believable in your mind’s eye? How did it make you feel to know that he or she felt that way about you? When did this happen for you and what made it stick in your mind? Why do you think this worked for you? Chances are the exposure to a mentor, a neighbor or concerned relative’s breath of life in your vision was a key ingredient to your current day success. Isn’t it a great feeling to inspire another soul during your time on earth?
This month, why not call the kids in your immediate and extended family who have 1 or more risk factors? Breathe some more life into their vision. “Anthony, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Listen carefully. A response of indecision or indifference may be a sign of acceptance of one’s status in life. My two year old daughter taught me a valuable lesson. Children are gifts from God. They know what they are purposed to do. They just don’t have the vocabulary to explain it. When I jokingly asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. The munchkin pointed to the sky and began to flap her wings. Two years later at age four, she excitedly explains to me that she wants to be a pilot first and then an astronaut. In fact, I actually learned who Bessie Coleman was by searching for an inspirational role model for my baby to see online photo images. So I learned from my two year old’s motions that Bessie Coleman was the first black woman in the world to hold a pilot’s license in 1921. This historical accomplishment also made her the first African American to hold a license. She actually flew planes before the famous Tuskegee Airmen. http://www.bessiecoleman.com/
How about selecting a gift that will inspire a love of preparing and investing in a better future from http://hbcukidgear.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=81. Of course the gift that I selected for my munchkin was the one of a kind Bessie Coleman Aviator Doll which we have in stock just in time for Black History Month.
Present your special gift with a written note of what you hope to inspire in the recipient. I wrote a little note to my munchkin that expresses my confidence that regardless of what she ultimately chooses to pursue as a passion, she has our 100% love and support.
So yes the experts say that the risk factors can play a role in limiting the success of our children, but I believe that we can play a greater role in removing the barrier through our thoughts, our gift giving and our outreach to the little ones in our lives. This series is intended to be a work in progress. What I am doing as an individual, and what others are doing as well. Together we can learn some new things and reinforce some things we already knew. What do you think? Can we work together?
The Achiever in Training(TM) and S.M.A.R.T curriculum are exclusive copywritten and proprietary programs developed by HBCU kidz, Inc.
For more statistics about this problem, please visit http://www.achieversintraining.com and click on “Resources.” To comment on this article, visit the HBCU kidz blog. To communicate with other concerned Black parents, please go to http://blackparentconnect.com
For more information about the program or the limited edition gift collection visit http://AchieversinTraining.com. The site contains information and ideas to proactively promote positive images for African American children and their families.
Contact Joan Gosier at 1-888-HBCU-kid.
HBCU kidz, Inc.