By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (President and CEO, NNPA)
All parents want the best for their children. We all acknowledge that attaining a high-quality K-12 education is probably the single most important factor that will determine the future life success of a student in the public school systems throughout the United States.
Yet, the reality for millions of Black American parents in the U.S. is that there is a lingering educational achievement gap between Black students and White students. This is why I believe that raising awareness about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) among all parents, especially Black parents, is vital.
This should be a national priority for all who stand for equality in effective high-quality public education for all students. Now that states have begun the tedious process to refine and submit their ESSA state plans to the U.S. Department of Education, Black parents should increase their input into these plans in each state.
Recent national studies have pointed to what some researchers have concluded as “low expectations” about the academic achievement levels of Black students being a major contributing factor to their underachievement in the classroom. Unfortunately, sometimes these predictions based on external research about Black America can become self-fulfilling prophecies and mere justifications for the current educational disparities and inequities between Black students and White students.
Black parents do not have low expectations about their children’s academic potential to achieve excellence and scholarship. Most Black parents encourage and expect their children to do well in school. Black parents do have, however, low expectations about the priorities that state boards of education, as well as county and city boards of education, have presented thus far in response to the inclusive accountability mandates of ESSA.
Inclusion presupposes involvement. Parental involvement is a key factor that determines the effectiveness of our public school system. The National Newspaper Publishers Association is, therefore, pleased to join and to support all efforts that will increase Black American parental involvement concerning ESSA and its implementation at both the state and federal levels.
Yes, Black student K-12 educational achievement gaps that now exist in too many school districts in the U.S. can be bridged going forward, if there is a substantial and measurable increase in the consistent involvement of Black parents at all levels of decision-making and public policy implementation of ESSA. Please pass this message to others that you may know who are likewise concerned about these issues.
The future of our families and communities is at stake. Our collective awareness and involvement can help to make a positive difference in improving K-12 education in America. I have faith that Black American parents will once again rise to this challenge.
Learn more about how you can get involved with the Every Student Succeeds Act in your state at NNPA.org/essa.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow Dr. Chavis on Twitter @drbenchavis.