State of the Black Union: Education and Greening the Ghetto

Tavis Smiley wants to talk with Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu about education.

Kunjufu starts off talking about how there are now black boys failing kindergarten and how we need to look at how we teach black boys how to read. He notes how states use 4th grade reading levels to determine the number of spots needed in prisons -- Hello, California! Sadly enough, Dr. Kunjufu is talking about my state.

Kunjufu shares how 80% of kids in special education are there because a reading deficiency, and you don't correct reading with Ritalin.

Since Brown vs Board of Education there's been a 66% decline in black teachers. 83% of elementary school teachers are white and female. Kunjufu sees a correlation between white girls being the least placed into special education and a dominance of white female teachers.

He feels we need to raise the level of teacher expectations, and he also wants single gender classrooms. (I'd like that so these girls will stop trying to be my 2nd grader's girlfriend!)

Kunjufu references SAT scores. They're 1600 for Asians, 1582 for whites, 1371 for Latinos and 1291 for blacks -- "And the best answer we give is that the test is culturally biased???"

You want accountability? Kunjufu shares more info on study habits. Asians on average study 12 hours a week, 8 hours for whites...but black folks only study one hour a week. He says parents need to get the kids to stop spending 39 hours a week on TV and spend more time studying. The crowd goes bonkers over this! So much applause.

He just stopped himself and said he wasn't being fair. He tells us that you do not compare slaves with immigrants because immigrants came here voluntarily and got to keep their culture, whereas slaves were forced to come here and got their culture stripped away.

Erica L. Williams is the Director of Policy and Advocacy, Campus Progress... wow, she's only 25! She's talking about how young people didn't vote because of Facebook. They voted because they're smart and they're more informed than ever about the issues.

Van Jones, President of Green For All says he's always asked, "You're black, how can you be an environmentalist?" Good question because there's such a stereotype of what environmentalists look like!

I'll bet he's also asked if he's single because um, he's good looking! He-he!

Anyway, he's talking about the conflict over our fundamental relationship to the earth.

"Your Great-Grandmother saying "This tree is sacred" was actually her speaking a high form of scientific genius." That sort of thinking was discounted by colonizers and slave catchers because it was all about seeing trees (and people) as a commodity. Now 300-400 years later, the colonizers children have come around to saying that you have to take care of the planet.

How colonized are we (black folks) when we we say, "Green? Oh that's some white stuff!" when we're the original people who took care of the earth?

That's a VERY good point! I think I like Van Jones!

Now he's sharing how 40% of greenhouse gases are coming from buildings and 70% of that is coming from cities and you can't green the ghetto without giving Pookie a job! Sooo funny! I'm dying! LOL!


Shiona said…
That is a pretty amazing stat concerning study habits. I totally believe it too. As for being environmentally friendly here in my city we actually have color coded trashcans. Without that sadly I don't think anyone would recycle. As it is I am the only one in this house that does. My mom doesn't because then she won't get paid (as if she took all of those plastic bottles down to the recycle place which she didn't) My sister threw things away in the trash b/c the recycle can had water in it. Some of us will get the message a little too late I'm afraid.

I am firmly against medication. It used to be that the kid who was all over the place (as in not focusing) turned out to be the brightest. Add in the side effects to this stuff and I am not seeing a winning combination...
Note to self: start taking kindergarten homework seriously. One of my granola-crunchy tendencies is to pooh-pooh homework. I've read several Asian Young Adult novels in the last 6 months and all the main characters are girls who spend a major amount of time studying b/c parents demand it and the teens assume it's necessary to achieve their dreams. Might be a good attitude to adopt, although I did OK sliding by and not developing that idea till my late 20s. Might not serve my younger sons so well.
Jen said…
Those are interesting statistics... I think, also, that economic fairness (ie. being employed in a safe environment that pays you enough to survive), the "greening" movement, and education are all strongly tied. I'm sort of tired of our approach to see these areas as all separate with separate solutions.
Liz Dwyer said…
The study time stats are very interesting because I know there are also studies that show tons of homework isn't what makes kids excel. But I can see how less TV/more reading makes a HUGE difference. The recycling in LA is the worst out of anywhere I've lived in the US, especially in apartments. People throw all sorts of ridiculous stuff in our communal recycling bin -- and we only have one for our whole building.

My K child gets a good amount of homework every night. Sometimes I wish it was less, but he doesn't hate it as much as he used to so it's not such a fight anymore. I think he sees it as just another chance to show what he knows -- fine with me! But yes, having taught school in China and seen the expectations there, our kids could probably be doing a lot more studying than they're currently doing.

I agree! We're so used to thinking about these issues in completely different boxes but they are completely related. I was really feeling what Van Jones was saying because I've heard so many people say they could care less about saving whales or trees when they are struggling to pay the rent -- I definitely think the environmental movement suffers from the perception that activists would rather save a tree than change the circumstances of poor black child. That sort of thing has to change.

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