PG columnist Tony Norman’s neglect for reporting on one of the most disenfranchised and marginalized groups of people in our country historically should sadden those who have a clue about the truth. His column (“Biggest Gap in Black Kids’ Learning: Parents,” Feb. 18) desperately needs a counter-narrative. In all my years working in urban public education as an administrator or principal at several of our region’s struggling school districts, I have never met a parent who didn’t want his or her child to succeed academically. I have had thousands of hard-working black parents meet with me and my teachers and cry out for help. I also have personally experienced the overbearing weight of cyclical and generational poverty, which strangles families and leads to much more than a poor education. There are far more gaps in a black child’s life than academic achievement.
Claiming that parents are the reason for the gaps in the education of black children is irresponsible and plays into the hands of the people who are cutting resources from education.
Mr. Norman failed to critique this country’s economic system and distribution of wealth, which is the main factor that produced these social abnormalities. He chose to place the sole focus on the 1970s, 1980s and now 1990s victims of this same constructed system: the hard-working parents who are trying to dig their way out of poverty with a spoon with holes. He doesn’t mention the dominant power structures, and other systems of advantage based on race and class, which have been a staple in our country for centuries.
The psychological effects and countless risk factors that poverty brings will hinder a child’s education. Why didn’t he mention these research-based facts? Parents, teachers and entire school communities have been tossing the blame back and forth. Mr. Norman, the education system is a microcosm of our society. “America’s pathology is our denial” — Joy DeGruy.