Black parents are being urged to get to know their children’s teachers, go to PTA meetings, sign their kids up for enrichment and tutoring classes and take their children to libraries and museums. The goal is to improve academic performance.
In Silver Spring, Md., outside Washington, black parents have organized networks to exchange information about enrichment programs and to swap test-taking strategies. In St. Petersburg, Fla., parents have attended summits to learn more about the achievement gap and how to be more involved with their children’s learning.
. . . Some worry that the focus on black parenting amounts to blaming the victims and allowing bad teachers and failing schools to escape responsibility for the poor-quality education they deliver.
Involved, education-first parents can’t do everything, but they can make a big difference for their own kids, and they can pressure schools to improve.
Middle-class black parents do less than comparable whites to push their children to excel academically, according to Ron Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University.
Using his calculations based on a 1998 government survey of parents’ habits, Ferguson determined that about 47 percent of college-educated black parents surveyed read to their children daily, compared with 60 percent of white parents with at least a bachelor’s degree. Black parents with that much education had 65 books in their home on average, while white parents had nearly double that — 114. White parents also were more likely to discuss science or nature with their children.
Relying on the school to educate one’s children is a mistake.