2:31 PM / Tuesday January 31, 2023

28 Aug 2020

Guest Commentary: Set Our Youth Free

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August 28, 2020 Category: Commentary Posted by:

By Kayla Taylor

Dear parents and caretakers:

Parents dealing with poverty, parents facing fears of systematic racism, parents with Black children that go to white schools, and parents who are abusive to their children knowingly and unknowingly, this is for you!

Change is good! It might be about time to reinvent the process of learning and time to repair the relationships with our children. 

Over the years, the education system has been built on prison-like enforcement. One student behind another, with the teacher at the front of the classroom giving instructions. Security guards watching your every move, and if you do something bad, you are sentenced to detention or maybe even suspension. Sound familiar?

 But here we are, living and witnessing the historic year of 2020, where a pandemic has changed people’s lives all around the world. Now more than ever, we  have no choice but to stop and adapt our way of living. Along with new safety measures and masks that almost everyone hates, we must remember that we cannot abandon our children’s learning experience. But let us face it — the system already did. 

It is time to shake up the education system and create a new narrative for our youth. The future is in our hands, even as we need to remember to actually wash our hands every chance we get. And then we have the challenge of most parents having to work most of the time. 

I know what you are thinking. It sounds stressful — sounds like a lot of work. But to me — a student who  was once told thatI did not deserve my cap and gown from a teacher —  becoming an English major studying to be an educator, and now a journalist, I am inspired!

I remember back in middle school sitting behind another student and watching my teacher at the front of the room, going on and on about something I did not understand. Then when I looked at the students around me,  some were dozing off, and maybe a student or two were sneaking their phones under the desk. 

And then it was the others. 

Some students are just daydreaming about lunch time, or staring at the clock waiting for the bell to ring.

 Every  time  I  sat  down  in  one  of  those  classrooms, my brain would explode. I was being suffocated by the whole structure of this place called school. So, what happens when you have a bunch of kids in a classroom that are bored and a teacher that doesn’t understand how to respond to the students? You get some noise, “disruptiveness” and no one is learning.

 And now everyone in our communities, neighborhoods, and all the facilities at our schools sign your children off as “they’re just bad, they don’t want to learn.”

 If you are a victim to this type of thinking, it’s time to put an end to it now, because in all honesty, the youth are masters at adapting to situations. They go to school and make a way for themselves to get through the day. 

Rather, it’s often because of stress going on at home caused by their parents arguing every day, going to bed hungry, not having money to get the things they need and so much more. Why are we so quick to give up on them, when we all are responsible for how our children are sent off to the world?

 It is time for parents, teachers,  and other adults that work alongside with our children to reflect and adapt to them. In the times we are living in, the youth need us more than ever, because the era of depending on the system to raise our children for us is over. We have given our children away to an education system that has drawn a thin line between school and prison. If your child is poor, the student is counted out. If your child is considered “bad,” he or she is counted out. If your child gets bad grades, they are counted out. If your child is Black, all of those things, according to the system, causes them to be counted out. Meaning what? 

That there is no love for these Black boys and girls –just police brutality and a broken system designed to tear them down. 

So, the change must start with you. The back to school plan currently is that some kids will go to school twice out of the week and then it’s remote learning. Also, according to Fox News, Tucker Carlson mentioned that in Washington, D.C they are considering taking students back by race. 

“Non-white kids will get to go back first, while white students will be ordered to stay home until the virus subsides,” he said.

 You thought segregation was gone? You thought wrong! Parents must take the time to get to know their children to have a better understanding of what they need and how you can help them cope with what the system is building against them. It’s our time to take advantage of the opportunities we have to become hands-on with our children and teach them what the schools do not. 

Show them that it’s more than just slavery, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King when we talk about Black history. Give them the knowledge that they deserve . The next generation has to be aware of the inequality that goes on around them. 

It is time to present  them with a chapter out of their textbook they never read. The future for young Black boys and girls is bright but the world around them has counted them out automatically because of the color of their skin. 

 The majority of schools located where Black children live have less than those of our white counterparts,  as well as a poor quality of education. Extracurricular activities are slim to none. The textbooks and curriculum are already corrupted.  And the harsh reality is that even if your child attends a predominantly white school, they are subject to more racism than you think. 

Give the children the curriculum that they are expected to learn, then give them the unfiltered truth. 

While our children are learning from home, we must gain back control of our children’s future. Put ourselves in their shoes, understand our Black  youth are not bad kids, but kids that need creativity, inspiration, and guidance, not dictatorship and punishments. We all can change the narrative by giving them what the schools don’t, right in the comfort of our homes. 

Our time has come — set our youth free.

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