Here’s a Music Video I Did With Some of My Former Students in the South Bronx About the Drop Out Crisis
The Movement: Droppin Out
Recently, President Barack Obama pledged his efforts as well as $900 million to stop the national high school drop out crisis. The efforts of one leader and money are not enough to stop the problem, but it is a start.
The current education system offers no skills or career opportunities to the many minority students who occupy our inner city schools. While some may blame it on the “culture” of African Americans and our inner city, it is a problem created by the American educational students, not African American children.
We’ve seen the example of the British twins who set records on the National exam that led them to be the first children of their age admitted to high school. Their father gave the credit to a program that helps inner city children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and not to some sort of genius gene that allowed them to exceed academically. Surely if the U.S. had more programs like the ones in England, more African American students would have the chance to meet their academic accolades.
The urban education crisis is hardly a new one for years the American government has neglected the educational needs of the poor African Americans and Latinos who occupy many of our city centers.
It is no coincidence that the cities with the highest drop out rates also have the highest crime rates and highest murder rates. Students who are unable to obtain quality educations find opportunities in the world of drugs and crime. The cycle continues from one generation to another, in poor neighborhoods with poor schools plagued by by crime and no opportunity gives birth to another generation with the same problem.
Bailing out the urban educational system is not just a money problem. For too many years Americans have fought against things, communism, drugs poverty isn’t it time to fight for something? If Americans are to solve this problem first we must realize what a major problem it is and realize that the future of our country is at stake. As in most problems the solution must come from hard work, innovation as well as funding.
By baling out the urban education system we would not only reduce the crime rate, relieve our overcrowded jails and provide jobs for inner cities, we will also be breaking the cycle that keeps poor people of color in the same neighborhoods, repeating the same cycles of violence, drugs and poverty.
We have seen the heights a person of color can reach when given the proper education and opportunities in Barack Obama. How many future leaders, innovators, artists and businessman turn to crime or despair because of a lack of educational opportunities.
As someone who has worked in the some of the worst schools in Roxbury, Dorchester and the South Bronx, I’ve seen the overcrowded classrooms, the over-stressed, unprepared teachers, the metal detectors at the door, the gangs and lack of art and athletic programs to keep students interested in school. However I’ve also seen the desire to learn, the thirst for knowledge and the belief in the USA as a beacon of opportunity.
In Baltimore, students went on a hunger strike to protest the cuts in after school programs. John McCain said one thing that I agreed with during the campaign and that was that education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. While de jure segregation has been gone for more then 50 years from our public school system, the system is still inherently separate and unequal.
The few blacks and latinos lucky enough to live in neighborhoods with decent school systems have a fair chance at the American dream, the masses who are trapped in inner cities with few routes out. Because property taxes fund school systems, rich neighborhoods get lots of money to fund their schools while poor neighborhoods are forced to suffer, creating a class and race based form of de facto segregation.
Bailing out the urban education system will take more than money. It will take people willing to sacrifice and believe in the future of this country. If Obama can inspire people to work for him to get elected hopefully he will be able to inspire people to follow his lead and work as community organizers in urban neighborhoods.
Here’s some of the national High school Drop out Rates According to The Wall St. Journal
Baltimore: 65% of all students drop out
Chicago: 45% of all students drop out
Columbus: 60% of all students drop out
Detroit: 75% of all students drop out
Los Angeles: 43% of all students drop out
New York: 53% of all students drop out