Thursday, October 29, 2009

For the concerns of Black parents

There was a time when college was not the rule but the acceptation for all citizens in the United States. What does this mean? This means that if you were one of the fortunate to be able to survive without tilling the fields or manufacturing goods then you might have had the opportunity to attend a college. Not, of course, if you were African American. Taken from Edwin Grant Dexter’s History of Education in the United States, from 1776 to 1900, the US population grew 30 times larger (from 2.5 million), the number of institutions of higher education increased 20 times (from 13), the number of instructors 170 times (from ~100) and the number of students grew 47 times (from ~2000). In that same time the revenues and properties of educational institutions increased 200 TIMES (from ~$1,000,000). All of this growth was spearheaded by private donations, government subsidies and imported wealth. Throughout all this time and growth, very little effort was put forth to provide for the education of African American citizens thus creating a population and a culture of people today of which the majority do not consider education as valuable and a means to success. These African Americans are made to function in a society that increasingly requires a college education to succeed and that sees higher education an investment in the future of our country. Not until 1862 and the Morrill Act were there more than three colleges established for the formal education of African American men and women. Cheyney and Lincoln Universities in Pennsylvania and Wilberforce College in Ohio were established in 1837, 1854 and 1856 respectively. There are 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and since the Higher Education Act of 1965 an additional 75 predominately Black institutions in this country. Given the inadequate start and stagnant growth you can see there is no time to waste.

As an educator I value what I have to teach but I value more my student’s ability to grasp the value of and responsibility to higher education. This is not a place to play! Singing songs, dancing, carousing with new and interesting people at our institutions has its place in college life. However, there has to be a consciousness from time to time of the objectives and goals that have been set in the educational process. High school students fail to realize that in choosing a college, a major, a professional objective you have set in motion a path to timely success or prolonged aggravation on that road to success. Regardless of the path you chose, you can succeed, but at what cost? Colleges, majors and professional goals that are very challenging will inhibit your success just as those that are not so challenging will leave you unprepared. Appropriate counseling should be sought and heard in order to help you determine your goals if they are unclear. You must have longterm goals and short term objectives. A journey with no established end will feel like an endless journey.

If you are entering high school know that high school has now become the new college. Grasping ones talents and interests at an earlier and earlier age has fueling the need for students to mature quickly or at least be mindful of their need to seek guidance for their future. If you’re in high school this means that you will need to make an effort with support to understand your gifts and talents, your career objectives and goals and to make a plan. This is much too young to make an accurate self-assessment in my opinion but this is the society we live in. Students must not isolate themselves from the world as teenagers are so prone to do. Networks of support must be deliberately established early on for guidance and direction. Why should you go to college? There is little choice. We still have a lot of catching up to do.

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