An Education for Liberation Vision for the 21st Century
By S. E. Anderson
Coalition for Public Education
National Black Education Agenda
We live in a land of institutionalized miseducation dedicated to upholding white supremacy, sexism and capitalism. Hence, the goal of American education is to make sure our children— our Black and Brown children— are miseducated to hate themselves and see prison and shopping as their route to adulthood… their “rite of passage” for the 21st Century.
Blackfolk have always fought for quality education for Liberation. In the 18th Century, we were the ones who created America’s first public schools in Philadelphia and New York City. These school were open not only to the multitude of poor Black children, but also open to all the working-class white children. The success of these free schools led white politicos to embrace the notion of free public schools by the mid to late 19th Century.
Then when chattel slavery was abolished in the South, again it was Blackfolk who pushed for free public schools for all children and adults. And during Reconstruction, they succeeded in bringing forth millions of educated children and adults… many thousands of whom went on to college or highly skilled jobs and business professions. But, with the betrayal of Black Reconstruction by white liberal politicians North and South, all this education progress was reversed and driven into the creation of segregated schools of which all the Black schools had inferior everything— except the dedicated Black teachers, they would make do with meager stuff they had to give their poor Black students as much quality education as they could in the short time they would have them. You see, during the 19th and most of the 20th Century, most Southern Black children would be in school until the 3rd or 4th grade because they had to work to help bring in some money.
But, in spite of this tremendous hardship and Jim Crow’s various forms of violence Blackfolk produced many brilliant men and women who went on to help shape their communities, the Civil Rights/Black Liberation Movements and the Black Education System.
That legacy of Black Brilliance is still with us today in this age of privatizing public education and further dumbing down the curriculum of the masses. We have among us some of the most knowledgeable educators in the US and the world. Their expertise can help us reshape our public schools into havens of Black Brilliance for the sake of our Liberation and not the youth consumers and digital zombies glued to their devices that Capital demands.
Today, we have to fight against deep anti-intellectualism that has been normalized within our youth culture. Conscious Black teachers are our frontline soldiers in this battle for our children’s minds. But so are Black Parents! Our challenge today is to raise the literacy rate of our parents as we help them actively engage in their child’s school.
Nobody is going to educate our children but US! White supremacy coupled with capitalism has shown us—over and over again—all they have to offer the past two generations of Black Children is the infamous school-to-prison pipeline.
We have to move forward with a Vision of what we want our schools to look, feel, sound and smell like. Here are a few visions--
• Success in school will be measured in how many of the children go on and graduate from college or have mastered a highly skilled craft.
• Success in school will be measured by how joyfully noisy and colorful the school building is inside and out.
• Success in school will be measured by the many parents- regardless of race and nationality- want their children to be at their neighborhood school... even if it is in the heart of Harlem, Atlanta, DC, South Chicago, Watts, St Louis, Miami, or Philly...
• Success in school will be measured by the many parents crowding all of the PTAs, SLTs, school committees and Parent Union meetings and activities.
• Success in school will be measured in how the community is an integral part of the daily activities at the school: from dietary support to cultural and athletic contributions along with active participation on school committees.
• Success in school will be measured by increasing levels of teacher retention and increasing teacher recruitment from the neighborhood.
• Success in schools will be measured by how the students, teachers and staff work together to make the school an environmentally safe zone that, in turn, expands that zone to encompass the school’s neighborhood.
• Success in school will be measured by how the students are directly involved in the daily running of their school.
• Success in school will be measured by how the education staff reflects the cultural reality of the children in the school as well as how many of the educators live in the neighborhood.
• Success in school will be measured by the growing numbers of musicians, artists and athletes graduating.
• Success in school will be measured by how great the food taste in the cafeteria.
• Success in school will be measured by how the schoolyard is use for fun and exercise instead of a parking lot for teachers’ cars.
• Success in school will be measured by how so few students race to get away from the school at the end of classes.
… I’m sure you have some Visions that you can add to this outline. Please do so. And more importantly, join us in the Fight for Black Education for Black Liberation!