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Learning to teach students how to learn

Julianne Malveaux | 5/6/2013, 10:30 a.m. | Updated on 5/6/2013, 5:38 p.m.

Ivory Toldson, a professor at Howard University and a contributor to The Root also refutes the notion that African American students think learning is “acting White.” Most African American students, he says, are interested in attending college but may not because of cost factors. He also says that academic support should be provided to all students, and that the way to close achievement gaps is to “reduce racial disparities in income and to increase equity and inclusion in education.”

For a great deal of students the issue is not “acting White,” but being connected to educational options and outcomes. One of the more important factors in student achievement is parental involvement, yet many parents find themselves “too busy” or too uninformed to interact with teachers. One study says that parents don’t necessarily have to help with homework, but simply to reinforce that homework should be done, and to be inquisitive about it. Unfortunately, many parents, frustrated with the school system, write it off. Further, too many of our community organizations don’t sufficiently emphasize education, or if they do, don’t get into the “down and dirty” of it, preferring to raise much-needed scholarship funds than to take a young person by the hand and guide them through the next steps to education.

The majority of African American students are still first-generation college students. They aren’t always sure what the next steps are, and they often need help maneuvering through a system that their parents have no familiarity with. Too many smart students don’t have the parental and societal support they need to achieve. The United States falls way behind the rest of the world when we don’t value students who have the potential to be high-achievers, regardless of race or ethnicity. We further disservice ourselves as a nation when we fail to value those who have the intelligence to change our world.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is president emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.