Kasserian Ingera! (Are the Children Well)
“You see, our issue is that somewhere, right now the future is being colonized by a people who have the resources, who do spend time thinking about it, planning for it, and trying to shape it in their direction.
It is easy to talk about the long range when you are not struggling for survival. I recognize that people who have their backs against the wall must think about the immediate.
But I also recognize that the failure to devote some attention to the long range presses your back against the wall even more. Such failure means that decisions made are frequently counterproductive and chosen strategies frequently lead to disaster.
As hard as it is, I think some attention to the long-range future is absolutely critical for any organization or any group in society trying to fight for a better place in that future.”— Alvin Tofler
From Sleep to Awoken to Woke to Work!
The first thing we must awaken from is the notion that the gap has to do with achievement. The gap that exists is an opportunity gap. I am sorry that all of my material has not been updated. The Opportunity Gap is a new concept that I am transitioning to, so if you follow some of our links, you will still see the term Achievement Gap. Please know that I am talking about the Opportunity Gap that exist for Children of Color. We have to ensure that the opportunities for success are available. Then we have to ensure that we are doing all that we can to take advantage of those opportunities. For the sake of simplicity, I like to think of education in this light. The schools receive $10,000 to educate a child (not an accurate number, but close enough for this analogy). But the disparities in education means that one child will take $12,000 worth of opportunities to advance their education whereas another child will only get $8,000 worth of opportunities. We have to ensure that are children are getting their opportunities.
In our sleep (from sleep to awoken), I think we have been looking at the wrong part of the equation. We have been looking at why are black children not achieving as much as other kids, when what we need to awaken to “how much opportunity are black children being given to succeed”. I have a friend that often reminds me that the fish aren’t the problem, the lake is polluted. From Sleep, to Awoken, to Woke, to Work, this is a call for collective work.
The best things I have ever done as a parent came at the suggestion of others. I can’t believe they don’t give you a manual when your child is born but they want you to be well prepared when you get a new car. They slapped the baby, but to be honest, I wish somebody had slapped me. We are mentored as parents, we either do what our parents did, or we promise not to be like them. That is usually the best we get. I submit to you that there are some parents out here, doing some things for their children that I never considered. There are some strategies being applied that no one ever told me about. I think the lower you are on the socio-economic trajectory, the less information you get. We think that the schools will educate our children. This is true but not without our partnership. This isn’t intentional, this is a by-product that we hang around folks based on class. Business Owners hang around other business owners. Middle Class folk have more middle class friends. And it is obvious that Business Owner think differently than Employees. College Graduates think differently than High School Graduates. I don’t think we have to waste time proving these points. Notice I didn’t say they were better, I just said they think differently. I remember an old friend telling me, Darryl, when you learn better, you can do better. There is no shame in saying I need to know more, especially when it comes to the education of my children. And if you are making all the right moves and you don’t need any help, then your community needs you. Because at the time of this writing, approximately 36% of black children in the Ann Arbor Schools are proficient at grade level. That means 64% are below proficient or failing. And this isn’t new news, this is old news and has been going on for years. My call to action is that we must do something about this.
In the journey to build this platform, we came across this group called Research Institute. Research Institute provides insight into four core areas: Schools, Families, Youth Programs, and Community Coalitions. Our original thought was Parents, Students, and Schools. It only makes sense that we need to consider the Community Coalitions also.
The Parent Network Supporting Students and Children of Color
As parents, we must organize and collaborate with all entities that have contact and provide support to our children. We must see all activity in a coordinated effort to impact our children toward their best future. The less I have, the more imperative this mandate becomes.
There are three very important aspects that I want to interject but will not go into detail here: Collaboration, Community Organizing, and Administration.
These issues are vital and I would like to include them as agenda items for our first meeting.
Build strong, connected families where young people learn to thrive.
The Power of Strong Families
Our research shows that the strength of relationships within families has a tremendous impact on how young people develop. Yet families often become disconnected as youth enter the critical transition years of middle school. Search Institute offers several research-based resources to build the capacity of family-serving organizations to help form developmental relationships between parenting adults and their children.
Read about how a neighborhood program in San Pedro, CA worked with families to help young people transition into their teen years.
Workshops & Training
Keep Connected Institute for Strengthening Family Relationships
Keep Connected is a research-based program that gives parents and their adolescent youth an opportunity to learn about keys to positive family relationships at a time as they move into middle and high school. This two-day training institute comes with curriculum to prepare an organization’s staff to launch the Keep Connected program in their school or community. This additionally features an online toolkit with marketing, recruitment and training resources to support programs through a successful launch of Keep Connected.
Engaging Families: A Relationships-Based Approach
This three-hour workshop introducing family organizations to a research-based approach that builds on family strengths to form developmental relationships.
Strengthening Family Relationships: A Workshop for Parenting Adults.
Parenting adults identify and celebrate their family’s strengths and intentional strategies for growing other strengths in this two-hour workshop.
Free Family Engagement Resource
Download a free mini course for engaging parents: Relationships that Matter: 5 Keys to Helping Your Child Succeed (Available in English and Spanish). With this single session, 80-minute workshop, you can help parents understand and focus on five areas of parent-child relationships that are key to youth’s success in school and other areas of life.
Further Workshops & Training
We will put on monthly workshops beginning August 2019. We have so many talented folks in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. I have a couple of workshops lined up, Racial Equity and Adverse Childhood Experiences. And then there are the workshops Research Institute offer. Of course their workshops cost. But this is why we need the finance and development committees.
It Takes a Village
This parent group could be that village. But today, I come to ask you to join me. I want us to do something that we have never done before. I want to create a formal organization whose mission is Kasserian Ingera (Are the Children Well). The mission of this group is the education of our children and how we will support that end.
Your call to action is to formalize our group. Will you join me?
Pa-moja tu-ta-shin-da (together we will win)!