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Parents on a mission for high-quality education

Will the Black community ever receive equal access in schools?

Gigi Tinsley | 9/5/2013, 9 a.m.
At six o’clock in the evening last Tuesday, the Fellowship Hall on the grounds of the Urban League [8400 NW ...
T. Willard Fair chats with Step Up for Students representative, Troy Bell. Photo courtesy Troy Hall

At six o’clock in the evening last Tuesday, the Fellowship Hall on the grounds of the Urban League [8400

NW 25th Ave.] in Liberty City was nearly filled to capacity. The noise level was several decibels high when Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, School Board Member District 2, went to the podium to introduce the evening’s moderator, T. Willard Fair, Urban League-Miami, director. The conversation centered on the dismal academic achievements of Black students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools [M-DCPS]. And before the meeting began, parents and teachers alike told this reporter that one of the greatest challenges facing Black families today is classroom instruction that fails to prepare them for college or the work force.

Panelists included: Bruce Jones, University of South Florida; Glenton Gilzean, Step Up for Students; Troy Bell, Students First Florida; and Isha Haley; Black Floridians C.A.R.E. Teachers appeared to outnumber parents by about a 10 percent margin. Few students were present.

“African-American children rank 49th in academic achievement and 40th in student funding,” Jones said during his power point presentation. “Prisons and jails are being used as an alternative to educating our children.”

When asked by one teacher in the Miami-Dade Public Schools [M-DPS] system whether there was more current data available than his 2008 statistics, Jones replied, “No, but I can assure you that there has not been that improvement.”

Jones noted that he was encouraged by the large turnout of parents and teachers. Speaker after speaker representing the views of parents, approached the podium to share their views. But after hearing the views of the panelists, several teachers said they felt they were being “put down,” and “disrespected.” On

several occasions, Fair was forced to call for order so that the

Parental concerns

Denise Covington, 48, a graduate of Miami-Dade College and the mother of a 14-year-old girl that attends M-DPS says that while kids can use electronic devices, they still cannot write a simple sentence.

“Our children are not giving the type of in-class performance that teachers once demanded,” she said. “It seems that the school system has lost the sense of pride they once had and students see too many poor examples.”

Edna Smoak, 46, has two children in M-DPS and said she had “mixed feelings” about Tuesday night’s audience.

“I didn’t like the disruptions and I feel that there should be diversity in the schools, so that the children can learn to get along with each other,” she said. “We also need the best teachers and fully-equipped schools like you will find in other communities.”