By Frederick Dakarai
The Council on Educating Black Children with board member, Pastor Linda Gaskin presented an interesting community forum at North Division last Thursday early evening where Principal Jeff Gaddis was the host.
There was a panel of 8 high school students of which 3 were recent graduates, three males and five females who talked openly and honestly about their educational experiences in high school and their perceptions of the quality of education they have been receiving.
(Twins) Tierra & Teri Bender – Pius High School
Kinha Morgan – graduated Riverside University High School
Kenyonna Glass – Custer High School
Lamar Jude – Custer High School
Sheldon Fountain – Washington High School
Erica Jones – graduated from a small choice school
Jermy Triblett – graduated Milwaukee School of the Arts
The forum started with the question “Why did you come here tonight?”
Erica Jones stated that the reason she came was because she disagrees with the entire education system. Tierra Bender stated that there needs to be a “build up” in the education system and she wants to have input in that change. Kinha Morgan was looking for information and wanted to be “taught”. Jermy Triblett was there because he doesn’t want just “principals and teachers to make all the decisions”.
Another interesting question: “What can schools do to improve?”
Tierra Benton: Teachers need to act like they’re interested in teaching; Interested in being there for the day, explaining if you (the teacher) don’t want to be there, then why should I (the student)?
Teri Benton: Be interested in what you’re teaching; Don’t distribute a packet of work, ask if there any questions then wait for completion and that is it!
Kinha Morgan: Wants the teachers and administrators to build relationships with the students. She emphasized the disconnect and lack of communication with students by administration.
Kenyonna Glass: We (students) have to act like we want it (education). If we don’t then the teacher is going to fail. She then tells of a past situation where a teacher told the class, “If you don’t want to learn, that’s ok with me, I’m going to get paid either way!” Teachers need to open up more and show that they care.
Lamar Jude: Wants teaching to evolve and center around the learning style of the student. He wants innovation in teaching and not the same methodologies and teaching methods of the past. He stated that “9 out of 10 students who don’t learn is because the teaching style doesn’t motivate the student to learn.”
Sheldon Fountain: Feels that teachers talks down to students; He wants, “…the teachers to stop treating students like babies!” He wants to be treated like an adult and not someone to be belittled or patronized.
Erica Jones: Wants teachers to communicate and be more “in-tune” with students and understand why work may not be turned in; Or investigate or question and become more involved with students, not just the surface layer of the student but, the core of the student.
Jermy Triblett: Put the focus on both teacher and student. The student, since they are there to learn, then do what you have to do to learn. He continued and stated that he would like teachers to encompass more and vary techniques of teaching if the present style is not working for students.
The student panel showed a sincerity and absolute thirst for knowledge. They spoke for almost two hours about varied issues of education. Lamar Jude and Sheldon Fountain both were skeptical about the entire system of public education and whether the system was set-up for African Americans to fail.
Lamar Jude posed a question to the crowd: “If you (older generation) knew and know what the problems (in education) are, then why are we here (still discussing it years later)?”
There was a pleasant differing of opinion between the Bender sisters and Mr. Fountain on the question of whether private schools were better than public. The Bender sisters saw past some of the positive stereotypes of high-profile private schools and stated that there is no to little difference; Mr. Fountain retorted with a common sense response and referred to the percentage of students accepted to college to get his point across.
Keyonna Glass told the forum that students just want to be loved and go to school looking for that love they may not be getting at home. She is also a young businesswoman leading her company, Showtime Skills Entertainment.
To add to the diversity of thought, Jermy Triblett, talked about education being a “selfpursuit” and one will get out the search for education what one is willing to put into getting that education one wants.
Education consultant Dr. Jerry Fair, Fair Exchange Consulting, states “What needs to be addressed is why Milwaukee does not have a “set” agenda for it’s children as a whole. We know what our problems are with the dropout rates, the worst 8th grade test scores in the nation, high teen pregnancy rate etc.
The educational system in Milwaukee should be treated as an epidemic. The teacher’s union is still impeding it’s Principals from properly evaluating teachers and their abilities and counseling them out of this profession. Basically they are unprepared to deal with the urban child we now have in our schools. The colleges also need to address this issue with more urban school programs. Very few Black people want to teach due to low pay and, the new certification issue can be seen as a way to keep our Black folks from getting certified. As a person coming from the public system and going to private, I saw the injustices reaped on our children with predominantly white teachers.
The forum was slightly restrictive and controlled as the audience couldn’t make comments nor ask the students direct questions. The Council to Educate Black Children needs to be applauded for organizing a forum for the community to get direct feedback from students and giving the students an audience to vent their frustrations; There needs to be many more student focused forums to improve the education system in Milwaukee.