The President spoke at the NAACP and again harped on the need to push for education to help African Americans advance and strive. He actually said a lot of areas that are needing improvement to help minorities survive and do well, but as a teacher, I tend to think about education.
Education is a big part of the "race" problem, but there is more.
When kids can't focus in school because they have to worry about what is going on at home,or are up late due to a second or third job they have to work to raise money for the family, or they are taking care of small siblings instead of doing their homework, there is no way for them to succeed in school. The system is not designed to help these people. There are some areas that have assistance for students like these, but in my state (MO) the governor has said that he will not fund education in areas that did not vote for him (St.L and KC to be specific). These are the areas with large black populations. These are areas where parents need more than just to try on their own to help their children.
These are the areas where there are less wealthy kids who have nothing to worry about but what new items they will buy and what new drugs they will try as they sit at home and do their homework while watching "The Hills" and "NYC Prep".
Even the educators cause problems. Many of them are not really looking out for the minority students. Many of them punish unnecessarily the brown kids. (You should look at the disproportionate number of referals for brown kids -- and many of the write ups are for little issues that a good teacher should be able to address in the class.) If you go into any in-school-suspension room in this area, no matter what the racial distribution is of the school (it could be 95% white) there are more brown faces sitting in there. These kids are the ones who miss class, who miss assignments because the teachers are tired of sending work to ISS to help these kids succeed while they are out of the classroom.
So then you have to wonder about some of the administrators. Why are they allowing this type of discrepancy in suspensions (in and out of school) to occur? Why are they not teaching teachers how to deal with classroom management? Why are they not making sure that teachers send work to the kids who are in ISS? And when some do send work, why are they not making sure that the work is meaningful and relevant to what the students in the class are working on so that the student is not falling behind the material?
There are a few more liberal teachers in the profession who care about kids and push them to do better. But I am starting to wonder, for what?
These teachers want the students to go through a system in a way that they themselves did not, and in a way that they themselves would never want their children to go through. These kids often have so many struggles out side of school that the teachers cannot help with.
We need to get the community, and the government, and the people who create minimum wage laws, and the landlords who charge way more in rent than is necessary in the area, and landlords who kick people out of their homes in order to build fancier, more expensive condos, and the repo people involved in caring about these people's lives. We need to get police officers who are not going to harass and arrest young people hanging out in the Loop having a good time just because their are more than 5 brown young men together. We need more organizations like College Summit (which my brother works for) who will help young people get into college. We need to get people who will help these students once they get into college, who will hire brown people once they finish college. (Why do I know so many brown lawyers, and other professions who have the highest degrees possible, but cannot get hired full time in their field? Brown people who have given up on trying to "get a job" and instead are trying to start businesses with little start up money since they do not fit the diversity model of the companies they are "overqualified" to work for?) We need to create a community of brown people who are willing to work together to help each other in their times of need. People who will share their resources (not just money, here) to help others.
Until all of these (and more) people work together, there is really not that much more that I, and my fellow good educators, can do to ensure these students better lives in school, or success out of school.