American Education

You Gotta Love Me to Improve Me: The Cry of Black Male Students

The extant professional literature has extensively evinced that Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline (See Jerlando F.L. Jackson’s “Toward Administrative Diversity: An Analysis of the African-American Male Educational Pipeline”). Limited research exists on what impact the level of love teachers have for the profession has on Black male students’ learning outcomes. People will ask how are you going to measure love for the profession. One of the important ways to measure a teacher’s love for the profession is to ask him or her how important of a problem is it to him or her that Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline. Next, one can ask the teacher what is he or she doing to ameliorate this problem. I think that gaining answers from teachers on those two questions are important steps to gaining a qualitative understanding of where teachers stand on the problem of Black male academic underachievement.

Given that America has been a historically racist nation and continues to be a racist nation, I contend that it is vital to engage White teachers with queries that seek to understand how they feel about the quandary of Black male academic underachievement. In no way am I trying to call all White teachers racists. It’s just a reality that most students are educated by White teachers in America. The existing scholarly literature needs to benefit from qualitative research that examines the perceptions of White teachers about the problem of Black male academic underachievement. We need to understand what percentage of them really views this as a serious problem. We also need to know why White teachers think this problem exists. These questions need to be asked to White teachers because we need to uncover the level of investment they have in Black male students throughout the educational pipeline.

It is very possible that one of the foremost contributing factors to Black male academic underachievement could be many White teachers’ lack of a strong investment in Black male academic success. As we look to further identify the most significant factors that contribute to Black male academic underachievement, we cannot be afraid to ask questions that might be offensive to people. If people get offended when you are solemnly exploring questions aimed at buttressing Black male academic achievement, then that’s just tough for them. It seems that there are not enough people getting offended about Black males academically lagging behind all students throughout the educational pipeline. That’s what we need to get offended about! Therefore, if you get offended when I start asking you whether or not you really love Black male students, then you will just have to be offended.

I am not going to let Black teachers off the hook either. If you really love the members of your community and are looking to uplift your community, then what are you doing to advance Black male education? What are you doing to support positive educational experiences and outcomes for Black males? What are you doing special for them to meet their special realities? I don’t want to hear this crap about having to treat them the same as everyone else. If you have that kind of mindset, then you really don’t care about them because they are not just like everyone else—they are the most academically underperforming students throughout every grade level.

I encourage you to do whatever you can to help to ameliorate Black male academic achievement throughout the educational pipeline. We can keep more Black men off the streets, out of gangs, out of prisons, and off of drugs when we take the initiative to dedicate ourselves more to ensuring that they have positive educational experiences and outcomes. I will continue to posit that the American education system is failing until I see a substantial improvement in Black male academic achievement throughout the educational pipeline. Black boys and men are worth more than the gargantuan profits they can produce for you on football fields and basketball courts.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Responding to Dr. Marc Lamont Hill on Sex Education

In a recent article (http://theloop21.com/society/sex-education-or-sexuality-education-danger-of-saving-ourselves), Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University professor, contended that abstinence-only sex education is “ineffective,” “flawed,” and “dangerous.” Just as I disagreed with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill for “hating” Drake, I also disagree with his opposition to abstinence-only sex education. Dr. Hill is one of the leading public intellectuals of our time and someone I deeply admire. As much as I respect, admire, and appreciate the work of Dr. Hill, I cannot disagree more with him on abstinence-only sex education.

As a person who experienced sex education in high school, I found that it only increased the desire of everyone in the class to engage in sex—risky sex at that. How do I know this? Everyone said it! We never had the opportunity to experience abstinence-only sex education in my high school. Although that we know that our young people are having sex at early ages, we cannot give up on promoting abstinence-only in the classroom and in curriculums. Pre-K – 12 should instill in our children character—not hand them a condom.

The decision to tell children about condoms and how to prevent getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) should be left to parents to decide. Parents do not send their children to school to have teachers telling them all kinds of things about condoms and how to prevent getting an STD. Our children should receive an education that teaches the best and brightest aspects about life and America. Even from the advent of American education, character education has been a mainstay. We should never give up on telling our children to just say no to sex while they are still in the Pre-K-12 educational pipeline. Schools should be promoting civil behavior—not saying, “Hey, if you’re going to go ahead and have sex, make sure that you put on a condom.” Children are exposed to so many dangers when we assume that they are going to have sex anyway.

We have to continue to promote abstinence-only sex education because we must insist that our children are going to be responsible individuals who wait until they have graduated from high school before they have sexual intercourse. Now, Dr. Hill certainly believed in the rhetoric of hope that then Senator Obama was selling, so I expect for him to have hope that abstinence-only sex education can be the most effective and appropriate form of sex education we can deliver to our students. Although comprehensive sex education may sound like we are fully education our children about sex, I contend that this is an improper thing for schools to do. Schools should leave the more controversial aspects of sex education to children’s parents.

Do you really want some man or woman in a classroom telling your child how to use a condom? If we devote more time, resources, and money to abstinence-only sex education, then we can see better results emerge and we can see it become more effective. The problem is you have people like Dr. Hill saying that it is not enough, and this ends up having such an influence on curriculum developers. Dr. Hill, why don’t you just dedicate more time to thinking about better ways to make abstinence-only sex education more effective instead of trying to demean it as you have in the aforementioned article? In your criticism of Drake, Dr. Hill, you say that he “leaves much to be desired.” On this issue, I say that you leave much to be desired. You are still one of my favorite and most admired public intellectuals, however.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison