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Saturday, April 20, 2024

The EduVerse with ProfessorJBA: The state of Black learning 2023

Jason Allen
Jason Allen
Jason B. Allen is an educator and education reporter. He attended school in Atlanta, K-12, and is a graduate of the University of West Georgia and earned a B.A. in English and M.A. in special education.

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I’ve seen many things change over my 19 years in education; from chalkboards to dry erase boards, textbooks to tablets, public schools to public charter schools. However, throughout all these changes, things haven’t changed at all, and that’s how Black children are viewed in public education.

Depending on where you live in America, your school district and community schools may have exceptional student achievement data. Indiana for example ranks very high in literacy proficiency across the nation.

But beyond the data, I ask Black parents across Indiana, “What is the state of Black learning in a system that hasn’t changed its view of Black children?”

The State of Black Learning Conference was held recently in Pittsburgh, Aug. 9-11, and it was amazing. I plan on submitting a presentation proposal on the “State of Black Learning and Black Families.” As we’re supporting, advocating for and elevating the voices of Black teachers, educators and innovators, we can’t take for granted what the system is.

As we celebrate the graduation of Black students from public schools, we can’t ignore the trauma they are also exposed to by simply trying to get to the finish line known as graduation.

Black parents can’t forget that our children are matriculating through a system that would like to allow Black children to be taught in public schools and had to be educated in small, overcrowded, single-room grammar schools. The same system that segregated schools to widen educational gaps, withholding educational resources, funding and opportunities to Black children. A system that desegregated schools in attempts to displace Black teachers, children and families into predominantly white spaces, forcing them to assimilate and abandon liberation and unity of Black educational advancement.

During the State of Black Learning Conference, we heard from Black innovators in education, such as 8 Black Hands Podcast members, Nikki Giovanni, Dr. Dia Jones and more. The sessions were filled with information, testimonies and strategies of how we continue moving the needle in STEM, literacy, AI, workforce development and building for the future.

One thing made clear by renowned poet and activist Nikki Giovanni is that we cannot forget the state of Black learning in America’s public schools.

We have always had independent, some private, some Christian, some African-based, schools that have educated our children. The fight for public schools while denying Black parents access to school choice isn’t in our best interest collectively.

I challenge Black parents to support independent, Black-led and -owned charters and magnet schools as well as local community schools. Every school offers something different, and all Black children, like all children, learn differently.

The argument that other schools take funds from public schools is tied to state budgeting and is an issue of how states have their school funding formulas designed. The schools aren’t shifting the dollars, the system is.

A system that in present day is pushing hundreds of Black students into the human sex trafficking, school to prison, and juvenile to prison pipelines and into poverty and homelessness.

Moving into the 2023 – 2024 school year, the state of Black learning is critical. I’m encouraging Black parents to not lose sight of liberation.

Hold your local school board accountable to not defund cultural arts programs when research shows how Black children thrive in spaces where they can creatively express themselves, which helps center them physically, mentally and emotionally.

Ensuring school boards are paying teachers and educators livable and competitive wages because many incoming teachers and critical support staff persons, including bus drivers, social workers and parent liaisons, oftentimes receive less than $20-30 thousand dollars a year, which is working poor classification.

We need the public school system to do the right thing by students, parents, teachers and educators if we’re truly going to see the advancement of Black people educationally and economically.

This is crucial to the elevation of the state of Black learning!

Contact Indy Kids Winning reporter Jason B. Allen at jasona@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter ProfessorJBA.

Jason’s work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more.

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