And here I am, a Black woman, thinking about my own experiences with social-inequities within my years of education as a young, Black child.
As I read, AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) programs are great programs for students due to the academic-rigor of their curriculum, but their lack of accessibility with many urban and rural schools is problematic. Not only that, but many schools lack funding for these programs to be implemented. Now, when I was in high-school, I took two AP courses and thought they were rigorous. Shoot, I actually read in these classes. However, my high-school was suburban and the district had money to allocate towards this kind of program for its students. Honestly, they had every AP class you could think of. Interestingly, I was the only Black student in both of my classes. Yes, there were other Black kids, but I was the only one in my classes.
See, the tracking-system within many schools is egregious for inequities. For many students of color, you are placed on a lower-track and simply expected to take classes for graduation, if that. There’s not a real push for academic-excellence. Honestly, you’re just another face in a crowd of Black and Brown students.
My parents were pretty persistent in not tolerating racist and classist behavior from school-counselors, teachers and administrators. In seeing this kind of fight in my parents, I didn’t allow myself to fail nor to settle for an ‘okay’ grade. I worked hard in school. Yes, it was tough. On several occasions, I had to deal with racist peers and racist teachers. Heck, my school-counselor wasn’t very helpful at all.
As I think about accessibility and students of color, it is more than vital to have great educators and administrators within these systems of education. It’s never okay to simply pass students along or to simply get these ‘Black or Brown’ children out of here. In many instances, this is what I saw and heard from other peers. Black and Brown students at the high-schools I went to, they weren’t supposed to succeed. They weren’t supposed to graduate, honestly. They weren’t really supposed to be there.
As I grew older and went off to college, I started to reflect on my education from urban-Kansas City to the Parkhill School District. If I knew what I know now, I would’ve been a better peer to the other students that looked like me. The teachers weren’t really there for us. Maybe a few, but not too many. We were truly seen as outsiders in a school of middle to upper-class White students from affluent families. Yes, class does matter. Yes, race does matter. All of it matters.
And as I headed off to UMKC for my Bachelor’s and Master’s, I realized how political education is. Education is political. Education is unequal and unfair. Quality education isn’t afforded to everyone. And depending on the education you did receive, you may or may not get into the college or university that you want to get into in order to complete your years of higher-education. So, I do believe that there needs to be advocacy for Black and Brown kids, especially in urban-districts.
Hell, I believe there needs to be advocacy for Black and Brown kids in suburban-schools too. Hell, I was one of those Black kids in the suburbs that almost fell through the cracks of racism.