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An African-American, Former DOE Employee And Father Of Seven, Explains How To Close The Achievement Gap
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From: Willis Papillion (e-mail him)
Re: Steve Sailer's Column: The IQ Gap, The "Test" Gap And Jack O'Connell
I am a 72-year-old Black American and former employee of the U.S. Department of Education
I have witnessed and experienced the catastrophic failure of 25 years of federal and state education dollars wasted on forced bussing and other educational misadventures.
More untold millions were squandered on federal research studies conducted with the blessing of the NAACP that concluded, incorrectly, that our black children would learn better in wealthy white schools—as if through some magical process of osmosis.
The net result was not more education but psychological damage to black youths.
My wife and I raised our seven children in the large school districts in northern California during the period from the 1960 to the 1980s.
All seven graduated and four went on to college.
We accomplished this through strong parental involvement and high academic expectations. At the same time, I was earning my MSW from UC Berkeley as well as my community college counseling and teaching credentials.
And my wife was working and earning her BA in Human Resources at California State Hayward. Our example spurred our children to greater academic success than their peers.
Admittedly, academic achievement is a lot harder when your primary language is not English.
But from my perspective, as a parent and as a former staff member of in the U.S. Department of Education, I caution Hispanics whose children are under-performing not to make the same mistake blacks made.
Don't transfer your children to affluent white schools. Hispanics need neighborhood schools—just as we did.
Based on my more than 35 years of experience on the public education front, I make the following suggestions:
- First identify all the fatherless, low-performing, and low-income students. Next, meet with the custodial parent; get her permission to re-connect their absent fathers into the daily educational development of the children.
Fatherless students bring a host of mental health problems that not only affect their learning--but that of the entire classroom. My "Re-Connection Fatherless" proposal I developed while a Corporate Board member of Washington State's Kitsap Mental Health Services in 2005 will be provided to any reader upon request.
- Give incarcerated fathers a computer so that they can communicate with their children. And give them heavily supervised time off to establish a good relationship with their children.
- Release all the working parents, on a rotating base to be involved in their children daily educational development. To accomplish this, work closely with your local Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable because they're the ones that employ the parents.
- Mandate parent involvement for all parents on public assistance--least they jeopardize their entitlements. My "Parental Duty / Involvement" study will also be furnished to interested readers upon request.
Once these concepts are implemented, they will result in a substantial reduction in dropouts. Students start psychologically dropping out in the ninth grade, mainly because they can't connect with either the worlds of either work or school.
If you can show some of these students the light at the end of the tunnel; they will be more eager to learn!
To do anything less is to further sentence our minority students to second-class status—again!
Papillion, who lives in Washington State, has been active in the Republican Party since he first volunteered for President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He is currently a member of Washingtonians for Immigration Reform.
His previous letter about the link between high immigration and low wages for black workers is here.