American 'Promise': unearthing the inequalities of our education system - Purdue Exponent: Features

American 'Promise': unearthing the inequalities of our education system

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Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:00 am

An event at the Black Cultural Center Wednesday discussed the achievement gap black males face, keeping them from excelling as quickly as others.

The event began with a screening of “American Promise,” a documentary that follows two parents, their son and his best friend for 13 years; both boys attended The Dalton School, a prestigious private school. The film exposes issues of racism and classism within the United States.

According to the film, black males are less likely to obtain a college degree and are more likely to be under-prepared and ineffective teachers. In addition, the film also said 52 percent of black male high schoolers graduated in four years, compared to 72 percent of white, non-Latino males.

Issues such as these were the main discussion of the panel that followed. Composed of Cason Brunt, assistant director of Student Success, Heather Moore, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies and Jason Ware, Ph.D Candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, the panel spoke to guests that felt strongly about the issues presented.

“I think what this movie taught me is that even if you go to a prestigious school, you can still face issues as a person of color,” Moore said during the panel discussion. She said that we must find ways to solve the issues instead of simply recognizing them.

The panelists also discussed special programs which can improve education and success rates for black males. They mentioned how support systems and educators that care matter; dedicated time from teachers and other academic staff can make a difference in students’ success.

“I think it’s important for black males to attend somewhere where someone is showing care and real interest in their well-being,” Ware said.

Brunt described some schools as icebergs, where you can see part of their appearance, but a large part is hidden. For example, he said that while a school with high graduation and success rates may look great, the high standards can end up disqualifying and removing students from the positive environment.

The panelists also expressed the importance of investing in programs for K-12; if a child doesn’t believe they can make it early on, or are told they can’t, there is a likelihood they will internalize that belief.

“If you don’t focus on K-12 education, you might not even make it to college or higher education,” Moore said.

Near the end of the event, the audience was divided into groups, and each group discussed responses to the documentary in a breakout session. This ensured everybody had a chance to share their thoughts and brought even more viewpoints to the discussion.

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