What Can We Do About The African American Achievement Gap?

I dove deep into the causes of the African American achievement gap in my first slate post. In that slate post, I explain how I found 4 major causes for this achievement gap. Those causes were home life, school, mental health, and the history of African Americans. I spoke of how African American children may have a stressful home life caused by financial issues and not enough guidance and love from their parents. I spoke on how ignored mental health is among the black community. Parents often dismiss their child or even ignore their own mental issues causing them to cause their own children harm. Treatments regarding the mentally ill seem to also be less effective on black people. It has to do with the difference in how African Americans are raised and their environment. In order to have effective treatment, people who work with the mentally ill would have to consider cultural and environmental differences. The history of African Americans has not been sweet. African Americans have experienced segregation in the past and African Americans are still going through it but in a different way. Predominantly black schools are severely underfunded and students are expected to thrive in a place where their building is falling apart.

Like I said in my last slate post, digging to find information on this topic is almost impossible. Although I was not able to find people who were working on a way to reverse this gap, I was able to find at most 3 websites going deeper into how to reverse this gap. I think that the website I’m going to reference is very informative and should be brought to the attention of more people. It talks about how teachers should be trained to deal with different cultural backgrounds. Teachers do not understand the role they play in a child’s life sometimes and this is one of those times. The website explains how teachers don’t understand the reason behind a child’s behavior and that can lead to them lowering their expectations of the child. How could this affect African American students? Well, as I explained in my slate post, when the teacher and parent give up, what do you think the child is going to do? Give up.

For my agent of change, I decided that I wanted to do a mini course with my classmate, Kyla. My initial thought was to educate teachers within SLA about how to interact with students from different cultural backgrounds so that they don’t go down a slippery slope. But then I thought a better method would be to target the youth. The youth are the people who will enter society not too long from now and they’re more likely to want to get up and do something about it. So what better way to spread my message than designing a mini course for freshmen? This was a big thing to do honestly. To design a whole lesson plan from scratch on our own? We had to go from student to teacher and it wasn’t easy. Me and Kyla had to figure out how long we wanted our mini course to be, what we would discuss, how much time we would each get, how our topics connected, and so much more. We also had to email Mr. Spry in order to approve our mini course. This project was a challenge, but fun. I also found amazing videos on things like generational trauma that almost made me tear up because of how real it was. Of course, we didn’t get a chance to put the mini course in action due to it being almost the end of the year but I do look forward to presenting it to the freshmen next year.

Screenshot 2021-05-27 1.12.48 AM
Screenshot 2021-05-27 1.12.48 AM

Our first email to Mr. Spry

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Screenshot 2021-05-27 1.13.01 AM

Our second email to Mr. Spry

This project was really cool and a great way to push yourself to learn something new or to learn more about something. I think this project was a good challenge and it feels really good to be able to feel like you can change something in the world. I learned about the unknown stress many African Americans go through. I even found myself realizing that I went through a lot of the stuff mentioned and yet I didn’t see how bad it actually was until now. So many things mentioned regarding the lack of achievement in the African American community, I’ve seen in real life. I learned that African Americans go through a lot as a whole and we ourselves fail to realize how bad our situation is.

If I were to do this project again, I would start the slate post early on and as I go. I feel like the project didn’t need to be fully done in order to like half the slate post. Regarding my agent of change, I would’ve started planning the lesson on the lesson plan doc first instead of writing in my book. The doc gave a lot of guidance and made everything 100x easier.

In order to see real change regarding this topic, we need awareness. That’s why I chose my agent of change in the first place. I want to see more people talking about this. I want to see people upset about this. I want schools and families to take a step back and reevaluate how they treat the youth when this is brought to their attention. What has to happen from here is quite obvious. We need more people to know about this, spread the word, find solutions to these issues, and then execute those solutions.