As I think of resolutions for the New Year, I am often brought back to the one thing that can make the lives of black youth better: a decent education. I have been lucky enough to be placed in positions to allow me to contextualize my own history and educational trajectory, and ultimately have been able to attend institutions that have prepared for the rigors of this society. However, this is not the case for many black youth around the country who are often forgotten when it comes to fair and decent education.
Acceptance to college, though important, can become a monumental challenge especially for students facing hardships that influence their academic performance in high school. The academic performance of students in inner city schools is often erroneously thought to be based solely on the student’s personal agency. I believe the contrary. Educational success can be tracked to the concentration of poverty that the student lives in, how well the student trusts his or her teachers, and how safe that student feels in his or her community and school.
I often wonder what the relationship between the student’s concentration of poverty and their academic achievement (measured by cumulative GPA) is and how student safety relates to those variables. When looking at inner city schools across the country it has been made abundantly clear that it matters less what the student brings into the school and more on the relationships they cultivate inside of the school (ex: teacher-trust).These relationships impact their academic performance. In light of this, it seems as though school boards around the country should recommend the improvement of teacher-trust in schools as a way of fostering academic achievement in the students.
Some of the leading academics argue that the poverty level of the school the student goes to is more important than the neighborhood the student comes from, so we can infer from this that it is important not only to focus on the school itself, but to take the whole neighbor into account.
I think if I had one New Years resolution that I could make come true, it would be to take into consideration how the larger societal issues correlate to education and how relationships inside the school can create a better system for everyone. And if we know that relationships matter most inside of the school, then parents, students, teachers, principals, and community members should be brought inside of the school to help build those relationships.
Furthermore, it is no secret that resources are critical. This is something that cannot be placed on the backburner of any recommendation to a school or district. We must make sure funding and resources between schools are equal and of quality. One resource that could be developed, would be a course specifically focused on schools with poor teacher-student relationships, which would provide resources and information on how to improve students’ trust in teachers. This will not only make schools better, but it would be one of the first times in my life that I new years resolution has actually be followed through.