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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What is a public school push out? Jada Williams' experience

 If you have been following my blog, you may have noticed that I keep mentioning public school push-outs.  Public school push-outs are kids that have been deemed unteachable by the school.  They used to be drop-outs, but since homeschooling became virulently popular, schools have instead taken efforts to make kids miserable, and to find reasons to push them out of schools, in many cases, they suggest "homeschooling" to the parent.

Well, a powerful student has now joined the ranks of a homeschool push-out.  I don't know what educational course is ahead of her, but for
now, she has been pushed out of public schools in Rochester NY and her mom had to quit her job to come home to educate her.

WHY?  Looks like she is to smart for own good.  She was given an essay assignment about Fredrick Douglass biography.  She internalized it, and wrote about it from her heart.  It was not pretty, but it was her experience and how she felt.  The teacher and schools turned on her, but fortunately the community has rallied around her.
(as an adult, I can see where she could have softened her essay... not using phrases like "white teachers" and such, but she wrote from her heart, about her experience, and as a 13 year old.  Now she's already an ANGRY BLACK WOMAN.

In case you can't understand every word in the video above, you can find the transcript here:  
(only read the comment sections if you want to be fueled by hate)

As a parent of black children and the aunt of dozens of black children, I would like to think that if this had been one of mine, that I would have insisted on a round table of dialogue and stood behind what my child felt, while explaining that maturity may have tempered the words on the paper.  I would like to have had a conversation about there being validity her feelings about school and her parallels drawn in the book.  I would like to have thought that I could have convinced the teachers to not take it personally, and to perhaps think about their expectations of black children, hopefully causing some progress in the schools.

As a former resident of Rochester NY, I know that my kids would have never been in Rochester Public schools.  I realize this is kind of elitist, but I saw how bad the public schools were, with 12 and 13 year old girls killing each other over boys and fighting outside even the best of schools.  I personally bought a house in a town with a better school district, and still sent my son to a Catholic preschool.  Rochester public schools were bad when I was there over a decade ago... and they are clearly still bad.

As a parent who has homeschooled for most of the past decade, I know that while I would like to talk and cajole, and affect change in schools, I know that I don't have the time or patience for people to come around.  If there is a problem with the school or the educational system, I can't leave my child there.  I would much rather influence schools from the outside without my kids being the test dummy.

But I have seriously digressed.

I have met far too many Jada Williams' in my travels.  There are a great many accidental homeschoolers who the schools offered to put in Special Ed at best so parents have no choice but to remove these "undesirable" kids from schools.  Even worse than this is that the bar on what child is desirable or undesirable is on the move.   It used to be children who misbehaved were undesirable.... then it became kids who had slight learning difficulties that were too expensive for the school and brought down test scores... now it is kids who are highly intelligent, but speak out of turn... you know, too smart for their own good... kids like Jada Williams.

Also read

A 13-Year-Old's Slavery Analogy Raises Some Uncomfortable Truths in School



Happy Elf Mom said...

So let's see if I have this right. She writes a GREAT essay about how she can't learn because the (mostly black) students are acting up and the (mostly white) teachers are spending all their time dealing with these problems and can't get around to actually teaching.

And this somehow relates to Frederick Douglass and the black experience. And slavery.


I wonder if Jada studied the part about HOW Douglass learnt to read because it's one of the amazing things about him. He's as close to self-taught unschooler as you can get. He said that HE AGREED with the slavemaster that teaching a slave to read was a bad idea for the system (if you will) because if you give the slave an inch he will take an ell.

I'm not saying the inch she got in these deplorable public schools is much, but I hope she goes for the ell at home. I agree with you that she could have softened her essay but that she DOES have some good points. (OMGoodness, the teachers bragging on how they teach in the city etc.? Blogs are full of them and I cannot IMAGINE what they are like to live with IRL.)

I think your point (which you didn't bluntly state, but I read as if it were written anyway) is that good parents of any colour don't put their kids into such dreadful places if they can at all possibly help it in the FIRST PLACE. It was a soft way of saying it, but it was said in there somewhere without being quite written.

I wish her all the best in her ongoing education and to her mom, too! I looked at this video and thought, I hope this is not the high point for her. You know? So much more to this kid.

Rambled. You always get me going. :)

Ahermitt said...

Hi Happy...

You have a keen way of summing up what I am feeling.

Her essay was in response to an assignment to read and write about the book. That is why the parallels are drawn... that is where she started.

And you are right. I feel like too many of us parents are too busy following life's instruction manual (go to school, get a job, get married...maybe, have kids, hand them over to be educated... and so the cycle continues) to look at where they are placing their kids. A WISE parent (won't say good or bad) will stop and assess and tweak the formula before proceeding.