Social Issue

Dear Editor:

I’m a Black teacher working in a public high school in a mostly African-American region, I cannot reveal my location and identity at this time because it could compromise my job and what I’m about to disclose. We all know that since the Civil Rights era, many of the public attacks on people of Color have disappeared from plain view but still exist in the dark, this is exactly one of those things against Black people that are occurring right now under our noses but no one sees it. One thing I learned from the system is that most of these attacks are exerted not on adults but on Black children. They attack childhood so they secure that when these children grow up they will be the Black adult population struggling for jobs and ending up in the prison system. It’s diabolic.

Now, my story.

I was in some teacher conferences back in September in which we did training to get parents involved with their children’s school or their children’s education. Several things were discussed and some of the topics were how difficult it was for minority people and people of Color to get involved in their children’s education. At some point during the conference a sheet of paper with teachers’ emails was circulating over some tables. I put my name and email on the sheet of paper and passed it over. About two weeks after the conference I got a weird email from a person I didn’t know but I knew they were a teacher because she mentioned the conference.

Her email was friendly and it felt like she knew me. She mentioned her husband and a family situation, then she said she couldn’t call me but she was attaching the thing there. The thing was a scan of a paper with some instructions about “dealing with Black parents.” At that point I realized she got me confused with someone else, but I was angry and at the same time curious about what it was “to deal with Black parents.”

After a few days I answered to her, but she went totally silent and my emails started bouncing back.

This is something I later realized it was circulated among some White teachers only. They instructed the teachers to manipulate Black parent involvement in a way that no one would see. It said it was three types of Black parents, the ones that would never show up, the ones that would go to all the free events and may be the PTA, and the “smart” ones that would ask direct questions affecting their children. The instructions said it was okay to invite Black parents to the PTA or to events to create an idea of inclusion, but not to give specific information about their children’s programs inside a classroom.

Basically it said to give Black parents general academic information but nothing specific about the teacher’s direct instruction to their children. Invite them for events or the parent-teacher conference but “never, ever, give your teacher/course/or classroom curriculum to a Black parent.” This way Black parents would think and feel they are involved with their children’s schooling but in reality they would have no idea of what the teacher is teaching to their children and how the teachers are using the school calendar to advance on a subject. Pretty diabolic!

I started talking to many of my parents, family members and some friends with school children all across the US, and I realized many of them had gone through the same experience. There is not a coincidence. The specific question I asked was “Did you ask your child’s teacher for their classroom curriculum?”

Many folks didn’t even know what a teacher or classroom curriculum was. Many said that when they asked about the curriculum they were referred by the teacher, or the principals, or other staff members, to the website for the Core Curriculum of their home state. In some instances Black parents were also referred to the online District Curriculum or District Syllabus for their schools. However, most Black parents never got their hands on a real copy of a really teacher designed curriculum for the course their children were taking.
This is like going to a pharmacy to ask for painkillers without a prescription, or buying a house without a payment plan, or going to see a show and when you ask who’s gonna play first they say “music.”

To clarify: the Common Core Curriculum Standards for the State is where districts and schools go to get information about what type of curriculum they have to design for their school community. Nothing to do with what a teacher will directly teach to your child. No teacher would have the time to plan and the knowledge to teach the whole Core Curriculum to any child. The Core Curriculum is just a model, a standard and is used as a resource.

Once the school district, or the school, design their curriculum and their syllabus, the teachers have to go to this curriculum, sit down with a piece of paper, and write down their own curriculum, what is called the teacher/classroom/or course curriculum explaining what units or lessons they will teach and when, i.e., what day, week, or month during the calendar year. By instance if you ask your child’s Social Science teacher for their course curriculum for the year they should give you a sheet of paper with something like this:

Social Science Classroom Curriculum for 9th grade (Teacher: Mr. Higgins) 2019:
September:
First Week & Second Week: Introduction to European History (6 Units)
Third & Fourth Week: The European Revolution (6 Units)
October:
First Week & Second Week: The American Revolution (6 Units)
Third & Fourth Week: The Founding Fathers (6 Units)
November:
Etc,etc,etc.

You have the right to know what the teacher is teaching your child, and when is teaching it. It’s a basic parental right. Even if you don’t know anything about the subject, even if you don’t have time to look at the teacher’s curriculum or go to the school. You have the right to know what is the “prescription” your child is getting. What they are teaching to your child, if they are teaching at all. Because part of this hiding they do with their classroom curriculum is because they are not teaching your child everything he or she needs to succeed, they are only teaching basic stuff. Also, if a Black parent wants to look at her child’s classroom curriculum and decide to do a related activity on a weekend or so, they cannot do it because they don’t have the reference they need. So, no matter what a Black parent involvement gets always diverted.

White teachers give their course or classroom curriculum all the times to White folk, but no one gives a course curriculum to a Black parent, why?

Not only that, they are hitting the most vulnerable: poor people of Color everywhere, from Blacks to Hispanics. If they are dark and they are poor they don’t get a copy of their teacher’s planned curriculum for them for the school year. Not even at the end of the school year. I have Black parents having to put up the entire year without a curriculum to guide them, and at the end of the year in May or June they asked again: “Can you give me a copy of the class curriculum you designed for this year? What you taught this year? I want to know what my child was taught and if he learned it or not.”

THE ANSWER IS NO! YOU CAN’T.

Many Principals and Superintendents secretly support this position, and although a teacher is not supposed to create school policy, this has become almost school policy in some places.

I’m talking to a lot of people these days and I went to a few pastors to explain what is going on. One of my pastors suggested me to send this information to the press and to Congress. If everybody would talk to their pastors (although religious schools are different), to their newspapers, to their Congressmen, may be there’s a chance to put pressure for change.

I don’t know what’s the situation in your state or region, but just in case. If you can do something about it, even if it will benefit one Black child, all Black children (the Black men and women of the future) will thank you forever. Let’s do it!

Thank you,
Concerned Teacher & Citizen