The Kids Aren't Here for Half-Baked Schoolwork and Shady Politics

Sep 28, 2018 12:00:00 AM


Outrage: If They Don’t Believe In Them, They Shouldn’t Be Teaching Them

This was my story entering freshman year of college. I’d gone my whole K-12 career thinking I was above average only to get to college and have my reality shattered by a math placement exam. I was faced with giving up and taking my bruised ego back home or staying there to suffer through remedial math and whatever other academic challenges I’d face, knowing that I might not be fully prepared to handle them. I went for it. Others may not be so brave. The Opportunity Myth, a new TNTP report that was released on Tuesday, pretty much confirmed what we already knew. [pullquote]Students of color and kids with disabilities are given less challenging school work than able, White students.[/pullquote] And because of that, they are entering college unprepared. But what’s more frustrating and disturbing about the report is how it was found that a lot of teachers give kids below-grade-level assignments simply because they don’t believe that they could achieve at a higher level. So now, parents like Lane Wright are questioning their own kid’s school and really, who can blame them? And if any teacher steps into their classroom and thinks that at least one of their students was incapable of learning at a high level because of their skin color, they shouldn’t be teaching. Period. Look, I’m not expecting any teacher to stand up and say, “I’m racist or prejudiced,” or, “My privilege and implicit bias keep me from seeing your child’s potential.” But considering the fact that they own a huge piece of the responsibility of setting our kids up for success, they should at least acknowledge and work to squash their biases. Because the minute they let their lopsided, misinformed and destructive thoughts guide their academic instruction and relationship with that student, they’ve failed as educators.

Hope: These Students Are Activated

Back in high school, my friends and I used to spend our Friday and/or Saturday nights turning up and Sundays rolling around in bed, counting the dreadful hours leading up to school on Monday morning. Kids these days are different. Like 17-year-old Aicha Cherif, who spends her Sunday mornings updating social media, researching elections and shooting videos for the Love Vote. She’s a senior in high school and an outreach director for the organization. Good Kids Mad City formed after the Parkland shooting. They’re a student activist group that’s all about stopping violence and rebuilding communities. Lately they’ve been super focused on getting young people registered to vote. And Student Voice, a national group for students and led by students, focuses specifically on amplifying student voice in education. They’ve also been working on voter registration. When I was 17 I couldn’t imagine giving up my weekends, let alone having so much social awareness and responsibility. And although times are different now than what they were 15 years ago, I can’t help but think that if we were more civically engaged back then, maybe kids these days wouldn’t have to fight for so much. Either way, I’m glad that this generation of young people get it. They understand that they have a voice and power.

Tanesha Peeples

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or ZIP code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. And that's what she works towards every day.

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