Dr. Dee Stokes: We Must All Be Responsible for Educating African-American Students

Dr. Dee Stokes (Ed.D) is an author, educator, pastor and founding member of the Faith and Education Coalition and a member of the United States National Prayer Council.
Dr. Dee Stokes (Ed.D) is an author, educator, pastor and founding member of the Faith and Education Coalition and a member of the United States National Prayer Council.

I am a black female with four degrees, including a Doctorate of Education and Masters of Public Administration. I coached basketball for 18 years at many fine collegiate institutions and have experienced many things in my life. The blessings that surround my life have been numerous, indeed, but I would not be the leader I am today without the strength and guidance of two women who understood the value of what they didn’t have.

My grandmother only had about an eighth-grade education. My mom didn’t earn her undergraduate degree until she was 50 years old. Growing up under their watchful eyes in Arkansas, there was never a doubt that I would attend — and graduate — from college.

They instilled in me a love of learning and helped me to understand how an education could open doors that otherwise would remain locked. I didn’t fully appreciate that until I was in graduate school when I began to understand being exposed to education doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Classrooms and teachers are vital, but the most important thing is exposing children to education from their earliest years. That exposure can happen walking through a campus or traveling the world or through that mainstay of African-American culture, our churches.

Now more than ever, African-American children need the encouragement and assistance of our communities to stay in school.

A report from the federal Department of Education showed that in 2012, African-American students in public high schools had a graduation rate of 68 percent, a 9 percent increase from 2006. Research also showed that the problem of “dropout factories” — schools that regularly graduate fewer than 60 percent of students — is on the decline, we still have a lot of work to do.

The higher academic standards that more than 40 states adopted starting in 2010 will help us get that work done. Conceived by state governors and leading educators, these standards reject the premise that students cannot succeed in a more challenging academic environment. That attitude has done an incredible disservice to minority students by effectively telling them they can’t succeed, no matter what the standards. This is absolutely wrong.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Dr. Dee Stokes (Ed.D) is an author, educator, and pastor as well as a founding member of the Faith and Education Coalition and a member of the United States National Prayer Council. Dee Stokes Ministries is based in Winter Park, Florida.