A Mocha Call To Action
Mocha Moms, Inc. was previously invited to participate on a conference call with Russlynn Ali, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, to discuss the recently released findings of a study conducted by the Department of Education. To read the full report, visit www.ocrdata.ed.gov. Among other findings, the study reported that African-American students:
- Have less access to challenging courses in high school;
- Are taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers; and
- Are over three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school when compared to white students.
During the Q & A portion of the conference call, participants wanted to know what schools and school districts could do to improve the situation for minority students. No clear-cut solutions were offered on that 35-min phone call because the problem is too complex. But the National Board of Mocha Moms, Inc. had a solution, African-American parents need to Occupy Schools.
We have not conducted any scientific research, but we know that regardless of the school or the school district, the children whose parents are actively involved in the PTA, attend most of the school activities and field trips, help raise funds for the school and who are otherwise very active participants in the school community are far less likely to receive unfair treatment at the hands of the teachers and school administrators.
Understand, we are not blaming the victims or excusing the perpetrators. We just know that given the current problems, our children will be great-grandparents before the schools find a solution that will correct the injustices revealed in the study and we simply don't have that much time to wait. Childhood is fleeting and we only get one shot at educating our children. We can't afford to sleep at the wheel.
Occupying schools individually means we must:
- Email our children's teachers regularly to receive academic updates;
- Request face-to-face meetings with their teachers several times per year;
- Visit the school during the day to walk the halls, visit the cafeteria and survey the general environment of the school;
- Volunteer to work on special projects for the teachers and the administration;
- Attend school functions, meetings, special activities and fieldtrips;
- On the first day of school, line the halls of your school to offer support and direction to new students;
- Read daily homework assignments;
- Check for completion and review the quality of completed assignments regularly;
- Help our children prepare for major tests and quizzes;
- Find a tutor or seek help from the school if we see our children struggling and we are unable to help;
- Ban the TV on school nights for all children and limit TV watching for the adults in charge of supervising homework until after homework is done;
- Make "extra-credit" assignments mandatory in our households.
It sounds as if we have to go back to school just because our children are in school. Unfortunately, in the current climate, that is precisely what we must do. Our children are under siege and we need to get our heads in the game. It's time to Occupy Schools.
The "Occupy" movement in America has taken on a life of its own in recent months. We have chosen to start a similar movement in the schools. However, we are not pitching tents and protesting. We are going to encourage parents of color to become more active and involved in the educational process. We need to make our presence known.
Our first step will be to begin the movement internally within our own organization. Step two will be to reach outside of our organization and involve communities across the U.S. More specific details will be released to Mocha leaders shortly, but we want you to know that every chapter of Mocha Moms, Inc. will be required to participate. We are very excited about this new initiative as it speaks to one of the core missions of Mocha Moms, Inc. - ensuring that a quality education is available not only to our own children, but to our nation's children. So, let's get ready to roll up our sleeves. Together we can make a difference.
Cheli English Figaro, Esq.
Co-Founder and President Emerita