By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
We are frequently reminded of the three-year gap between black and white students in the school system. There are many, who love to believe that such is attributable to income, fatherlessness, educational attainment of the parent and lack of parental involvement.
It is my personal belief, a major cause for this gap is that we continue to close schools for the summer, thereby treating education like an agrarian economy. If you multiply three months by 12 years, you will arrive at the reason for the three-year gap. We need to keep our youths academically engaged during the summer.
Parents, who value education, enroll their children in some type of academic experience during the summer. They visit libraries, museums, zoos and open houses for colleges and universities. Other parents allow their children to sleep longer, play more video games, watch more television and play basketball until they cannot see the hoop. These students will have to review the same work they had mastered in May, in September.
Black parents cannot allow their children to lose three months every year. They cannot say they are not available and cannot afford the library. It’s free and open with extended hours. Most museums have discounted days.
Recently, a friend of mine shared his experience with me, about when he took his family to the local museum. He wondered why so many people were staring at him. His wife and children had to tell him that they were in the minority, being the only black persons in the building. I am appealing to every father to take their child/children this summer to the library, museum, and the zoo. I am appealing to every mother also, that if he would not, then you should.
Every parent should ensure that their child(ren) reads at least one book every 1-2 weeks, and then verbally relate (quasi book report) what they have read to the parent(s).
Here my memory is aroused and I am reminded of the formula Sonya Carson used to develop her son, Ben Carson, to become the best pediatric neurosurgeon in the US. This low-income single parent, possessing only a third grade education, yet had enough sense to tell her son to turn off the television, read a book and write a report that her sister would grade.
Permit me to proffer a theory: I can enter any home and within five minutes tell you the type of student who lives there, and in addition (not an extra) predict their future.
I know for a fact that engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants etc. need different items in their house than ballplayers, rappers, and criminals. I become very concerned when I visit a house that has more cd’s and downloads than books. Research shows one of the major reasons boys dislike reading is because of the content. There are books with suitable content for boys, but then again, it requires looking.
Enjoy your summer. Let’s close the gap. I look forward to your child’s teacher asking your child what did you do for the summer? And your child responding with fervor, “We went to the library, museum, zoo, colleges and other great educational places”.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.