How to Get to a Brighter Tomorrow
Parents often invest a considerable amount of time involved in their child’s education. This morning I spent an extra 25 - 30 minutes at my child's school after drop off. Today’s agenda looked like the following: check in with my son's fourth grade teacher regarding the research project due tomorrow, speak to the nurse regarding medication and its side effects; and touch base with all to ensure that our child is in a position to succeed. I haven't had coffee yet!
The business of this morning, though, is the norm. I probably spend extra time 2-3 days a week at my son’s school because of check-ins, scouting, volunteering, chaperoning field trips or visits for parent invited activities. This time, of course, doesn't include time my spouse may spend. We truly feel that the time we spend at our son's school is very beneficial to his success in a rigorous environment.
My husband and I often wonder how parents who perhaps have less flexibility in their work do all of this. We recognize that we operate from a seat of relative privilege; our resources and schedules allow us to be involved in our son's education in a meaningful way. But what about our fellow community members who even if they very much want to be more involved, just cannot? How do we even begin to ask the right questions about these issues?
My husband comes from a family where his mother earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree as did her two sisters. Although our household represents four total college level degrees, I am empathetic to the needs of underprivileged students, and my passion for the disenfranchised and under-prepared in our communities runs deep. I am a first generation college graduate. As I knew that it would, attending Indiana University changed my life. Graduating from IU allowed me to give back for many years to the non-profit organization that helped me to get into college. Years later I married a man who cares as much as I do about our community and families on the educational fringes.
We found ourselves in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, NY asking, "Why shouldn't parents and children in that community be able to access a quality education for their child"? That led us to try to open a quality charter school in that community. We returned to Indianapolis with yearning passion unquenched. We understand that it is important to use our voices to speak for the multitude with no voice. We still need answers to so many questions.
How do you know when your child is being failed by the school they attend? If you never had a positive personal school experience, where do you find the knowledge and ability to speak to your child's teachers and school leaders?
What courses should your child be taking to prepare for college? If college is not the proper option for your child, how do you help support their career in a skilled trade? How can you afford these options?
We have institutions and non-profits that are helping more young people, African Americans in particular, into colleges and universities. Now, research is showing that keeping them there through to graduation is the next challenge. What are the building blocks that keep students in college and successful to graduation?
I realize that I have raised several questions (and, yes, there are plenty more), but these questions have a purpose. These questions represent the dialogue that must be had in our community to improve our society. In this time of chatter about broken systems and politics, lives and futures are at stake. I find myself often overwhelmed by the responsibility of being my son's advocate in the area of his education. If I dare add the issues of gender (male) and race (African-American) it can take my breath away. I do believe that as Malcolm X said, "education is the passport to the future". I'm a living testimony to that fact.
How do we help others to prepare today for their brighter tomorrow? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and on social media using #AmGradIndy.
Hope Hampton describes herself as someone who cares about those who others have forgotten. She is committed to a life of service as her Christian calling. Throughout her career, Hope has worked to support youth while working with the Boy Scouts Explorer program, as Dean at North Central High School, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center. She continues this love and compassion as First Lady of Light of the World Christian Church. She has also stepped into community leadership roles, co-chairing the Public Library's Strategic Plan steering committee, serving on the Spirit and Place Festival committees, and joining the boards of Christel House Academy, Safe Families for Children, and Global Interfaith Partnership. Hope is a positive role model, an advocate for community service, and a leader who challenges each of us to reach deeper and care more.