Career & Education

What black parents must do this summer

Dr Jawanza

Sunday, July 01, 2018

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Guest contributor Dr Jawanza Kunjufu doesn't believe schools should be closed for the summer, and posits that even when they are, students should be engaged in educational pursuits for the duration of the period. This, he says, is to close the achievement gap between Black and White children in his native America. The peiece was first published on the Colgate University alumni website on July 16, 2016.

There is a three-year achievement gap between Black and White students. Many people love to believe it's due to income, fatherlessness, educational attainment of the parent and lack of parental involvement. I believe a major reason for the gap is that we continue to close schools for the summer as if we are an agrarian economy. Very few Black youth will be farming this summer.

If you multiply three months by 12 years you will see the three-year gap. There is nothing wrong with Black youth if their schools remained open during the summer and/or their parents kept them academically engaged.

Middle-income parents who value education enrol their children in some type of academic experience during the summer. They also visit libraries, museums, zoos and colleges. Other parents allow their children to sleep longer, play more video games, watch more television and play basketball until they can't see the hoop. The result will be that they will have to review the same work they had mastered in May when school reopens in September.

But Black parents cannot allow their children to lose three months every year. They cannot say they cannot afford the library. It's free! And most museums have discounted days.

A male friend of mine shared his experience with me when he took his family to the museum. He wondered why so many people were staring at him. His wife and children had to tell him he was the only Black man in the building! I am appealing to every father to take his children this summer to the library, museum, and the zoo. I am appealing to every mother: if he won't, then you do it.

We need every parent to make sure their child reads at least one book per week and to write a book report. I am reminded of the formula Sonya Carson used to develop Ben Carson to become the best paediatric neurosurgeon. This low-income single parent, with a third grade education had enough sense to tell her sons to turn off the television, read a book and write a report that her sister would grade.

I have a theory that I can go into your house and within five minutes tell you the type of student who lives there and predict their future. I believe that engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc will have different items in their house than ballplayers, rappers, and criminals. I am very concerned when I visit a house that has more CDs and downloads than books.

Research shows that one of the major reasons boys dislike reading is the content so, parents, I urge you to get your hands on material that is tailored for your boys to encourage them to read. My company, African American Images, for example, has designed a special collection of books for boys. The set is titled Best Books for Boys. We also have for girls, parents and teachers.

Let's close the gap. When your child's teacher asks your child what he/she did for the summer, let their answer include, 'We went to the library, museum, zoo, colleges and other great educational places.'

Enjoy your summer!

Dr Jawanza Kunjufu is an educational consultant and author based in Chicago, USA. He is the author of Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, There is Nothing Wrong With Black Students, Changing School Culture For Black Males, Raising Black Boys and Raising Black Girls. Contact him at

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