Local NAACP chapter encourages more parental involvement in children's education

The Education Committee of the Barnwell/Blackville NAACP is urging parents to realize they have the ultimate power in deciding the quality of their children's education.

Committee members, parents, students and school board members gathered together at the Barnwell County Museum March 19 to discuss ways parents can be empowered and proactive in education.

Parents attending school board meetings and visiting schools topped the list.

"Parents, this is your school district," NAACP education committee member Kenneth Myers told the crowd of people.

He told the crowd that parents should visit their children's schools and attend school board meeting regularly.

"Sometimes parents are blamed for the problems with children learning, but it's not just the parents' fault. My message is parents are not the problem - they are the solution," he said.

Myers said one purpose of the forum was to put to rest the notion that school boards and superintendents run schools and that parents are powerless.

"If parents are not involved in the education system, they will be left out of the decision-making process," said Myers.

"Parents need to go to the school from day one when school starts and let administration and teachers know. It sets up a relationship with the school and lets the child know you care about his education," said James Wallace, the chairman of the education committee for the NAACP.

Guinyard-Butler Middle School assistant principal and committee member Marcus Fields made an analogy between nursing homes and schools.

He said parents showing their faces at schools will improve the child's education as well as the parents' standing in the administration's eyes.

"If you have a relative in a nursing home and visit him every day - but then there is a patient who never gets visitors . . . who do you think is going to get the best care?"

Myers pointed to recent PACT scores in the Barnwell and Blackville districts that show high amounts of student being in the "basic" category.

He said "basic" is not good enough - it's the minimum level for skill - and more students need to be pushed to reach the "proficient" category to succeed in life.

"It's the proficient child that gets the job. Proactive educators talk about children being proficient - but poor performance schools will make a lot of excuses for children being in the basic category such as they (children) come from broken homes," said Myers. "But all kids can learn."

He said many children are being left behind and there is a wide achievement gap between minorities and poor students and the more affluent in the nation's schools.

A proposed algebra honors program for eighth graders at Guinyard-Butler Middle School in Barnwell District 45 reflects this.

But the district hasn't offered any algebra programs on any skill level for years, Myers said.

Myers pointed out the program would exclude 95 percent of the children in the middle school and basic algebra courses would make more sense.

He calls it a misuse of resources and said he would like to see more efforts being made to help all the children and not a small group.

"Let's try and do something that is going to benefit nearly everyone - let's try and educate 100 students instead of 20," said Myers.

The NAACP Education Committee meets every fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. and alternates the meeting between Macedonia Baptist Church in Blackville and the Masonic Lodge, Calhoun Street, Barnwell. The next meeting is April 27 in Barnwell. For more information contact James Wallace (803) 259-0630.