*Dr. Paul Miller – national education leader and Principal and CEO of Green Tech High Charter School in Albany, New York – knows a thing or two about what black males from underserved communities need to succeed – and according to him, missing school during the Coronavirus lockdown is not one of them.
As schools nationwide are closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 scholastic year, Dr. Miller warns that there is great cause for concern, as many of the nation’s at-risk black boys are left with few productive things to do and parents ill-equipped to manage their progress during the transition to online coursework. Also, many parents are understandably preoccupied with finances and weathering the COVID-19 storm.
“When designed well, schools are intended to be safe havens for students,” Dr. Miller said. “Our young Black men need structure, need consistency, need the care and relationships in which teachers build by being content experts, often social workers, even a touch of parental support. Currently, most of America has moved to some form of online learning, but as we know, it’s bringing so many factors of chaos. Many schools and districts still have no action implemented and our kids are falling behind.”
Dr. Miller worries that many young men can be derailed from their path towards reaching the next grade level or high school graduation. He says little to nothing has been done to ensure that homes lacking necessities such as access to laptops, tablets, or even sufficient internet connectivity are assisted.
While it certainly came with costs, Green Tech took the extra step to provide chrome books for every one of their students, and for those who did not have suitable internet connection, the school was able to provide them with free internet service.
Dr. Miller insists that the solution to keeping underserved black males on track is in the process and planning. This means ensuring that their “school day” at home mirrors a typical day in the classroom as much as possible.
“We follow up with our kids frequently and work with parents to ensure that the necessary benchmarks are being met. It’s all about building that relationship and keeping the lines of communication open. We don’t want to overstep or take away from anything, but we want to help, he said.”
He continued: “There are people in schools who have said they haven’t spoken with their kids or parents in a month. How is that acceptable? We can’t afford for our kids, especially our black boys to miss school and fall behind when they have to face a society that already undervalues and devalues them…and certainly not due to negligence by the schools. We have to step up.”