This is Part II of the analysis of the problems the Black boys face and why they are so hated and at the same time they are copied by everyone on the planet for their creativity and style. Those who have studied this problem believe that at least a part of the problem lies in the education system and how it systematically mis-educates and /or neglect educating Black boys. Thus, in this part of this report we will examine the failures of CPS and the educational system in general.
America is recognized as having the world’s best and most advanced higher education system in the world. It is also true that we have one of the worst pre-school through high school systems in the world. American children consistently test in the lower ranks of math and reading amongst the children in the industrialized countries. At the absolute bottom within the nation’s children are Black girls and Black boys. Thousands of Black boys are routinely classified as needing special education. “Today, 6.5 million students in the U. S. are classified as needing special education. They make up 13 percent of the nation’s K-12 enrollment,” according to the U. S. Department of Education.
While most have been arbitrarily classified into this grouping, some suffer from brain injuries and emotional trauma that has gone untreated. In Chicago, the additional problem is one of Fetal Alcohol Exposure (FAE) has been identified. “Having worked with poor, African-American patients in various educational, mental health, correctional, and foster care settings for more than 40 years,” says Dr. Carl Bell, “I feel obligated to draw attention to a major public health phenomenon that plagues these populations: fetal alcohol exposure (FAE) is a hidden epidemic in poor African-American communities, where liquor stores are a ubiquitous and thriving business.”
There is no doubt that Dr. Bell’s findings of FAE is real and prevalent in Black communities across the city, however, it does not explain all of the reasons Black children, and especially Black boys are overwhelmingly classified as needing special education, suspended from school, and expelled. Nancy B. Jefferson, Special Education Director at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) Alternative School, and his fellow teachers stated that according to legal regulations, they are obligated to take the records provided to them by the former school that has classified the boys as ADHD, ADD, etc. without any testing or verification. Mr. Walter Space, African American man now nearly 60 years old was placed into special education classes in CPS elementary school, he says “without testing or professional verification to my parents. When they found out that they failed to produce the proof that I needed to be placed in these classes my mother demanded that I be placed in the regular classes. The teacher described my bad behavior as the reason for me being placed in special education. They tried to do the same thing to my son when he was in elementary school and I made sure that it was stopped! I demanded proof and I found that the testing was bogus, they eventually put him back in the regular classes.”
This process, however, simply perpetuates the problems of those young Black boys that have been in many cases misdiagnosed. Dr. Carl Bell in his many scholarly papers and research on the subject of juvenile victims of fetal alcohol exposure are systematically misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all foe their real problems which leaves them subject to continued abhorrent and arbitrary treatment as a result of CPS classifications.
Cutbacks in funding for public schools in Chicago and school closings across the city have hit Black children hardest. All of these public education failures have contributed to the school-to-jail pipeline and placed generations of Black males on the road to despair and poverty. Rev. Marshall Hatch, Pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim M. B. Church and a member of the Board of Trustees of Chicago State University, points to the school closures and the loss of Black population that accounts for the fact that Black children are “no longer the majority in the Chicago Public Schools” and the fact that Black teachers are now less than one fourth of the total in CPS presently. “In addition,” he says, “I attribute some of our problems in education to our loss of spiritual foundation in our families and communities.”
Without a doubt, poverty is one of the major reasons for poor performance in school and delayed development. A recent New York Times article pointed out that “Black children were almost four times likely as white children to be living in poverty in 2013, a new report has found.”
Some experts have proposed the expansion of public school academies for Black boys. These experts contend that “competitive same-sex academies can increase the chances of Black boys graduating high school by 60 percent, putting the attainment of high school diplomas on a par with those for white boys.”
Black male unemployment is on average twice that of white males and white males with less than a college degree on average make more money than Black men with a college degree. Black teenage boy’s unemployment rate can range as high as three to four times that of white boys in the same age category.
This reality takes into account the fact that some Black males will and do engage in abhorrent behavior in spite of good and nurturing environments and many exceed well beyond expectations of the sociobiologists who have preordained their travel from pre-school to jail using racist so-called scientific biological determinants. Sociobiology is defined as “The study of the biological determinants of social behavior, based on the theory that such behavior is often genetically transmitted and subject to evolutionary processes.”
The “Lost Boys” of Chicago, just as the “Lost Boys” of Sudan, are victims of their social circumstances that are out of their control. Lest we forget, “History isn’t what happened, but the stories of what happened and the lessons these stories include.”