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Confessions of an Educated Man

March 2, 2010

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglas

 

I admit it – I had it pretty good. Growing up in suburban Dallas, I attended good schools with good teachers and parents who came to PTA meetings. My mom was on the school board, my history teacher drove my bus and my biggest dilemmas were in the daily cafeteria line. Rarely was there a barrier to the education I needed.

Today, a quality education is no longer the norm. For many young minority men, the statistics are startling – less than 50% of African American and Latino young men will graduate from high school. When I moved to Memphis, I tutored a young man at one of the toughest high schools in the city. I couldn’t begin to understand the challenges he was up against. I tried to help him with his ACT test to get into college, but I am not sure he ever made it. I know there are millions just like him.

That’s why I am grateful FedEx committed to help Teach For America, the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools. Over the next month, FedEx executives from Newark to Memphis, Dallas to New York City, will be side-by-side with Teach For America corps members. They will be supporting the corps members who are working daily to remove barriers for young men and women to have every educational opportunity.

We also sponsored the recent Community Speaker Series in New York City entitled, “Men of Color and Education: A Discussion on the Pursuit of Excellence.” This event brought together community and industry leaders to discuss the educational disparities impacting young men of color and how to identify actionable solutions to help all students reach their potential. Participants in this interactive event included: Musicians Common and John Legend; educators David C. Banks, Dr. Marc Larmont Hill and Dr. Pedro Noguera; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; and NBA veteran Eric Snow.

Our commitment is to open doors for students to meaningfully participate in the global economy. We believe all children in America should have access to a high-quality education, providing opportunities for every person to create the world they want to live in.

That’s why I am proud FedEx supports Teach For America.

Check out David Bank’s blog: Reflections on Men of Color & Education

Comments

    Marilyn Yokley says:

    Appreciated your insight to this program, Brandon.

    Iris Chapman says:

    My daughter, Melissa Chapman, has been working with Teach for America for the past two years in the Washington DC area. Just as Mr. Tidwell, she came from a background where parents were actively involved in her education and multiple opportunities were readily available.

    TFA has helped her to realized that all kids are not educated equally and to fully appreciate her history. The experience has also taught her the frustrations of our urban education systems and the lack of parent involvement.

    My only hope is that she will leave a lasting impression on her students that will inspire them to reach their fullest potential.

    Barry Straub says:

    Brandon,

    Like you, I too was raised in good schools Cocoa Beach, Florida (during the Space race years) and in the New England after that. Kids today (especially those of ethnic descent) have it significantly harder than we did in our day. I try to give back whenever I can because they are our future. It is seriously up to us to decide if they are going to be presidents, CEO’s, business owners, scientists, and engineers. We need to invest our time and talents to help these kids rise above the situation they are in so they can excel in everything they pursue.

    ronnie moore says:

    The magnitude of the education dilemma facing minority young men is astounding. This dilemma has reached epidemic proportions already and unless something on a national level is done, we’re facing the realization of a lost generation of young men. Education is the backbone of one’s personal development, establishing a foundation for one to build upon. Statistics show that there is a domino effect when one has no education, he usually does not become a productive adult. Without productive adults, we don’t have productive children. For it takes a man to teach a man to be a man. Government, wake up and let’s address this dilemma head on and fix it before it’s too late.

    Alice Prats says:

    My daughter Stephanie Prats will graduate from Boston University this May and she join Teach for America. She will be teaching for two years in New York City area. I’m always proud to work for FedEx, and now I’m also grateful learning that FedEx is committed to help Teach for America.

    Joe L Bennett says:

    Unlike the writer above, my parents were uneducated and had difficulty in making ends meet to keep us in a home and with food on the table however, that did not stop their intent for us. They insisted that we work hard and get an education.

    Growing up in a small town in Mississippi where seperate but equal was the rule of the day, we may not have had all the best equipment or the latest text books, however our teachers gave us all that they had and we learned. The thing that I believe made a difference was that the teachers were allowed to teach… that is what they do… and we had no choice but to follow the rules they set for us. Parents were as involved as they could be and were a back up for the teacher when we went off the right path. Today, parents and teachers seem to be in an advesarial relationship. If a teacher attempts to correct a student’s behavior, the parents send a lawyer rather than try to find out what the problem is with their child. We were not allowed to get away with disrupting classes.

    Also, teachers didn’t have to teach the basics of manners and how to behave before they could teach math, english and social studies. That is not the way it is today.

    Children will not have the opportunity to do their best until we stop blaming the schools for all the societal problems that exist. Parents, grand parents, churches and communities hold as much responsibility to make this happen as do educators.

    I do not know any teacher who went into the business to get rich. If it had been about earning a great deal of money, as many want us to believe, they could have done something else that would have given them greater rewards.

    We put a lode stone around the neck of teachers and expect them to soar like eagles. Let them do the job they signed on to do. I assure you, that all the teachers, even in failing schools, are not totally the responsible parties. Think about families and the students themselves. The responsibility is a shared one.

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