EAST ORANGE RECORD / ORANGE TRANSCRIPT
Parental involvement in education discussed
by Jamillah N. Harvey, Staff Writer
November 20, 2003
The message: Failure is not an option when it comes to the children in the East Orange School District.
At least that’s what district officials and Baruti Kafele believes. Kafele, principal of Patrick F. Healy Middle School, was the keynote speaker during the No Child Left Behind parent conference November 12 at East Orange Campus High School.
Superintendent of Schools Laval S. Wilson noted the last time he met with parents was when he was introduced as the new superintendent.
I look forward to hearing Mr. Kafele speak, Wilson said. He’s taking on Healy School, which was unfortunately listed as a persistently dangerous school. He¹s done a great job. That school is no more dangerous than the others.
I think our school is pretty safe and moving in a very fine manner thanks to Mr. Kafele, Wilson continued. He will continue to impress upon our young people about going to school. Failure is not an option.
The event also provided workshops, including violence-prevention and anger-management skills, parental-involvement tips for bilingual parents, college preparation and law, education and politics.
Kafele, whose African name means teacher, returned to East Orange this year after serving as principal of Hubbard Middle School in Plainfield. Previously, Kafele transformed Sojourner Truth Middle School into an African-centered studies school.
Kafele said when people look at the achievement data of black children, they find the same problem: underachievement.
In the introduction of Kafele’s book, A Black Parent’s Handbook to Educating Your Children (Outside of the Classroom), he states black children across the United states are in an educational crisis.
Black children are performing at alarmingly low achievement levels, Kafele said. I have come to the conclusion that the No. 1 determinant relative to the success or failure of children in the schools, is the parent. If parents are effective in motivating and inspiring their children to strive for academic excellence, the probability for success increases.
Kafele said he believes parents are not attacking the problem’s root: getting into the minds of young people.
In preparing today’s youth for success, Kafele stated they need to have a purpose for going to, and being in, school.
The next problem Kafele discussed was behavior expectations.
“There are children that don’t know how to behave,” Kafele said. “They don’t know proper decorum. Parents need to talk to the children about raising their hand and keeping their mouths closed. Talk to them about being focused and taking notes.”
In preparing students for success, Kafele said he believes children need to come to school prepared with the tools they need every day.
“You wouldn’t see a carpenter at a job without his tools,” Kafele noted. “We expect the child to come to school with proper tools to be successful.”
Kafele added students need to read because they cannot underestimate the importance of literacy.
“There is no way in the world you should go to a house and have more CDs than books,” he said. “We have to make sure our kids are reading.”
Kafele’s overall view is if parents get into a child’s mind and alter his or her thinking, that child will transform.
It’s important to do goal setting with the children, Kafele said. You have to work with your children to set goals and plan with them. You need to have a plan. You can¹t just go into a situation and not have a goal. You need a target to aim for.
Kafele offered the key ingredients to success: Belief, for if one does not believe they can achieve, they likely will not believe they will be successful.
The next part is purpose, for a student needs to have a purpose, a goal. Then there is obligation.
“You were born an African American, so you are obligated to be a soldier,” Kafele added. “You have an obligation to be a warrior in the classroom.”
Kafele warned parents to beware of three distractions: music, television and peer pressure.