Yesha Callahan

The Historically Black Elementary School System

As I was growing up, my siblings and I always lived in pretty diverse neighborhoods. Whether it was in NY or NJ, there always seemed to be a mix of white/black/asian/latino people. I appreciated the fact that early on in my life I was exposed to various cultures and languages. My best friend, who is Colombian, taught me my first Spanish curse words when I was a kid. Another friend of mine, had me saying ‘sak passe’ in her native Creole language. Lunch time at my school in highschool was a smorgasborg  of international cuisines. We would have everything from Spanish dishes to Indian dishes. Not to say everything was this great Rainbow Coalition Utopian society, because there were still small cliques here and there, but everyone seemed to get along and respect each others differences.

I always wanted my son to have a similiar experience while he was in school. I wanted him to be able to make friends with people from varied backgrounds and learn to appreciate differences as well. So before he entered kindergarten I found the perfect area in Maryland and Columbia, MD, is about as diverse as you can get. I definitely enjoyed living in Columbia. The school he attended was excellent and the extracurricular activities were endless. My son loved going to school every morning, he would literally cry if he had to stay home for any reason. He had friends from every background you could possibly imagine. His best friend was Philip, a Chinese kid who had only been in the U.S. for two years, and although his english was not the best, they communicated and played well together. Their friendship reminded me of my friendship with my best friend when she first arrived in the U.S. from Cali, Colombia.

We stayed in Columbia for about 3 1/2 years. I felt that I was growing out of my townhouse and I needed more space. So I eventually started looking for a single family. Now the downside of Columbia, is the price of realestate. If you weren’t able to spend upwards of 800k, then trying to find a nice sized single family house was close to impossible. I realized I would have to broaden my search area, which led me to where I am now, a town in Prince Georges County, Maryland.

I love the neighborhood I’m in. It’s quiet, comprised of single family homes built in the 80’s and most of the people are long time residents. There’s privacy and unlike my townhouse, I don’t have to worry about nosey neighbors.

But unfortunately, that is not enough to keep me here.

So long Prince Georges County, for the sake of my son’s education, back to Howard County I go.

If there was ever a public school system that could be referred to as a “Historically Black Elementary School”, several of them would be in Prince Georges County. Now, I’m in no way saying that anything related to being “Historically Black” i.e, HBCUs, are negative, but when a county as rich as Prince Georges County, cannot provide a half decent education to the children of the county, that is when I have a problem. I’m not sure where the disconnect begins with PG County Schools, but they are doing a disservice to the children of the county. What is also disheartening is that these schools are primarily composed of black children.

The stories my son has brought home this past year were unbelievable. From students sexually harrassing each other (this is an elementary school from k-5), to the lunch monitors referring to kids as ‘idiots’, to a student telling the principal a strange man was in the courtyard and the principal not doing anything; the list goes on!

My son has gone from a student who was excited about attending school everyday, to a kid who has used every excuse in the book to not attend. The only positive is that although he hates the environment, his grades have not suffered, mainly because I do my part once he leaves the classroom. I’m not sure about any other parents in the county who send their kids to public schools, but I refuse to fail my son or allow him to fail at the hands of an inept educational system, so as of this upcoming school year, I refuse to have him attend school in this county.

I truly believe that a student can receive a great education from a public school system, but that school system has to have the means in providing a sound academic environment, and unfortuantely the proof is in the test scores that Prince Georges County’s school system has continued to fail it’s students. Maybe someone should remind them that a mind is truly a terrible thing to waste, especially the minds of young black children who are already becoming so disenfranchised at an early age.

 

 

  1. July 20, 2008 - Reply

    My son attended a PG Co. school for 1st & 2nd
    grades. The kids were on the rough side but since
    he was too, it was a good fit, and I’m being honest.
    What you described is horrible. I hope you can join
    the PTA if he’ll be there next school year and
    address these issues, or if not can find a private
    school for him. Good luck.

    • July 21, 2008 - Reply

      @Kit (Keep It Trill)

      I was an active member of the PTA this past school year and needless to say, not alot of parents took part in it. I also feel that public schools are not the root of all evil vs. private schools. Public schools in my opinion can offer more resources than some private schools. So, this next school year, we’ll be back in Columbia.

  2. July 21, 2008 - Reply

    u know u got me hungry now
    lol

    • July 21, 2008 - Reply

      @rawdawgbuffalo

      Hmmm….I don’t recall mentioning food? lol

  3. July 21, 2008 - Reply

    That is truly a shame–sorry ass administrators and teachers who carry on like this in a public school enviornment cannot possibly understand how they treat these children does nothing but set them up for failure. It is an absolute MUST that parents be involved in their children’s education from day one! I hope he feels better about going to school once you guys move.

  4. July 22, 2008 - Reply

    I went to elementary school in PG county for two years, Woodmore elementary in Mitchellville. It was a decent school but my mom ultimately removed me due to racist white teachers, racist black people, and I was being targeted for being from Louisiana. i think what really put her on edge was the day a little boy kept touching me inappropriately and I told the teacher (who did nothing) and when I slapped the life out of him, I GOT IN TROUBLE. It was either that or when she made me cry for forgetting my glasses in FIRST GRADE. I ended up finishing my education in AA County, but it wasn’t very diverse. LoL, more diverse than PG though.

  5. July 4, 2009 - Reply

    You just described all of my feelings about PG County. This is why we plan to move back to VA once we start having children. The educational system here is deplorable and the children suffer as a result.

    It's almost like we care more about building and buying mcmansions than we do about the education of the children.

  6. July 4, 2009 - Reply

    You just described all of my feelings about PG County. This is why we plan to move back to VA once we start having children. The educational system here is deplorable and the children suffer as a result.

    It's almost like we care more about building and buying mcmansions than we do about the education of the children.

  7. July 12, 2009 - Reply

    I grew up in NY with diverse populations and a quality education, though it wasn't easy. I had the same problem in DC public schools and had to move my child from school to school just to make sure I found teachers that paid attention. I wished more parents would take action it would change the culture of the systems.

    There is one school here in DC that have lines around the corner to get in. I had one of my programs there and the only reason no one knows it is a public school is because the parents stay completely involved and raise their own money through a parent coalition. It's a model worth using.

  8. September 15, 2009 - Reply

    I am a First grade teacher in Prince George's County. I am so offended by this entire article. This article makes it seem like all schools in Prince George's County don't care.

    Well let me inform all of you of the situation in which we are placed. First when you sign your contract for this county, you know what you getting yourself into. Parents that don't care, parents that don't have time, and parents who try as much as they can with what they can. I have 25 children in one room (there are 5 first grade classes). I have children who don't know their alphabet, numbers, or just basic English words, not by any fault of the Kindergarten. They tried so hard with those kids. I work my ass off everyday, but when the kids don't have parents that speak English, don't know how to read, or don't have the time those kids start to fall back more and more…..What else can we really do as teachers????? This is what the test score show!! NOT THAT WE AS TEACHERS AND ADMIN ARE NOT TRYING!!!! Because every teacher at my school tries with all of their might.

    And I will add that I grew up in the Prince George's County Schools. They are part of the reason I am the type of teacher I am now.

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