DEAR JASON, 3 INSTRUCTIVE THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM OUR MOMS WITHOUT KNOWING OR LIKING IT.

Dear Jason, thanks, and to your question concerning the article: “3 destructive things you learned in school without realizing it”. Beyond the fact that the “destructive things” mentioned have everything to do with schools reflecting the societal values and principles in the national environment in which they exist. It makes sense that the writer’s high school promoted a materialistic, market driven (the selling of the self), selfishness culture. And as we are told by anthropology, “culture is perfect”, and perfectly all-encompassing. A school can, on its own, only valiantly push back against the twisted virtues of a system that says capital gains is more important than what people gain from the educational experience.

But more importantly beyond the technical flaws in the article. I have read several of these “anti-high school” missives; and in fact commented on one that is very popularly making the rounds on social media (“Things I never stopped learning because of High School”… http://majmuse.net/?p=1941

First, a bit of Caribbean Mom wisdom I received as a child. I was always taught (and did not fully appreciate when I was young): That just because a parade is coming down the street, it does not mean you must jump in! Find out who is leading the parade, and where they are leading it. I was also taught to be suspect of those who by the virtue of the color of their skin, enjoy the power of forgiveness, a network of connections; an enfranchised and “special conditions” life experience in America.

As a youngster, I hated to be told that: “I had to be twice as good, and three times as careful, then my White school mates”. This rule severely struck my “fairness nerve”. But I must admit, the elders of my youth who although lacking college degrees, were not lacking in common sense; they were on to something about America that was true. As a person of color my: Right and legitimacy (regardless of credentials) to hold a leadership position, will always be constantly challenged and under attack (See Mr. Obama). I would go further to say that a smart young Black man, like yourself, is in reality, the most dangerous (and in danger) person in America. (And not the stereotypical “hoodlum” whose lack of a high school education, and self-destructive behavior, feeds an ever hungry criminal justice industry.)

And so, as I was instructed, so I went on to instruct (you) and thousands of others. You probably still remember my: “Life is not fair!” speech. All of this to say you may indeed find many personal examples of where a high school staff person did not perform their job admirably, or even in a professional competent manner. And as entertaining as these: “My high school did not prepare me (failed me)” stories may be, they can’t compete with the real sociological-economic data. There is an undeniable correlation (by grade) between high school completion, and potential earning power over the course of a lifetime!

For the children of color, for those children of any color who are trying to break out of the cycle of poverty. I say approach these stories with skepticism. Each life is different, and some lives in America are very different from others. We know nothing of the families, social and economic fences that surrounded these “anti-high school” writers. What was their inheritance (social and financial), who gave them a break, who opened a door at the right time for them?

Young folks should not be deceived; public education (with all of its flaws) is still the most efficient and effective journey one can take to improve the quality and positive productivity of one’s life. For the disinherited of our society, a high school education is not their enemy; and I would be very suspicious as to the motives of those who say, and advise otherwise. At the very least, I trust my mother over them!