Locked Out of the American Dream by Aliya Garfield

The Philadelphia School District is failing the city’s children. It is so sad to see that politics are proving to be more important than educating the kids who should be of the highestimportance because they are in fact the future of the city. Continuing on this path will only lead to the annihilation of the black community. This can be easily done by destroying our greatest resource, our youth. Although they are deemed ‘minors’ this title does not accurately describe the youth’s position is society. In all reality the young people are the most important socially and majorly influence all innovation and progress. It sickens me to observe how youth especially poor or black and extra especially poor and black youth are stereotyped, brutalized, and miseducated.  Miseducation is one majorly successful tool that is used to keep the extermination agenda cranking on like a well-oiled machine. I am disgusted with the injustice that is being done to our precious children. Our rubies and our diamonds, are being thrown in the gutter and shown every day just how little they seem to matter in the great scheme of things. 


Mother is the first teacher for most children but pretty early in life we send them off to the care of others for the sake of education. The promise of the “American Dream” tells us to go to school and get a good education, go to college, get a good job, work hard and you will be successful. That no matter where you started in life you have the ability to move up from there and education is the key. But why does is seem to me this formula for success isn’t exactly set in stone? For some the American Dream is one come true but it’s just a pipe dream for many others. A good education is not the same thing for every student. In fact going to school and getting a good education is not the key to success for all studentbecause some students go to school and are unknowingly given a different key, miseducation. 


Consider the state of Philadelphia public schools. I think it was my 2nd semester at CCP that I learned about something called the school to prison pipe line. While some would lead you to believe that this is simply a trend that is the result of strict school policies and zero tolerance rules weeding out so called undesirables it is actually a system that is designed to put our kids on this path to prison for profit. We need to be aware of this system that targets and criminalizes poor and black youth at as young in age as possible and sets them up early forlife in the judicial circuit. Philly schools provide fertile breeding grounds for the fodder to sustain this pipe-line. 80% of the students in the Philadelphia School District are eligible for free/reduced school lunch. This eligibility is an indicator of the extensive levels of poverty in Philadelphia compared to the state average eligibility rate of 43%. Philly is 46% black and more than a quarter of the city’s population is below poverty. Compare this to our close neighbors of Bucks and 

Montgomery counties where the black populations are both less than 10% of the total populations and the below poverty percentage rates are even lower than that. As you ponder these numbers does is make any sense as to why our county jails are a massive complex where individuals can receive their sex change hormones, methadone and HIV meds while watching cable no problem no cost. At the same time schools are finding it hard to afford basics like janitors or a nurse and kids are dying from things like asthma attacks. 


It seems backwards to me that Philadelphia schools spend less per student than a lot of other school districts in PA but the city still claims such a major budget deficit. The federal government provides money for education generally at or belowa rate of about 20% of the total budget with the state and local governments each being responsible for about 40% of the budget for a particular school district.  Meaning it is up to Philadelphia to provide for its children but instead Philadelphia spends millions on a new skate park and plans for a new LOVE park. And there are those that would say one has nothing to do with the other and that I don’t understand the way money is budgeted and distributed. Let me say I would agree that I don’t understand because how could anything be more important than correctly educating the leaders of our future? Don’t tell me there is no money for schools when there is still money being spent elsewhere. Today classrooms have become a place where students are conditioned to pass tests to get a little federal money while the state and local governments,who are supposed to provide the bulk of the cheese, come up way short when it comes to Philly kids.


Instead of taking care of the kids and giving them their best chances a heavy burden is placed on their backs. The federal government sets national standards that states must meet in order to receive federal funding for their school districts. The imposed national standards are so far reaching that they have a major impact in each individual classroom. Much more of an impact than the actual money that schools get from meeting these standards. I don’t see this as fair. The city wants the students to operate on a portion of what should be the budget well enough to make AYPTrying to meet federal standards while being cash strapped is like running in a track meet with a leg cast on and starting in the parking lot instead of at the starting block with everyone else. What makes it worse is that the standards apply a one size fits all approach to education without taking into consideration all the different factors that contribute to a child’s success on a standardized testThe standard on which these test are based are not our own. The design calls for certain groups to fail. 


All of these elements contribute to the miseducation off minority youth. In Philly many groups, black, Hispanic, Asian, poor, urban, special needs, disabled and English language learners, can be considered minority. Something we all need to keep in mind is that together these groups are the majority compared to those who actually benefit from the miseducation system of white supremacy. If we want to change the realities of miseducation it is necessary to create a system of alternative education. It is important for the black community to fund,build, staff and operate our own schools for our own children.Relying on America’s public schools to educate us has left the black community in peril. Without immediate intervention the future doesn’t look to bright at all. 


We as a community have to stop trusting others to give our kids the right key to open the door of success. Otherwise our children will continue to fall prey to pipe dreamsSchool to prison pipe dreams. It is up to us as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, babysitters, mentors and friends to guide and educate the younger generations. It is also important that we put plans into action. 50 years from now there is no reason for this topic to still be a discussion or idea. Black community schools have the potential to be a reality tomorrow if we stopped buying Jordan’s, Michael Kors, Chinese food and McDonald’s today. If we are locked out of the American dream by design it is well overdue that we create our own dream to live.

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