NAACP’s Beth Glenn Talks African American Youth and Education
1 year ago
“The glaring disparities experienced by black students cries out for leadership from a race-specific lens.”
Glenn: The education crisis facing black students is really a crisis of investment and opportunity. We fail to invest in experienced and skilled teachers at schools serving poor students and students of color. We fail to invest in support for their learning, from reading specialists to chemistry labs, and as a result, we deny them the opportunity to succeed in school that ought to be every child’s birthright. The biggest challenge we face is assembling and targeting the resources — be they human or material — to make sure each black child has his or her needs met and is able to realize their potential.
Loop 21: Why is the Leadership 500 Summit integral to addressing that issue?
Glenn: Leadership 500 seeks to bring together young professionals and inspire them to activism that transforms our communities. Attendees inherently understand that successful students and schools are integral to the success of their communities. The target audience is at a stage in life when they are building for the future in their professional and family lives. We want to encourage them to prepare for and contribute to the future health of the communities that will nurture their children and shelter them as they age.
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Loop 21: How does the NAACP engage its youth membership in the fight to improve education in this country?
Glenn: Youth experience the inequities in our educational system perhaps most acutely and directly. They are the ones whose opportunity is stifled when they are expelled and suspended at twice the rate of their peers because of school policies. They are the students held back because they are reading and doing math two to three grade levels behind their peers. The NAACP tries to lift up the issues that individual young people bring to show them how to advocate for systematic change that improves their opportunity to learn and that of other black students.
Loop 21: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Glenn: It’s challenging to keep the fight going on so many fronts, all of which are critically important to making a better future for black students and families.
Loop 21: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Glenn: The most rewarding part is when we see real improvements in the policies and practices that help black kids learn more, more easily and more joyously, putting them and our community on the road to sustained success.