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Educator places responsibility for children's success on everyone

Thursday, January 29, 2009 | 10:58 p.m. CST; updated 11:46 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 29, 2009

 COLUMBIA — Educator Okpara Nosakhere outlined on Thursday what he described as some of the problems in today's educational system, calling for change not only within the schools, but at home. 

"We're at a time when the educational system across the country is floundering," said Nosakhere, who spoke to about 30 parents and educators at St. Luke United Methodist Church for a meeting sponsored by the newly formed Black Parents Association of Columbia Public Schools.

Nosakhere has more than 25 years of experience as an educator. He has worked as a principal at both elementary and high schools and is now a senior consultant for Educational Management Associates, a Kansas City-based firm that helps schools develop strategies for success.

Nosakhere said special education is a growing problem in schools. Children who get labeled as needing special education classes early in school develop such low self-esteem that by high school, "they don't want to be in an environment that's conducive to destruction" and drop out, he said.

"Now, we're seeing special education (classes) grow and grow just like we're seeing prisons grow and grow," he said.

Nosakhere said that teachers who don't know what to do with disruptive students often wash their hands of them by sending them to the office.

"If there's no discipline in the school, education is out the window," Nosakhere said.

This could potentially start a cycle of dysfunction in which these children are viewed as unimportant. They could slip through the cracks, but if they got the attention they needed, whether at home or at school, they could have the potential to succeed, Nosakhere said.

Nosakhere said one reason that children might have trouble in school is that while learning styles have changed over the years, teaching styles have remained the same.

"We know that children don't learn the same," Nosakhere said. "These children are very, very bright. They're exposed to a lot more information than we were when we were children."

Nosakhere said that teachers and parents collectively have become disconnected from children's progress in school and, in some cases, lost sight of what is best for each child.

Nosakhere called for parents and teachers to work together to ensure the success of all children. He said parents must hold those in charge of the schools accountable. Additionally, teachers and school board members should know parental expectations, and parents should take responsibility at home to help teachers meet those expectations, he said. 

In the discussion that followed his lecture, Nosakhere said everyone should take responsibility for that change.

"The change doesn't start with (President Obama) — it starts with each and every one of us," Nosakhere said. "We're all in this same boat together. We either paddle in the same direction or we spin in circles."

Audience member Vincent St. Omer, who was an educator before retiring in 2004, called for a return to more traditional levels of involvement within the community.

"We have to get back to the village concept," St. Omer said. "If teachers know the expectations of the parents, and the parents hold them accountable, it is less likely for (them) to misbehave."


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Comments

Ray Shapiro January 30, 2009 | 1:57 a.m.

The only person responsible for the success of a child is the child.
Everyone else has the responsibility to provide a quality environment.
Most of everyone else are doing a poor job.
Public schools need more meaningful PTA's with involvement of the principal and the kids.
PTA's should be in every school from elementary up to High School.
If the "older" kids feel embarrassed or intruded upon by this, too bad.
The kids need to trust the adults and need to be trust worthy themselves.
(Just my opinion.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr January 30, 2009 | 3:23 a.m.

>>> The only person responsible for the success of a child is the child. <<<<

Sorry ray gotta disagree with you on this one as I have said too many times before this falls onto the parents first in their proper upbringing,education,nurturing,guidance of that child to ensure the child follows those roads to success.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand January 30, 2009 | 6:29 a.m.

It's your responsibility -- not anyone else's -- to raise the child you made. It's asinine to suggest otherwise.

(Report Comment)
Vicky February 2, 2009 | 4:35 p.m.

Casting call for kids of all ages to submit a video stating what "I Can be Barack Obama" means to them. I Can Be Barack Obama the movie and the book written by Rriiver Nyile and Edited by Elon Bomani.

The “I can Be Barack Obama” Book is story of how the historical election of American’s first African-American President has impacted the life of one small African-American Boy. It speaks of the love, hope, faith, dreams and triumph that all children share. It is a compilation of real statements from kids all over the world citing what “I Can Be Barack Obama" means to them.

The “I Can Be Barack Obama” Movie is a compilation of real stories by real kids who have been directly impacted by the historical elections of the United States of America’s first African-American President from all over the world.

Rriiver Nyile believes that I Can Be Barack Obama speaks about a man who has become a role model. He represents the idea to all children that the impossible can become possible. You can be anything that you want to be if you put your mind to it. It does not matter what race, creed, color, gender, or class is; you have within you the divine right to accomplish your dreams.

The main goal of “I Can Be Barack Obama" is to encourage kids to learn morals and values that will build a healthy character, self-esteem and a formidable spirit. The book and the movie will also promote reading and writing literacy, financial literacy, and foster parental engagement.

Barack Obama life is the fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King dream of some forty years ago. He said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The dream is a reality and now by way of “I Can Be Barack Obama” we can all grow, learn and manifest a bright future for our children.

(Report Comment)

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