The African American Advisory Council (AAAC) and the Moreno Valley Unified School District hosted an African American Parent Night. The purpose of the AAAC is to engage, equip and empower parents to advocate for the academic success of their child. The evening featured Roland Martin as the keynote speaker. Martin is a well-known television and radio commentator and syndicated columnist. He is the host and managing editor of TV One’s NewsOne Now, the first daily morning news program in history to focus on news and analysis of politics, entertainment, sports, and culture from an explicitly African American perspective.
Martin was chosen as keynote speaker to provide an engaging and culturally relevant platform to inspire and motivate parents to become more active participants in their children’s education. Martin reminded parents that in the history of the United States, early laws prohibited African American people from learning to read and write and that as a people they were determined to do anything necessary to attain an education. Somewhere along the way education is now seen as an option. Education is not an option, but our right and obligation to attain, and ensure our children benefit from a quality education.
Martin encouraged parents to seek whatever learning option works best for their children including online, traditional or blended models. He also detailed several strategies for closing the achievement gap. They included 24/7 boot camp, which entails learning taking place during every minute of the day from the grocery store, in the car, and flash cards to introducing new vocabulary all around the house and reading, reading, and reading. He urged parents to carry books in the car. Trips to the grocery store can be unique learning experiences from weighing produce to determining value for your dollar.
He had all teachers and administrators stand and directed parents to repeat after him, “It is not all your responsibility.” Parents and schools must share the responsibility of educating children. He also encouraged pastors in the audience to open their doors to after school tutoring, safe havens, and interventions. Martin pointed out that churches could start programs immediately without the red tape involved in district initiatives and policies.
The message delivered by Martin was very well-received and he kept the audience captivated. Parents may have heard similar messages before, but hearing it from a world renowned journalist and education activist was just what was needed in Moreno Valley to ignite parents’ involvement and interest. His final words were “don’t stop now, each one of you bring two more to the next meeting and let’s keep it going.”