Guest speaker Rev. D. A. Graham, Ph.D., spoke about the issues concerning the education of African-Americans in the public school system on Feb. 7 at Weber State University, addressing a diverse audience.
Ikwo Frank, president of Black Student Union (BSU), attended expecting Graham to deliver a good message, but her expectations were surpassed, a sentiment echoed by other audience members, such as Betty Sawyer, BSU adviser.
“The part that stood out most during Dr. Graham’s speech was the concept of the need to assess reintegration in the public school system,” said Sawyer.
Graham cited examples dating back to the 1950s, such as Brown v. Board of Education. He stressed the persisting impact the segregated school system has had on the black community.
As a part of the solution, Graham believes we need true integration, not forced integration, and that true integration could be achieved by giving children the option to choose what school they would like to attend, thereby bringing different cultures and communities together.
“What we know is that when students are in evenly-mixed classrooms, the achievement gap between blacks and whites dropped tremendously,” said Graham.
Sawyer said this issue could be fixed at WSU. “We need to come to an understanding of what the integration process is all about and look at real data, such as the education achievement gap increase,” Sawyer said.
It is not so much an achievement gap, Sawyer believes, but a resource gap, meaning it’s necessary for African-American and Hispanic educators and administrators to be a part of any work done to improve public education.
Frank suggested bringing in more educational resources, like hiring a more diverse faculty, so students are afforded a wider array of perspectives.
The main goal of Graham’s speech was to give students, faculty and staff a blueprint to integrate all students in the public education system and to assure that all students who attend school at Weber State University feel as if they are valued by the university for what they bring to the table.
“With the tools and ideas that Graham has expressed, I believe that Weber State is headed in the right direction when it comes to education integration,” student Cole Mulcock said.