Forum to challenge the education status quo

Young adults will facilitate discussions that could ‘kick-start a movement’

Mahmoud El-Kati
Mahmoud El-Kati

A forum on addressing how to better educate Black children is scheduled for April 20 in North Minneapolis. BEST Academy Founder and CEO Eric Mahmoud is the expected keynote speaker at “The Education of Our Children in the 21st Century” at BEST Academy, located in the former Lincoln Middle School building on 2131 12th Avenue North. The free public event from six to nine pm is sponsored by the Sankofa Series, a local grassroots organization.

“With the current state of education, I’m very sure this Sankofa Series will be a very impassioned event,” says Papyrus Publishing Owner Anura Si-Asar, a member of the event’s planning group, in a press release. The event also will include “tabletop discussions” facilitated by local young adults on the current education system, discussing strategies and next steps.

“There is a problem in the world and not just here” in educating Black children, said retired professor Mahmoud El-Kati last week in an MSR phone interview. “How can we educate Black people? We want people to really think about this question.”

El-Kati says the April 20 evening event also will help him gather “community insights and opinions” along with local educators’ input for his next book, Towards an African Education, a critical essay which the professor says he hopes to release early next year. He explains a key reason why an achievement gap between Black and White children exists both locally and nationally is because of “the White supremacy doctrine, a White supremacy paradigm” and too often Black children’s intelligence isn’t fully recognized in school.

“There’s not one way to be intelligent,” he points out. “They’ve got standardized tests [but] there’s no standardized intelligence. There’s several ways to be intelligent.”

El-Kati notes as an example that White children know all about George Washington and other historical notables involved in the American Revolution, but Black children rarely hear about Crispus Attucks and other Blacks who were also involved in the founding of this country.

“The disconnected history of us is an abstract question,” he says. “There’s no part of the American story [where] Black people don’t have a presence. If that is [the case], please make me know what this is.

“I’m not saying to take [Abraham] Lincoln out of the history books, but put [Frederick] Douglass in,” stresses El-Kati, who adds that the lack of full inclusion of Blacks in U.S. history adversely affects Black children’s “historical imagination.”

Finally, the professor and the Sankofa Series organizers hope that the forum will inspire those attending to further push for change. El-Kati predicts that it could kick-start “a good movement…of challenging the status quo…to challenge the school board that the curriculum is morally wrong.

“I think lots of people are aware…and can see our children are not getting educated,” says El Kati. “How do we challenge that? We as parents and the community have the responsibility to protect our children from emotional and intellectual harm.”

The event is free and open to the public, but event registration is strongly recommended at www.MahmoudElkati.com.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.