Do you know what will solve the minority student achievement gap? The parents. If only parents would accept responsibility for their kids, the whole thing would be solved.

Then again, maybe it’s all the teachers’ fault. If only white teachers knew how to handle rambunctious or sullen black kids, the whole thing would be solved.

Or maybe it’s the fault of the administration. If only administrators gave enough support to teachers and parents, the whole thing would be solved.

Or the white power structure. If the white power structure didn’t keep black parents out of the loop, the whole thing would be solved.

Remember the old story about the blind men and the elephant? How many were there?#34;10? 13? They all grabbed one part of the elephant and were absolutely certain they knew what the creature looked like. But they couldn’t agree because they were all holding different parts.

Myopia and the minority student achievement elephant.

How many parts are there to this beast? The other day, I whipped off a list of 18 without even trying:

Parents, teachers, administrators, the residual effects of slavery, institutional racism, peer pressure, fear of the “Oreo syndrome” (black kids trying to be “white” on the inside), discipline disparities, income disparities, educational background disparities, honors program underrepresentation, lack of black teachers for role models, cultural differences, communication differences, low self-esteem, lack of effective academic support programs, lack of state funding, and, of course, the students themselves not working hard enough.

I’m sure plenty of you can add to this list.

But no, if only those damn parents would get their damn kids in line, we wouldn’t have a problem.

Well, one thing we don’t seem to be lacking is myopic people (rhetorically speaking) groping with the problem. They all hold up their part of the elephant and say, “I’m not cooperating until someone takes care of my part of the elephant first.”

The important thing?#34;the absolute top priority?#34;when it comes to the minority student achievement gap for most people is: “Don’t blame me for it.”

Don’t call me a racist; I don’t have anything against black people. Don’t ask me to feel responsible if my kid isn’t involved. It’s not just our school; the whole country is struggling with this issue. I’m a teacher; don’t ask me to be a social worker. I’m exhausted from working and parenting; don’t ask me to get involved with my kid’s school. I hope those black kids figure out why they’re coming up short because I’ve got my hands full just trying to push my kid into the Ivy League.

OPRF High School has made it their top goal for 10 years now, but unless they’re awfully shy about publicizing their triumphs, I haven’t heard a word about any genuine progress. You’d think they’d be pretty frustrated about that. And you’d think the community, which has been giving them plenty of money during those 10 years would be frustrated too.

Ah, but it starts at District 97, and Dist. 97 has only just begun to talk about it publicly. Who knows how long they’ll be dithering?

I don’t have the solution either, but I do know it isn’t attacking just one part of the problem. You have to address them all. You have to take off your damned blinders and see the whole elephant.

That, at least, would be a start.

And two more things: We actually have to care about the issue, and we have to actually believe it’s solvable. Because if we don’t believe it’s solvable, then we really are racists.

White Oak Parkers have to care about it as much as black Oak Parkers because if we can erase the gap, it will improve the public education system for all our kids, minority and majority. And if we solve it here, the rest of the country can’t say, “Gosh, if Oak Park can’t do it, how can the rest of us hope to?”

It’s not just the parents, it’s not just the teachers, it’s not just the schools, it’s not just the state legislature, it’s not just the kids. It’s all of us.

We need to say out loud: I believe our black and Hispanic students are perfectly capable of achieving academically at the same level as our white and Asian kids.

I believe that.

Do you?

Join the discussion on social media!