My Quest To Teach

August 14, 2014

STEAM and STEM Influencing Civil Rights?

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 23:25

STEAM and STEM Influencing Civil Rights?

“To cheapen the lives of any group of men,
cheapens the lives of all men, even our own.
This is a law of human psychology and human
nature. And it will not be repealed by our wishes,
nor will it be merciful to our blindness.” William Pickens

Many African American youth are lacking in skills that will
enable them to compete in fields composed of technologies
that have national and global influences particularly in the
fields of science and mathematics.
Educational initiatives are growing and will influence the
readiness of African American youth to enter higher
education, vocational schools, and compete for high
salary employment. STEAM and STEM influences
many aspects of educational progress thus influencing
students’ learning, progress and success.

As I have been blogging and speaking for several years
on the influence, empowerment and engagement of
STEAM, the national and global implications will be
measured in employment statistics, lower or higher
minimum wages, graduation rates, socio-economic
advancements, career exposure and the continued civil
rights of African Americans.
The battle for increasing minimum wage will continue for
years even while those working these low wages struggle
for economic stability on the edges of poverty or struggling
to escape from poverty. Too many in poverty have limited
civil rights thus do not have a voice in society.

African Americans know more than any other culture
how their civil rights are affected by politics, economics and
education. This direct relationship is also affected by science,
technology, engineering arts and math fields that influence the
world. STEAM for African Americans should be a national
imperative because of the transformative nature that allows
growth in education, advancement in intellectualism and
economic stability added civil rights understanding. Through
education comes clarity and understanding.

The growing number of African Americans and people of
color are out numbering whites in population, but African
are lacking skills that will allow a paradigm of
change and power sharing or even equitability.

In order for African Americans, Hispanics and other cultures
to have value and continue to be of value they must take
seriously the empowerment of careers and opportunities
that embrace STEAM, STEM and STREAM and make serious
commitments to educational obtainment.

Civil Rights – the rights of citizens to political, economic and
social freedom and equality.
In order for this to become reality it goes beyond just being a
citizen it applies to those that gain skills that do not allow them
to be invisible. The Civil Rights struggle will continue for years
to come, the iconic members of our communities that fought
symbolize the struggle of achievement and continuation of
work that still needs to be done.

Youth are important to continue to create change, this change
will be manifested by educating our youth in transformative
educational areas that directly influence our society as it embraces
and integrates more technologies. The infusion of STEAM and
STEM is important for African Americans because these are
where high salaries, leadership opportunities and opening doors
for diverse careers for African American men and women.
Young women are earning more advanced degrees than men in
areas of STEM and STEAM. 21st century skills can be learned
outside of the classroom, participating in STEAM initiatives that
focus on engagement and exposure. Space Camps, conferences,
workshops, summits should be attended by African American boys
and girls to build their skill-sets and allow them to compete and
develop their talents and abilities.

Youth examples can be seen in young ladies like Taylor a resident
of Jacksonville, Florida and student in the DCPS. She was the only
African American student from Jacksonville, Florida to attend the
Space Camp in Atlanta, Georgia, earning top honors and
awards. When asked about her experiences her reply was,
“Space Camp is so amazing! I’m doing things I don’t think I would get
the opportunity to do if I hadn’t come! I get to interact with other
kids who have same interests and abilities as me. Best time
ever. Next to meeting Dr. Mae Jemison one day this is my dream
come true!” She should be an example and encourage others to
become involved in activities like Space Camps and STEAM camps.

Many African Americans still do not understand the power of STEAM
they must look at the careers that require skills in these areas and the
conduits for obtaining stable careers not just jobs. Careers offer a higher
standard of living through STEM and STEAM education. Just as was
taught in programs like the Black Male College Explorers hosted by
Edward Waters College, this program should be expanded not just in
Jacksonville, but throughout Florida. Allowing Black males that are At
Risk academically to see the relevancy of math, reading, literacy and
comprehension skills. How science is not hard, but challenges the mind
to expand and the empowerment of technology.

The Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 60 years
ago opened doors for educational obtainment, but education for African
Americans is still a challenge for many reasons.
One issue is that too many African Americans settle for meritocracy and
look for the easy and safe way to live. STEAM and STEM is an area that
has boundless potential to reverse the School to Prison pipeline, raise
awareness in careers and benefits beyond sports and entertainment
STEAM and STEM are building competitive edges that allow African
Americans to help the United States be competitive in a world of
adaptation to new technologies, integration of learning and building
a bridge out of poverty and silence. The more a community embraces
education the more that community flourishes.
Reading about the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights,
I’m caught by the comments of Wade Henderson; “The era of pick and
shovel jobs is gone,” he said, “Those who would support themselves in
the 21st century need a high school diploma and more — career training,
Associates degree, ideally, a four-year college degree.” Degrees in
STEAM are growing because careers demand it. In a recent NPR
article, there are careers not even created for students in
elementary schools.

Taylor – Space Camp Participant from Jacksonville, Florida
The only student from DCPS to participate in Space Camp in Atlanta, Ga.

Examples of thousands of girls like Taylor who participate in STEM
camps and initiatives are struggling to find events that cater to their
passion. Taylor and her mother have been diligent in finding and
participating in STEM and STEAM events to build on Taylor’s dreams
to become an astronaut and scientist and inspire other girls.

Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary of the Education Department’s Office for
Civil Rights. “We are not serving our girls enough in STEM,” so more
needs to be done. The efforts that Taylor’s mom put forth are a testament
to the dedication of parents to make sure they do not just rely on the
educational system to prepare their children, but they work hard and
find other avenues to support their children. Taylors mom stated,
“I’m so proud of her (Taylor). From raising the funds herself through
GoFundMe to attending the camp, to being the only African American
female in her group! Receiving the college credits are the icing on
the cake! I just want her to know that she can achieve any goal as long
as she stays focused, I will always support her and in her words then
she will reach for the stars! There’s no stopping her!”

Black Male College Explorers at
Edward Waters College

Growing programs like Educational Excellence for African Americans,
My Brother’s Keeper, Black Male College Explorers Program, Space Camp,
Black Girls Code, Journey Into Womanhood, Girls Inc. and others need
mentors, educators and professionals to step up and contribute, they need
to step up to help youth, teens and the young adults who will be
leaders in new areas of STEAM and STEM.

Lhamon hopes there are more opportunities in STEM to minority students
and women. Stating that, “We need to be sure we have access to teachers
that are prepared for diverse students and schools that are prepared to
teach them equitably … We should be one joined community in demanding
civil rights for all of our kids.”

Just imagine if millions of African American boys and girls developed a
passion and love for STEAM like Taylor does, how our schools
would flourish, African American boys and girls would not be at the bottom
of academic levels, but on competitive levels, there would be more African
Americans modeling successes and gaining economic strength, the stopping
of the School to Prison Pipelines because African American students would
be focusing on GPA’s, higher education, vocational education, political
strength, economic development, solving social issues and truly making their
communities prosperous and culturally strong.

African American’s will be able to speak not with protests, but with economic,
political and educational power. The time for struggling, protesting, fighting,
demanding, and tears would be over. African Americans will be closer
to their destinies and closer to the “Dreams” of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Carter G.
Woodson, Fredrick Douglas, Mary McCloud Bethune, Asa Phillip Randolph
and others that have left us with a foundation.

Malcolm X’s statement “By Any Means Necessary,” applied to economic
stability and equality by educational growth. Obtaining an education – “By
Any Means Necessary!!” It is up to youth to continue the struggle, not to quit;
nor faultier for equality and equal civil rights obtained through educational

“It is easy to be disgruntled if you are denied rights and freedoms to which
you feel entitled. But if you are not coherent, if you cannot put into words
what it is that displeases you and why it is unfair and should change, then
you are dismissed as an unreasonable whiner. You may be lectured about
perseverance and patience, life as a test, the need to accept the higher
wisdom of others.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nomad: From Islam to America:
A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilization

Graduation at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee Florida.
Pictured is Sean Jackson (Summa Cum Laude) and other honors graduates.


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