New nonprofit advocates for African American students and parents in the Lowcountry

VIDEO: New nonprofit advocates for African American students and parents in the Lowcountry

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Lowcountry Black Parents Association is working to close the achievement gap between African American students and other students.

Co-founder A.J. Davis says he along with people in the community feel the voices, perspectives and input of black parents and guardians are not being taken into consideration by the local school districts and local schools.

“We decided that we wanted to put something forth that was more authentic and genuine and could also empower black families to take ownership of their children’s education, as well as build their capacity as advocates for their own children,” Davis said.

David says the Lowcountry Black Parents Association is a grassroots movements of parents and guardians. He says they haven’t come across other organizations with the same platform.

Co-founder Eric Jackson says they saw the need for parents to be uplifted and strengthened.

“This is for all schools because we want people to understand that whatever decision you make, where ever you decide to send your children to school we just want quality education,” Jackson said. “That could be public schools, that could be charter schools, that could be private partnerships whatever the case may be, it could be private schools.”

Parents can reach out to the association if they have concerns. The nonprofit is creating a new platform for African American students and parents and advocating for legislation and policy that will help to improve the education for black students.

“The reform movement itself, it seems like they use a lot of information from the data sets that show that African American students are at the bottom of every data set, which is a very true statement but it when it comes to solving those issues in the African American community our voices are not at the table,” Jackson said. “That’s a very big concern.”

David says they have some changes in mind they would like to see. For example, he says standardized testing should not be one of the sole metrics for student performance.

“I know that South Carolina as a state asked for waivers for testing due to COVID,” Davis said. “We would like to see that become more of the prominent issue.”

He also says he would like to see the return of teacher autonomy in the classroom.

“We’re also seeing glaring disparities in a number of black staff members in positions of power with true autonomy to make decisions,” Davis said.

He also says the pandemic has illuminated some of the disparities that have already existed among black students.

“I think what happens is that black families feel excluded, even though the district says that it reaches out to all parents black families experienced hardships in a different way they communicate differently in many cases they oftentimes have obstacles that are not taken into consideration,” Davis said.

He says black students in general have always been labeled “academically deficient or behind.”

“A lot of that has been due to the fact that the educational system has not recognized the individuality of many black students from how they learn, how they listen, how they grow, how they demonstrate learning and classroom environments,” Davis said. “The classroom environment, which oftentimes included higher rates of suspensions and expulsions also levy heavy on the black community.”

He says some black students are at a bigger disadvantage during the pandemic with virtual learning because there might not be someone at home to assist students with their work or they might not have someone at home that understands the work they were assigned.

“The foundation that schools had provided for them was already crumbling,” Davis said.

The co-founders say that they are not saying the needs of black students and their families supersede other students, however they believe they should be amplified and taken into consideration by decision makers.

If you’d like to connect with the Lowcountry Black Parents Association you can visit its Facebook page or email info@lbpa.org.

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