We live in a 24/7 news cycle in which news permeates our space at any moment, all the time. What gets reported as newsworthy is a reflection of what is deemed important, valuable, worth knowing. Or so we’re told. You’d think that when something is a first, is impressive, counters the status quo or sets a significant, positive milestone, that something would most be deemed “newsworthy.” That’s what you’d think! But, sadly, that’s rarely the case.
It certainly wasn’t the case when eight-year-old Amir Early of Oakland, Calif., became one of a handful of African-American boys to score a perfect math score on the 2010 California Standards Test. In other words, that young brother answered all 65 questions perfectly.
You’d think he’d have immediately made the syndicated black radio circuit, would have had his photo plastered all over his state media, or, at least, have made a blurb in the African-American press. But, he wasn’t. In fact, when word first got out about Amir and his peers’ achievements, what did he and his family hear: crickets, crickets. Sending a clear and disappointing message that someone just doesn’t care about the academic accomplishments of our children.
The question is: who are those someones? Are they the group of media decision-makers and agenda-setters determining who and what we should know and care about. Or, are we the culprits? Are we sending the subtle (and not so subtle) signals that we just don’t care to create a culture that celebrates and recognizes our students’ academic achievements?
Now, I realize young Amir is no Lindsay Lohan. However, he is an incredibly bright, motivated child who arrives at school each day ready to learn. His teacher reports that his academic persistence causes everyone around him to work just as hard. He’s a testimony to the power of positive peer influence.
Thankfully, his mother persisted in bringing his accomplishment and that of the other 22 African-American boys to the attention of the school district and the media. But, I think we have to ask ourselves what is wrong with our educational and media institutions that this accomplishment is not deemed newsworthy, without the prodding of his parents.
Amir’s story is not the first or only example of such a missed opportunity. Our failure to acknowledge such accomplishments reflects a deficit-oriented mindset that is driving our steep climb out of the current educational crisis. Let’s all persist as Amir’s mother did to communicate that we believe the academic success of our children is as newsworthy as the successes we celebrate and acknowledge in other arenas. Amir’s academic persistence is producing success for him and inspiring and influencing his peers to do likewise. This is great news that we should all want to know about.
Check out some of the news coverage that Young Amir and his peers did manage to garner after his mother’s efforts.