When Chester native Tasliym Goodman watched the documentary film, American Promise with her husband and three eldest children, she immediately knew she wanted to share the film’s findings about Black boys and school achievement with her colleagues and other parents at the K-7 Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA).
Goodman, in addition to being a parent of three CCSA children, serves as the school’s executive assistant to Principal Akosua Watts. Goodman also founded Parent University, a CCSA parent support group committed to building and sustaining meaningful and successful parent-school-community partnerships.
Last Thursday, Goodman’s vision came true. At Parent University’s monthly meeting, CCSA families, faculty and volunteers gathered in the cafeteria to hear NAACP Award winning author, Hilary Beard present her most recent book, Promises Kept: How to Raise Black Boys to Succeed in School and Life.
The book is a companion piece to the 2013 Sundance US Jury Prize winner, American Promise. “Although the film chronicles the academic experience of a middle class Black family at a New York City private school,” says Goodman, “I connected to the film’s premise and the family’s struggle. Many Chester residents can relate to challenges portrayed in the documentary: discrimination, hyper surveillance, low expectations and the stigma of being a Black boy.”
Carol Hill, senior vice president of The Chester Fund and the parent of a Black boy with special needs, adds, “This is exactly why we wanted Ms. Beard to share her knowledge with us. I think it was shocking for all of us who have seen the film to see the tremendous challenges Idris (the student) faced in an extremely privileged setting. Even with well-educated parents and social capital, he faced academic barriers because of his race and the legacies of racial bias – [which are] often subconscious. In Chester, there is the additional barrier of socio-economic status.”
Goodman then added, “We need more individuals like Ms. Beard who are committed to sharing the most cutting-edge research and best practices with us.”
Beard, a Princeton graduate who penned the book with Idris’ parents, Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, thanked the audience with tears in her eyes, saying, “I am emotional because the minute I walked through the door, I felt like I was home.” She later added, “There are not enough media channels to deliver university research to the people who need it most – parents and educators. No one got the memo that the traditional style of Black parenting was no longer optimal. Many of us were parented under the authoritarian style; but the world has changed and therefore the optimal style has changed.”
During her presentation, Beard focused on presenting parenting styles and strategies that have been proven in multiple studies to be most effective in supporting the academic success of Black boys and girls.
She described five parenting styles:
- Authoritarian parents who are highly demanding and monitor their child closely, but who are low in responsiveness;
- Permissive parents, who are high in responsiveness, but low in monitoring and are rarely demanding of their children;
- Neglectful parents who are low in responsiveness, low in monitoring and low in how much they demand from their children;
- Authoritative parents who are high in responsiveness, high in monitoring, and high in how much they demand from their children; and
- Strict authoritative parents, who are high in responsiveness and monitoring, but who place even higher demands on their children than traditional authoritative parents.
Beard referred to parents who follow strict authoritative styles, as “warm demanders” who set high behavioral and academic expectations, monitor TV and other forms of media, require their children to perform chores, are responsive, and share decision-making. She noted that authoritative parenting styles can overcome deficits in family income and parental education levels.
After the presentation, Bashan Goodman, Goodman’s husband, shared, “Ms. Beard was really helpful. I can see the ways in which I adjust certain behaviors to support my children for today’s economy. It’s empowering to see that there is optimistic research available on our sons and that there is a clear pathway to producing academically successful Black boys.”
Beard concluded, “You can see that families and educators are clearly collaborating and working in partnership, which is exactly what we need, especially in low-resourced schools.”