By Crystal Humphries, Dynamic Mother, Teacher and Organizer, Brilliant Detroit
Crystal gives a unique perspective on K-12 education and the problems we face today. She speaks thru two different lenses. The lens of a teacher. And the lens of a mother who wants the best for their child. Although, the last day to celebrate Black History was yesterday. It doesn’t matter. We should be celebrating Black History everyday, because it is American History. And we are all a part of the story. And I enjoyed reading Crystal’s story. It was part of Edtrust Midwest’s celebration of voices of color during Black History Month.
The day that I ended my career as a teacher, I woke up as a parent.
I was in my 15th year of teaching, had reached my career high and then I quit. The money was no longer worth being a part of the disheartening school conditions.
I was in a Detroit school district that paid great money, but the quality of education was extremely poor. The higher-ups were making 6 figures, but the copying machine didn’t work most times and, in my classroom, the only technology available was my work laptop and a projector that a coworker purchased herself.
I felt hopeless. My middle school math students performed at a third-grade level but with such limited resources getting them on grade level was impossible. Parents came to the building all the time, but they didn’t seem to see the miseducation of their children. When I stopped teaching, I realized that I too was a parent oblivious to what was happening with my children’s education.
To my dismay, my youngest son was not reading on grade level nor did he have the solid educational foundation I thought he had. Like his classmates, he struggled with phonics, reading, and math. They had more resources than the schools where I taught, so absent-mindedly assumed my child was above grade level.
As a teacher and a parent, I am fed up with the quality of our schools and the lack of say that parents, students, and teachers have in the policies that impact our schools.
I decided that my goal was to begin organizing in my community and to work to improve our students and my child’s education system. That’s why I became an organizer with Brilliant Detroit. Brilliant Detroit supports families with children ages 0-8 with the vision of all students being kindergarten ready and successful in school.
Brilliant is a member of a group called 482Forward. 482Forward organizes parents, students, and Detroit residents to have a say in what happens to our schools. I know if our schools are going to improve parents, students, and teachers, those most impacted by the problem, will have to lead the way. That’s why I won’t stop fighting for our kids in Detroit and across Michigan.