‘Too many of our kids are failing’

Margaret Lazarus

Margaret Lazarus, a Superintendent of  Education with the Durham District School Board, warned parents at a Black Educators Network conference in Ajax on Saturday that unless they realize what their responsibilities are, their children  will  be  “going nowhere.”

“We need to understand that our children are losing right now and I believe that they are losing because we are abrogating  our parental duties and responsibilities ,”  said the veteran Ontario  educator.

Lazarus was speaking  at the ninth annual “And Still  We Rise ” conference at the Dr.Roberta Bondar public school.

She pointed out  that  “too many of our kids are failing. Too many of our kids are choosing  the easy way out. ”

“We cannot allow them [our children ] to close the door.”

” I don’t care what type of job that we want  – plumber, dishwasher or whatever it is -we have got to be the best,”  she said.

Shelley-Ann Brown Silver medal Olympian with members of the community

Dealing with behavioural problems, Lazarus said that “our kids sometimes behave so badly that I am embarrassed.”

But she pointed out that ” we can change  behaviour.”

She explained   that we first  have to acknowledge the problem and  then ” we have to put steps in  place  to deal with it.”

She told parents that they need to be proactive and advocate for their children regularly.

” Don’t  wait for the teacher to call you.You  can pick up the phone  and advocate for your children.”

But she warned:  “Advocate appropriately.

“Don’t go in [to  the school]like a mad Black woman and turn over the desk with steam coming out of your ears,”

“Start with the teacher and  if you don’t get satisfaction go to the principal. If you still don’t get satisfaction, go to the superintendent and if you still don’t get satisfaction, then  go to the trustee.”

” If you feel that you cannot get your message across, then bring an advocate with you.

“But remember that you are a part of the team.The school wants to work with you to solve  problems.”

“Build relationships in the school because if you have a relationship with the principal and the teacher, it  is so much easier when you have a problem to work it out together.”

Lazarus was one of several  keynote speakers at the conference at which there were workshops and presentations  focused on “enhancing learning and development opportunities.”