Children's author and literacy advocate Vanessa Betts was the guest speaker at the Feb. 16 Black History Month observance held at the Frontier Club.
Following lunch and a game of "Educational Jeopardy," Betts spoke about the importance of educating a child. She said her primary lesson in black education originated at home.
"You see, the family is the root of everything that befalls our society. Lessons shared through our parents and grandparents, the Sunday school teachers and aunts and uncles, they create a paradigm for developing our moral value system," she said.
"The curriculum that was used had nothing to do with student success. The learning method that I was most influenced by was the proverbial statement 'It takes a village to raise a child'."
Betts said the support of family and the legacy of the village sharing history was an asset to her as well as others that grew up with her.
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots."
Betts said she is thankful for being encouraged to practice healthy reading habits and being exposed to materials and resources that reiterated her ability to be comfortable in her own skin.
"The components of black education are complex. We have the responsibility to educate our family and the village and perpetuating the legacy and culture of our forefathers who proved that blacks were not substandard people, but a people purposed to excel even in the midst of crisis," Betts said.
"We have a responsibility, not just to our children, but to all the children in the village."
"For decades we have been compelled to readdress this issue of black education by dissecting the growing concern of disparity in education among black students," Betts said. "We have heard that the education system is broken and fractured. The same is said about the family structure. Is there a parallel here?"
Betts went on to say that there are people who wish to eradicate the past and exclude the brutal and corrupt treatment of blacks from the curriculum of history.
"Many of these people have no clue of the repercussions racism has caused. The very institution, school that is, responsible for educating our society is the same system that often inflicts burden of disparity among black students," she said.
Betts said she recently read a startling statistic that caused her great concern. The statistic claimed that the state of Arizona predicts how many prison beds they will need in the future by factoring in the number of kids who can't read by the time they are in fourth grade.
Betts said she is concerned because of the disproportionate amount of time that parents are spending on asking kids about their day at school, checking on their homework and collaborating with their teachers.
"We have replaced reading to our little ones with downloading so called interacting apps," she said. "Please don't misunderstand me, technology is amazing, but it is just a tool, a tool for stimulation for promoting learning."
"I am concerned when more students find more pleasure being on their cell phones than spending time reading a book."
Following the event Betts stopped by the White Sands Post Library to donate a copy of her book "A Grasshopper in my Peas".