During Black History Month, we should honour Marcus Foster, a trailblazing black educator who was the first black, big-city school superintendent and one of the 20th century’s finest educators.
Foster believed in the power of education to achieve the American dream, which has historically been denied to children of colour.
He left a legacy of success in Philadelphia and was poised to do more in Oakland when the Marxist Symbionese Liberation Army assassinated him.
Foster’s life provides several important lessons. Firstly, we must recognize that black minds matter and that ensuring proficiency in reading and math among black students is vital in honouring Foster’s legacy.
Secondly, we must acknowledge that black families still seek great opportunities in the form of schools and that parents should have the freedom to choose their child’s path.
Finally, Foster believed that excellence and empathy were vital to student success. He defused conflicts with dialogue and mutual understanding, reoriented counsellors to help students, and brought back extracurricular activities to improve academic success.
Despite the challenges of his time, Foster built a cross-racial, bipartisan coalition focused on student learning.
Today’s education challenges are serious but solvable issues, such as lagging student achievement, curriculum debates, parent disenfranchisement, and overworked teachers.
We should remember Foster’s leadership, courage, and hope and recognize his contributions to the field of education during this Black History Month.»Foster believes excellence and empathy are vital to student success«