Beyond Mis-Education by Donna Shannon (Physical Book) read free with subscription at The United Black Library
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  • Beyond Mis-Education by Donna Shannon (Physical Book)

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    Donna Shannon



       Part 1   Birth to Early College


    Hard to Believe

    Talks about how at 2 years old, this Black boy (Donn) suddenly started reading aloud flawlessly in both English and Spanish. Nobody believed he was really reading (thought he was just memorizing) until I’d invite them to write down whatever they wanted and he would read it to them with no trouble.


    Early Learning Was Fun

    There was never a structured push to make him learn. We just read a lot and did a lot of things just for fun. But he was soaking everything in like a sponge. He got into William & Mary’s gifted program. Started Montessori school.


    Disvalue – K-1, Petsworth Elementary School, Fall

    Gloucester, Virginia. His school was stuck on “age-appropriate” so forced him into a K/1 class where kids were learning 3 and 4-letter words on flash cards, while Donn was reading books and magazines and newspapers at home. The school ignored its own standardized tests (documented) showing he deserved instruction years ahead of grade level. The ignored William & Mary’s gifted program psychologist’s recommendations. I didn’t yet know how to advocate effectively. I tried tirelessly, to no avail. He was homeschooled for the spring semester.


    Homeschool, 1st Time – 1st Grade, Spring

    Just continued what he always did at home and in the community. I tried to take him back to the Montessori school, but they said they had nothing left for him to do – and they went through 6th grade!


    Disregard – 2nd Grade, Petsworth Elementary School

    Donn got more and more frustrated and angry at the waste of his time in school. I sought help from the local level all the way to the U.S. Department of Education. No one would do anything for my son (documented). I allowed a doctor to put the ADD label on my child because the school’s gifted coordinator lied and told me with the “disability” label, he would have his own education plan addressing his gifted educational needs. Never happened. Disgusted, we relocated to a new city hoping for better education opportunities.


    Disappointment – 3rd Grade, Phillips Elementary School

    Hampton, Virginia. Turned out to be just more of the same. Documented. Now we were stuck because I had bought a house here.


    Disillusionment – 4th Grade, Phillips Elementary School

    Very nice teacher, but more of the same. Documented.


    Disdain – 5th Grade, Phillips Elementary School, Fall, Briefly

    This teacher (the first Black male teacher he’d ever had, which had me so hopeful) told me not to worry about Donn… “I’ll break him” were his exact words. I immediately withdrew him for homeschool.


    Homeschool, 2nd Time – 5th Grade, Fall

    Back to letting him follow his interests, on his advanced level, at his naturally fast pace. Also community activities. By now he had become a Volunteer Junior Docent Apprentice giving visiting families tours of the Virginia Air & Space Center (at 10 years old!), which he did until we left Virginia when he was 14. Documented.


    Disservice – 5th Grade, Spratley Middle School, Spring

    Awful beyond words, although there are plenty of words and documentation in the book. He was allowed to take all middle school classes, but it was like they were doing everything to try to make him fail. Even put him in a remedial reading class – without my knowledge or consent. I found this out by accident. Crazy story. Naturally he was bored in that class. In the end, after he successfully passed all his classes (all 6th and 7th grade classes) despite all efforts to fail him, they refused to give him official grades and refused to skip him the next year.


    Disbenefit – 6th Grade, Eaton Middle School, Fall, Briefly

    Classes were too crowded and loud. Donn hated it, so I didn’t make him stay.


    Homeschool, 3rd Time – 6th Grade

    Back to following his scholastic interests and community activities, including his volunteer work at the VA. Air & Space Center.


    Dispiritedness – 7th Grade, Syms Middle School, Fall

    Same old story. Only his band teacher seemed to appreciate him, but Donn was bored because he took 7th grade band in 5th grade at Spratley. I decided I would never make my son have to see the inside of a public school again. Tried to get him into early college in Virginia but I was told he couldn’t do it without the blessing of a “real” school.


    Homeschool, 4th Time

    By now, I had found out about an early college program at Cal State L.A., so I sold our house in Hampton and moved to L.A. where he tested right into the program.


    Finally—Early College

    Donn liked the intellectual challenge and did very well (documented), but he needed to be immersed full-time and I couldn’t afford full-time tuition. By the time he was offered a scholarship, he was becoming an entrepreneur and wanted to focus on growing his business idea. He asked me to let him take a break from school. I thought he deserved a break after all he’d been through trying to get an education.


    The rest of his story should be another book which I hope he will write himself. Suffice to say after 10 years being unable to make money with his business (being Black, not wealthy, and not connected worked against him), he is back in school working toward a degree in computer science. Scholarship and grant money is covering everything. He’s a Golden Key member and he’s on track to graduate with honors.


       Part 2   Reflections and Suggestions

    Eye-Opening Seven Years of Public Dis-Education

    A look back at Donn’s public school experiences. Stresses parental involvement and advocacy.


    "One can never consent to creep when one feels the compulsion to soar."

              ~ Helen Keller


    Children should not be forced to creep if they are able and anxious to soar.


    The Truth About Profoundly Gifted (PG) Kids

    Information about levels of giftedness. Dispels some myths.


    One Size Does Not Fit All

    Shares knowledge from Dr. Umar Johnson and Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu regarding how public schools set Black boys up to fail, what parents should look out for, and what to refuse to accept.


    What Parents Can Do

    More info about gifted children – levels of giftedness and effective approaches to their education. Info to help parents refute educators’ excuses for not doing for their children what they know should be done. Encourages advocacy and alternative education options. Strongly pro homeschool.



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