A local educator brought to the forefront the issue that parents need to teach their children more at home because black children statistically perform lower than whites.

Talks regarding the issue arose during a weekend discussion regarding inequality in childhood education at the Juneteenth celebration sponsored by the Faulkner County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Saturday at the Greater Pleasant Branch Baptist Church.

Former Education Assistant Commissioner National Trainer and educational advisor Charity Fleming Smith said parents need to take more initiative at home and stop lying to themselves about their children's abilities.

By believing one's child performs better than what their students' grades reflect, Smith said parents are hindering their children from succeeding. To support this statement, she said 90 percent of parents believe their student is performing at grade level while other statistics show this is not so.

During her presentation, Smith revealed scores given by the Arkansas Department of Education that graded not only each school within the Conway School District but also broke down results as far as students' race.

Among the schools included in the presentation were Ellen Smith Elementary School, Ida Burns Elementary School, Bob Courtway Middle School, Carl Stewart Middle School, Conway Junior High School, Conway High School and others.

Of the above listed schools the ADE ranked each school and their respective students by race in 2016 and 2017 with the following scores:

Ellen Smith Elementary School


All students — 76.67

African-American — 70.86

Hispanic/Latino — 71.42

White — 80.14

Economically disadvantaged — 70.71

English learners — 70.49

Students with disabilities — 55.64


All students — 73.87

African-American — 69.5

Hispanic/Latino — 69.51

White — 77.68

Economically disadvantaged — 70.11

English learners — 67.28

Students with disabilities — 53.96

Ida Burns Elementary School


All students — 73.38

African-American — 69.3

Hispanic/Latino — 75.29

White — 77.1

Economically disadvantaged — 71

English learners — 69.63

Students with disabilities — 60.08


All students — 78.02

African-American — 68.24

Hispanic/Latino — 77.11

White — 84.67

Economically disadvantaged — 75.04

English learners — 68.01

Students with disabilities — 55.89

Bob Courtway Middle School


All students — 73.64

African-American — 69.01

Hispanic/Latino — 63.74

White — 79.14

Economically disadvantaged — 67.25

English learners — 61.08

Students with disabilities — 53.61


All students — 76.41

African-American — 70.73

Hispanic/Latino — 70.01

White — 81.08

Economically disadvantaged — 69.48

English learners — 66.33

Students with disabilities — 57.22

Carl Stewart Middle School


All students — 78.29

African-American — 70.08

Hispanic/Latino — 70.31

White — 83.07

Economically disadvantaged — 69.61

English learners — 67.37

Students with disabilities — 57.64


All students — 78.79

African-American — 66.45

Hispanic/Latino — 70.92

White — 84.89

Economically disadvantaged — 68.96

English learners — 68.36

Students with disabilities — 50.86

Conway Junior High School


All students — 68.81

African-American — 59.05

Hispanic/Latino — 64.6

White — 75.23

Economically disadvantaged — 60.49

English learners — 58.28

Students with disabilities — 48.78


All students — 71.33

African-American — 61.58

Hispanic/Latino — 65.49

White — 77.62

Economically disadvantaged — 63.44

English learners — 63.61

Students with disabilities — 52.34

Conway High School


All students — 69.07

African-American — 58.71

Hispanic/Latino — 55.42

White — 75.37

Economically disadvantaged — 59.09

English learners — 47.12

Students with disabilities — 52.74


All students — 68.85

African-American — 61.32

Hispanic/Latino — 62.37

White — 74.25

Economically disadvantaged — 60.18

English learners — 54.83

Students with disabilities — 53.66

While addressing these statistics, Smith said that while the scores are going up, the gap between black students' scores and white students' scores needs to close.

A Conway parent in the audience said she disapproved of the way students are compared against one another, noting these types of comparisons are a huge contributing factor regarding why many students feel they are not enough, nor will they ever be, because they do not meet up to the "white standard."

"We are teaching children that they’re not good enough if their skin is brown, or for X, Y or Z reason and then the school system doesn’t even support or rally around them to help them to the next level," parent Nicole Fletcher said during Saturday's discussion. "I do think it’s both ends and that parents definitely have a responsibility. But, we have to talk about the elephant in the room that we’re still telling black children, Mexican children that they need to muster up to white children when the circumstances are different. If I’m hungry, if I need to eat, I could care less about a capital letter A. I’m hungry and I need to eat."

While this perspective was more than true, Smith said the process to meeting the national standard begins through these comparison tactics.

To close the gaps in the future, Smith said it's important that families make education an important aspect of their everyday lifestyle.

"Achievement gaps are environmental, and by age 2, they exist," she said, adding that parents need to stop using TV shows as a means to teach their children and begin reading aloud to their kids. "Talk straight into the face of a child. Babies are looking at the TV. The baby cannot see how you are performing words by age 2 [through learning via TV shows]. You have to turn them around so they can see your mouth movements."

While these conversations are "uncomfortable," Smith said every community needs to be talking about and taking responsibility for these gaps.

"This is one of those powerful conversations that most people are uncomfortable to have," she said. "The standard is not white against black, but you have to start here first and then look at the standard."