Every 26 seconds at least one student is dropping out of high school in America. That equates to 7,000 every school day and approximately 1.3 million each year. By race, nearly 50 percent of Black and Hispanic students are not completing high school on time.
Further statistics show that Houston and Dallas account for 20 percent of the country's high school dropouts.
On August 5-7th, educational experts, skilled administrators, literacy specialists, concerned parents and community members will convene in Houston for the 3rd Annual National Education Challenge Conference to further usher in a new educational paradigm. The conference is hosted by Muhammad University of Islam and the Ministry of Education.
“America’s public school system is failing because they have not passed the test of being able to confront the challenge of stamping out illiteracy and establishing new ideas in the curriculum that are rooted in God’s way and light, not a separation from God’s way,” said Dr. Larry Muhammad, national director of Muhammad University of Islam.
The first ever conference two years ago was sparked by discussions Dr. Muhammad had with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who gave birth to the yearly theme “The Education Challenge: A New Educational Paradigm for the 21st Century." Minister Farrakhan then delivered an address on August 3, 2008 and released an accompanying study guide centered on the same subject.
“In this lecture and the study guide that followed, Minister Louis Farrakhan lays the cornerstone of that new educational approach and methodology that would open the way for new ideas and new thinking despite the challenges that lie ahead,” said Dr. Muhammad.
“We’re honored to host the 3rd annual conference and serve our Nation in this capacity. We’re honored to serve the wealth of talent among the followers of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the community at large in Houston,” said Student Minister Robert Muhammad.
Participants from across the country can expect thought-provoking sessions conducted by some of the finest in the education field.
“We will have speakers who have actually implemented and executed methods. This is about success driven presentations. They will show us successful models to keep our children engaged,” said Durce Muhammad, conference co-chair.
According to the official Website, topics of discussion will include dropout prevention, classroom management, new educational research, technology across the curriculum, post high school careers, understanding dyslexia, homeschooling, and charter schools.
Headline speakers will be educational consultant Dr. Anthony Muhammad, Los Angeles-based principal Dr. Luis Cruz, Attorney Ava Muhammad, and Attorney Ricky Anderson along with others.
The conference will also be the launching pad for a national literacy campaign which calls for the involvement of everyone, even if you’re not a teacher.
“You don’t have to be a teacher to impact your children’s ability to read. We should be concerned because we are failing our children, they are not failing themselves,” said Gwyn Muhammad, a literacy expert who heads the Ministry of Education for Muhammad Mosque No. 45.
Ms. Muhammad told The Final Call that literacy no longer has an exclusive focus on reading and writing. “It includes a more inclusive and expansive perspective, such as: computer literacy, financial literacy, mathematical literacy, geological literacy, musical literacy, auditory literacy, and visual literacy,” she said.
“We take the educational challenge that Minister Farrakhan made seriously and we desire to be the catalyst for a nationwide literacy campaign wherein we are bringing to this nation’s attention the appalling functional illiteracy by solving some of the many problems leading up to next year’s conference,” said Robert Muhammad.
Other conference highlights will include a special Friday Night Study Group on August 6. On Saturday, a five hour community day event will be held with mini-workshops, fun and games.
For more information on the 3rd Annual National Education Challenge Conference visit www.theeducationalchallenge.com
(This article by Staff Writer Jesse Muhammad originally appeared in The Final Call Newspaper Volume 29 Number 42)