Cosby Urges Parent Involvement With Kids
WASHINGTON - Bemoaning an increasing tendency of parents to "manage their kids' lives by cell phone," entertainer Bill Cosby pleaded with fathers, mothers, teachers and other authority figures to work harder to improve the lives of black children.
"With all the systemic racism that pounds at us every day, there is nothing that will defeat parenting," the comedian and education activist told an audience of about 500 people during a panel discussion at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual legislative conference.
In the schools, Cosby said many students have "a great deal of anger" that goes unnoticed by educators because of a lack of psychologists and psychiatrists. Underlying problems at home, such as child abuse, can go undetected, Cosby said.
That anger, he said, manifests itself in the profanity-laced language that some kids use today.
"It's very important to call ourselves on it and look in the mirror, but we need all of our players involved and we need to be galvanized," Cosby said.
Wearing sunglasses and dressed in a tan suit, Cosby again stood by remarks he made in May in which he criticized certain segments of the black community on issues from their grammar to complaints about police brutality.
The comments had been construed by some as an elitist attack on the poor.
"As far as I'm concerned, come at me all you want. Write all the articles you want, because you are not making any sense," he said, eliciting applause from the crowd. By Associated Press
SAN JOSE, CA - Bill Cosby blamed parents for the shortcomings of students during a speech Sunday to educators at Stanford University, continuing a theme the comedian touched on last week when he linked the behavior of some low-income blacks with the community's school dropout rate.
``We need to stop fooling around,'' Cosby told a gathering of about 1,700 people at Stanford's Memorial Auditorium. ``The mother and the father born here didn't learn to speak standard English -- or math.''
Many parents are not doing their job, he told the group, which included 150 Bay Area educators honored for their work with low-income students. ``I don't know where we lost it, or how we lost it, but people are not parenting.''
Cosby, 66, also said students are falling short because their diets are not healthy, class sizes are too large and teachers lack resources.
After the speech, Cosby met with the honored educators in a more personal setting, telling them students were missing one other key ingredient.
``They don't know love,'' he said. ``Some of these children have been raised like pimps.''
The remarks came a week after Cosby stirred controversy at a Washington, D.C., gala commemorating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision to desegregate public schools. Cosby reportedly said ``lower-economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.''
``These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for `Hooked on Phonics.' ''
Cosby told the New York Times on Friday that he had made the comments out of concern and because of his belief that fighting racial injustice must also include accepting personal responsibility. He did not answer questions from the media Sunday.
For years, Cosby played one of television's most revered fathers, and his book ``Bill Cosby on Fatherhood'' was a bestseller. And many Sunday agreed with his message that parents need to play a bigger role.
``I really respect him for just speaking the truth,'' said Jeff Friedman, a teacher at Fiesta Gardens International School in San Mateo. ``For me, he's saying what I want to say, but he's saying it with a big megaphone.''
Others said while parents play a role in their children's success, teachers still have the power to make a difference.
``I'm not a blamer,'' said Debra Watkins, co-founder of the California Alliance of African American Educators. ``We know slavery happened. We know kids are poor. We know they come to us woefully unprepared. But when they are in the classroom with the teacher . . . they are absolutely all you have and it is your responsibility to rise to the challenge.''
Proceeds from Cosby's sold-out Stanford performance will help provide $20,000 Stanford fellowships to future teachers of low-income students.
Stanford raised more than $1 million from the fundraiser -- which, for $2,500 per person, included an exclusive mix-and-mingle with Cosby, an orchestra seat during his show, and an elaborate dinner emceed by TV news anchorman Tom Brokaw.
Dozens of educators also attended a seminar called ``Breaking the Silence: Courageous Conversations About the Impact of Race on Student Achievement.''
Among them was Steven Pinkston, director of community service at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose. He said black students, like his teenage son, face additional struggles because of their skin color.
``There was some truth in what he said,'' Pinkston said of Cosby's comments last week. ``Concurrent with that, racism is a real issue in this country.''
By Nicole C. Wong Mercury News
What Cosby Has Said "People putting their clothes on backwards: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong?"
On Parenting: "People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around. . . . The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting."
"I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is the father?"
"The idea is to one day get out of the projects. You don't just stay there."
On Blame: "We as black folks have to do a better job. . . . Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard."
". . . We cannot blame white people. . . . ."
"The incarcerated? These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, saying, 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"
NAACP Executive Director Kweisi Mfume said he agreed with "most of what Cosby said" and hugged him after the speech. "He said what needed to be said," Mfume said.
"I was talking to the movers and shakers," Cosby emphasized yesterday. Here's more Cos, as tape-recorded by Harris Monday night:
"I wasn't there when God was saying it, I am making this up, but it sounds like what God would say. In all of this work we can not blame white people. White people don't live over there; they close up the shop early. The Korean ones don't know us well enough, so they stay open 24 hours."
On fashion: "People putting their clothes on backwards: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? . . . People with their hats on backwards, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up to the crack and got all type of needles [piercings] going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? Those people are not Africans; they don't know a damn thing about Africa.
"With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail. Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. We have to go in there -- forget about telling your child to go into the Peace Corps -- it is right around the corner. They are standing on the corner and they can't speak English."
On sports heroes: "Basketball players -- multimillionaires -- can't write a paragraph. Football players -- multimillionaires -- can't read. Yes, multimillionaires. Well, Brown versus Board of Education: Where are we today? They paved the way, but what did we do with it? That white man, he's laughing. He's got to be laughing: 50 percent drop out, the rest of them are in prison."
On teenage sex: "Five, six children -- same woman -- eight, 10 different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you are going to have DNA cards to tell who you are making love to. You don't know who this is. It might be your grandmother. I am telling you, they're young enough! Hey, you have a baby when you are 12; your baby turns 13 and has a baby. How old are you? Huh? Grandmother! By the time you are 12 you can have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I'm just predicting. . . .
"What is it -- young girls getting after a girl who wants to remain a virgin? Who are these sick black people and where do they come from and why haven't they been parented to shut up? This is a sickness, ladies and gentlemen."
"Responsibility for our children's education must begin at home."
- The Parental Involvement Pledge.pdf, branded with your school's name, for distribution to every student and family. (Title I Learning Compact!)
- Web page for the Parental Involvement Pledge Online, branded with your school's name, for accessibility anywhere!
- The Parental Involvement Report Card.pdf - a self diagnostic tool for distribution to every parent, grandparent, and caring adult.
- Parent Organizing Database 1.0.1 software runs on any Windows computer, and is easy enough for everyone to learn. Features List.pdf
- Parental Involvement Certificates for Schools and Individual Volunteers.Also Included:
Masterfiles are in Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf files). Toolboxes are delivered by e-mail.
- Family Wellness Compact. Fitness and Nutrition Parental Involvement Pledge!
- PowerPoint Central! The Best Parental Involvement Training Resources In America
- How To Run A Successful Pledge Campaign
- Project Appleseed's Newsletter Appleseed Today
- Regular e-mail updates on Project Appleseed and parental involvement best practices."Principles: The overall goals of Title I of the ARRA are to stimulate the economy in the short term and invest in education and other essential public services to ensure the long-term economic health of our nation. The success of the education part of the ARRA will depend on the shared commitment and responsibility of students, parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, education boards, college presidents, state school chiefs, governors, local officials, and federal officials.