The Department of Education said 34 percent of black Indiana students drop out of school, and only 12 percent graduate with honors.
Dr. Alvin Poussaint, who gave a keynote address at the Indiana Black Expo's Education Conference, told RTV6's Stacia Matthews that being a single parent often interferes with a child's education.
"We need good parenting to start off with," he said. "We also know that parents are overwhelmed and don't know they are supposed to be teaching their children from the time they get out of the womb and getting them ready socially and intellectually to go to school."
The noted psychiatrist advocates preschool.
"A preschool education, whether you get it in preschool or at home, is key to future progress at school."
Poussaint said when kids lack that foundation, they might get to kindergarten not ready to learn and can be hyperactive or disruptive.
"So, there ends up being warehouses in special education, and the teacher may not be able to do much because they feel overwhelmed," he said.
Poussaint said teachers need to be proactive.
"The teachers have to get together with the superintendent and say, 'What will make our environment better? What do we need to do?'"
Poussaint suggests smaller classrooms and stronger discipline, but not necessarily charter schools.
"You have a few charter schools," he said. "That doesn't solve the public school problem."
A community working together will solve the problem, he said.
"It's very, very complicated, but you have to keep trying," Poussaint said.
Poussaint said if families, teachers, finances, city and community don't work together, schools won't function properly.
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