Trust the Process

Trust the Process
Belief in self
You’re dope, create!

If there is anything that I have learned during this Covid-19 pandemic is to trust the process. Not everything is going to happen when you want it to happen. However, for real success to occur, you have to be willing to take risks. Sometimes risks are calculated, but sometimes they aren’t. You have to trust yourself and go with your gut.

Delaying

Honestly, I had been delaying the release of season three of the Edupurist podcast. For some reason, I doubted the content and wasn’t sure of many things associated with the pod. Self-doubt took over and made me question if I was putting out a quality product. Of course, those reading this and those that follow the work I know this inaccurate, but I now see the turmoil and stress put on creatives. So, if you’re reading this, know you’re dope, and you should trust the process.

Risk-Taking
Trust the Process
Creates sometimes doubt themselves but have to stay the course.

Any opportunity that you have to showcase voices or to shed light on issues you care about— do not let that opportunity pass you bye. First, come to a more in-depth understanding of who you are and the positive attributes you possess. Next, remember why you do the work. If you are selfless in your approach, your blessing will come back to you two-fold. Lastly, people that are dope are often tough on themselves. If you’re self-reflective like I am, no one will ever be able to judge you as critically as you judge yourself. But through the midst of all of that internal strife, make sure never to forget to love yourself.

Season 3 The Edupurist Podcast

With all of this inner turmoil and self-doubt, I bring to you season 3 of my podcast, The Edupurist podcast. In the first episode of season 3, I enlist some super friends to talk about the selection and implementation of K-12 literacy. This episode follows a blog I wrote on the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. #TCRWP is a curriculum adapted by many urban school districts that do not have the necessary components for Bb students to experience reading and writing with fidelity. We had a great conversation about literacy, and at the end of the day, improving K-12 education starts with a conversation. It also starts and ends with trusting the process.

 

TCRWPBS

TCRWPBS

If I told you about my frustrations with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWPBS), you wouldn’t believe me.  First, you would think I was making it up.  Unfortunately, I am not making it up.  This curriculum isn’t in the best interest of Black and Brown kids.  As a result of my willingness to express my thoughts openly, I am open to criticism.  I’m good with that.  It comes with the territory and upholds the assertion that no one that educates students should be beyond reproach.

Budget Buster

Further, I always thought of this program as a budget buster.  Here it is, you have an expensive reading and writing program, in tandem with an expensive Professional development component.  Teachers want what’s best for their kids.  Educators believe in the TC brand, which makes it’s easy to sell this program.  The people that developed the program are super smart and know their audience.  Their audience is folks that are desperate for an answer to improve education for students.  Sadly, this curricula is not the answer.

Not Questioning Intellect, I’m Questioning Motives
Units of Study

Additionally, I want to be clear; I’m not questioning the intellectual capacity of those that design or implement TCRWPBS. I’m asking about the intentionality of the programming.  Simply put, this program is not for Black and Brown impoverished kids.  The students mentioned above lack the background knowledge to explore and make the inferences it would take to be a successful participant in a Teachers College Reading and Writing curricula.  Put another way, at best, TCRWPBS is an anticipatory set and should be used to supplement other types of meaningful curriculum that teaches students the foundations of reading.

Bad for Poor Kids
A Lucy Quote

Moreover, for schools like my own that have invested thousands of dollars in the curriculum and its training modules, it’s little to no solace that Lucy Caulkins has decided to be transparent about the curriculum she’s made millions off.  Sadly, there are folks at TC and other academics that won’t say a word about this.  As a result, it’s dangerous to call out TC and other curriculum developers.  I’m okay with the backlash that may come from my criticism of this program.  I’m actually thinking about how many lives have been damaged, how many students have been wrongly diagnosed, and how many kids have been left behind due to this program’s blind brand loyalty.

A Push for Anti-Racist Curricula

If we are making a push to discuss anti-racist teaching, now is the perfect time to discuss the racist materials pumped into students’ minds.  For instance, students need to see themselves in the materials they read—Any other approach to reading furthers the divide between affluent and poverty-stricken students.  You can’t expect a socio-economically disadvantaged student to have background knowledge of something they have never understood.  I was and remain openly defiant to the Teacher College Reading and Writing Project.  Finally, I think the material is anti-Bb (Black and Brown), anti-rural poor White, and negates how poverty plays a role in deficit teaching and learning.

Healthcare

Healthcare

We can all agree that the Affordable Care Act was only the beginning of ‘righting’ a seismic wrong in our country. A country as rich and as powerful as the United States should provide Heath insurance to its citizens. President Obama nobly attempted to provide Healthcare to the nation’s most vulnerable. A botched rollout, along with healthy cynicism from Republicans, almost assured the American people would never buy-in to this plan. But was it the plan, or was it the person that presented the plan? If you recall, the project was similar to a plan that Mitt Romney proposed as a policy. My personal opinion is that this landmark legislation does not get its proper due. It is probably the case because it wasn’t a policy that benefited the rich; it helped the poor and disenfranchised.

Pre-Existing Conditions
Extending the ACA

As a member of the Republican Party, I’m frank about what my party does well. They lie, and they lie well. So well, that last night during the Vice-Presidential debate, VP Mike Pence said several times, “Americans with pre-existing conditions wouldn’t lose their health care.” Well, that’s a lie. One of the primary purposes for repealing and replacing Obama care is to take healthcare away from the nation’s most vulnerable. That’s right; Republicans are in courts right now trying to take your healthcare away from you. And they do this all while lying to your face about it. Sadly, if Trump wins this election, he will repeal the Affordable Care Act. Folks with pre-existing conditions, even the 7 million people affected by covid-19, maybe on the hook as having pre-existing conditions. Presumably, being infected with covid may deny you future healthcare rights if pre-existing conditions are associated with covid-19.

Put Another Way

President Trump was just diagnosed with Covid-19. He was released from the hospital after 48-72 hours, depending on which stories you read. Post his release, Trump taunted the American people by saying how strong he was and how he felt better than he’d felt in years.

What about the over 210,000 people that succumb to covid-19? What about their families? Instead of using this to connect to the American people, the president used his exposure to the disease to highlight his immune system’s superiority. If that doesn’t further disconnect him from the American people, I don’t know what will.

Enough

We’ve discussed who will pay for healthcare. If other countries have done it, we should do it too. Medicine costs are too damn high. When people with diabetes fare better, taking a trip to Canada for Insulin, there’s a gaping problem that needs addressing. The Affordable Care Act may not have been the fix to all healthcare ails, but it was one hell of a start. I believe the Biden healthcare plan will take us further in the right direction. The end goal should be everyone having the same healthcare as members of Congress. Until then, we are chasing our tails and swatting Republican Flies.

The Hands

Guilty Pleasure.

One of my new found guilty pleasures is creating content on the 8 Black Hands Podcast @8blackhand1 (on twitter). Each of us has our strengths, and we all push each other to explore areas that need attention.  Hanging out with these guys helps me to be more reflective in my practice. Our ability to put complex issues under a microscope while being realistic about outcomes and expectations is unrivaled. I genuinely enjoy kicking it with the hands. We are a talented group of individuals who strive to improve educational outcomes for the 8 million Black students in pursuit of quality educational choices. Together we for The Hands.  In order to get to know us better, I’m attaching the episodes that we did to highlight each other’s work.

Ankrum

Ray is just Ray @Mr_Ankrum (on twitter), and because writing in the third person is pompous and obnoxious, I’ll end here. 

Cole

Dr. Cole III @CColeiii (on twitter) is my nemesis on the show. However, in real life,- Cole is one of the most thoughtful people I know. Facing constant critique from all different podcast angles, I have never seen a more self-reflective person. Cole cares about his community, like no one I have witnessed. The selfless doc will give you the shirt off his back and put himself on the line to help others. As a young CEO, board member of a non-profit, speaker, and creator, Dr. Cole III is a fantastic talent. I’m glad he’s a part of The Hands.

El-Mekki 

Sharif @selmekki (on twitter) is so zen and chill, it’s pretty funny. Nothing bothers Rif, but if you want to rile him up, talk about Black kids in a deficit thinking kind of way, and he transforms. As a former public school teacher and administrator, and a former charter school administrator Rif provides a unique perspective on schools. His current work focuses on improving teaching in schools, focusing on finding ways to increase the 2% of Black male teachers currently in America’s schools. You will see Mr. El-Mekki on billboards, half-time at Sixers games, on viral videos, etc. I’m glad he’s part of The Hands.

 

Citizen Stewart

Breezy, aka @citizenstewart (on twitter), aka Chris Stewart, is a visionary in his own right. Motivated by his horrible educational experiences, this brother changes the narrative for his family and many other families that advocate for school choice. Many misinterpret Breezy’s passion when his focus is pretty simple. Allow families to choose what schools are in the best interest of their children. Chris does not come without controversy, so be warned he matches energy. Mr. Stewart is also a visionary and currently serves as the CEO of Brightbeam. Not only does this brother have a silver tongue, but his pen skills are also unrivaled. I’m glad he’s part of The Hands.

 

Nice White Parents Podcast

Privilege

The amount of privilege exhibited in the Nice White Parents Podcast was exhaustive. The more I heard, the more upset I became. One feeling that I did not have was a feeling of surprise. Anyone who breaths and listens to the Nice White Parents podcast knows the power that exists when White folks flex their collective agency. It’s as if the rest of the world must bend ever so gently to allow White folks to discount what this country has done to raced people actively. Honestly, I was probably more upset with White people that were alarmed by the podcast. You guys live a life that affords you privilege, not because someone earned it per se – but simply because power gets hoarded and minoritized people feel the brunt.

Interest Convergence

Just like with everything else, problems don’t exist in America until White folks identify the problem. Anyone else who dares to categorize issues often goes unheard and unseen. When White people can benefit from a situation, even if it’s on the backs of raced people, they often do it as second nature. The mere thought of parents campaigning to have access to schools or to have schools opened in their neighborhoods only to choose not to send their kids to the school is absurd. It speaks volumes regarding the amount of power amongst White people and their sheer disregard for power-sharing with raced people.

Zip Code Choice

Unfortunately, school choice is not just an issue that is dominated by one race anymore. Insert the middle class of any race, and the conversations start to shift. Think about the first question you ask when you buy a house. It’s more than likely, “How are the schools?” if you have school-aged kids correct? To be in the class of people that can make the best choice for your children based on your station in life is a fantastic feeling. Many people, categorized as socioeconomically disenfranchised, will never experience feeling this way. Does this make them any less? Does this make their inability to select schools based on where they live any less important? I don’t think it does.

Integration

Integration hurt Black people, and it continues to do so. The integration of schools never worked because integration was never the end goal. It was yet another one of those interest convergence maneuvers meant to make Whites feel better about their consciousness and decision making. I’d be remiss not to discuss the ramifications on the Black communities due to forced integration. We lost school leaders and teachers, and research has shown us that the quality of education for Black children diminished based on schools’ forced integration. The Nice White Parents podcast captures this well. One of the podcast’s high points is when the South’s parent explains how Northern schools and circumstances were worse than what the families experienced in Southern states, respectively.

Eight Black Hands Podcast

The Eight Black Hands podcast is sort of like a supergroup. Meaning, we all do our work separately; however, on Sundays at 9 pm (EST), we share our views and perspective on issues that matter to the 18 million-plus raced students who attend American schools. We formulated our podcast as a way to amplify the voices of the poor and disenfranchised. We recently critiqued the Nice White Parents Podcast. You should check out what we had to say. You should also tune in every Sunday at 9 pm EST, www.facebook.com/8BH.

 

 

Thank Principals, It’s October

National Principal’s Month

It’s National Principal’s Month, and I wanted to take the time to celebrate our principals. Principals are the unsung heroes of our schools. Our principals and principals across the United States have some of the most challenging jobs in education. It’s a high risk, low reward job. If something terrible happens in a school, the principal is the most at risk.  However, if something good happens in schools, the school leader is last to receive any accolades.  We have to change this narrative and celebrate our school leaders.

Lifting Our School Leaders

Dr. McKinney
Dr. McKinney is the Principal of the RCS Middle and High Schools.

That’s where we come in. As parents, board members, and central office folks, we have the power to change the narrative for principals. Principals are the CEOs of their schools. We have to celebrate them just as much as we celebrate classroom teachers. If you have classroom teachers doing exceptionally well, there’s a good chance it is because of the principals’ support.  Principals coach teachers, give them feedback and hold teachers accountable for ensuring your children learn.

Thank a Principal

Mrs. Arcuri
Mrs. Arcuri is the principal of Riverhead Charter Elementary School.

Not to mention our principals at the Riverhead Charter School are uniquely outstanding. Both have different skill sets that work for their buildings. Yet, they put their egos aside to collaborate on whole school projects that improve our school. Our schools are better thanks to the leadership of Mrs. Arcuri and Dr. McKinney.  Our building leaders are empathetic to the needs of our parents.  They both lead with integrity, and prior to Covid-19, they were battle-tested.

AOS Podcast

AOS Podcast
AOS Podcast is a podcast of Black Principals sharing their truths.

Lastly, I want to shine the spotlight on the AOS podcast. The podcast features three school leaders, an Alpha, Omega, and a Sigma, three representatives of the Divine Nine Fraternities and Sororities. They each have unique perspectives and personalities that shine. Each show I learn tremendously. If you see a principal, please acknowledge them. Trust me when I tell you, being a principal is no easy task. Happy Principal’s Month!
Shout out to D. Ball, D. McGuire, and Dr. Smith.

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