Black Culture Civil Rights Equity and Justice Politics

School to Prison Pipeline: Getting PoC on a Track to Success.

From the Classroom to Prison:

Firstly, it starts with young PoC so parents, please prepare yourselves through awareness. The school to prison pipeline is real. We have to be intentional in readying our kids for college and life beyond school. These habitual failure mills are preparing PoC for prisons and a life of despair.

Moreover, the identification of black males as Special Education students is alarming. Special Education is a two-sided coin. By two sides, I mean parents are too identifying and recommending their children for special education.  They do this because of the financial benefits that come with raising a kid that receives additional services. That statement messed me up. I never thought of it this way. My heart still won’t allow me to believe this is true.

ADHD Diagnosis Must Stop:

Unfortunately, ADHD is a real problem.  This diagnosis haunts PoC. It allows folks to take the easy way out.  It’s done without determining the real reasons why students aren’t learning. Let’s say a parent medicates their child (which I am not recommending at all) because I’m not a doctor. However, post medication, the student still has difficulty learning. Then what? As educators, we have to put our prescription pads away and teach these students. We will reach them.

Consequently, Special Education when classes are disproportionately students of color and male, I start formulating questions immediately. For those of you visiting schools in hopes of replicating best practices, please know this isn’t a best practice at all. It may be one of the worst practices in education. Ensure all students receive an adequate education and they are ready to be productive society members.

Methods like overpopulating special education classes with black males are the infancy stages of the school to prison pipeline.

The Hard Data Facts About Targeting PoC:

By and large, evidence is strong that students with particular education disabilities are similarly targeted for school discipline.  The racial disparity exists across special education student populations as well (Rivkin, 2010).

Students of color are disproportionate in the diagnosis of specific special education categories. Categories such as mental retardation and severe emotional disturbances (Harry & Klinger, 2006), thus causing some to conclude that referral bias from school personnel is a causal factor (Adams & Meiners, 2014).

Similarly, minority students are the students that are most affected by “Zero Tolerance” school disciplinary policies. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Education identified in 2012 that in school districts with more than 50,000 students. African-American students represented 24%of enrollment but 35%of on-campus arrests, with lower, but still different rates for Hispanic students (McCurdy, 2014).

Statistics from Urban Cities:

Notwithstanding New Orleans, LA, the Orleans Parish School Board’s expulsions under zero-tolerance policies were 100%, Black.  67% of their school-related arrests being Black students. The RSD-Algiers Charter School Association had 75% of their expelled students without educational services black. Furthermore, 100% of their expulsions under zero-tolerance policies. 100% of their school-related arrests were all Black students.

Systematically, in St. Louis, MO schools, the Normandy School District’s 98% Black student population drew in the following: A high percentage students who received more than one out-of-school suspension. All of those who were expelled without educational services and 100% of those who were referred to law enforcement. In Missouri’s Ritenour School District, 67% of Black students vs. 33% white students were assigned to law enforcement. Above are expanded statistics pulled from the Civil Rights Data Collection, with the latest results from 2009. The school to prison pipeline is real.

Training your Staff:

Moreover, active professional development for teachers and administrators on improving classroom management and school climate has improved staff retention, student instructional time, and student engagement in learning (Browers & Tornic, 2000).

Unfortunately, when school personnel lacks training and resources, student academic achievement is lowered, inappropriate individual education referrals are increased, and references for student disciplinary sanctions become significantly greater (Donavan & Cross, 2002).

Restorative Justice:

• For the last few years, studies have used improved research designs and found continued positive outcomes for restorative justice programming, although a majority of these reviews are still only descriptive, making this a promising and not evidence-based course of practice (Minkos, Latham & Sugai, 2014).

• This  provides an example and context, over two academic school years the , four high schools in the Chicago Public School system that had implemented varying degrees of restorative programming including mediation, peer juries, conferences, and peace circles found up to 80% reductions in student misconduct and arrests and improvements in attendance (Hereth, Kaba, Meiniers, & Wallace, 2012).

For you Visual Learners:

Some people are visual learners, see video link:

Key Questions to ask folks that advocate for zero-tolerance school policies are as follows:

1. What exactly are these folks to do without an education?
2. What are their options?


Bullying in Schools Equity and Justice school safety sexual abuse in schools

Keeping Our Students Safe!

Keeping our students Safe!

Why do we send our kids to school?  Short answer: To learn; Long answer: We believe in schools keeping our students safe.

In essence, I can’t wrap head around it.  As a parent, I know why I send my children to school.  From the standpoint of a former student, I understood why my mother sent me to school.  As I currently negotiate with my four-year-old about going to school, she knows that she goes to school to learn.  Parents send their children to school to learn.

Sexual Abuse in Schools:

Are we doing enough to prepare our kids for sexual predators in schools?  I recently read an article about sexual abuse in Catholic schools.  108 educators were accused, and the article stated, “This was just the tip of the iceberg.”

Teachers as Caregivers:

Overall, parents trust teachers.  Sometimes to the detriment of their kids.  Teachers sometimes don’t understand where the disconnect between school and home comes into play.  Part of that disconnect comes when parents entrust their most valuable assets (their children) in the care of educators.  Some educators take this act seriously. Others don’t.

Teachers as Role Models:

Regardless of your acceptance of being a role model, as an educator, you are a role model by default.  Embracing this is also embracing your responsibility in keeping our kids safe.  We can all agree; there’s no room for sexual predators in this profession. It becomes frustrating when every other story is a story about abuse.  Kids deserve better than they are receiving.  They deserve alert parents who ask the right questions.  We have to do better. We have to keep our students safe.

OAN Taking Matters in Our Own Hands:

This is what happens when taking matters into your own hands goes wrong.

In other news, where do you draw the line with protecting your child from bullies?  Should your child being bullied ever result in your taking matters into your own hands?  My mind and my heart both say no.  However, as a parent, I understand the anguish experienced by parents when they send their children to school expecting them to be safe.  Moreover, as parents, we have to set the expectations for our students.  I think there was a way to be impassioned, as well as send the message that you won’t be bullying my child without the parent physically assaulting the student.

African American History Black Culture Education Education Reform Equity and Justice Parenting Teaching and Learning

The Day We Cape for a Quality Education for PoC; Instead of Caping for Jussie and the likes. ‘No Cap’

Eight Million:

If we could “Cape” for our students of color the way we “cape” for actors and athletes, 8 million students would be better off.

Imagine a world where we advocate for the education of the poor and disenfranchised, No Cap.

There are Eight million students of color, currently receiving less than adequate instruction in the United States. The areas most affected are centralized ‘urban cities’ or port cities. Please name me a port town where students of color are performing well academically. A port town where unemployment is equal to suburbia and crime is at a minimum. If you can find such a city, I will stop blogging.

Poor Jussie:

Moreover, we have enough to worry about in current day society. By in large, 400 years of physical and psychological trauma, enter Jussie Smollett, or Jamal as you Empire watchers like to call him. Immediately we took him at his word when he said the attack occurred. Any black male that questioned the attack risked accusal of exhibiting “Toxic Masculinity.”

Toxic Masculinity:

fullsizeoutput_15a9Toxic masculinity, in theory, can’t be every time black males do not agree with the mainstream. Currently, it is over usage diminishes its value. Overall, there was nothing toxic about feeling like this story was “fake news.” People continue to remain silent, hoping that the results matched Smollett’s account. That story is now in question. We will continue to see how it plays out in the media.

Democratic Cap(ers):

Every major Democratic politician admonished the alleged assault against Smollett. Most if not all are very quiet as details surface around this being a staged attack. It is all the more reason for us to rechannel our energy.

Notwithstanding, this is more of a reason to make these candidates focus on issues that matter to us. In essence, if this were true, and Smollett experienced an assault. I would want nothing more than his attackers to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, if he is found to be “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” celebrity aside, Smollett deserves prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

Lets Rep for These Eight Million Kids:

On the other hand, what’s not in question is the eight million students of color that are still in failing schools. Factually speaking, with teacher strikes are on the rise, and teachers’ unions complex strategies to pit traditional public schools against public charter schools. We have to fight for our kids.

In closing, let’s “Cape” for our kids the way that we “Cape” for these celebrities on TV. Our kids need us, and it’s time for us to take a stand, ‘No cap.’

My blog:


Twitter: @Mr_Ankrum; @8blackhands1

Teachers Teaching Teaching and Learning

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

The following ten intangibles of good teaching are in no particular order. However, feel free to prioritize based on your needs.

1). Be reflective in your practice. It takes teachers at least four years to learn the curriculum, and become good at managing students. In years 0-4, be humble, hungry, and reflective.

2). Be selfless. Teaching isn’t about adults or what the profession can give to you or what the job can do for you. Education is about your ability to facilitate learning for others, and those others must be the central focus, thus making the profession one of selflessness.

Collaboration is key:

3). Collaborate often. You can always learn from your colleagues, even if you are learning what not to do from them. The goal is for you to take teaching tools and build them to fit your personality.

4). Build relationships with parents and students. Parents are stakeholders and should be considered thought-partners. Not every parent will interact with you on a level that you are familiar with, so be prepared to come out of your comfort zone and meet parents where they are without judgment.

5). Believe in your students. All students can achieve, but as the educator in their lives, it becomes your job to create an individual learning plan that allows students to experience success.

Feedback can shift the tide:

6). Always seek input. Implement the information immediately. Invite colleagues in your classroom, and ask for their honest opinions. Put your defenses down, and leave your ego at the door. Constructive criticism isn’t about you; it’s about the students.

7). Consistency– you should plan to attend work 98% of the time. Only if you are sick and contagious should you miss work? Your students will see your dedication and passion, and they will assimilate accordingly.

8). Teaching is a very demanding job, so establishing work-life balance is hard but necessary. Find ways to let off steam, I.e., Gym, recreational running. It’s crucial for you to come in every day fresh and reinvigorated.

Learning is forever:

9). Become a life-long learner and always share your love for learning with your students. Students need to see this passion.

10). Have fun! Laugh a lot, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Your ability to have fun and laugh at your mistakes will prolong your teaching career. Now go out and kick some butt.

Please feel free to add any thoughts that you may have. I look forward to learning from your comments.

African American History Black Culture Civil Rights Equity and Justice

Virginia is for Lovers!

Virginia is for Lovers:

I’ve always operated under the assumption that Virginia was for lovers. I never really felt the love in the state. I always felt like at any time it could “go down” in Virginia.

Don’t get me wrong; waterpark U.S.A. is fantastic. Virginia Universities are some of the best in the nation. The love of pork is reminiscent of slave times, but I digress.

Virginia is for Lovers of Blackface:

I mean, I get it, who wouldn’t want to be a part of a culture as dope as this. Black culture is amazing. Most outside of the culture fail to understand its meaning and its impact.

Many folks outside the culture want in, “By Any Means Necessary.” Some go through some amazing feats to implant themselves in Black Culture. We have almost every white Virginia politician outwardly saying through artistic expression, “they think Black culture is superior.” Why else would they dress up in blackface? I know they aren’t racist. Certainly not in 2019.

Virginia is for Lovers of Forcing the Issue with Women:

These allegations against Lt. Governor Fairfax are all in a fact-finding stage. So, we don’t want to assume that these incidents occurred automatically. For now, we’ll say “allegedly.” However, I’ve learned where there is smoke, often there is also fire. Democrats continue to put on the façade that they are morally superior to Republicans by asking Dems to step down from office. Meanwhile, Steve King (R) from Iowa continues to “flourish.” This moral high road, albeit admirable, isn’t winning Democrats any new voters.

Virginia is for Lovers of Racism:

The cradle of racism lies in Virginia. The countless stories of Virginia State troopers pulling black people over at a disproportionate rate. Moreover, then we have Charlottesville. Not to mention, these folks celebrate Robert E. Lee, and Confederate statues like the South won the Civil War.

Virginia, of this, is what your love is all about, Y’all can “hold that.”

Civil Rights Education Equity and Justice Parenting Special Education Teaching and Learning

Black Boys in Sped, Why?

There are too many Black boys in Sped classes.

Sped Used Correctly:

In fact, Special Education, when used to its real intent, is an excellent resource. Teachers identify the challenges exhibited by students and help parents put methods in place that will assist in student learning. The special education process, when used to it’s the real intent can be an invaluable tool for student learning.

Consequently, the problem that I have with Special Education, and I’m sure this rings true in communities with PoC is when race plays a role in determining placement. As it stands young black males, simply started are overrepresented in Special Education classes.


Black Boys in Sped:

Moreover, in the 2011-12 school year, black students were 14.4% of the student population in schools in the US. In the same time frame, Black students were also 19% of the 6.1 million students served under IDEA. More specifically, Black Males represented 12.8% of the 4.1 million males served under IDEA.


The Dirty South:

The South is the most egregious. Some of the statistics are unnerving. In the following states, the percent of their Special Education populations are staggering. They are as follows:

  • Georgia 50%
  • Louisiana 52.4%
  • South Carolina 43%
  • Maryland 45.2%


Some of you may be surprised by these numbers. Unfortunately, many of us are not. Given the shameful history of white supremacy, these numbers make sense. The figures also become eerily correlatable to the school to prison pipeline, a concept that I will address in the future.

Some of the areas that Black Students have been over-identified in special education services are as follows:

  • Emotional disturbance
  • Intellectually Disabled

Reluctance to Address the Stigma:

The obvious answer and I’m walking on eggshells as I type is that there is a disconnect between the ways Black kids learn and the way teach Black kids. One can’t help but think that whom they are educated by plays a role in students being over-identified as intellectually disabled students.rrr-or-2015-black

Black parents are resistant to Special Education talks. They have personally had bad experiences, or they know of others who have had lousy experiences. So when a Black parent is apprehensive to your suggestions, it’s not because they don’t care about their kid, it’s the opposite.

Ways to combat Sped Stigmas:

  1. Cultural relevant pedagogy: make learning interesting to all students. Don’t be afraid to learn about cultures that may differ from your own.
  2. Relationship building: Understanding that kids don’t work for people they don’t like or trust.
    Building authentic relationships with families and students is a surefire way to start to break down existing barriers.
  3. Sensitivity to past trauma: Although these students may not have directly experienced slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Mass Incarceration, they are descendants of those that have. They carry a sense of lived trauma that has not and sometimes we will never atone.

I chaired a parent meeting recently in which we went through the process of identifying a black male student for Sped Services. As I spoke to this grandfather, I could see the lived pain on his face.

I was cautious and deliberate with the words that I talked to him. I could tell it was more comfortable for him to take in because that message came directly from me, someone he knew cared, and would operate in the best interests of his grandson, a young black boy.