Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Equity and Justice Teachers

Teach for America is not the Enemy, Bad Schools are!

Teach4America is not the Enemy.

Teach for America is not the enemy; bad schools are! Why is it so taboo to say we have a failing school system nationwide? Especially for Black and Latinx students.

It’s as if we are always looking for a scapegoat instead of admitting and fixing the real problems in education.

PoC Are Not Receiving a Quality K-12 Education.

Problem One: PoC are not receiving a quality education compared to their white peers. I saw a chart yesterday that showed homeless white kids outscoring their minority subgroups. It was so alarming that I had to ask follow-up questions because I could not believe the validity of the chart (see chart below).

Even though its painstakingly obvious what the problem is, rather than address the real issue, let’s say for kicks and giggles we blame Teach for America. Or if not TFA, let’s blame Ed Reform. If that doesn’t work, hell let’s blame the parents. Black and Latinx parents do not care about their kids.

That has to be the solution. Or, if all else fails, we can blame charter schools. That seems to work as well.  We have to stop thwarting the blame for why our K-12 school system does not work.  By playing the blame game kids are continuing to fail.  We have to play a new game in order to create a new narrative for Black and Latinx students.  Let’s call the new game “solutions.”  So when you have pundit conversations about K-12 failures, be bold, and ask for solutions.  That’s how we’ll shift this paradigm for the poor folks that need solutions the most.

Lack of Black and Latinx Teachers in K-12.

Problem Two: There is a scarcity of Black and Latinx male teachers in public education. They make up less than 2% of teachers nationwide. How is this a problem? Research supports the assertion that students learn better from educators that look like them. Moreover, teacher staff that mimics the population of the school will have a better grasp on classroom management and parent engagement. Both are unmeasurable intangibles that could be the catalyst for change in schools.

That does not mean that students can’t learn from others. Do not play on words or pontificate. Students can learn under the most adverse conditions. For example, in Minnesota, homeless white students outscore Black and Latinx students by a healthy margin.

Does that mean whites are superior to their Black and Latinx peers or does that mean K-12 education could care less about Black and Latinx students? I’ll let you decide.

Scapegoating TFA.

Problem Three: We live in an era of scapegoating. No matter what the situation, there is always someone else to blame for one’s shortcomings. If education is terrible for your region, let’s blame charter schools. If that doesn’t work, let’s blame TFA.

I would like for those that are in reform to stop being the punching bag for pundits that need someone to blame.

Ed Reform is Losing.

We are losing the race right now, not because charter schools don’t work, but because we are being outworked by those that are anti-reform.

TFA adds Diversity to the teaching field. They can be apart of the solution. Let’s engage them to see how we can make things better for the 8 million children fighting for a quality education.

Categories
Charter Schools Equity and Justice School Choice Teaching and Learning

New York City Specialized High School -BS-

The commitment to diversity in New York Specialized High School is B-S.  These students deserve better.  They deserve our attention.

If this latest Varsity Blues scandal combined with the abysmal acceptance rates of Black students in New York Specialized High Schools isn’t a wake-up call, what is?

Varsity Blues Scandal.

In light of the Varsity Blues scandal, we’ve had to stare privilege in the face and admit that the mighty dollar can buy school choice. Hollywood heavyweights were caught in a pay to play scheme that gave their children a competitive advantage in college admissions over Black and LatinX students. The Varsity Blues scandal should not come as a shock. Our educational system has always been this way.

New York City Specialized High School is B-S.

The NYC Specialized High School admission process may not be the same as the Varsity Blues scandal, but I will be darn if there are not any similarities. The Have’s are still in positions to benefit immensely from admissions. While the have nots struggle to make decisions about where to send their kids for high school. In Stuyvesant High School, there were 895 spots open to the incoming freshman class, only 7/895 of the admitted are Black. That’s .0078.

 

It’s insane and deserves political outrage. I believe this deserves a “Public School New Deal.” Hell, we can even make the deal green too, if it’ll make people act on it.

Truly Commit to Diversity.

The system needs fixing. Instead of talking about a system reboot, put in the work. Instead of catering to the affluent, let’s commit to creating an equitable system. Any other talk about building diverse systems is fluff. Black and LatinX folks are tired of the dust. We are tired of the sit back and wait your turn type attitudes that the affluent inflict upon the poor.

If the System Remains Broken.

If the system remains broken, and the Haves continue with their dominance, we should not dare blame parents for expressing a need for choice. Charter schools provide PoC hope. Our current educational system is bleak. The proof is in the results. We are not going to wait around while you all figure this out. We are going to make the best decisions for our children. You can judge all you want, be we won’t be sitting idly by while you fix the problem that you created. New York City specialized high school needs a reset.

My concluding thought is simple, fix the system. But until that system is problem free, please don’t you dare tell us where to send our kids to school.

Categories
Education Equity and Justice Teaching and Learning

Respect Teachers.

Respect Teachers.

Nowadays, we make a lot of excuses for our students and their behaviors. We rationalize for their mistakes. Others blame generational trauma and a lack of quality education to help others understand there’s a need for help. Schools bring in wraparound services to help mitigate the trauma experienced by these students: more social workers, and a commitment to restorative justice, but students still have to respect teachers.

Restorative Justice.

Black and LatinX students have been historically penalized more severely than their white peers. Research supports this assertion and those inundated in the education field see this first hand. But how can we help the students that need us the most while providing these students with the services that they need? This is something I grapple with daily.

Even though I struggle with this, I still believe students should respect teachers.

When Students do not Respect Teachers.

Teacher disrespected.

As a parent, that’s kind of where I draw the line. We can’t have it both ways when it comes down to teachers. If we want teachers to be on the front lines and accept accountability measures, we must also vow to protect them. Teachers should leave work every day with their dignity intact, and physically unharmed.  This goal can be achieved if students respect teachers.

A Video is Worth 1k Words.

Currently, there is a video that depicts a student getting mouthy with a teacher. When the teacher turns her back, the black, male student snatches her wig off her head. This middle-aged Black woman deserves better than she received. Students sat, watched and videoed this deplorable, humiliation. I did not see one student advocate for the teacher. They all sat back and laughed at the expense of this teacher. Is this what we’re teaching our kids? Or, should we be teaching our kids to respect teachers?

My Struggles as an Educator.

In my mind and my heart, I know this teacher deserves better than the lack of respect she was shown in this video. How do we shift the conversation to address both the needs of the student as well as empower this teacher? How do we allow our students to advocate for what’s right, rather than to laugh at what they think is funny?

If education is to change for PoC, this video and how we’d respond is the perfect case study for moving the work forward.  Let’s move our work forward while committing to having our young people respect teachers.

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Education Education Reform School Choice

Stop Blaming Charter Schools for Schools Failing.

Let’s, please stop blaming charter schools for school failure.  I know we’re easy targets, but I assure you that education is just outright bad for PoC.

Pundits that are anti-charter school/ anti-school choice have stated:

“Black and LatinX parents aren’t smart enough to choose schools for their children.” To the individuals that are shaming these parents for choosing for their children, I say, “we’ve been down this road before.” Historically, we have always had folks telling us what’s best for us.

Regardless of where you stand on the school choice argument, the one fact that we can’t debate is parents have the absolute right to choose the education that best fits their children.

Healthy Competition.

Sports, occupations, politics, everyone has competition. The beauty of education is that no one model works for 100% of students. We are continually practicing new strategies to teach students.

Recently, some said, “parents choose charter schools because they don’t do their due diligence.” It’s 100% opposite. Parents are fed up with traditional public schools. They watched these same schools fail generations. Due diligence comes in the form generational poverty experienced by relatives that attended and continue to participate in these failure mills disguised as educational institutions. There is no better spokesperson than someone that has continuously failed at a task. The lived experience of these parents has to account for something.

Agree to Disagree.

So, we can agree to disagree on the intellectual prowess of those that seek choice. As a parent that has chosen to educate my child in a charter school, I find it somewhat non-sensical that folks have the nerve to question me about my child and my decision. I’ve done my “due diligence.” Now what? You want me to put my baby, in a school that has failed generations? But, I’m the crazy one?

For the last three years, we’ve spent close to undergraduate tuition at a state school in NY, to ensure our daughter was ready for pre-K. I know many families are not as blessed to be able to allocate that kind of money towards their child’s education. However, these are the very families that need more than just a status quo education for their children. A quality education should help to break cycles of poverty, and not continue to create them.

The Story.

Every school choice parent has a story. Every child of a choice parent that has attended a public school, and no longer attends that school also has a story as well. Instead of persecuting these parents, let’s find out their stories. Have you ever asked a school choice parent why they chose the school they selected? This type of dialogue would be far more engaging. It may also help to get to the root of the problem, why certain schools no longer work for certain types of students.

The Nuance of Blame.

Let’s be real here. Charter schools are relatively new. Experts may disagree on the era In which public schools began to deteriorate. You may have some that say public schools were never intentioned for Black and LatinX students. While others may admit to public schools not being since the end of the cold war, wherever these folks preside in the argument, one that is public schools need to improve for minority students.

Moreover, if you’ve never stared poverty in the face, don’t talk to me about the choices I make for my child.

Enough of the Blame Game.

Okay, people. Let’s grow up. We have identified the problem. It isn’t charter schools. It is terrible schools. Now that we’ve identified the problem as bad schools, how do we fix them? Blaming the competition is not the answer. Admitting there is a problem, and committing to addressing the issue is the first step towards resolving it.  Stop blaming charter schools.

We need genuine and thoughtful dialogue. Enough with this “Let’s Blame Charters argument because it is getting tired.”

Categories
Black Culture Education Equity and Justice Grandparents Parenting Teaching Teaching and Learning

From Grandparents to Primary Care Givers.

From Grandparents to Primary Care Givers.

When you reach the stage of a grandparent, your role is different from that of the parent. You’ve raised your kids, hopefully in a manner that makes them responsible. No one warned you of the possibility that you’d go from grandparents to primary caregivers.

One day, far in the future I’ll be a grandparent. My role will be to give my grandkids a couple of days out of the month, so their parents can remember what it was like to be kid-free. A grandparent is to the equivalent of a relief pitcher; the biological parents are the aces.

Moreover, taking on your grandkids full-time can be both positive and negative.

The Positives.

1. The genuine love that you have for kids that are an extension of you. These kids embody your genetic makeup.
2. The ability to watch your grandkids learn and grow in a controlled setting.
3. Giving your grandchildren a stable environment where you can be a decision maker or a narrative changer.

The Negatives.

1. Anger or resentment, which is natural because these are not your children, you’ve raised your children.
2. Guilt; feeling as if you didn’t do a good enough job with your child, so you’re on the hook for their kids.
3. Grief, no longer having your independence.

Some folks dream of the day when they can walk around their homes, the way they want to walk around.

Tips for Grandparents who become Primary Care Givers:

1. Take care of yourself. You deserve that, and you’ve earned it.
2. Make sure you have hobbies to center the universe around you. ”Me time” is significant.
3. Building the capacity of the grandkids is okay. Kids nowadays are capable of being a lot more independent.

Moving Forward with the work.

According to data from AARP in 2016, three million grandparents are raising their grandchildren.

As we move forward in this work, I would like to bring attention to the following. Grandparents often receive no additional income for raising their grandkids. There needs to be legislation that allows grandparents to foster and adopt their grandchildren. Grandparents should be eligible to receive government funding in addition to money from their pensions. It may help with some of the stress associated with grandparents as the primary caregivers of their grandchildren.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Special Education Success Academy

Successes and Failures of Success Academy.

Successes and Failures of Success Academy.

Any great school has its successes and failures.  I’m not saying we need to pick on everything that happens in every school, but when something does happen, we can’t stay quiet.

Full Disclosure.

I root for Success Academy like its no one’s business. As a charter school leader who wouldn’t? They boast some of the highest test scores in the state. For Black and LatinX parents, Success presents a strong argument that kids in the inner city are just as good if not better than affluent neighborhoods throughout the state of New York. I even send my teachers to their campuses every year as a part of their professional development. My thought process behind sending teachers to Success Academies to observe is, please don’t tell me Black and LatinoX students can’t achieve when we see it first hand that they can.

Eva as the Face of the Charter Movement.

Eva Moskowitz’s methods almost take away from everything that Success has accomplished. We can say, when you’re a top school, people are going to “gun” for you. I don’t buy this argument because other high performing charter schools manage to stay under the radar. Those charter schools aren’t as politically connected and don’t have a CEO that calls the mayor out every other week. Like it or not, Eva Moskowitz is the public face of the charter school movement.

The Current Controversy.

At current, Success Academy is embattled in a special education Civil Rights Violation scandal. In a complaint filed with the NY State Education Department, SA allegedly changed IEP’s without parent knowledge. If you know anything about the special education process, you know parents are an essential component and deciding determiner of the outcomes of IEP meetings. The mere thought of a school changing an IEP is implausible. In my mind and heart, I hope that there is a counter-narrative to explain these actions.

The Coverage.

All things being equal, I would not say I like writing bad things about charter schools. Charter schools already face an uphill battle contending with the anti-choice animus. However, if viewed as having an inability to police, and call out our own, that’s nothing short of hypocrisy. If we’re doing something wrong, it should be everyone’s business to call it out and offer suggestions as to how to improve things.

My Suggestion.

The work going on in the charter sector is too important for there to be one face. Eva is a constant target for charter school pundits. SA’s network is enormous and has a ton of talent. It may be time for the schools’ leaders to step into the forefront and be the faces of SA.

Eva’s work is too valuable on the grand scale of things, for her to continue to be the face of the organization. My advice would be to yield to the school leaders.

Moving the Work of Charter Schools Forward.

We have to call a spade a spade. If someone in the sector, no matter who it is, albeit CMO or Single-site charter is doing something wrong, we must all voice concerns. To remain silent is to stay complacent. I understand some of you are walking on eggshells. It’s okay if I lose followers or supporters for speaking about what’s right, those people were not the kind of folks that should be following me.