Urban Dove Charter School

Urban Dove.

Urban Dove Charter School, a sort of 2nd chance charter school for students that fail the 9th grade, is currently experiencing a type of racism that no one wants to discuss. The Orthodox Jewish folks in Crown Heights Brooklyn does not wish to this school with its demographics in their neighborhood. A recently released article captures the sentiment of the Orthodox Jewish community perfectly.

Urban Dove Mission.

Why are you going so hard for this school?

Honestly, I knew very little about the school.  But after researching it more, it began to appeal to me.  The city I grew up in is very sports orientated.  Many people that made it out, did so by utilizing an athletic gift.  I’m thinking about what if my town had an Urban Dove?  It could have quite possibly changed the trajectory of a lot of people in my city and gave them a chance at life.  Here’s more info on Urban Dove Charter School.

Vitriol Racism.

Moreover, this goes way beyond the type of racism that you may think. It brings you back to the Civil Rights Movement and the vitriol racism blacks faced by whites in the South. But let’s remember this is NYC. The progressive North is usually responsible for subtle versions of racism. The type of racism that you know is there but often hides under layers of formalities and nuance. Whereas the Overt Southern racism is the type of racism that figuratively punches you in the face, and is all too obvious.

Nigger Boy Email.

The following is an email that was sent to the inbox of the Empire Charter Consultants group.  Now, I have to warn you, as someone that was born in the South, I have never heard or saw the words “Nigger Boy” used together.  I have heard of stories, but this is a first for me.  Orthodox Jews feel about black students from Urban Dove inhabiting a space in Brooklyn. If roles reversed, this would surely have the optics of a hate crime. These kids want a good education, and they deserve it.

No one (regardless of race or creed) should be able to stop this. It is beyond me why the Jewish community feels this way about Black kids. These racist underpinnings may be deeper rooted than a simple eye test.

These are Kids.

However, my point is these are kids. And the response and actions to deny these black students access to space based on the fact that they are black are beyond racist.

These kids have already fallen through the cracks. Their focus needs to be on schooling and credit recovery. Orthodox Jews that live in the community should accept and embrace these students. This story should be getting a lot more attention than it is receiving. It is a painful reminder of how insignificant blacks are in the lens of others.

Coach Smith!

Some call him Coach, I call him A. I’m referring to Coach Aden Smith, Sr., whose team just celebrated winning the Long Island County Championship in a 49-7 victory against Nassau County Powerhouse Seaford. Coach Smith’s Shoreham Wading River Wildcats was the Suffolk County Representative in the championship game after defeating rival Mt. Sinai.

Coach Smith’s Energy.

If you know Aden, you know he’s a very intense guy. Not highly recruited out of High School, he decided to play his college football at the University of Stony Brook. My first encounter with Coach Smith was interesting. I was talking with one of his teammates. He was a defensive back. I told him if I played WR, they’d take his scholarship. Aden immediately came to his defense. I liked Smith’s approach and immediately took him under my wing as my protege.

Split Second Decision Making by Coach Smith.

Circa 2019. This season started badly for my friend, the head ball coach. Smith and his SWR team were involved in an early-season scrimmage vs. Babylon. Against Smith’s better judgment, and without proper officials in place to referee the game, Smith and his team played the game. The game got “chippy,” and the students ended up in a physical altercation. Smith, acting in the best interest and safety of his players, intervened and stopped a student from the opposing team from sucker punching one of his students.

Media Hypocrisy.

The media crucified Coach Smith for his actions. It was a relentless assault on his character and his decision making. As my good friend was experiencing this situation, I checked on him frequently. He was always in good spirits, and he would always end our check-ins with his patented phrase, “One day at a time.”

The superintendent of SWR faced a challenge. On the one hand, you have the media putting pressure on the guy to terminate the coach. On the other hand, Smith’s team stepped up, the parents of the players stepped up, and said without Smith’s actions that day, someone could have gotten badly hurt. With this testimony, the SWR superintendent made the right call in Bringing Coach Smith back to the sidelines.

Long live the Ques! ΩΨΦ

Today as I write this blog post, I’m incredibly proud of my fraternity brother (ΩΨΦ) Coach Aden Smith, Sr. Guy, you persevered and pushed through the adversity and brought home a championship. Your legacy cemented forever. I’m proud of you, brother, God Bless!

Everyone Can’t Be Highly Effective

It’s that time of year when every administrator should be preparing themselves for their first round of formal observations. Hopefully, this isn’t the first time teachers see you in their classrooms. I would love to think that you have been a fixture in classrooms, and teachers/kids know what to expect when you visit.  As you observe these classrooms do so knowing that everyone can’t be highly effective. If every teacher were highly effective, quality education for students and families would not be on the decline in the US, it would be on an upward trajectory.

The Dog and Pony Show.

If you are in classrooms all the time, you know when you see a “Dog and Pony Show.” That’s when a teacher teaches like his/her pants are on fire. They deliver a sound lesson that has all of the bells and whistles that they have grown to expect you to love.

As an administrator, it always angered me to know that as a teacher, you could bring high levels of instruction to students, but you choose not to. You decide to teach one time a year when you feel your job is on the line. That’s not okay!

                                   Principals, Get in These Classrooms.

Moreover, administrators, I implore you to get into classrooms before observations. Check-in with the students and ask questions about how their learning is going. If you ever want unsolicited advice on how to improve a school, talk to the students. They will tell you how they can optimize learning opportunities.

Every Teacher Can’t Be Highly Effective.

Okay, I’m sorry, I’m getting off-topic. Every teacher can’t be highly effective; it’s impossible. If every teacher were highly effective, we wouldn’t have a crisis in education. No schools, no students (especially schools for the poor and disenfranchised) would identify as underperforming. After all, how could they be? How could a school with highly-effective teachers be labeled a failure pit?

So, I say all this to say, make sure the observations match the data. If students aren’t learning, teachers aren’t highly effective period. Let’s use observations as tools to help improve instruction, thus improving student outcomes. And while you are doing your pre-obs, observations, and post-observations, please remember that every teacher can’t be highly effective.