Categories
Black Culture Equity and Justice trauma

I Dream of a Time

I dream of a time when my kids or I can wake up without a care in the world. Imagine being able to learn or do everyday things without being judged by the color of your skin. The air these people breathe must be amazing. Unfortunately, I’ll never know.

Being a Public Figure.

It’s tough being a public figure. You have to mitigate what battles you want to take on and which ones are less advantageous. I’ve gone through times in which I’ve said nothing to “protect the bag,” as the kids would say. The older you get, the more your priorities shift. Sadly, I dream of a time when I don’t have a care in the world.

My Great Awakening.

You ever felt like your life meant nothing to others? Most wouldn’t know that feeling. African Americans make up only 13.4% of the total US population, but we know that feeling all too well. Moreover, the fact that my life is in constant danger because of the color of my skin is and will always be unsettling for me. I dream of a time when I don’t have a care in the world.

It Starts with Us.

Serious question to my white friends. Do you talk to your kids about racism? I mean, how not to be racists. Do you speak to them about the level of privilege that they are born with? You know that privilege that no matter how successful a person of color becomes, (they) will never know. I dream of a time when I don’t have a care in the world.

Real Conversations that lead to action.

We have a real problem with race in the US. Sweeping it under the rug isn’t a solution. The only way we begin to heal these wounds is by having tough conversations about race.

But beyond just conversations, liked tweets, and retweets, we need a National Call to Action.

Last night on the 8 Blackhands Podcast.

We had a fantastic show on which some awful yet honest things came to light.

1. People may be desensitized yo the deaths that occur to innocent black people.

2. White folks (some) still remain quiet and view this as not being their problem.

3. Black people need to mobilize financially and create banking systems and financial opportunities that benefit PoC.

4. PoC need to #Getthestrap.

Ep. 63: The School-to-Activism Pipeline 8 Black Hands

In this episode, we honor the work of our co-host, Sharif El-Mekki. We learn about his organization, his life's philosophy, and how his time growing up in Iran. Yes, our co-host is an onion with layers. You'll definitely enjoy hearing these stories. For more access, join our Patreon at Patreon.com/8BH. Find us on twitter at @8BlackHands1 — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/8-black-hands-podcast/message
  1. Ep. 63: The School-to-Activism Pipeline
  2. Ep. 62: Typos and All… feat. Dr. Brian Stanley
  3. Ep. 61: R.I.P. Ahmaud Arbery
  4. Ep. 60: Student Homelessness during COVID-19
  5. Ep. 59: Live with Google's Education Evangelist, Jaime Casap
Categories
African American History Black Culture Verzus

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott

Tonight, Erykah Badu is my favorite to win her versus matchup against Jill Scott, aka “Jilly from Philly.” Both are incredibly talented artists that have a neo-soul sound. The two are well versed in their ability to use the pen to motivate their fans to groove. Given the current state of our country, as we navigate through a historical pandemic, we all need this tonight.

Acknowledgment of Bodies of Work.

Erykah Badu is my favorite in this matchup because of her body of work. This is not to say that “Jilly from Philly” isn’t a fantastic talent, but hit to hit, I don’t see Jill being able to match up with Badu. My guess is that it would depend on the total amount of songs played. I feel like in a versus matchup of five songs, it would be a closer matchup.
However, the closer you get to ten songs, Erykah Badu becomes the favorite to take this home.

Why Erykah Badu is my favorite to win!

Erykah Badu spits bars.
It’s sort of like your favorite rapper that uses metaphors to make you think. Badu is kind of like the “Andre 3000” or “Black Thought” of R&B. If you ever break down her songs and search through the meaning and symbolism, you’ll understand my argument.

Decoding the Bars.

I have four examples of what I mentioned. They are as follows:

  • “Three dollars and six dimes.” Representing the 360 degrees of life, coming full circle in your personal evolution.
  • “Looks like I sampled true love, but the shit didn’t clear.” This bar represents one’s commitment towards friendships and relationships and speaks to co-dependence.
  • “I can make you make you put your phone down.” Given our current dependency on electronics, the mere mention of folks putting their focus on things that are more than just momentarily necessary is a bar.
  • And lastly, “To catch me is to catch a leprechaun.” I could have said, “Hold on to your rabbit’s foot.” But this is important as it symbolizes those that add value to your life.

Final Thoughts on Why I favor Erykah Badu.

  • Bar for bar, she’s doper.
  • Sound and movement that helped to transcend neo-soul.
  • Longevity in the game.
  • Stage show.

Categories
Covid-19 Education Education Reform Equity and Justice

Grading During Covid-19

Grading Policies During Covid-19 are Cheating Kids!

I’ve seen several grading during covid-19 policies.  I think you should see them too, so you know exactly where I’m coming from in analyzing these policies.  According to an amny.com article Success Academy has opted to keep their A-F grading system in place, while NYC DOE has plans to adopt a new grading system that moves away from the A-F system. Success Academy has its flaws, but their schools perennially outperform 98% of all schools in NY State.

I am perfectly fine with them taking the lead on this, while the rest of us use their ways of being as our best practice in this work.

NYC Adapted grading scale.

Outside of NY, I’ve seen the following:

  • Texas, state officials, while providing guidance, are giving jurisdiction to the local school districts to make the decisions. 
  • Detroit Public schools, teachers will be giving feedback, but not assigning letter grades, according to the Detroit Public Schools website.
  • Washington state, in a 5-2 vote, teachers will be allowed to give an A or an incomplete. No wonder the murder hornets showed up and showed out. A policy like this is murdering kids.
  • San Francisco, all A’s were approved, and the rescinded days later.
  • What are you doing in your district? Is a fair and equitable way to assess the district’s most vulnerable students?

The Subjectivity of Grades and Grading Policies.

I have heard this argument before, heck I’ve probably lived through it. Teachers have always used grades as a way to exhibit their control over students. Teachers that have inadequate behavioral systems use marks as a way to manage their classroom. These were all things that happened pre-covid 19. One could make the argument that the grading criteria for those teachers that I mentioned will now improve. You can objectively assess a student and not weaponize the usage of grades. Nonetheless, we have a system that’s built on A-F from K-16.

A pandemic like covid-19 can get you to rethink the subjectivity of grading, but to move away from it in its totality is an admonishment to learning.

Picture of grading guidelines during covid-19.

Survey the Students.

When in doubt, ask the students. They will give you any feedback that you need to improve. Be careful what you wish for, though. Students and their brutal honesty aren’t for the faint at heart. Moreover, ask students how they would like to be assessed. You’d be surprised by the responses. Students want to improve.  If we set the bar lower for them, then we are essentially cheating them from maximizing their potential.

Some will Dismiss This.

There will be some educators that will question the merits of this blog. They’ll say, I know what’s best for my students. That’ll be those teachers that are not amenable to feedback. I know exactly who they are, how? Because I was once one of them. I thought I knew my kids better than the research, and sometimes better than their parents. I was wrong. 

Rather than have you make the same mistakes I made as a teacher, I blog so you don’t have to go down that road.

Some will say, “Kids are Brainwashed by Grading Systems. “

I’ll reiterate my previous point, students respond to what they know. If we are talking apathy in the age of covid, why change things? All of a sudden, and F student, is now an A student with the same effort that they put in to be a failing student. Sounds absurd when you say out loud right? Yet there are some camps that are trying to indoctrinate this practice as best practice. I think you do more harm than good by incorporating a method such as this into your pedagogical toolbox.

Again, kids deserve your very best, and not to be too critical of your practice, but handing out A’s like school lunches just isn’t going to cut the mustard.

Standard A-F Grading scale.

Assessment as a Love Language.

Students should know where they stand at all times. If you can gainfully assess students, provide them with rigorous feedback, by all means, go for it. But please do use this time to hand out participation trophies. Having students all A’s during this pandemic is essentially telling everyone they’ve won for the participation alone.

Be Fair to Students.

That’s unfair to those students, and they deserve better. So, if your answer to the dilemmas that exist from grading during covid-19 is to assign A’s shame on you arbitrarily, giving meaningful feedback while monitoring growth gets you the “side-eye,” but given the situation, I’ll take what I can get. Assessments, when used correctly, enrich the lives of students. There is no better instruction than instruction that is informed by data. Data-informed instruction is smart work. All other approaches may seem helpful, but none are more important than allowing the data to guide how you instruct students.

In closing, if your school district isn't making decisions that consider the most vulnerable students in your school district, I don't know how to say this, but they got it wrong. Like 100% wrong, and they deserve an F in red marker because they have failed those kids.