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Black Culture Charter Schools Education Education Reform Equity and Justice Parenting School Choice Teaching and Learning

Dark Horse List 2020

Education Secretary for Biden Administration

Recently, I released a graphic that showed viable candidates for Joe Biden’s Education Secretary. My rationale for creating the list was simple. I wanted there to be more conversation on the topic. The next Education secretary will be the most critical cabinet decision, in my opinion. Betsy DeVos has done a lot to overturn Obama era educational legislation that benefited Black and Brown students, as well as the policy that has further alienated LGBTQ students. You have seen my initial list, this is my dark horse list.

Big Mad

The initial list was successful in creating conversation. Some folks were “Big Mad” at the candidates that landed on the initial list. In contrast, others appreciated the diversity of thinking that went into making a list to start meaningful conversations.

Dark Horse List

For those of you that don’t know me, I run a charter school on Long Island. So immediately, you might presume that a list constructed by a charter leader would be a pro-choice list. It’s not. It’s a very balanced list highlighting some of the best minds in education on both the pro-charter and anti-charter sides. The “darkhorse list” is more of the same. Folks that claim ed reform, while others claim the system will repair itself. I don’t see how this system can repair itself. Education (at current) does not have good outcomes for Black kids.

Parents are the Experts

I’ll reiterate, I think parents are the experts of children. I also think parents should ultimately determine where their children attend schools. No one but that parent should be able to decide on the best educational options for their child. If you’re here to argue that charter schools siphon money away from traditional public schools, you must also be counter-intuitive in your acceptance of why parents want out of those same traditional public schools. As a parent with children in both traditional public schools and a public charter school, I choose what was best for my children based on my options.

My Dark Horse List

I’ll highlight a couple of my favorite people that made my “darkhorse list”:

Andre Perry, Brookings Institute. Andre has written some solid pieces for the Washington Post and is currently anti-charter school, anti-school choice. The irony of this is that no one ever asks Andre what type of K-12 school he attended, or where his kids attended school. Also, people have short memories about the network of charter schools he ran into the ground in New Orleans, but I’ve still reveled in his ability to reinvent himself. It’s nothing short of amazing.

Keri Rodriguez formed a whole Parents Union (NPU) to help parents organize and better advocate for their children. When you start a whole union, there is definitely talent in that.

Sarah Carpenter, CEO of Memphis Lift. Fantastic energy, straight forward and to the point advocate for children. It does not matter what type of school it is, Sarah only wants good schools for kids.

Diane Ravitch is a hard nose proponent for traditional public schools. She’s a historian who can rally the troops and shape their thinking. My concern is her anti-choice rhetoric, will parents coalesce behind a message that does not support school choice?

Thoughts?

What are your thoughts on the dark horse list? Was it better than the first list? Who should have made it, who shouldn’t have?

Categories
African American History Black Culture Civil Rights Equity and Justice Juneteenth

Black Americans from Segregationists to Integrationists

As an emerging scholar-practitioner, I sometimes need to be reflective of my own biases and practice. When I speak of myself as a “segregationalist,” it’s through the construct of reminding myself that education for Black Americans was once better than what it is currently. It is straightforward. There are not many twists and turns.

Prior to Brown v. Board

Before Brown v. Board, many historically relevant documents state that Black Americans had a robust and successful approach to educating black children. Teachers built impactful relationships with families, and education was through a community infused lens.

Segregation Was Once Our Reality

Now, when some folks hear or read the term “segregationist,” it becomes a tough pill to swallow. To effectively move forward in today’s society, it will take acknowledgment that most are unwilling to give. That does not mean these people are evil. It just means we have to meet people where they are to get them where they need to be.

Black Lives Matter

I recently wrote an official statement to my school community regarding my stance on Black Lives. Given the community outside of my school, I understood in great detail how such a message could become misconstrued.

No Really, They Matter

Statements and actions that support Black Americans and their lives mattering should not make any other race feel uncomfortable. No one is saying that different races’ lives do not matter. All Black folks are saying is that our lives matter just as much as everyone else’s lives.

Using Social Media & National Platforms Responsibly

Being a school leader with a national platform is sometimes tricky. Knowing that people play on your every word makes you have to be intentional about every word you speak, tweet, or write. No one wants to dialogue about their differences anymore. It is easier to send anonymous emails or tweets from avatars calling for the demise of those that may or may not have the same set of beliefs that you may have.

Eight Black Hands Podcast Episode: 66

I’m writing this for those that may feel alone. You are not. In Episode 66 of the 8 Black Hands Podcast, we talked specifically about being black in predominately white spaces. People always want to interpolate each other’s experiences. In other words, if a white person in a position of power says, “White lives matter,” folks view it as racist. Some people believe the same standard should occur when Black leaders say, “Black Lives Matter.”

Knees on Neck

It is unfortunate that in 2020 conversations about race and inequity are still so painful. Yet we are given daily reminders of what it means to be Black in America. From knees on knecks to being hunted in the streets. From anonymous emails, from folks combing through your tweets. No one ever said living would be comfortable, but no one ever said life would be this hard.

Using Critical Race Theory Appropriately

Looking at school integration from the perspective of a Critical Race theorist is interesting. CRT forces you to look at the power dynamics that exist in society as well as education, and admit that these dynamics are alive and well. Documented through stories and lived experiences, we should all be so lucky to see the world through this lens. Unfortunately, most do not understand their power. The lack of understanding of power makes conversations about privilege difficult.

Transitioning from a Segregationist to an Integrationist w/ Care

My transition to becoming an integrationist from a segregationist has not always been smooth. I take offense when people ask us to forget our history. When I hear terms like, “Slavery happened, get over it,” or stereotypes like “Blacks are lazy.” The same people that make stereotypical comments about blacks being lazy were not working hand in hand with Black Americans during slavery. They were overseeing the work from a position of power. A place that is alive and well to this very day.

White “Allyship”

So, when I call for “white allyship,” It is not said to say white people are bad people. It is just a nuanced way to say that for us to address racism in the United States adequately, we have to take a collective effort.

With this, I cordially invite you to our first annual Juneteenth March for Justice.

Categories
Education Education Reform School Choice Special Education

Biden’s Ed Secretary 2020

Shortlist for Ed Secretary Under Joe Biden

I recently released a graphic that showed viable candidates for Joe Biden’s Ed Secretary. My rationale for creating the list was simple. I wanted there to be more conversation on the topic. The next Education secretary will be the most critical cabinet decision, in my opinion. Betsy DeVos has done a lot to overturn Obama era educational legislation that benefited Black and Brown students, as well as the policy that has further alienated LGBTQ students.

For those of you that don’t know me, I run a charter school on Long Island. So immediately, you might presume that a list constructed by a charter leader would be a pro-choice list. It’s not. It’s a very balanced list that highlights some of the best minds in education on both the pro-charter side and the anti-charter side.

Parents Are The Experts of their children

Quickly before I get into the list, let me be clear, I think parents are the experts of their children. I also think parents should ultimately determine where their children attend schools. No one but that parent should be able to decide on the best educational options for their child. If you’re here to argue that charter schools siphon money away from traditional public schools, you must also be counter-intuitive in your acceptance of why parents want out of those same traditional public schools. As a parent with children in both traditional public schools and a public charter school, I choose what was best for my children based on my options.

I’ll highlight some of the people from the list.  

  • Kaya Henderson, former CEO of DC public schools. Coming in after Michelle Rhee was no easy task. Academics in DC public schools increased under Kaya. I look at academic evolution as one of my mainstays in selecting a new Ed Secretary. Is the person battle-tested? I believe the next Education secretary will have to be ready for educational wars.
  • Julian Helig-Vasquez, College of Education Dean at the University of Kentucky. If you’re familiar with the 8 Black Hands Podcast (if you aren’t you should be), you’d know some podcast members have choice words for Julian. I see Julian as a brilliant educational scholar who has the skillset to navigate political nuances to make a change for students. Do I agree with Julian’s stance on charter schools? No, I do not, but I think once he visits my school, we may be able to get him to come off of his hardline.
  • Sonya Santelis, Current CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, what is there not to like about Sonya? She’s down to earth and makes common-sense decisions that are based on students and families. The systems that she has in place will soon show academic gains.
  • GLB- A critical race theorist, and an absolute scholar on how power dynamics impact the learning of the poor and disenfranchised. A GLB appointment may lead to better teacher training that yields an anti-racist lens.
  • LDH, was an all but sealed deal to be Ed Sec under president Obama. She’s Julian’s mentor and people in California rant and raves about her work. Both GLB and LDH are cited in Ch.2 of my dissertation, which I will gleefully defend this fall.

I’ve given you insight into my first list. In the coming days, I will be constructing a dark horse list. In the meantime, please continue the conversation about the next Education Secretary of the United States. I assure you this appointment will be one for the ages.