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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
Black Culture Charter Schools Civil Rights Education Reform Equity and Justice

Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh!  Below is an excerpt from Brother El-Mekki’s speech at a school choice protest in Pittsburgh.  This is one of those once in a lifetime speeches, that can galvanize the school choice movement.  I’m happy that I was there to capture it.  Below: El-Mekki Live from Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh.

00:05
special interest group you know we have
00:08
especially just group to our children
00:11
[Applause]
00:14
not the affluent not influential our
00:18
special interest group of our children
00:20
and we’re going to fight it up and
00:21
saying we talked about choice we’re
00:23
talking about a long legacy of people in
00:25
communities fighting scraping pushing to
00:30
make sure that their child has the
00:31
education that they deserve the
00:34
education that other people take for
00:35
granted and don’t let them fool you
00:38
there’s not a single person who does
00:40
that believe in my child my choice they
00:43
just believe you only deserve it if you
00:45
can afford it if you can’t afford a
00:50
higher mortgage three times of what
00:52
you’re paying you don’t deserve it if
00:55

Zip Code School Choice.

you can’t afford a $30,000 high school
00:59
some of them started elementary their
01:02
pre-k is right now that people are
01:04
choosing that costs 20 something
01:06
thousand dollars and they’re like if you
01:08
can’t afford it you don’t deserve it
01:11
well we’re here to say we deserve it
01:13
because we are human beings children
01:17
justice is not just for two influential
01:21
and flloyd it is for everyone it is the
01:24
human right and when I can look at my
01:27
community and look at the same same
01:30
schools that my grandparents refused to
01:33
put my mother and father in and they
01:35
will look at me now let’s say don’t you
01:37
put my grandbaby in that school then we
01:39
have a problem and who’s held that held
01:42
accountable for that we’ve always chosen
01:46
so I don’t even want to say like it’s
01:47
just charted it’s a continuum of choice
01:50

Bad Schools Are Bad Schools.

right before charters and when they say
01:53
that Oh charters is the problem
01:54
they sound like the people that say make
01:56
America great again
01:59
they say and make America’s schools
02:00
great again and for us it has never been
02:03
a great experience so when they say
02:06
things like that let’s continue to hold
02:08
them accountable continue to push back
02:10
continue to make your voices heard make
02:14
sure that they are aware that there are
02:16
thousands of students who are on
02:18
weightless
02:20
weightless waiting their mamas in jail
02:23
who are trying to find a better choice
02:25
there are people who had to use
02:27
different addresses people went to
02:29
scraping in and live with people
02:32
that just you know and increase the
02:35

Any Means Necessary.

number of people in the apartment like
02:36
anything by any means necessary to
02:39
improve the educational outcomes for
02:42
their child but we’re not just about our
02:44
children like they are because there’s
02:46
some people they only care about their
02:47
we care about all children and they talk
02:51
about being undemocratic there’s nothing
02:53
more undemocratic than say only the
02:55
elite only the affluent and only the
02:59
influential get to make good options to
03:03
have access to quality options for their
03:05
child nothing’s more oppressive than
03:07
that so I stand with you we stand
03:11

Standing with the people.

together we stand for those who are not
03:13
here but we’re here for the in spirit
03:17
because the idea of not having access to
03:21
quality education for our children for
03:24
our communities is a it’s a non-starter
03:27
we not going to be quiet we’re not gonna
03:30
be silent and we’re gonna make sure that
03:32
we are heard every single moment but Dad
03:35
is what our children deserve I come from
03:37
a long line of freedom fighters my
03:39

Black Panther Parents.

parents were in the Black Panther Party
03:41
and you know
03:42
right they were making options my first
03:44
school as an elementary school student
03:46
within someone’s basement cuz they think
03:48
you know what until we can get a
03:49
building we’re gonna start a school we
03:51
are opting out of that system and we are
03:54
creating something for these babies
03:55
that’s what they started so that’s the
03:58
legacy so I will be with you forever as
04:00
long as we don’t have quality option for
04:03
every single child in this country and
04:05
with today we start right here in the
04:07
Berg thank you Mike
Pittsburgh is amazing.  We had the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh twice in 2019.  I look forward to the opportunity to return to Pittsburgh.
Categories
Charter Schools Civil Rights Equity and Justice

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.

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools

Charter School Caps are Discriminatory (Period)

Charter School Caps are Discriminatory (period).

All over the country, we are starting to hear more talk about capping school choice for the families that need it the most. Charter school caps are straight-up racists. Black and Latinx folks have long come to terms that K-12 education at its current state will not allow us to compete locally or globally.  Knowing this, I feel comfortable in asserting that Charter School Caps are discriminatory (Period).

Some of those things are generational poverty, high unemployment, lack of opportunities, and historical disenfranchisement.

Why Are Charter School Relevant?

Moreover, charter schools are relevant because parents weren’t happy with their local neighborhood school monopoly.  We are talking about the failure mills, the schools that have failed families for generation after generation.  It baffles me that people can make an argument for failing schools and/or parent shame families for wanting better outcomes for their children.

 

I’m screaming my kid, my choice loudly.  If there is one thing that is absolute about Black and Brown parents and grandparents, it is they want better for their kids than they had.  


What Parents are Y’all Talking to?

I have never met a parent that did not want better for their kid.  If you have, please point me in that direction, I would love to talk to that person. Study after study shows us, Black and Brown folks overwhelmingly support charter schools as an alternative to public school monopolies, especially those schools that don’t meet the needs of its students.  How can you cap that?

Charter Schools are the Black Choice.

In addition, we are more than just per-pupil funding.  Black and Brown students and families deserve the best educational options for our students.  We reserve the right to choose.  A cap on charter schools limits our choices.  I’m not sure why we have to continuously convince folks over something that appears to be as plain as day.

Bill DeBlasio failed NYC.

Presidential candidate and mayor of NYC, Bill DeBlasio has failed NY significantly.  Tons of waste in his renewal schools, and his inability to engage charter school parents as a part of his constituents.  If you’re looking to make a case against DeBlasio and his presidential bid, look at his education record.

Universal pre-K was a plus, but besides that, what else is there?  His ideas have failed NYC.

Brown didn’t work for us.

Folks get mad when I say Brown v. Board of education didn’t work for us.  Those folks can continue to be angry.  Post Brown, we lost most of our Black teachers.  Can you imagine some Black kids go through 12 years of formal education without ever having a black teacher?  Less than 2% of black males are teachers.  If that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, or at least make you think, nothing will.

We have to do better, and putting a cap on charter schools won’t help us in getting better.  We need to remove the cap on educating black kids, but that’s the charter cap’s aim.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Reform

Diane “21 Savage” Ravitch

Diane “21 Savage” Ravitch.

Diane ” 21 Savage” Ravitch in her most recent blog post states, “To understand the charter industry, you must appreciate that it is driven by extremely wealthy people and has no grassroots.”

Ms. Ravitch’s assertion that the charter school industry is not a grassroots movement couldn’t be further from the truth. The textbook definition of grassroots is as follows: Grassroots, type of movement or campaign that attempts to mobilize individuals to take some action to influence an outcome, often of a political nature.  Black and Brown folks have marched, lobbied, and have a pretty extensive ground game when it comes to getting educational choice for their children.

21-21-21.

I feel like every time Mrs. Savage blogs, she needs to write 21-21-21, as a precursor for the savagery she depicts in her writing.  Savagery, in this instance, relates to how she misleads the reader into thinking that the only way to save traditional public schools, is to invest only in conventional public schools.

In my opinion, this is deficit thinking.  It amazes me at how people (like Mrs. Savage) with the most access always feel like they need to think for poor folks.  Often times they negate ones lived experience by inserting their expert views.  These loud sirens exhibited by these so-called experts often drown out the help signals that are blaring.  Black and brown folks are tired of being told what to do with their children, they want options, and no expert will convince them otherwise.

An odd fact that Mrs. Ravitch and those that think like her conveniently forget, is schools were bad way before charter schools.

School Choice Pushes The Envelop.

Moreover, charter schools push the envelope daily. Black and Brown families overwhelmingly want charter schools and school choice options for their children. To try and persuade others of anything different just tells you how much of a disconnect there is between those that are fortunate vs. those that have been historically disenfranchised.

Black and Brown Folks Favor School Choice.

According to a recent study by the American Federation for children, 67% of families support choice in where they send their kids to school. This is up 4% from 2018. You can find more information on the study by clicking on this link https://www.federationforchildren.org/national-school-choice-poll-shows-67-of-voters-support-school-choice-2019/.

Mrs. Ravitch likens support to charter schools as being the whose who in philanthropic support. In her blog, she states, “Being a supporter of charter schools is like belonging to the right clubs, going to the right parties, sharing a cause with other wealthy people.”  I’m not sure what clubs Mrs. Ravitch attends, but I can assure you they have exclusivity.

School Choice Evens The Playing Field.

Mrs. Ravitch fails to mention is what the cause is, and who the cause benefits. Plain and straightforward, school choice evens the playing field that was once dominated by traditional public schools. Charter schools are not the enemy. View charter schools as a way to keep its Traditional Public school sibling honest. Traditional public schools fail families. Nowadays, Mrs. Ravitch conveniently glosses over outcomes and accountability to gaslight issues that don’t matter to the poor.  Black and Brown folks want quality schools for their kids.

Gaslighting Like Trump.

Mrs. Ravitch savagely attempts to link the work we do in the charter sector to Jeffery Epstein. Epstein is a pedophilic sicko. I’m sure anyone school that accepted funding from him would be happy to disavow. I also didn’t read where she addressed the pedophiles that are saturated throughout schools, mainly traditional public schools.

For example, Rhode Island–  Oddly enough, I have not read one-word form Mrs. Ravitch or any public schools supporters disavowing themselves from what’s currently happening in Rhode Island.  To bring you up to speed, the teacher’s union is fighting tooth and nail to continue allowing teachers dating students to be non-criminal.  This ass-backwardness has gotten little to no attention from Savage or the likes.  I wonder why?

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Education Reform Equity and Justice

Open Letter to Senator Sanders Re: Charter Schools

Open Letter to Senator Sanders.

Dear Senator Sanders,

I get it. You are behind in the polls, and things are seemingly impossible. Senator Sanders, the magic in the bottle that you once had has escaped the bottle. Therefore, in desperation, you have to go out on edge to separate yourself from the other Democratic Candidates for the 2020 election.

I’d rather see you buck the system, and support school choice for the poor and disenfranchised.

In the 2016 Election cycle, you struggled to make headway with African-American voters. This may have been one of the main reasons that you aren’t currently sitting in the Whitehouse as president. Instead of correcting the mistakes made by your campaign in 2016, and your desire to be a provocateur, you are again isolating yourself from the votes you need to become electable.

Senator Sanders is Out of Touch.

Black Folks didn’t vote for you in 2016 because they thought you were out of touch, or for that matter never in touch with the Black Community. It was alleged that you frequently avoided Black folks in your home state of Vermont. Nothing says out of touch more than your recent suggestion to place a moratorium on charter schools.

Your new policy should have focused on putting an end to bad schools. Those are the schools that perpetuate death gaps that exist in our country. Students are graduating High School reading below an 8th-grade reading level. Rather than oppose the choice of Black and LatinX parents, you should be standing up for these families.  America, at least for the rich, is about choice.  You have some nerve proposing a measure that would take away opportunities from the poor and disenfranchised.  This policy shows just how out of touch you are with communities of color.  Maybe you should run for president of the NAACP?  You all seem very aligned, but yet very out of touch with the pulse of the poor and disenfranchised.

Politics Aside Senator Sanders.

Senator Sanders, I am familiar enough with your story to know a leopard doesn’t change his spots. I take you for your word when you talk about limiting educational options for people of color. It’s okay to be pro-union. I know a lot of this effort behind the assault on school choice is spearheaded by politicians that want the historical blue union vote. Alas, you may receive and be endorsed by the Teacher’s unions. But, I task the Black Community to show you in consecutive elections that your inability to be in touch with our needs will haunt you dearly at the polls.

Is Bernie Bought?

Bernie Sanders talk so much about not being influenced by Wall Street and holding others accountable. It is time that we remind you as an elected official, you don’t choose what’s best for us, we determine what’s best for us. On the last day of National Charter School week, and hours after the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board, you have the nerve to come out with this atrocious policy? It’s cowardice and reflective of the fact that maybe Senator Sanders, you been compromised.

Concluding thought on Bernie’s Vibes.

The black community is very fickle towards folks telling us what to do. Senator Sanders, in my mind, two hot-button topics exist in the United States right now. 1) Infringing on the rights of women. I’m a man, so the last thing in the world that I’m going to do is tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. 2) School choice. The last thing that I’m going to do is tell a historically disenfranchised sector of my base when and where they should send their children to school. To do either is political suicide. I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to go to the polls to let you know how we feel about your charter school moratorium.