Category Archives: Education Reform

The Edupurist Podcast

The “Edupurists” Podcast.

 (Click this link for the new podcast) 

The Edupurist Podcast focuses on education in its purest form, the truth. The Edupurist podcast will shed light on the many issues that affect Black/Brown families. Each episode will focus on changing the narrative by using education as a catalyst for change. The goal is to shed light and love while being super critical of a system that not necessarily designed to uplift Black/Brown students.

8 Black hands Conglomerate.

So, many of you have heard the crew and me on the 8 Black Hands Podcast. The 8 Black hands podcast is when we come together to form Black Voltron in the podcast space. However, currently, we are all in the development stages for our podcast efforts. We will continue to record our 8 Black Hands podcast, but to give you more content, we decided to host individual podcasts under the 8 Black Hands umbrella. So, look out for six other hands and their podcasts coming real soon.

Episode 1- When the See Us.

A lot has been made about the new Netflix series When They See Us. Ava DuVernay did a fantastic job of bringing this to life. The way that she was able to bring truth power speaks volume about her talent. DuVernay is a national treasure, and we should celebrate her as such.

Guest(s).

In this episode, we have two guests. Mr. Terrell Dozier, Dean of Students and Families at the Riverhead Charter School. We also have Mr. Khari Shabazz, a Principal in the Success Academy Network. I was honored to be able to “chop” it up with these fellas regarding pertinent issues that benefit Black/Brown families.

Cinematic Importance.

These performances were as real as it gets. It doesn’t or probably will never bring justice to this situation, but there was power in these portrayals. When thinking about these performances, one person comes to mind; Korey Wise. The actor that played Korey Wise deserves all of the accolades that come with this type of production. He did a fantastic job, P-E-R-I-O-D-T.

Oprah Interview.

Oprah recently had the cast members of “When they see Us” and the Central Park Five. As well she had the victims of the injustice. This interview was powerful and deserved a listen. Below is a clip from the conversation. Kudos to Oprah for bringing much-needed attention to this injustice.

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.

I don’t know who needs to hear this… but.

I Don’t Know Who Needs to Hear This… But.

I don’t know who needs to hear this… but, some of the things that our students are being exposed in school are unbearable.  As a school leader, one wears many hats.  One of those hats is a protector.  I think it is crucial that school leaders understand the role that they play in education.  It is essential to know that you set the tone of the school.  If anything goes wrong, you’ll also be the point person for parents to reassure them that your actions and the actions of teachers in your school or by the best interest of children.

In More Recent News.

Moreover, one of the more recent incidents in education involves teachers and a noose.  If I have to explain to your the historical pretext of a noose, you shouldn’t be in front of any kids of any kind.  Especially Black and Latinx students, given what the descendants of slaves had to endure some 400 years ago.  Yet the adults we choose to put in front of students give us constant reminders.  From students being made to re-enact slavery, to slave auctions, and now we have noose sightings.  The video below captures the story behind the noose.  The lack of care exhibited by these five individuals is more than just a bad joke.  It permeates the systematic racism and damaging systems that happen in schools that are unfit for students.

More Context.

Consequently, the photographer in this picture (allegedly) is the principal of the school.  I mentioned earlier that the principal sets the tone of the school.  If the principal is involved in such a tone-deaf act as this, what does that say about the school?  One of my latest blogs talked about a principal that took advantage of a young teenage girl.  We are starting to see more and more miscarriages of justice committed against our kids, and the people that are supposed to protect our students from harm are the same folks that are committing evil acts against our students.

Protecting Kids At All Costs.

I want parents to have a plan of action for when these events occur.  Especially given the frequency of occurrences.  Schools deflect, and often times aren’t accountable for the damage they cause.  People aren’t sorry about the harm that they cause to kids.  They are sorry they got caught.  So, as I stated in the title of this blog post, “I don’t Know who needs to hear this”, but we have to do a better job with protecting our most valuable parent resource, and that is our children.

NCC 2019

This past weekend we were invited to the annual convening held by the National Charter Collaborative 2019 (NCC 2019).

The Story:

Historically single site charter schools “Mom and Pop” charter schools have been over sequenced by CMO’s (Charter Management Organizations) with multiple sites. Moreover, the support rendered to leaders of color has been non-existent. For those of us familiar with the work of a school-leader, we can agree that it can be a very lonely place as a school leader.  For charter school leaders of color, utilizing the resources offered by the NCC is paramount to your success.

Insert the NCC.

The NCC creates a safe space for leaders of color. It allows leaders to decompress while networking with other LOC’s. If you’ve ever been to a convening, the energy in the room is always amazing. There’s a saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re probably in the wrong room.” At the 2019 convening in Oakland, I felt like there were a ton of people that I could learn.

Introducing the 8 Black Hands Podcast at NCC 2019.

The 8 Black hands podcast, composed of four education activists that aren’t afraid to “cape” for the Eight million black students that are currently not receiving an adequate education. We are unapologetic about fighting for Black families. To learn more about our podcast, or our work, you can follow us on twitter @8blackhands1.

 

Our first live Gig NCC 2019.

This year’s NCC national convening was the first time we recorded a live show. We are all individual fans of the NCC and their work. We are grateful for the mutual admiration, and the invite. Attached is the live show. But it doesn’t capture the energy that was in the room. It was terrific, and it helped us realize how powerful our podcast can be for the Eight million Black kids currently navigating through the nuance of poor performing schools in the United States of America.

Principal as Protector

A principal’s job is to protect his/her students.  However in those rare instances when principals don’t play their role, students suffer.

Where do I start?

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one.  You hear about it so often that you become numb to it.  Yet daily, there’s some kind of story that depicts an educator taking advantage of a student in a sexual manner.  Often times then not, these predators face no jail time and depending on how strong their union is, many get to keep their licenses.  The lack of morality exhibited by some educators is indeed a Black-eye on the profession.

Principal as Protector.

When I think about my time as a principal, I think about how it was my job to protect my students.  To shield students from harm and ensure their safety.  I wanted to be that person that students and families could come to if there were uncertainty.  These are the types of qualities that I view are essential to the principalship.

At a Lost for Words.

If you know me, you know I’m never at a lost for words.  But if I may be candid, this one is too close to home not to feel a certain way about it.  We witness educators who exhibit questionable judgment daily.  Research from 2004 states the abuse that happens in Catholic schools pales in comparison to the injury that occurs in public schools.  Typing this has me feeling sickly. But even with these feelings, if we aren’t pushing the conversation forward, how are we protecting our students?

Riverhead High School Principal.

Our school, the Riverhead Charter School, is located within the Riverhead School District.  We attract 50% or more of our students from the District.  So when I say this is close to home, it really is close to home.  The Riverhead High School principal is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student.  While I fully support everyone having their day in court, this one is different.  As a principal of a school, your job is to protect your students.  Our students leave us in 8th grade and move on to high school.  This could have been one of my students.

                                                  District Stance.

I couldn’t imagine being the superintendent in this district.  The principal has been reassigned with pay pending the investigation.  According to reports, the school district could not immediately fire the principal due to his tenure.  Everyone believes that there can only be one outcome.  I’m a pessimist when it comes down to things like this.  I’ve seen privilege make the worst situations seem not so bad.

My immediate takeaways.

It’s important to highlight that our charter school, currently a K-8 charter school, serves as somewhat of a feeder to the Riverhead Central School District.  Our pool of students is about 50%, RCSD residents.  As a result, many of my in-district students end up going back for High School within the district. 

Riverhead Charter School Needs a High School.

I say this to say a couple of things, 1) We need a high School ASAP.  Fortunately for us, we were approved to go up to grade 12, but our 9th grade doesn’t start until 20-21.  2) There’s a high level of trust that must be maintained between our school and the district.  Currently, we have no working relationship with our district.  Last summer I met with the District’s highest official, and the response was a cold one.  I was told that my school is the competition.  My response was classic, “the only people we are in competition with is ourselves.”

What if the Principal was Black?

Now for the ultimate wrinkle: What if this principal were black or Latinx?  I know some folks will say, why do we always have to talk about race?  My response to that statement is, why would we not talk about race?  Especially in a country that continually ignores its working poor.  As a society, we need to have more conversations centered around equity, and sometimes the lack thereof.  Especially when it comes down to students receiving a fair opportunity to learn.

 

Open Letter to Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig

Why the School Choice Hate?

Dear Dr. Vasquez Heilig, I hope this open letter finds you at your best. I thought about the many different ways to convey this message, and I finally settled on writing you an open letter. I know you’re busy these days, eradicating the privatization of public education, as well as keeping the pressure on charter schools.  Please don’t let me get in the way of your outstanding work, but I do want to understand more about your malcontent for school choice.

Moreover, I have been following your work as the California NAACP chair. Your ideas about school choice have been the catalyst for some strict legislation coming out of California.

All of this legislation seems to be anti-charter and dare I say, Anti-Black people.

I say Anti-Black folks because for years we’ve sat and watched a public school system not built for us continue to trap us (us meaning Black parents). People that have faced historical disenfranchisement should have a choice as to where they send their kids to school. To say anything besides that is admitting that you don’t have your fingers on the pulse when it comes to what is best for our students.

Three Local Branches Disavow.

Recently, three branches of the local NAACP in California have expressed their desire to contest your stance outwardly. Do you think this is a coincidence? Were these branches brought of by privatizers? I’m asking all of the questions that will be asked by a pro-traditional public school conspiracy theorists.

To be clear, I have no beef with people that choose to send their kids to traditional public schools, magnet schools, religious schools, private schools, etc. I believe that it is ultimately the choice of the parents to decide where their child attends school. No one else can make that choice for parents.

I don’t want to judge your stance without 100% understanding why you’ve taken such a position. Is there research beyond your thoughts on private money in charter schools? I want to make sure that I’m not missing anything. I’m coming from a peaceful place in my open letter. Generally, I want to understand how anyone could think that taking choice away from parents could be a win for parents.

Opinions are My Own.

Finally, I’m not a paid blogger. All of my thinking is original thoughts. I think it’s essential to be transparent when you seek understanding from someone. No one is trying to change your mind about charter schools. Your beliefs are your own. I want clarity on why you think your opinion on what’s best for Black folks is the only way.  I’m sure if we talk we’ll be able to find some common ground.

Maybe you’ve run schools. If so, I’d love to visit those schools and learn about best practices that work for Black and Latinx students.

I’m hoping that there is more to you than just theory. I’m looking for the substance. I know it exists, and even if I have to search hard to find it, I’m willing to do so.

Let’s Chop it Up.

Again, I hope this open letter finds you at your best. I’m willing to fly to wherever you are to sit in a room so that we can learn from each other. I’m extending an open invitation for you to visit my charter school in NY the next time that you are here. I am requesting that you join an episode of our podcast the 8 Black hands. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get us to a point to where you can start advancing public educational opportunities for Black and Latinx students instead of playing “Thanos” in regards to school choice options for California parents. Whatever it takes!