Category Archives: Education

MLK Day Energy

MLK Day Reflection 

Today is MLK day. You are going to see tons of messages and post-humanist depictions of MLK, his words, and his speeches. But tomorrow, Tuesday the day after his birthday is celebrated, 99% of this MLK Day Energy will be lost.

My question is, and it’s an important one, how can we sustain and maintain this MLK Day Energy 365/24/7?

My Anxiety.

Usually, I am anxious when reading pieces about white self-reflection and introspection. Call me a skeptic, but sometimes I feel some white people have an inability to accept their guilt and acknowledge their privilege. So when I first contemplated reading this piece, Going Beyond MLK’s ‘Dream’ and Getting Uncomfortable in the Classroom, by Zachery Wright in ed post, I was very apprehensive. But after reading his article, I had a takeaway that I wanted to share.

Moving beyond "Allyship".
MLK on Education.

Hell, I still have anxiety typing the words white people because of traumatic experiences I have either witnessed or encountered.


8 Black Hands Podcast.

Yesterday the crew and I @8BlackHands1 did a live podcast in New Orleans with the National Parents Union. The crew and I talked candidly during the show about people stepping up to the plate to aid and assist us in the education reform movement. It is no longer acceptable for folks to like a tweet here, send an encouraging DM there, etc. 

Moreover, the fellas and I talked about Allies, co-conspirators, and white people making calculated efforts to lead this movement. Consequently, we posed a question on twitter that got some interesting responses. Lastly, the question that was asked was what is the next step in advocacy beyond being an ally and a co-conspirator?

The tweet turned into an engaging conversation in which people shared their thoughts about the next phase of support.  

Moving Past Being Allies, & Co-Conspirators.

Based on the responses, we narrowed it down to the following:

1) Lead Dismantler 

2) Defector

3) Unappologeticist 

4) Preservationist 

5) Disruptor 

Survey.

We will put a survey up on the @8Blackhands1 twitter account and run it for 1-Day. Thank you for all that suggested this new way of activating agency. Because together we are unstoppable and living the Dream set forth by Dr. King. The importance of living in this reality is our ability to match this MLK Day Energy every day and not just that one Monday in January.

Parents Need to Unionize

Parents Need A Union.

First and foremost, when it comes down to schools, I’m a firm believer that parents need to unionize. Unions protect the best interest of their members. Secondly, In many of these schools, teachers and administrators have an association. Additionally, the only stakeholder that left unprotected is the families that send their kids to these schools blindly every day.

Blind Trust.

Hence, I remember my schooling as if it was yesterday. Often I felt bullied by teachers. Grades and grading policies were subjective, and family history could get you the benefit of the doubt. Because, for example, if you had a sibling perceived as a “good kid” of if teachers thought you came from a “good family,” they were more willing to work with you. But what about the students and families that don’t fit neatly in a box, whose looking out for their best interests? You got it, no one. All the more reason parents need to unionize.

How would a parent union look?

For that reason, Kerry Rodriguez of Massachusetts and Alma Vivian Marquez of California are the co-founders of the movement. This particular group builds agency within the parent ranks, in hopes to train parents to better advocate for their children.

Information on NPU.

Moreover, where can you find more information about joining the National Parents Union movement? It’s funny, you should ask. It seems like Google is suppressing searches for this parent group. The teacher’s unions are actively campaigning against this parent group. Even in its infancy stages, the mere thought of parents organizing on behalf of their children is terrible. Advocation for children is “theater of the absurd” material for some people.

The Funny Thing About Funding.

Often times when people encounter a message they don’t like in public advocacy, they start attacking the funders of the word. I don’t know who funds NPU. I don’t care. Here’s why: If these women were smart enough to come up with an idea, and get people to follow it, and corporations to donate to it, they’ve activated their agency. For that reason, to steal a phrase coined by my pod mate Dr. Charles Cole, “They’re Agentic AF.” Based on America’s treatment of Black and Brown students in schools, Parents need to unionize. I said what I said!

New Narrative, Same Failures.

New Narrative, Same Failures.

There’s a new narrative being circulated amongst superintendents from failing school districts. Instead of having families focus on the test scores and the glaring failures of their communities, they are attempting to have the public believe that they are educating the whole child.

As a parent, the whole child argument goes out of the door if you aren’t performing at least at the state average.  Anything lower than that, you ae significantly failing these students and families.  Your focus needs to be on student achievement.

More of the Madness.

Currently parading through the circuit of “New obligatory narrations” is this notion that test scores only tell one part of the story. I got my first whiff of this week as a story was released by the Riverhead Times Review that focused on the NY State Math and ELA exams administered in April and May 2019.

I casually ignore the actions of our sending district. A couple of years ago, I went over to introduce myself to the incoming superintendent of Riverhead Central School District. My initial thoughts before the meeting were that it would be a fresh start.

I Had the Best of Intentions.

Rarely do people of color transcend to the level of superintendent on Long Island. It’s not because we aren’t qualified. It’s because Long Island, contrary to any other beliefs, is one of the most racist places in the United States. I say this to say. I went into this meeting with a high level of respect and admiration.

Minutes into the meeting, she turns and says,” You know you’re the competition, right?” To which my response was,” You know districts and charters can collaborate right?”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the response. I was probably more disappointed than I was surprised. My mindset is a students and families first mindset. I’m not into the business of playing politics when it comes down to the educational lives of minority students. Their education means too much to me to let my ego get in the way of offering the resources and training they deserve.  New Narrative, Same Failures.

Pontificating with the Lives of Students.

Moreover, when I read the article and the Riverhead superintendent pontificated on the test score question, it brought me back to the meeting that I had with her. We get the same kids, our kids are learning, their kids not so much. If the shoe were on the other foot, there would be cries to close our school down.

Casually scrolling through twitter, I see a similar comment made by the superintendent of schools in Buffalo. The irony is that the test scores from Riverhead and Buffalo mirror one another. So again, I’m not surprised that these low achieving districts are finding new easy to defend their low student achievement. It just pisses me off that students and families don’t have the choices to leave these districts in droves.  New narratives, same failures.

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.

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.

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.