Category Archives: Education

Assistant Principal Done Lost His Damn Mind!

Assistant Principal Done Lost His Damn Mind.

Okay, I’m speaking solely as a father here.  In a recent bout against Black popular culture, an Assistant Principal of a school in Texas decided the best way to approach a uniform violation was to use a permanent marker to color in a students hair.

That’s right, permanent marker.  This was an Assistant Principal’s solution to a student coming in with a design in his hair.

I couldn’t imagine my approach if my son came home with a permanent marker in his hair.  I honestly don’t know if I’d be more upset with my son than I would be with the Assistant Principal that done lost his damn mind.

I’d be upset with my son because he didn’t ask to call me directly so that I could give him perspective on the situation.  But honestly speaking, these are the unfortunate circumstances that black and Latinx students face daily.  We put our kids in schools with folks that are not culturally informed, and these folks continue to degradate our children.

The Assistant Principal Has Rights.

Some folks are going to come to the aid of this Assistant Principal.  They’ll say he was following policies and procedures.  If he were a revered AP in his district, he’d find a new job in no time.  That’s how the system works, recycling administrators.

When will this constant assault on black culture end?  Our kids deserve better than this.  These strict policies outlined by districts don’t create a safe learning environment.  It does, however, develop a life of servitude.  When you treat kids like they are in prison, they’ll become prisoners.  And I don’t know one parent that is willingly sending their kid to school to become a felon.  Yet by having these “whip cracking” reactions to these culturally unjust policies creates a school to prison pipeline.

Dialogue That Disrupts the Lack of Cultural Acuity.

The only real way to address these types of issues is to create dialogue.  It goes back to training educators on how to engage families.  It also calls for educators to respect other people’s children.  Whenever I engage in dialogue with my students, I always approach it thinking about how I would want an educator to engage with my children.  By incorporating this mindset, it helps me to make sound decisions.  In the rare occasions that I question my choices, I’ll call a colleague for advice.  Before I make any final decision, I’m calling that students parents.  Why?  Because as a parent I would expect a phone call from an educator making a decision about my child.

The adults in this instance dropped the ball.  Now it’s up to this family to help this child put this incident behind him.  It’ll be hard for Black and Brown parents to trust educators in this district.  If I were in this district as a parent, I would ask for a policy review.  As parents, we have to understand our rights.  This type of incident is exactly why I support a parent’s union.  The students should have a union as well.  If educators are offered protection to do hideously stupid things to our families, parents and students deserve equal protection to ensure they are afforded protection as well.

Black Folks Y’all Are on Your Own!

Origination of Black Folks Y’all Are on Your Own!

I can’t take total credit for this. The title of this blog post was actually an underlying theme of the 8blackhands podcast. Dr. Cole, our esteemed “podmate” has been saying this for a while. It seems as though with everything that we discuss in education, Black Folks Y’all are on your own!

What this means is, people will do their damnedest to point out to you that a problem exists in education, but little to no effort will go into providing you with solutions on how to navigate through the nuances of the said problem.

The More Things Change.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. If I were to ask an old-timer, do you think that things have changed from the Civil Rights Movement? I guess that 8/10 would say yes.

The tenor in the country is lighter, there are fewer forms of public violence against minorities, but are we looking at things from the correct lens?

Let’s Analyze the picture to the left of the screen. I’d like to pay particular attention to the Black Incarceration data set. We all can concede that Black and Latinx folks are overly criminalized in American society.

There are at least two Democratic nominees for President that are vying for the presidency based on criminal justice reform. They identified the problem, “Black Incarceration,” and they created a platform to change it, “criminal justice reform.” It seems simple enough. But I definitely won’t hold my breath for the outcome.

When will Educating Black Kids Change?

Another problem that we have identified is Black and Latinx students are failing in K-12 education in the United States. It’s actually quite awful how much they have fallen behind their counterparts.

Meanwhile, racism and prejudice continue to permeate the discourse in determining why? In the NYC debate over how to better integrate its specialized high schools, Asian parents have established a campaign in which they are saying “Black and Latinx parents don’t care about their child’s education.” When asked to provide proof of such, and I was advised to go to any NYC library.

I was then told that in the library you’d find Asian kids studying, but you wouldn’t find black kids doing the same. Therefore it was equated that “Blacks and Latinx folks don’t care about their children’s education.

Navigating Through the Nuance.

We’ve established that Black Folks are on their own in K-12 education. Rather than walk you through the solutions of how to navigate through the nuance, I’ve decided to make this blog interactive.

If you have ideas as to how to solve the educational woes from Black and Brown folks, we want to hear your solutions. You can reach out to us @8Blackhands1 on twitter. Tonight’s episode, we will talk in debt with Dr. Cole about: Black Folks Y’all are on your own! So stay tuned.

Teach for America is not the Enemy, Bad Schools are!

Teach4America is not the Enemy.

Teach for America is not the enemy; bad schools are! Why is it so taboo to say we have a failing school system nationwide? Especially for Black and Latinx students.

It’s as if we are always looking for a scapegoat instead of admitting and fixing the real problems in education.

PoC Are Not Receiving a Quality K-12 Education.

Problem One: PoC are not receiving a quality education compared to their white peers. I saw a chart yesterday that showed homeless white kids outscoring their minority subgroups. It was so alarming that I had to ask follow-up questions because I could not believe the validity of the chart (see chart below).

Even though its painstakingly obvious what the problem is, rather than address the real issue, let’s say for kicks and giggles we blame Teach for America. Or if not TFA, let’s blame Ed Reform. If that doesn’t work, hell let’s blame the parents. Black and Latinx parents do not care about their kids.

That has to be the solution. Or, if all else fails, we can blame charter schools. That seems to work as well.  We have to stop thwarting the blame for why our K-12 school system does not work.  By playing the blame game kids are continuing to fail.  We have to play a new game in order to create a new narrative for Black and Latinx students.  Let’s call the new game “solutions.”  So when you have pundit conversations about K-12 failures, be bold, and ask for solutions.  That’s how we’ll shift this paradigm for the poor folks that need solutions the most.

Lack of Black and Latinx Teachers in K-12.

Problem Two: There is a scarcity of Black and Latinx male teachers in public education. They make up less than 2% of teachers nationwide. How is this a problem? Research supports the assertion that students learn better from educators that look like them. Moreover, teacher staff that mimics the population of the school will have a better grasp on classroom management and parent engagement. Both are unmeasurable intangibles that could be the catalyst for change in schools.

That does not mean that students can’t learn from others. Do not play on words or pontificate. Students can learn under the most adverse conditions. For example, in Minnesota, homeless white students outscore Black and Latinx students by a healthy margin.

Does that mean whites are superior to their Black and Latinx peers or does that mean K-12 education could care less about Black and Latinx students? I’ll let you decide.

Scapegoating TFA.

Problem Three: We live in an era of scapegoating. No matter what the situation, there is always someone else to blame for one’s shortcomings. If education is terrible for your region, let’s blame charter schools. If that doesn’t work, let’s blame TFA.

I would like for those that are in reform to stop being the punching bag for pundits that need someone to blame.

Ed Reform is Losing.

We are losing the race right now, not because charter schools don’t work, but because we are being outworked by those that are anti-reform.

TFA adds Diversity to the teaching field. They can be apart of the solution. Let’s engage them to see how we can make things better for the 8 million children fighting for a quality education.

Respect Teachers.

Respect Teachers.

Nowadays, we make a lot of excuses for our students and their behaviors. We rationalize for their mistakes. Others blame generational trauma and a lack of quality education to help others understand there’s a need for help. Schools bring in wraparound services to help mitigate the trauma experienced by these students: more social workers, and a commitment to restorative justice, but students still have to respect teachers.

Restorative Justice.

Black and LatinX students have been historically penalized more severely than their white peers. Research supports this assertion and those inundated in the education field see this first hand. But how can we help the students that need us the most while providing these students with the services that they need? This is something I grapple with daily.

Even though I struggle with this, I still believe students should respect teachers.

When Students do not Respect Teachers.

Teacher disrespected.

As a parent, that’s kind of where I draw the line. We can’t have it both ways when it comes down to teachers. If we want teachers to be on the front lines and accept accountability measures, we must also vow to protect them. Teachers should leave work every day with their dignity intact, and physically unharmed.  This goal can be achieved if students respect teachers.

A Video is Worth 1k Words.

Currently, there is a video that depicts a student getting mouthy with a teacher. When the teacher turns her back, the black, male student snatches her wig off her head. This middle-aged Black woman deserves better than she received. Students sat, watched and videoed this deplorable, humiliation. I did not see one student advocate for the teacher. They all sat back and laughed at the expense of this teacher. Is this what we’re teaching our kids? Or, should we be teaching our kids to respect teachers?

My Struggles as an Educator.

In my mind and my heart, I know this teacher deserves better than the lack of respect she was shown in this video. How do we shift the conversation to address both the needs of the student as well as empower this teacher? How do we allow our students to advocate for what’s right, rather than to laugh at what they think is funny?

If education is to change for PoC, this video and how we’d respond is the perfect case study for moving the work forward.  Let’s move our work forward while committing to having our young people respect teachers.

Stop Blaming Charter Schools for Schools Failing.

Let’s, please stop blaming charter schools for school failure.  I know we’re easy targets, but I assure you that education is just outright bad for PoC.

Pundits that are anti-charter school/ anti-school choice have stated:

“Black and LatinX parents aren’t smart enough to choose schools for their children.” To the individuals that are shaming these parents for choosing for their children, I say, “we’ve been down this road before.” Historically, we have always had folks telling us what’s best for us.

Regardless of where you stand on the school choice argument, the one fact that we can’t debate is parents have the absolute right to choose the education that best fits their children.

Healthy Competition.

Sports, occupations, politics, everyone has competition. The beauty of education is that no one model works for 100% of students. We are continually practicing new strategies to teach students.

Recently, some said, “parents choose charter schools because they don’t do their due diligence.” It’s 100% opposite. Parents are fed up with traditional public schools. They watched these same schools fail generations. Due diligence comes in the form generational poverty experienced by relatives that attended and continue to participate in these failure mills disguised as educational institutions. There is no better spokesperson than someone that has continuously failed at a task. The lived experience of these parents has to account for something.

Agree to Disagree.

So, we can agree to disagree on the intellectual prowess of those that seek choice. As a parent that has chosen to educate my child in a charter school, I find it somewhat non-sensical that folks have the nerve to question me about my child and my decision. I’ve done my “due diligence.” Now what? You want me to put my baby, in a school that has failed generations? But, I’m the crazy one?

For the last three years, we’ve spent close to undergraduate tuition at a state school in NY, to ensure our daughter was ready for pre-K. I know many families are not as blessed to be able to allocate that kind of money towards their child’s education. However, these are the very families that need more than just a status quo education for their children. A quality education should help to break cycles of poverty, and not continue to create them.

The Story.

Every school choice parent has a story. Every child of a choice parent that has attended a public school, and no longer attends that school also has a story as well. Instead of persecuting these parents, let’s find out their stories. Have you ever asked a school choice parent why they chose the school they selected? This type of dialogue would be far more engaging. It may also help to get to the root of the problem, why certain schools no longer work for certain types of students.

The Nuance of Blame.

Let’s be real here. Charter schools are relatively new. Experts may disagree on the era In which public schools began to deteriorate. You may have some that say public schools were never intentioned for Black and LatinX students. While others may admit to public schools not being since the end of the cold war, wherever these folks preside in the argument, one that is public schools need to improve for minority students.

Moreover, if you’ve never stared poverty in the face, don’t talk to me about the choices I make for my child.

Enough of the Blame Game.

Okay, people. Let’s grow up. We have identified the problem. It isn’t charter schools. It is terrible schools. Now that we’ve identified the problem as bad schools, how do we fix them? Blaming the competition is not the answer. Admitting there is a problem, and committing to addressing the issue is the first step towards resolving it.  Stop blaming charter schools.

We need genuine and thoughtful dialogue. Enough with this “Let’s Blame Charters argument because it is getting tired.”

From Grandparents to Primary Care Givers.

From Grandparents to Primary Care Givers.

When you reach the stage of a grandparent, your role is different from that of the parent. You’ve raised your kids, hopefully in a manner that makes them responsible. No one warned you of the possibility that you’d go from grandparents to primary caregivers.

One day, far in the future I’ll be a grandparent. My role will be to give my grandkids a couple of days out of the month, so their parents can remember what it was like to be kid-free. A grandparent is to the equivalent of a relief pitcher; the biological parents are the aces.

Moreover, taking on your grandkids full-time can be both positive and negative.

The Positives.

1. The genuine love that you have for kids that are an extension of you. These kids embody your genetic makeup.
2. The ability to watch your grandkids learn and grow in a controlled setting.
3. Giving your grandchildren a stable environment where you can be a decision maker or a narrative changer.

The Negatives.

1. Anger or resentment, which is natural because these are not your children, you’ve raised your children.
2. Guilt; feeling as if you didn’t do a good enough job with your child, so you’re on the hook for their kids.
3. Grief, no longer having your independence.

Some folks dream of the day when they can walk around their homes, the way they want to walk around.

Tips for Grandparents who become Primary Care Givers:

1. Take care of yourself. You deserve that, and you’ve earned it.
2. Make sure you have hobbies to center the universe around you. ”Me time” is significant.
3. Building the capacity of the grandkids is okay. Kids nowadays are capable of being a lot more independent.

Moving Forward with the work.

According to data from AARP in 2016, three million grandparents are raising their grandchildren.

As we move forward in this work, I would like to bring attention to the following. Grandparents often receive no additional income for raising their grandkids. There needs to be legislation that allows grandparents to foster and adopt their grandchildren. Grandparents should be eligible to receive government funding in addition to money from their pensions. It may help with some of the stress associated with grandparents as the primary caregivers of their grandchildren.