Category Archives: Equity and Justice

The Anti-School Choice Noise

Anti-School Choice:

Currently, there is much animus between traditional public-school pundits and advocates of school choice. School choice includes charter schools.  In today’s society, I’m not sure how you can be an anti-school choice advocate.

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Admittedly, those that oppose and advocate against charter schools have some legitimate concerns. I consider them Anti-School Choice.

This post serves as advice on how to address the major concerns of those that are anti-charter schools.

Concern One: There is a shortage of African-American school leaders that run charter schools in urban areas. The lack of PoC in leadership positions is indefensible. Some folks are doing some great work around supporting leaders of color. One group that comes to mind is the National Charter Collaborative. This group’s very existence is to help charter schools’ leaders of color navigate in this space. I have not taken advantage of the NCC’s offerings.


Extending on Point One: A Charter School Rooney Rule:

The Rooney Rule requires that an NFL team with a head-coaching vacancy must interview one or more minority candidates for the position. Given the NFL’s woeful history of considering and hiring minority candidates to fill head-coaching slots until the implementation of the Rooney Rule, the question asked was whether Pittsburgh would have even considered Mike Tomlin as a candidate for the Steeler head job without the Rooney Rule (Proxmire, 2008).

Moreover, what about a Rooney Rule in public education? Meaning– really, organic, purposeful conversations centered on school leadership in areas that serve high poverty families of color. Urban school districts would benefit greatly from having more minority male candidates as teachers, leaders, superintendents.

Consequently, what if for every principal and school superintendent vacancy, urban school districts had to (in good faith) interview a qualified minority candidate? The action alone would mean the world to minority families that have lost faith in the system.


Addressing Concerns:

Concern Two: Two: Some charter schools are ill-equipped to deal with the psychological trauma experienced by its student body. No charter school is perfect, and yes, some schools are tone deaf when it comes down to measuring the needs of students beyond academic requirements.

Mental Health has been making headlines as of recent. It is particularly important for schools to equip themselves to handle all of the needs of the students beyond just their academic requirements. Charter schools should employ multiple Social Workers. If budget cuts are on the horizon, the last cuts are the school counselors. Often they are the first to be cut.

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Recruiting Diverse Staffs:

Concern Three: Charter School staffs do not reflect the student body of the students they serve. Charter schools are doing a better job with trying to recruit for diversity, but “trying to do, and doing” are not the same thing. Charter Schools need to commit to diversifying, and then become relentless about doing it. Diversifying is no easy task, but given the importance of the work we do, one can see the importance of hiring a diverse staff.


Concern Four:  Charter Schools have high teacher turnover.  images-6As a charter school leader, one thinks about teacher turnover a lot.  Leaders want teachers to be in good mental space.  Having a healthy work-life balance helps this tremendously.  For example, when we see teachers working late, we send them home.  There has to be some time dedicated to not thinking about work, to re-energize and center oneself on the difficult work that a teacher does.

Beyond teacher exit surveys, “WE,” need to do a better job at taking the pulse of teachers, and ensuring they remain happy in our schools.  Students thrive off of consistency.  Having a consistent face for students and families is meaningful.

Works Cited:

Proxmire, D. (2008). Coaching diversity: The Rooney rule, its application, and ideas for expansion. American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, 1-9.

 

Freedom Schools: Future, Present, and Past

Freedom Schools, Future:

Freedom schools represent educational freedom.

Firstly, we can do more for the Black Community. What if members of the Divine Nine, Historically Black Fraternities and Sororities all pledged to fund an initiative? The initiative is to run charter schools based on the principles that govern their organizations.


Potential Initiates:

Similarly to the Freedom Summers, potential initiates would dedicate a summer to the organizations’ Freedom school as an Assistant Teacher. These assistant teachers learn under a Master Teacher.  Also, candidates learn more about the principles of their possible organization, but what better way to set potential members up for a lifetime of service?

As graduates, members of the Divine Nine are offered paid internships at their organizations’ respective school. If members become teachers, the organizations could build partnerships with the local universities to host classes on site or come up with a business model to help defray the costs of becoming a teacher.

These thoughts are in the infancy stages. Once built out, it could benefit everyone and could be the catalyst to increase the less than 2% Black Male teachers nationwide.


Freedom Schools Presently:

Notwithstanding, imagine schools where scholars do not have to fear to embrace their culturally rich heritage.  Schools where Black Americans hear the truth about their impact on society and what PoC have meant to movement throughout history. Institutions where one can feel safe to be oneself, and not have to acclimate to what society has deemed acceptable.

Places where academic excellence is the norm and not the exception. Schools where they talk about college as the derivative for success, with no constant reminders about prisons or criminalization solely based on the color of one’s skin. Given these points, this is the kind of school I want for my child, if you agree, keep reading!


Five Components of Freedom Schools:

In essence, CDF Freedom Schools are doing this. Their website posts, the CDF Freedom Schools program enhances children’s motivation to read and makes them feel good about learning.

Similarly, the program connects families to the right resources in their communities. Freedom School students engage in a research-based. They participate in the multicultural Integrated Reading Curriculum that supports them and their families through five essential components:

  1. High-quality academic enrichment
  2. Parent and family development
  3. Civic engagement and social action
  4. Intergenerational servant leadership development
  5. Nutrition, health and mental health
    Students also receive two nutritious meals and a snack daily, as well as a book each week to build their home libraries.

Other key takeaways from Freedom schools are as follows:

• Parent involvement.
• Staff diversity. Many Freedom school employees parents are involved in the movement. That means the passion for these types of schools was passed down.
• Social Action. Stakeholders are not only alarmed by the social strains on, and they are actively engaging in coming up with solutions.


Freedom Schools of the Past:

Consequently, in the summer of 1964 establishes that educational choices in the Mississippi Delta were deplorable for young PoC. Increased hostility existed towards blacks in the post-Jim Crow era. However, through SNCC and the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), the Freedom School Movement was born.

Generally speaking, Freedom Schools primary mission was to provide alternative schools that ‘‘Could supplement what Black students were learning in their high schools, give them a broader intellectual and academic experience that they could take back to their regular classes, and form the basis for statewide student action such as a school boycott’’ (Ligon and Chilcoat, 1999, p. 45).

Moreover, to reiterate: Poor schools as identified by (SNCC) and (COFO) is what spurned one of the most historic African-American led school reform initiatives, Freedom Schools.

Approximately 41 Freedom schools operated in the South. Many of the teachers in the schools were well-intentioned white college students. Again, many heard of the conditions and treatment of black folks in the South. After experiencing it first hand knew the racism prescribed to PoC in Mississippi was unlike anything they’d ever seen.

In summation, this Blog post highlights the visionary Charles Cobb.  His forward-thinking centered around what is known as Freedom Schools. We’ve spoken a lot in my inner circles. We need innovative ideas that will work to help motivate and sustain a quality education for Blacks.

Works Cited:
Ligon, J. A., & Chilcoat, G. W. (1999). Helping To Make Democracy a Living Reality: The Curriculum Conference of the Mississippi Freedom Schools. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 15(1), 43-68.

Principal Resigns Amidst Video Surfacing

Principal Resigns:

Amistad Academy, located in New Haven Connecticut is a school that gives me mixed emotions.

Amistad High 2013 Signing Day

On the one hand, this school proves that if you pour resources into Students of color, they can achieve, and achieve at a very high level. Amistad is the number one ranked high school in Ct. It’s also the number 55th ranked high school in the US, and the 19th ranked charter high school in the United States, according to US News and World Reports.

Our (Riverhead Charter School’s) 9th grade starts in 2020-21. Amistad was definitely on our list of schools to visit.


Moreover, Amistad High School recently made news for a different reason. A video surfaced showing the principal of the school, physically accosting one of his former students. According to witnesses, this event took place in October; however, the principal stayed on the job sometime after that. That’s my concern. If someone poses a threat to students, schools can’t be in a wait and see position. The Amistad board should have placed its principal of paid leave until they thoroughly investigated the incident.

Many of my posts are pro-charter schools. I feel charter schools give SoC the best opportunity to succeed in education, but I have no problem calling out people that don’t act in the best interest of students. So to be clear, I’m an advocate for charter schools, but I put the interests of students before anything else. Parents and administrators have to defend the students over the institutions.


The video is graphic. Please keep that in mind as you view it.

My significant takeaways are, adults have to model the behavior that they expect from the students. Adults also have to allow “cooler heads to prevail” in times of high stress. How could this whole situation be avoided?