Category Archives: Teaching and Learning

New York City Specialized High School -BS-

The commitment to diversity in New York Specialized High School is B-S.  These students deserve better.  They deserve our attention.

If this latest Varsity Blues scandal combined with the abysmal acceptance rates of Black students in New York Specialized High Schools isn’t a wake-up call, what is?

Varsity Blues Scandal.

In light of the Varsity Blues scandal, we’ve had to stare privilege in the face and admit that the mighty dollar can buy school choice. Hollywood heavyweights were caught in a pay to play scheme that gave their children a competitive advantage in college admissions over Black and LatinX students. The Varsity Blues scandal should not come as a shock. Our educational system has always been this way.

New York City Specialized High School is B-S.

The NYC Specialized High School admission process may not be the same as the Varsity Blues scandal, but I will be darn if there are not any similarities. The Have’s are still in positions to benefit immensely from admissions. While the have nots struggle to make decisions about where to send their kids for high school. In Stuyvesant High School, there were 895 spots open to the incoming freshman class, only 7/895 of the admitted are Black. That’s .0078.

 

It’s insane and deserves political outrage. I believe this deserves a “Public School New Deal.” Hell, we can even make the deal green too, if it’ll make people act on it.

Truly Commit to Diversity.

The system needs fixing. Instead of talking about a system reboot, put in the work. Instead of catering to the affluent, let’s commit to creating an equitable system. Any other talk about building diverse systems is fluff. Black and LatinX folks are tired of the dust. We are tired of the sit back and wait your turn type attitudes that the affluent inflict upon the poor.

If the System Remains Broken.

If the system remains broken, and the Haves continue with their dominance, we should not dare blame parents for expressing a need for choice. Charter schools provide PoC hope. Our current educational system is bleak. The proof is in the results. We are not going to wait around while you all figure this out. We are going to make the best decisions for our children. You can judge all you want, be we won’t be sitting idly by while you fix the problem that you created. New York City specialized high school needs a reset.

My concluding thought is simple, fix the system. But until that system is problem free, please don’t you dare tell us where to send our kids to school.

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.

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.

The Day We Cape for a Quality Education for PoC; Instead of Caping for Jussie and the likes. ‘No Cap’

Eight Million:

If we could “Cape” for our students of color the way we “cape” for actors and athletes, 8 million students would be better off.

Imagine a world where we advocate for the education of the poor and disenfranchised, No Cap.

There are Eight million students of color, currently receiving less than adequate instruction in the United States. The areas most affected are centralized ‘urban cities’ or port cities. Please name me a port town where students of color are performing well academically. A port town where unemployment is equal to suburbia and crime is at a minimum. If you can find such a city, I will stop blogging.

Poor Jussie:

Moreover, we have enough to worry about in current day society. By in large, 400 years of physical and psychological trauma, enter Jussie Smollett, or Jamal as you Empire watchers like to call him. Immediately we took him at his word when he said the attack occurred. Any black male that questioned the attack risked accusal of exhibiting “Toxic Masculinity.”

Toxic Masculinity:

fullsizeoutput_15a9Toxic masculinity, in theory, can’t be every time black males do not agree with the mainstream. Currently, it is over usage diminishes its value. Overall, there was nothing toxic about feeling like this story was “fake news.” People continue to remain silent, hoping that the results matched Smollett’s account. That story is now in question. We will continue to see how it plays out in the media.

Democratic Cap(ers):

Every major Democratic politician admonished the alleged assault against Smollett. Most if not all are very quiet as details surface around this being a staged attack. It is all the more reason for us to rechannel our energy.

Notwithstanding, this is more of a reason to make these candidates focus on issues that matter to us. In essence, if this were true, and Smollett experienced an assault. I would want nothing more than his attackers to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, if he is found to be “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” celebrity aside, Smollett deserves prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

Lets Rep for These Eight Million Kids:

On the other hand, what’s not in question is the eight million students of color that are still in failing schools. Factually speaking, with teacher strikes are on the rise, and teachers’ unions complex strategies to pit traditional public schools against public charter schools. We have to fight for our kids.

In closing, let’s “Cape” for our kids the way that we “Cape” for these celebrities on TV. Our kids need us, and it’s time for us to take a stand, ‘No cap.’

My blog: EverybodyluvsRaymondsedblog.com

Podcast: https://audioboom.com/posts/7177506-blackface-black-history-and-black-education

Twitter: @Mr_Ankrum; @8blackhands1

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

The following ten intangibles of good teaching are in no particular order. However, feel free to prioritize based on your needs.

1). Be reflective in your practice. It takes teachers at least four years to learn the curriculum, and become good at managing students. In years 0-4, be humble, hungry, and reflective.

2). Be selfless. Teaching isn’t about adults or what the profession can give to you or what the job can do for you. Education is about your ability to facilitate learning for others, and those others must be the central focus, thus making the profession one of selflessness.

Collaboration is key:

3). Collaborate often. You can always learn from your colleagues, even if you are learning what not to do from them. The goal is for you to take teaching tools and build them to fit your personality.

4). Build relationships with parents and students. Parents are stakeholders and should be considered thought-partners. Not every parent will interact with you on a level that you are familiar with, so be prepared to come out of your comfort zone and meet parents where they are without judgment.

5). Believe in your students. All students can achieve, but as the educator in their lives, it becomes your job to create an individual learning plan that allows students to experience success.

Feedback can shift the tide:

6). Always seek input. Implement the information immediately. Invite colleagues in your classroom, and ask for their honest opinions. Put your defenses down, and leave your ego at the door. Constructive criticism isn’t about you; it’s about the students.

7). Consistency– you should plan to attend work 98% of the time. Only if you are sick and contagious should you miss work? Your students will see your dedication and passion, and they will assimilate accordingly.

8). Teaching is a very demanding job, so establishing work-life balance is hard but necessary. Find ways to let off steam, I.e., Gym, recreational running. It’s crucial for you to come in every day fresh and reinvigorated.

Learning is forever:

9). Become a life-long learner and always share your love for learning with your students. Students need to see this passion.

10). Have fun! Laugh a lot, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Your ability to have fun and laugh at your mistakes will prolong your teaching career. Now go out and kick some butt.

Please feel free to add any thoughts that you may have. I look forward to learning from your comments.

Black Boys in Sped, Why?

There are too many Black boys in Sped classes.

Sped Used Correctly:

In fact, Special Education, when used to its real intent, is an excellent resource. Teachers identify the challenges exhibited by students and help parents put methods in place that will assist in student learning. The special education process, when used to it’s the real intent can be an invaluable tool for student learning.

Consequently, the problem that I have with Special Education, and I’m sure this rings true in communities with PoC is when race plays a role in determining placement. As it stands young black males, simply started are overrepresented in Special Education classes.


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Black Boys in Sped:

Moreover, in the 2011-12 school year, black students were 14.4% of the student population in schools in the US. In the same time frame, Black students were also 19% of the 6.1 million students served under IDEA. More specifically, Black Males represented 12.8% of the 4.1 million males served under IDEA.

 

The Dirty South:

The South is the most egregious. Some of the statistics are unnerving. In the following states, the percent of their Special Education populations are staggering. They are as follows:

  • Georgia 50%
  • Louisiana 52.4%
  • South Carolina 43%
  • Maryland 45.2%

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Some of you may be surprised by these numbers. Unfortunately, many of us are not. Given the shameful history of white supremacy, these numbers make sense. The figures also become eerily correlatable to the school to prison pipeline, a concept that I will address in the future.

Some of the areas that Black Students have been over-identified in special education services are as follows:

  • Emotional disturbance
  • Intellectually Disabled

Reluctance to Address the Stigma:

The obvious answer and I’m walking on eggshells as I type is that there is a disconnect between the ways Black kids learn and the way teach Black kids. One can’t help but think that whom they are educated by plays a role in students being over-identified as intellectually disabled students.rrr-or-2015-black

Black parents are resistant to Special Education talks. They have personally had bad experiences, or they know of others who have had lousy experiences. So when a Black parent is apprehensive to your suggestions, it’s not because they don’t care about their kid, it’s the opposite.


Ways to combat Sped Stigmas:

  1. Cultural relevant pedagogy: make learning interesting to all students. Don’t be afraid to learn about cultures that may differ from your own.
  2. Relationship building: Understanding that kids don’t work for people they don’t like or trust.
    Building authentic relationships with families and students is a surefire way to start to break down existing barriers.
  3. Sensitivity to past trauma: Although these students may not have directly experienced slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Mass Incarceration, they are descendants of those that have. They carry a sense of lived trauma that has not and sometimes we will never atone.

I chaired a parent meeting recently in which we went through the process of identifying a black male student for Sped Services. As I spoke to this grandfather, I could see the lived pain on his face.

I was cautious and deliberate with the words that I talked to him. I could tell it was more comfortable for him to take in because that message came directly from me, someone he knew cared, and would operate in the best interests of his grandson, a young black boy.