It’s National Principal’s Month, and I wanted to take the time to celebrate our principals. Principals are the unsung heroes of our schools. Our principals and principals across the United States have some of the most challenging jobs in education. It’s a high risk, low reward job. If something terrible happens in a school, the principal is the most at risk. However, if something good happens in schools, the school leader is last to receive any accolades. We have to change this narrative and celebrate our school leaders.
Lifting Our School Leaders
That’s where we come in. As parents, board members, and central office folks, we have the power to change the narrative for principals. Principals are the CEOs of their schools. We have to celebrate them just as much as we celebrate classroom teachers. If you have classroom teachers doing exceptionally well, there’s a good chance it is because of the principals’ support. Principals coach teachers, give them feedback and hold teachers accountable for ensuring your children learn.
Thank a Principal
Not to mention our principals at the Riverhead Charter School are uniquely outstanding. Both have different skill sets that work for their buildings. Yet, they put their egos aside to collaborate on whole school projects that improve our school. Our schools are better thanks to the leadership of Mrs. Arcuri and Dr. McKinney. Our building leaders are empathetic to the needs of our parents. They both lead with integrity, and prior to Covid-19, they were battle-tested.
Lastly, I want to shine the spotlight on the AOS podcast. The podcast features three school leaders, an Alpha, Omega, and a Sigma, three representatives of the Divine Nine Fraternities and Sororities. They each have unique perspectives and personalities that shine. Each show I learn tremendously. If you see a principal, please acknowledge them. Trust me when I tell you, being a principal is no easy task. Happy Principal’s Month!
Shout out to D. Ball, D. McGuire, and Dr. Smith.
If you’re like me, you didn’t know what to expect from last night’s debate Biden vs. Trump Round 1. I went in with the best of intentions. I even recorded a pre-debate blueprint that captured the issues that I felt should matter most as we come down to the wire to follow along.
But shortly into the debate, I realized, the problems don’t matter. This election will not be about the issues that we face as American citizens.
Moreover, I think the majority of folks that watched last night’s debate were disappointed. On the one hand, President Trump prepped well for this debate. His prep included tons of misinformation. As bad as it sounds, you have to prep well to lie like that. Forty-Five did what he came to do, distract, and throw Vice President Biden off his game. Trump has never been an “issues” candidate. Yes, he’s made campaign promises, but Trump’s presidency’s basic premise was to scale back the progress created by his predecessor, former president Barak Obama.
Biden was Biden
The former vice-president landed some punches but wasn’t as prepared as he should have been. Trump did everything he did in his 2016 run. To match Trump’s energy, Biden’s team should have done a better job of reviewing Trump’s tape. Trump historically focuses on specific points. Forty-Five has made it his business to go after Hunter Biden. Forty-Five has also referred to Joe Biden’s role in the 1994 crime bill.
Biden vs. Trump Round 1 was filled with unfulfillment.
Hell, he solicited the help of foreign dignitaries to dig up dirt on Biden and his son. How do you not prepare the vice-president for that?
The Difference Between Democrats and Republicans
The difference between Democrats and Republicans, besides an inability to reach middle ground about anything, is that most Democrats lead from a place of morality. Republicans play to win, and their moral fiber has always been questionable. For the past 12 plus years, Republicans have been consistent. They have been obstructionist and reckless. They force policies on the American people without checking the pulse of the people they represent. Republicans ignore national polls and do what’s in their vested self-interest. Democrats respond in reactionary ways but are rarely proactive about issues that matter.Continue reading “Biden vs. Trump Round 1”
Recently, I released a graphic that showed viable candidates for Joe Biden’s Education Secretary. My rationale for creating the list was simple. I wanted there to be more conversation on the topic. The next Education secretary will be the most critical cabinet decision, in my opinion. Betsy DeVos has done a lot to overturn Obama era educational legislation that benefited Black and Brown students, as well as the policy that has further alienated LGBTQ students. You have seen my initial list, this is my dark horse list.
The initial list was successful in creating conversation. Some folks were “Big Mad” at the candidates that landed on the initial list. In contrast, others appreciated the diversity of thinking that went into making a list to start meaningful conversations.
Dark Horse List
For those of you that don’t know me, I run a charter school on Long Island. So immediately, you might presume that a list constructed by a charter leader would be a pro-choice list. It’s not. It’s a very balanced list highlighting some of the best minds in education on both the pro-charter and anti-charter sides. The “darkhorse list” is more of the same. Folks that claim ed reform, while others claim the system will repair itself. I don’t see how this system can repair itself. Education (at current) does not have good outcomes for Black kids.
Parents are the Experts
I’ll reiterate, I think parents are the experts of children. I also think parents should ultimately determine where their children attend schools. No one but that parent should be able to decide on the best educational options for their child. If you’re here to argue that charter schools siphon money away from traditional public schools, you must also be counter-intuitive in your acceptance of why parents want out of those same traditional public schools. As a parent with children in both traditional public schools and a public charter school, I choose what was best for my children based on my options.
My Dark Horse List
I’ll highlight a couple of my favorite people that made my “darkhorse list”:
Andre Perry, Brookings Institute. Andre has written some solid pieces for the Washington Post and is currently anti-charter school, anti-school choice. The irony of this is that no one ever asks Andre what type of K-12 school he attended, or where his kids attended school. Also, people have short memories about the network of charter schools he ran into the ground in New Orleans, but I’ve still reveled in his ability to reinvent himself. It’s nothing short of amazing.
Sarah Carpenter, CEO of Memphis Lift. Fantastic energy, straight forward and to the point advocate for children. It does not matter what type of school it is, Sarah only wants good schools for kids.
Diane Ravitch is a hard nose proponent for traditional public schools. She’s a historian who can rally the troops and shape their thinking. My concern is her anti-choice rhetoric, will parents coalesce behind a message that does not support school choice?
What are your thoughts on the dark horse list? Was it better than the first list? Who should have made it, who shouldn’t have?
As an emerging scholar-practitioner, I sometimes need to be reflective of my own biases and practice. When I speak of myself as a “segregationalist,” it’s through the construct of reminding myself that education for Black Americans was once better than what it is currently. It is straightforward. There are not many twists and turns.
Prior to Brown v. Board
Before Brown v. Board, many historically relevant documents state that Black Americans had a robust and successful approach to educating black children. Teachers built impactful relationships with families, and education was through a community infused lens.
Segregation Was Once Our Reality
Now, when some folks hear or read the term “segregationist,” it becomes a tough pill to swallow. To effectively move forward in today’s society, it will take acknowledgment that most are unwilling to give. That does not mean these people are evil. It just means we have to meet people where they are to get them where they need to be.
Black Lives Matter
I recently wrote an official statement to my school community regarding my stance on Black Lives. Given the community outside of my school, I understood in great detail how such a message could become misconstrued.
No Really, They Matter
Statements and actions that support Black Americans and their lives mattering should not make any other race feel uncomfortable. No one is saying that different races’ lives do not matter. All Black folks are saying is that our lives matter just as much as everyone else’s lives.
Using Social Media & National Platforms Responsibly
Being a school leader with a national platform is sometimes tricky. Knowing that people play on your every word makes you have to be intentional about every word you speak, tweet, or write. No one wants to dialogue about their differences anymore. It is easier to send anonymous emails or tweets from avatars calling for the demise of those that may or may not have the same set of beliefs that you may have.
Eight Black Hands Podcast Episode: 66
I’m writing this for those that may feel alone. You are not. In Episode 66 of the 8 Black Hands Podcast, we talked specifically about being black in predominately white spaces. People always want to interpolate each other’s experiences. In other words, if a white person in a position of power says, “White lives matter,” folks view it as racist. Some people believe the same standard should occur when Black leaders say, “Black Lives Matter.”
Knees on Neck
It is unfortunate that in 2020 conversations about race and inequity are still so painful. Yet we are given daily reminders of what it means to be Black in America. From knees on knecks to being hunted in the streets. From anonymous emails, from folks combing through your tweets. No one ever said living would be comfortable, but no one ever said life would be this hard.
Using Critical Race Theory Appropriately
Looking at school integration from the perspective of a Critical Race theorist is interesting. CRT forces you to look at the power dynamics that exist in society as well as education, and admit that these dynamics are alive and well. Documented through stories and lived experiences, we should all be so lucky to see the world through this lens. Unfortunately, most do not understand their power. The lack of understanding of power makes conversations about privilege difficult.
Transitioning from a Segregationist to an Integrationist w/ Care
My transition to becoming an integrationist from a segregationist has not always been smooth. I take offense when people ask us to forget our history. When I hear terms like, “Slavery happened, get over it,” or stereotypes like “Blacks are lazy.” The same people that make stereotypical comments about blacks being lazy were not working hand in hand with Black Americans during slavery. They were overseeing the work from a position of power. A place that is alive and well to this very day.
So, when I call for “white allyship,” It is not said to say white people are bad people. It is just a nuanced way to say that for us to address racism in the United States adequately, we have to take a collective effort.
With this, I cordially invite you to our first annual Juneteenth March for Justice.
I recently released a graphic that showed viable candidates for Joe Biden’s Ed Secretary. My rationale for creating the list was simple. I wanted there to be more conversation on the topic. The next Education secretary will be the most critical cabinet decision, in my opinion. Betsy DeVos has done a lot to overturn Obama era educational legislation that benefited Black and Brown students, as well as the policy that has further alienated LGBTQ students.
For those of you that don’t know me, I run a charter school on Long Island. So immediately, you might presume that a list constructed by a charter leader would be a pro-choice list. It’s not. It’s a very balanced list that highlights some of the best minds in education on both the pro-charter side and the anti-charter side.
Parents Are The Experts of their children
Quickly before I get into the list, let me be clear, I think parents are the experts of their children. I also think parents should ultimately determine where their children attend schools. No one but that parent should be able to decide on the best educational options for their child. If you’re here to argue that charter schools siphon money away from traditional public schools, you must also be counter-intuitive in your acceptance of why parents want out of those same traditional public schools. As a parent with children in both traditional public schools and a public charter school, I choose what was best for my children based on my options.
I’ll highlight some of the people from the list.
Kaya Henderson, former CEO of DC public schools. Coming in after Michelle Rhee was no easy task. Academics in DC public schools increased under Kaya. I look at academic evolution as one of my mainstays in selecting a new Ed Secretary. Is the person battle-tested? I believe the next Education secretary will have to be ready for educational wars.
Julian Helig-Vasquez, College of Education Dean at the University of Kentucky. If you’re familiar with the 8 Black Hands Podcast (if you aren’t you should be), you’d know some podcast members have choice words for Julian. I see Julian as a brilliant educational scholar who has the skillset to navigate political nuances to make a change for students. Do I agree with Julian’s stance on charter schools? No, I do not, but I think once he visits my school, we may be able to get him to come off of his hardline.
Sonya Santelis, Current CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, what is there not to like about Sonya? She’s down to earth and makes common-sense decisions that are based on students and families. The systems that she has in place will soon show academic gains.
GLB- A critical race theorist, and an absolute scholar on how power dynamics impact the learning of the poor and disenfranchised. A GLB appointment may lead to better teacher training that yields an anti-racist lens.
LDH, was an all but sealed deal to be Ed Sec under president Obama. She’s Julian’s mentor and people in California rant and raves about her work. Both GLB and LDH are cited in Ch.2 of my dissertation, which I will gleefully defend this fall.
I’ve given you insight into my first list. In the coming days, I will be constructing a dark horse list. In the meantime, please continue the conversation about the next Education Secretary of the United States. I assure you this appointment will be one for the ages.
Tonight, Erykah Badu is my favorite to win her versus matchup against Jill Scott, aka “Jilly from Philly.” Both are incredibly talented artists that have a neo-soul sound. The two are well versed in their ability to use the pen to motivate their fans to groove. Given the current state of our country, as we navigate through a historical pandemic, we all need this tonight.
Acknowledgment of Bodies of Work.
Erykah Badu is my favorite in this matchup because of her body of work. This is not to say that “Jilly from Philly” isn’t a fantastic talent, but hit to hit, I don’t see Jill being able to match up with Badu. My guess is that it would depend on the total amount of songs played. I feel like in a versus matchup of five songs, it would be a closer matchup. However, the closer you get to ten songs, Erykah Badu becomes the favorite to take this home.
Why Erykah Badu is my favorite to win!
Erykah Badu spits bars. It’s sort of like your favorite rapper that uses metaphors to make you think. Badu is kind of like the “Andre 3000” or “Black Thought” of R&B. If you ever break down her songs and search through the meaning and symbolism, you’ll understand my argument.
Decoding the Bars.
I have four examples of what I mentioned. They are as follows:
“Three dollars and six dimes.” Representing the 360 degrees of life, coming full circle in your personal evolution.
“Looks like I sampled true love, but the shit didn’t clear.” This bar represents one’s commitment towards friendships and relationships and speaks to co-dependence.
“I can make you make you put your phone down.” Given our current dependency on electronics, the mere mention of folks putting their focus on things that are more than just momentarily necessary is a bar.
And lastly, “To catch me is to catch a leprechaun.” I could have said, “Hold on to your rabbit’s foot.” But this is important as it symbolizes those that add value to your life.
Final Thoughts on Why I favor Erykah Badu.
Bar for bar, she’s doper.
Sound and movement that helped to transcend neo-soul.