Categories
Education Equity and Justice

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.

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools

Charter School Caps are Discriminatory (Period)

Charter School Caps are Discriminatory (period).

All over the country, we are starting to hear more talk about capping school choice for the families that need it the most. Charter school caps are straight-up racists. Black and Latinx folks have long come to terms that K-12 education at its current state will not allow us to compete locally or globally.  Knowing this, I feel comfortable in asserting that Charter School Caps are discriminatory (Period).

Some of those things are generational poverty, high unemployment, lack of opportunities, and historical disenfranchisement.

Why Are Charter School Relevant?

Moreover, charter schools are relevant because parents weren’t happy with their local neighborhood school monopoly.  We are talking about the failure mills, the schools that have failed families for generation after generation.  It baffles me that people can make an argument for failing schools and/or parent shame families for wanting better outcomes for their children.

 

I’m screaming my kid, my choice loudly.  If there is one thing that is absolute about Black and Brown parents and grandparents, it is they want better for their kids than they had.  


What Parents are Y’all Talking to?

I have never met a parent that did not want better for their kid.  If you have, please point me in that direction, I would love to talk to that person. Study after study shows us, Black and Brown folks overwhelmingly support charter schools as an alternative to public school monopolies, especially those schools that don’t meet the needs of its students.  How can you cap that?

Charter Schools are the Black Choice.

In addition, we are more than just per-pupil funding.  Black and Brown students and families deserve the best educational options for our students.  We reserve the right to choose.  A cap on charter schools limits our choices.  I’m not sure why we have to continuously convince folks over something that appears to be as plain as day.

Bill DeBlasio failed NYC.

Presidential candidate and mayor of NYC, Bill DeBlasio has failed NY significantly.  Tons of waste in his renewal schools, and his inability to engage charter school parents as a part of his constituents.  If you’re looking to make a case against DeBlasio and his presidential bid, look at his education record.

Universal pre-K was a plus, but besides that, what else is there?  His ideas have failed NYC.

Brown didn’t work for us.

Folks get mad when I say Brown v. Board of education didn’t work for us.  Those folks can continue to be angry.  Post Brown, we lost most of our Black teachers.  Can you imagine some Black kids go through 12 years of formal education without ever having a black teacher?  Less than 2% of black males are teachers.  If that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, or at least make you think, nothing will.

We have to do better, and putting a cap on charter schools won’t help us in getting better.  We need to remove the cap on educating black kids, but that’s the charter cap’s aim.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Reform

Diane “21 Savage” Ravitch

Diane “21 Savage” Ravitch.

Diane ” 21 Savage” Ravitch in her most recent blog post states, “To understand the charter industry, you must appreciate that it is driven by extremely wealthy people and has no grassroots.”

Ms. Ravitch’s assertion that the charter school industry is not a grassroots movement couldn’t be further from the truth. The textbook definition of grassroots is as follows: Grassroots, type of movement or campaign that attempts to mobilize individuals to take some action to influence an outcome, often of a political nature.  Black and Brown folks have marched, lobbied, and have a pretty extensive ground game when it comes to getting educational choice for their children.

21-21-21.

I feel like every time Mrs. Savage blogs, she needs to write 21-21-21, as a precursor for the savagery she depicts in her writing.  Savagery, in this instance, relates to how she misleads the reader into thinking that the only way to save traditional public schools, is to invest only in conventional public schools.

In my opinion, this is deficit thinking.  It amazes me at how people (like Mrs. Savage) with the most access always feel like they need to think for poor folks.  Often times they negate ones lived experience by inserting their expert views.  These loud sirens exhibited by these so-called experts often drown out the help signals that are blaring.  Black and brown folks are tired of being told what to do with their children, they want options, and no expert will convince them otherwise.

An odd fact that Mrs. Ravitch and those that think like her conveniently forget, is schools were bad way before charter schools.

School Choice Pushes The Envelop.

Moreover, charter schools push the envelope daily. Black and Brown families overwhelmingly want charter schools and school choice options for their children. To try and persuade others of anything different just tells you how much of a disconnect there is between those that are fortunate vs. those that have been historically disenfranchised.

Black and Brown Folks Favor School Choice.

According to a recent study by the American Federation for children, 67% of families support choice in where they send their kids to school. This is up 4% from 2018. You can find more information on the study by clicking on this link https://www.federationforchildren.org/national-school-choice-poll-shows-67-of-voters-support-school-choice-2019/.

Mrs. Ravitch likens support to charter schools as being the whose who in philanthropic support. In her blog, she states, “Being a supporter of charter schools is like belonging to the right clubs, going to the right parties, sharing a cause with other wealthy people.”  I’m not sure what clubs Mrs. Ravitch attends, but I can assure you they have exclusivity.

School Choice Evens The Playing Field.

Mrs. Ravitch fails to mention is what the cause is, and who the cause benefits. Plain and straightforward, school choice evens the playing field that was once dominated by traditional public schools. Charter schools are not the enemy. View charter schools as a way to keep its Traditional Public school sibling honest. Traditional public schools fail families. Nowadays, Mrs. Ravitch conveniently glosses over outcomes and accountability to gaslight issues that don’t matter to the poor.  Black and Brown folks want quality schools for their kids.

Gaslighting Like Trump.

Mrs. Ravitch savagely attempts to link the work we do in the charter sector to Jeffery Epstein. Epstein is a pedophilic sicko. I’m sure anyone school that accepted funding from him would be happy to disavow. I also didn’t read where she addressed the pedophiles that are saturated throughout schools, mainly traditional public schools.

For example, Rhode Island–  Oddly enough, I have not read one-word form Mrs. Ravitch or any public schools supporters disavowing themselves from what’s currently happening in Rhode Island.  To bring you up to speed, the teacher’s union is fighting tooth and nail to continue allowing teachers dating students to be non-criminal.  This ass-backwardness has gotten little to no attention from Savage or the likes.  I wonder why?

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Education Reform Equity and Justice

Open Letter to Senator Sanders Re: Charter Schools

Open Letter to Senator Sanders.

Dear Senator Sanders,

I get it. You are behind in the polls, and things are seemingly impossible. Senator Sanders, the magic in the bottle that you once had has escaped the bottle. Therefore, in desperation, you have to go out on edge to separate yourself from the other Democratic Candidates for the 2020 election.

I’d rather see you buck the system, and support school choice for the poor and disenfranchised.

In the 2016 Election cycle, you struggled to make headway with African-American voters. This may have been one of the main reasons that you aren’t currently sitting in the Whitehouse as president. Instead of correcting the mistakes made by your campaign in 2016, and your desire to be a provocateur, you are again isolating yourself from the votes you need to become electable.

Senator Sanders is Out of Touch.

Black Folks didn’t vote for you in 2016 because they thought you were out of touch, or for that matter never in touch with the Black Community. It was alleged that you frequently avoided Black folks in your home state of Vermont. Nothing says out of touch more than your recent suggestion to place a moratorium on charter schools.

Your new policy should have focused on putting an end to bad schools. Those are the schools that perpetuate death gaps that exist in our country. Students are graduating High School reading below an 8th-grade reading level. Rather than oppose the choice of Black and LatinX parents, you should be standing up for these families.  America, at least for the rich, is about choice.  You have some nerve proposing a measure that would take away opportunities from the poor and disenfranchised.  This policy shows just how out of touch you are with communities of color.  Maybe you should run for president of the NAACP?  You all seem very aligned, but yet very out of touch with the pulse of the poor and disenfranchised.

Politics Aside Senator Sanders.

Senator Sanders, I am familiar enough with your story to know a leopard doesn’t change his spots. I take you for your word when you talk about limiting educational options for people of color. It’s okay to be pro-union. I know a lot of this effort behind the assault on school choice is spearheaded by politicians that want the historical blue union vote. Alas, you may receive and be endorsed by the Teacher’s unions. But, I task the Black Community to show you in consecutive elections that your inability to be in touch with our needs will haunt you dearly at the polls.

Is Bernie Bought?

Bernie Sanders talk so much about not being influenced by Wall Street and holding others accountable. It is time that we remind you as an elected official, you don’t choose what’s best for us, we determine what’s best for us. On the last day of National Charter School week, and hours after the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board, you have the nerve to come out with this atrocious policy? It’s cowardice and reflective of the fact that maybe Senator Sanders, you been compromised.

Concluding thought on Bernie’s Vibes.

The black community is very fickle towards folks telling us what to do. Senator Sanders, in my mind, two hot-button topics exist in the United States right now. 1) Infringing on the rights of women. I’m a man, so the last thing in the world that I’m going to do is tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. 2) School choice. The last thing that I’m going to do is tell a historically disenfranchised sector of my base when and where they should send their children to school. To do either is political suicide. I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to go to the polls to let you know how we feel about your charter school moratorium.

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Education Reform Equity and Justice School Choice

NCC 2019

This past weekend we were invited to the annual convening held by the National Charter Collaborative 2019 (NCC 2019).

The Story:

Historically single site charter schools “Mom and Pop” charter schools have been over sequenced by CMO’s (Charter Management Organizations) with multiple sites. Moreover, the support rendered to leaders of color has been non-existent. For those of us familiar with the work of a school-leader, we can agree that it can be a very lonely place as a school leader.  For charter school leaders of color, utilizing the resources offered by the NCC is paramount to your success.

Insert the NCC.

The NCC creates a safe space for leaders of color. It allows leaders to decompress while networking with other LOC’s. If you’ve ever been to a convening, the energy in the room is always amazing. There’s a saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re probably in the wrong room.” At the 2019 convening in Oakland, I felt like there were a ton of people that I could learn.

Introducing the 8 Black Hands Podcast at NCC 2019.

The 8 Black hands podcast, composed of four education activists that aren’t afraid to “cape” for the Eight million black students that are currently not receiving an adequate education. We are unapologetic about fighting for Black families. To learn more about our podcast, or our work, you can follow us on twitter @8blackhands1.

 

Our first live Gig NCC 2019.

This year’s NCC national convening was the first time we recorded a live show. We are all individual fans of the NCC and their work. We are grateful for the mutual admiration, and the invite. Attached is the live show. But it doesn’t capture the energy that was in the room. It was terrific, and it helped us realize how powerful our podcast can be for the Eight million Black kids currently navigating through the nuance of poor performing schools in the United States of America.

Categories
Education Education Reform Equity and Justice sexual abuse in schools trauma

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.