Categories
Civil Rights Education Equity and Justice Parenting Politics

Tone Death to Blackface in schools

Tone Death to Blackface:

Aren’t you tired of reading stories about white students in blackface? Don’t they know how offensive and hurtful these actions are? Do they even care? Are the tone death?

Blackface is the act of impersonating black people by painting your face black. Blackface became prevalent in the 1830s. Whites and other non-blacks used blackface to perpetuate stereotypes, many of which still exist today. Are we tone death to this type of racism?

The practice as a whole lasted until the early 1980s but has creepily become popular due to a sort of tone-deafness that is running rampant in our country. It’s not okay for you to use blackface to reenact the experiences of people of color. That’s our energy, let us have that.


And if you are questioning why blackface is offensive to PoC, you’re a “low key” racist.


Students of Color Step Up:

I commend these Brooklyn prep school students for using their voice to bring attention to these racist actions. No child should be subjected to this sort of trauma. We have been experiencing these types of trauma and systematic racism for over 400 years. Is there any end in sight? Why don’t our minds and lives matter?


Covington, Kentucky:

Insert the students in Covington, Ky. Much attention has been made about the standoff between Nick Sandmann (student) and Nathan Phillips (elder), that has received a ton of media attention, and one blog post won’t do it justice. However, what hasn’t be spoken about enough is the culture of the — school. We’ve seen countless pictures circulating that show a clear view of the disdain these kids and their school have for black lives, as they attend sporting events against African-American athletes while in blackface. Why aren’t we talking about this?


Selective Outrage:

I know it’s not all white people. I have some excellent friends and colleagues that are white. Their hearts are true. But honestly, these events are happening so much; I’m starting to lose track of who is who. I need more people, all people to speak up when events occur instead of remaining silent. Silence often equates to acceptance. I know most of you don’t accept some of the things that are happening, but why aren’t you speaking more loudly about these things?

Unfortunately, we live in a tone-deaf society. Often when we don’t address situations correctly the first time, we experience revisionist history. As a country, I don’t think we’ve ever effectively treated racism and injustice. Currently, any mention of racism and prejudice gets met with apprehension. There is this reluctance in our society to call things what they are. In turn, we dance around difficult conversations, until events come to a head and we’re forced to talk about things.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Equity and Justice School Choice

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.

 

Categories
Civil Rights Education Reform Equity and Justice School Choice

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.

Categories
Education Parenting

Protect Your Kids!

Protect Your Kids:

I wish folks protected their kids, and defended their right for a free and equal education the way they cape for their favorite sports team or their mega-church reverends.


Knowledge is Parent Power:

As parents, a lot of us have no idea what goes on with our kids after we drop them off at childcare. We are training our kids to be obedient to abusers, and we aren’t listening to our kids. I observe all of my daughter’s mannerisms when she’s in front of her caretakers. I hear loudly and attentively when she says she doesn’t like someone.

Question You Kids:

Uniquely, our kids are in an era where being expressive is essential, and we have to put ourselves in place to where we are attentive listeners. Are we asking our children the right questions? How was your day? Did anyone make you feel uncomfortable today? How was lunch? Did you make a “happy plate”? Who was on lunch duty today? Did he/she respect your space? Did anyone put their hands on your person?


Moreover, if my daughter told me an adult pulled her hair or touched her inappropriately, you guys would have to pray for me. There is no amount of decency or decorum that I could have for someone to treat a child in that manner. Yet, this happens every day, day in and day out


Predators Amongst your Kids:

Meanwhile in New York City public schools we continue to hand our students over to these monsters. This is not exclusive to NYC public schools, this happens in a myriad of school districts throughout the United States. We must do a better job of ensuring the safety of our children.

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Not to mention, these folks are praying on our kids. And they’re doing it in the name of education. Parents that are working many jobs to stay afloat become soft targets for these predators. Anytime an educator suggests that your child spend time with them outside the confines of a school setting, that should be a red flag for parents. This is not to say that all adults have bad intentions, but with the way, society is currently, my kids won’t be the sacrificial lambs as we look to find the last good educator.

As the referee says to the boxer before the fight, “protect yourself at all times,” in this case, protect your kids at all times.