Categories
Black Culture Civil Rights Education Equity and Justice trauma

Assistant Principal Done Lost His Damn Mind!

Assistant Principal Done Lost His Damn Mind.

Okay, I’m speaking solely as a father here.  In a recent bout against Black popular culture, an Assistant Principal of a school in Texas decided the best way to approach a uniform violation was to use a permanent marker to color in a students hair.

That’s right, permanent marker.  This was an Assistant Principal’s solution to a student coming in with a design in his hair.

I couldn’t imagine my approach if my son came home with a permanent marker in his hair.  I honestly don’t know if I’d be more upset with my son than I would be with the Assistant Principal that done lost his damn mind.

I’d be upset with my son because he didn’t ask to call me directly so that I could give him perspective on the situation.  But honestly speaking, these are the unfortunate circumstances that black and Latinx students face daily.  We put our kids in schools with folks that are not culturally informed, and these folks continue to degradate our children.

The Assistant Principal Has Rights.

Some folks are going to come to the aid of this Assistant Principal.  They’ll say he was following policies and procedures.  If he were a revered AP in his district, he’d find a new job in no time.  That’s how the system works, recycling administrators.

When will this constant assault on black culture end?  Our kids deserve better than this.  These strict policies outlined by districts don’t create a safe learning environment.  It does, however, develop a life of servitude.  When you treat kids like they are in prison, they’ll become prisoners.  And I don’t know one parent that is willingly sending their kid to school to become a felon.  Yet by having these “whip cracking” reactions to these culturally unjust policies creates a school to prison pipeline.

Dialogue That Disrupts the Lack of Cultural Acuity.

The only real way to address these types of issues is to create dialogue.  It goes back to training educators on how to engage families.  It also calls for educators to respect other people’s children.  Whenever I engage in dialogue with my students, I always approach it thinking about how I would want an educator to engage with my children.  By incorporating this mindset, it helps me to make sound decisions.  In the rare occasions that I question my choices, I’ll call a colleague for advice.  Before I make any final decision, I’m calling that students parents.  Why?  Because as a parent I would expect a phone call from an educator making a decision about my child.

The adults in this instance dropped the ball.  Now it’s up to this family to help this child put this incident behind him.  It’ll be hard for Black and Brown parents to trust educators in this district.  If I were in this district as a parent, I would ask for a policy review.  As parents, we have to understand our rights.  This type of incident is exactly why I support a parent’s union.  The students should have a union as well.  If educators are offered protection to do hideously stupid things to our families, parents and students deserve equal protection to ensure they are afforded protection as well.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Equity and Justice Teachers

Teach for America is not the Enemy, Bad Schools are!

Teach4America is not the Enemy.

Teach for America is not the enemy; bad schools are! Why is it so taboo to say we have a failing school system nationwide? Especially for Black and Latinx students.

It’s as if we are always looking for a scapegoat instead of admitting and fixing the real problems in education.

PoC Are Not Receiving a Quality K-12 Education.

Problem One: PoC are not receiving a quality education compared to their white peers. I saw a chart yesterday that showed homeless white kids outscoring their minority subgroups. It was so alarming that I had to ask follow-up questions because I could not believe the validity of the chart (see chart below).

Even though its painstakingly obvious what the problem is, rather than address the real issue, let’s say for kicks and giggles we blame Teach for America. Or if not TFA, let’s blame Ed Reform. If that doesn’t work, hell let’s blame the parents. Black and Latinx parents do not care about their kids.

That has to be the solution. Or, if all else fails, we can blame charter schools. That seems to work as well.  We have to stop thwarting the blame for why our K-12 school system does not work.  By playing the blame game kids are continuing to fail.  We have to play a new game in order to create a new narrative for Black and Latinx students.  Let’s call the new game “solutions.”  So when you have pundit conversations about K-12 failures, be bold, and ask for solutions.  That’s how we’ll shift this paradigm for the poor folks that need solutions the most.

Lack of Black and Latinx Teachers in K-12.

Problem Two: There is a scarcity of Black and Latinx male teachers in public education. They make up less than 2% of teachers nationwide. How is this a problem? Research supports the assertion that students learn better from educators that look like them. Moreover, teacher staff that mimics the population of the school will have a better grasp on classroom management and parent engagement. Both are unmeasurable intangibles that could be the catalyst for change in schools.

That does not mean that students can’t learn from others. Do not play on words or pontificate. Students can learn under the most adverse conditions. For example, in Minnesota, homeless white students outscore Black and Latinx students by a healthy margin.

Does that mean whites are superior to their Black and Latinx peers or does that mean K-12 education could care less about Black and Latinx students? I’ll let you decide.

Scapegoating TFA.

Problem Three: We live in an era of scapegoating. No matter what the situation, there is always someone else to blame for one’s shortcomings. If education is terrible for your region, let’s blame charter schools. If that doesn’t work, let’s blame TFA.

I would like for those that are in reform to stop being the punching bag for pundits that need someone to blame.

Ed Reform is Losing.

We are losing the race right now, not because charter schools don’t work, but because we are being outworked by those that are anti-reform.

TFA adds Diversity to the teaching field. They can be apart of the solution. Let’s engage them to see how we can make things better for the 8 million children fighting for a quality education.

Categories
Civil Rights Education Equity and Justice Parenting Special Education Teaching and Learning

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.

Categories
Charter Schools Civil Rights Education Education Reform Parenting Politics School Choice Teaching

School Choice Matters Most for Poc (People of Color)

School Choice:

One of the main concerns that I hear from school choice pundits is “charter schools and other choice type schools take away valuable resources from school districts.” To those pundits, I ask these simple questions: What should parents do if traditional public schools do not work for their children? Should they allow for their children to be sacrificial lambs in failing schools while educators work toward fixing the problem? How long should they wait? How will they be viewed if they decide not to wait?

Many parents that exercise school choice are products of traditional public schools. They speak rather candidly about the failures of said schools. These schools have left parents with animous based on their own experiences. Even with this expert knowledge, we still have folks questioning the rights of parents to make informed decisions about the education of their children. There’s nothing more offensive than reading parents are choosing to send their students to charter schools because they are uninformed. That couldn’t be more from the truth.


School Choice Matters to PoC:

As educators, we should never question or second guess a parent’s choice. Why? Because parents have the right to make the decisions that they feel are in the best interest of their kids. We can have conversations with parents to ascertain why they made their choice, but we are in no position to make that choice for parents. Parents are experts when it comes to their children. While educators also have a level of expertness, its more broad view expertise, while the parental knowledge allows parents to be laser-focused on the needs of their children. The goal should be to support a parent’s choice, not to question it or undermine it.

School Reform:

I think we are all school reformist in one way or another. Currently, “reform” is such a dirty word that when its heard, it immediately forces some to take offense. For those offended by the word ‘reform,’ I ask if the district schools are failing, what are parents supposed to do? I’m an idealist. I don’t ever want to call someone anti-school reform. I hope that we can all agree that all schools can improve and that its the job of educators to ensure that improvement. If we can agree to look at it from that perspective, then we can all agree that in theory, we want the best for children. I don’t expect for us to agree on what “best” looks like, and that’s the beauty of it all. We don’t have to agree, because it is the parent’s choice to determine the best fit.


Animus towards School Choice:

Moreover, if you have hatred towards those that exhibit their right for choice, I ask why? Affluent parents exercise school choice all of the time. When politicians in Washington, DC decide that they want to send their children to Sidwell Friends, or other elite private schools throughout Maryland and DC, they are exercising their choice. When families on NY’s upper east side decide they’d instead send their kids to private schools with 50k yearly tuition, again it is their choice. No one unfairly persecutes these parents. I’ve never read any literature recommending these parents send their children to district schools. However, when people of color exercise their options, they become bad parents?

I have heard enough about blaming parents. We provide parents with a product. If parents are unhappy with the product, they have every right to go after the best product that will work for them. We are in no place to judge them for that. We should all support their right to choose. In my opinion, those that exercise their right to choose & stand out is because they aren’t afraid to stand up.