My Vision for Public Education

 

With so much divisiveness in this country, and the lack of respect for our cultural pluralism:

I envision a day when public education becomes the true equalizer that it is supposed to be for all who enroll their children into a system designed to prepare them for life, college and career success. Educators will no longer view ‘different’ as deficient, but just as determined as all others to live the American Dream and realize their own dreams as global citizens.

I envision a day when educators will teach, not to the test, but to the students and with relevance to instill cultural pride, self-love and respect for diversity. Children will learn with purpose and determination and will each be presented with sufficient ‘mirrors’ and ‘windows’ that will encourage each to pursue their own excellence. Schools don’t employ short-sighted persons who lack confidence necessary to show respect for anyone who doesn’t look, live or believe as they do. Schools are the environments where safe, supportive exploration of ideas and concepts aren’t dictated, but presented for thorough examination, comparison and contrast for deeper meaning, and only empirical data is deemed right or wrong. Students are encouraged to exercise their natural curiosity and ask intelligent questions and act as independent thinkers.

I envision a day when going to school is a daily excitation FOR ALL CHILDREN. Learning is interesting, relevant, challenging, thought-provoking. Educators acknowledge that everyone has a gift-an intelligence and make it their mission to uncover, discover and develop them in class. Educators authentically engage parents within the community and everyone sees the bigger picture…. It is all about the ‘village’. Educators do not fear making home visits and they meet parents where they are, as equally valuable educators with shared interests.

Parents are empowered as advocates, leaders, and decision-making partners with schools, and schools are linguistic & culturally-responsive community hubs. Food insecurity is mitigated, medical needs are addressed, behavioral health services are accessible, and comprehensive family supports are provided in a village collaborative. In fact, some schools have designated space for laundry, and babysitting services are regularly provided to parents with young children. Parents have a space to learn with flexible hours while acquiring work readiness skills, resume writing, interview skills, and parenting enhancement groups in school. Multi-generational strategies exist and parents are involved in all matters pertaining to learning.

I envison a day when teachers no longer over-discipline students because they don’t ‘get’ them, because educators possess empathy, insight and cultural proficiency. Before assuming, they will ask questions to engage students authentically and restoratively. Social justice takes place in the classroom, and not the police precinct.

key to success

I envision a day when, whether African-American, LGBTQ, Puerto-Rican or Sudanese, instruction is responsive to the cultural background, complementary to the unique identities of students and aligned with the standards. The core curriculum, responsive to student demographics, is individualized according to student interests, strengths and in preparation for meeting the demands of a tech-rich, information-driven global workforce. Students are prepped for the future, realizing their potential as change makers, culture creators, and compassionately global citizens.

I envision a day when Black History Month is not just celebrated during February, but throughout the school year, as educators dutifully endeavor to teach beyond the texts…in every class, every subject, because there are countless resources that align with instructional content and resonate with students. Teachers expose students to their own cultures as well as the cultures of others. That is only just and fair. Students respond to it.  After all, it is what students need to feel they belong in that environment.

wonder child - Copy

I envision a day when teachers understand that every child needs a hero. Whether parents, neighbors or someone from the past, there is a hero for everyone in every subject. Heroes are positive people who inspire others, motivate, mentor, encourage, and enlighten, and they don’t have to be alive; just relevant and relatable.

I envision a day when teachers are not afraid to expose children to cultures and they yearn to learn as much as the children. Teachers are unafraid to learn along side the students, invite opinions, perspectives and seek understanding but respect all, whether agree or disagree.Teachers have become literate in Emoji, students’ native language

I see a day when we have abandoned the biased textbooks that are given to students, developing minds, and teach without them, with relevance and inclusively to affirm and engage every child. On that day, teachers will have experienced their ‘aha’ moments and have had their breakthroughs to eradicate the gaps, disparities and disproportionalities. These former barriers to achievement were remnants of implicit bias and inequity. Educators are aware that the privileges they have been afforded are not afforded to all. They understand that their role is to give students the tools and skills to afford equally accessible opportunity for success.

I envision a day when teachers understand that when people feel they have little to no agency or control in their lives, that the illusions of control they do possess is exercised in choice of names, slang-language, dance, musical expression, and that each provides clues to their worldviews. What is noise to you is perceived as melodious self expression to others. Educators have a keen awareness that everyone has different experiences and one person is not indicativeof an entire group, race or culture..

On that day, teachers realize that expecting student achievement, good conduct and engagement is fruitless on the larger scale, if nothing is relevant to them. Teachers understand that ELA was never relevant with only Chaucer and Hemingway, but perhaps Alice Walker, Dumas,[Three Musketeers], Richard Wright[ for high school ], or if Gershwin and Porter are not sprinkled with Parker, Joplin, Marsalis[either brother]. Science with Edison, and not including Ponce DeLeon. Mlk accompanied by Andrew Young, Percy Sutton, Nikki Giovanni, Hughes, Jones, Tupac, and teachers brought these people to life in the classroom. No one is invisible in history or life and anything that tells that version is not in children’s best interest and not quality education but quasi-education.

Huey Long is explored with as much depth and meaning as Huey Newton. Gordon Parks is explored alongside Hitchcock. Vuitton is introduced with Bentley Farnsworth, Dorothy Dandridge with Marlene Deitrich and Lena Horne. Ella Fitzgerald and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway and Sally Hemmings. Paul Robeson and Paul Simon. Maya Angelou and Margaret Sanger. Flying Tigers and Tuskegee Airmen.

educator-belief

I envision a day when children, adolescents, make mistakes-poor decisions/choices, and are not taken out of that learning environment ONLY TO BE ARRESTED. Children will not be placed in handcuffs and shown the pipeline to prison. Instead, the pursuit of potential and practices which are restorative. Acquiring the capacity and mindfulness that when maladaptive behaviors emerge, educators will reframe, redirect and respond less punitively. This is an environment in which appropriate and adaptive behaviors are also learned.

I envision a day when educators are mindful of the differences between intent and impact of behaviors instead of taking offense by these expressions, understand that their students’ range of emotional literacy skills is still developing and incomplete and can be unreliably appropriate.

The education that I envision is one in which all children enter the classroom as gems and each is valuable. Teachers focus on strengths, and build upon them. Pedagogues take a captive audience and captivate them with challenging, and relevant knowledge with which students carry into the world as life long learners.

I envision a day when teachers’ salaries match the magnitude of their roles in shaping our future, and there is no more cognitive dissonance regarding diversity in the educator community. No longer will slang phrases, clothing styles, music genres, and physical characteristics of blacks be appropriated by whites and at the same time an underlying air of superiority is also held. For these conflicts, at the subconscious level, emerge in attitude and behavior, and blacks have so eloquently described it as being ‘two-faced’-you know, smiling in my face and hating me when not in my presence. It shines brighter than the words or deeds. This day, we have fully learned to respect and appreciate one another.

On this day, the love of teaching and the love of learning collide, students do less sitting and more doing. Educators greet each student with delight, and not disappointment that a student is in his or her class. Teachers invite the challenges and also collaborate with the school community to support learning and achievement of all students.

tree huggers

On this day, learning at school is deeply digital, actively experiential, intensely engaging, family-friendly, futuristic, future-focused and future-ready. Parents are empowered and equally engaged in the learning process. Their children, our children are the future-your future, my future, our future, and educators understand that. Moving forward, no matter where we start, the focus is on where we are going, and where we take them, because soon they will be in the driver’s seat moving forward into the future.

On this day, that day will never end, for it will be the change that we wish to see. It will look like the future and it will be a daily reality in future-focused 21st Century education!

task teacher

When We Imagine “Life Without Black People”

LIFE WITHOUT BLACK PEOPLE

 

A very humorous and revealing story is told about a group of white people who were fed up with African-Americans, so they joined together and wished themselves away. They passed through a deep dark tunnel and emerged in sort of a twilight zone where there is an America without black people.

At first these white people breathed a sigh of relief. At last, they said, “No more crime, drugs, violence and welfare. All of the blacks have gone!”

Then suddenly, reality set in. The “NEW AMERICA” is not America at all — only a barren land.

1. There are very few crops that have flourished because the nation was built on a slave-supported system.

2. There are no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Miles, a black man, invented the elevator, and without it, one finds great difficulty reaching higher floors.

3. There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a black man, invented the automatic gearshift, Joseph Gambol, also black, invented the Super Charge System for Internal Combustion Engines, and Garrett A. Morgan, a black man, invented the traffic signals.

4. Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another black man, Elbert R. Robinson.

5. Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could operate, they were cluttered with paper because an African American, Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper.

6. There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purvis invented the fountain pen, and Lee Burridge invented the Type Writing Machine and W. A. Love invented the Advanced Printing Press. They were all, you guessed it, Black.

7. Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented the Postmarking and Canceling Machine, William Purvis invented the Hand Stamp and Philip Downing invented the Letter Drop.

8. The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the Lawn Mower.

9. When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the Air Conditioner and Alice Parker the Heating Furnace. Their homes were also dim. But of course, Lewis Latimer, enlightened Edison and Bell and invented the Electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented the lantern and Granville T. Woods invented the Automatic Cut off Switch. Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the Mop and Lloyd P. Ray, the Dust Pan.

10. Their children met them at the door-barefooted, shabby, motley and unkempt. But what could one expect? Jan E. Matzelinger invented the Shoe Lasting Machine, Walter H. Sammons invented the improved Straightening  Comb, Sarah Boone invented the Ironing Board and George T. Sampson invented the Clothes Dryer.

11. Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another Black man, John Standard invented the refrigerator.

Now, isn’t that something? What would this country be like without the contributions of blacks and African-Americans?

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “By the time we leave for work, Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks.” Black history includes more than just slavery, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois, etc…….

Here are a few more relatively unknown, yet everyday HEROIC contributions that will confound anyone’s vision of life without Black people:

Some of the world’s most popular inventions were created by African-Americans, dating back to 1820, when Thomas Jennings, believed to be the first African-American inventor to receive a patent, created a more efficient dry cleaning process. Many years later, Judy W. Reed became the first African-American female inventor with her hand-operated dough kneader and roller. Reed, who was illiterate, signed the patent with an ‘X’, as did many others, both during and post-slavery. That ‘X’ gave rise to many falsely claimed ‘ownership’ of early inventions, that to date, we either credit to whites or assume belong to any others except African-Americans. The powers of mis-education!! Yet, we prefer to not think about these facts omitted from history.

Sidebar: If blacks were originally slaves in this country, then it is safe to assume that they were the laborers. Thusly, isn’t is common sense to conceive that without possession of rights as citizens, they could never claim rightful ownership of anything innovative?

Policies, practices and preferred perspectives disallowed such facts to become common knowledge. Therefore, public education could not allow these discoveries to be taught to school children-black or white.

Lesson: Teach outside and beyond the textbooks, as they still promote a Eurocentric version of history.

No more Black History Month? Every month should be embedded with black history in educational settings, if we taught and sought to tell the complete and logical truth!

Here are other little known and sadly, untaught inventions by African-Americans:

Potato Chips
George Crum (1822-1914)

Chef George Crum spent the summer of 1853 working at the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where thickly cut, French fried potatoes were a popular menu item. When a customer complained that their fries were too thick to eat and sent them back to the kitchen, Crum became agitated and reacted by slicing the potatoes as thin as he possibly could, frying them and sending the crunchy brown chips back out to the guest. The guest loved the crisps and other guests began asking for them as well. They soon gained popularity and were called Crum’s Saratoga Chips. In 1860, when Crum opened his own restaurant, Crumbs House, each table came with a basket of potato chips. Crum never patented or attempted to distribute his potato chips, but has been credited as the creator of the widely popular snack.

 

The Blood Bank
Inventor: Charles Richard Drew M.D. (1904-1950)

Dr. Drew was a medical doctor and surgeon who created the idea of a blood bank and a system for the long-term preservation of blood plasma. His doctoral dissertation at Columbia University covered the condition of blood stored in blood banks and the method of storing blood as plasma to increase storage life. He later supervised the blood-plasma division of New York City’s Blood Transfusion Association, which was involved in collecting blood for the British Army. When America went to war in 1941, Dr. Drew was named as director of the blood bank for the National Research Council, collecting blood for the U.S. army and navy, and setting the groundwork for the Red Cross collecting and banking procedures. The storage of blood in plasma form has saved many lives since Dr. Drew brought the process forward in the 1930s.

 

Gas mask
Year patented: 1912
Inventor: Garrett Morgan (1877–1963)

In 1912, Morgan created a Safety Hood and patented it as a Breathing Device, which later came to be known as the Gas Mask. Morgan’s Gas Mask consisted of a hood with two long tubes, one allowing in clean air and the other allowing the user to exhale air out of the hood. Fire and police departments across the country began placing orders. With the outbreak of World War I and the use of poisonous gases, Morgan’s Gas Mask was utilized by the United States Army, saving the lives of thousands of soldiers.

 

The Supersoaker
Year patented: 1991
Inventor: Lonnie G. Johnson (1949- )

After a successful career as an Air Force and NASA scientist, Lonnie G. Johnson conceived his most famous invention in 1982, when he conducted an experiment at home on a heat pump that used water instead of Freon and as a result, his homemade nozzle shot a spray of water across the room. Johnson and his partner, Bruce D’Andrade, created a workable prototype of the SuperSoaker® in 1989 which became the world’s first high-performance, pressurized water gun. They filed for a joint patent, which was granted in 1991, and the SuperSoaker became the number-one selling toy in the country with more than $200 millions dollars in sales. Overall, Johnson has earned more than 80 patents, with more than 20 pending. He continues to invent in the areas of thermo and fluid dynamics, as well as toys.

 

Shoelasting Machine
Year patented: 1883
Inventor: Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852–1889)

As an apprentice in a shoe factory where he operated a sole-sewing machine, Jan Ernst Matzeliger was responsible for attaching different parts of a shoe together. At the time, no machines existed that could attach the upper part of a shoe to the sole, therefore it had to be done by hand. “Hand Lasters” were able to produce approximately 50 pairs of shoes a day. In 1882, Matzeliger perfected a shoe lasting machine that was able to complete 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day. By 1889 the demand of the shoe lasting machine was overwhelming and The Consolidated Lasting Machine Co. was formed, where Matzelinger was given huge blocks of stock for his invention. His machine had revolutionized the entire shoe industry in the U.S. and around the world.

If there are any facts that you dispute, or doubt, then fact-check it. You will be , hopefully, pleasantly surprised. Continue to perform research of inventions/inventors, and you will discover widely and definitely, strategically hidden knowledge of Black people, in America and around the world. Make a promise, not to me, but to yourself, that the more you learn, the more you will teach, and as culturally proficient equity-driven professionals, you can consider yourselves parts of the solution. Educate unafraid, and children will become better global citizens. Teach to diversity with respect for diversity. If not, we will continue to serve as parts of the problems we see. Be the change, teach the change, model the change and life will change!

How can we imagine life without Black people??!!!

How to Ensure Smooth Transitions within the Pre-school Classroom

Transitions are powerful teaching tools and learning opportunities. They guide children gently through the day, provide special attention to individuals, and help children move from one area of the classroom[or the home] to another smoothly. The following transition ideas should help you reduce the number of interruptions and encourage activities to flow from one to another with ease.

cutouts

Cues for Moving From Free Selection to Organized Activities

  • Flash the lights.
  • Strum an instrument.
  • Play pre-recorded tunes.
  • Sing a song that tells children what they are to do or where they are to go.
  • Move to the area where you would like the children to gather and talk quietly, they will notice and come to
    see what you are doing.

prek
Preparing the Environment

  • Place carpet pieces on the floor to designate a personal space for each child.
  • Write each child’s name on a piece of tagboard and position it on the floor to create a personal space for
    each child. (Children are more connected to their name plate if they decorate it themselves!)
  • By personalizing the tagboard, you can manage the environment more closely because you are not only
    designing the space where children sit, but also by whom they sit.
  • Put a blanket on the floor and invite children to sit around it. The blanket makes a great rectangle for
    large group time. If you want the children to be closer together, ask the children to sit on the blanket
    instead of around it.

elbow
Grabbing Children’s Attention

  • Decorate a bag or box and place various props inside. As you use the box on a regular basis, the
    children will look forward to seeing what you have brought along for the day’s activities.
  • Gather boxes of various sizes. Place an object that is a clue to the activity inside the smallest box. Place
    that box inside of the next smallest box. Continue to nest the boxes, so that only the largest box is visible.
    As a child or pair of children open each of the boxes, the excitement about the planned activity will build.
  • Introduce the planned activity with an interesting puppet. Be sure to allow time for the children to “meet”
    the puppet.
  • Pose a problem or challenge to the children by using interesting questions and riddles. They will try to
    figure out the answer by the clues you give them with your voice and the smile on your face. The answer
    will smoothly “lead-in” to the planned activity.
  • Sing new or familiar songs and fingerplays to capture the children’s attention. By placing the words on a
    poster in the classroom, you can reinforce the words of the songs and the children’s concept of print.
  • Change the words to a familiar song to fit the theme. Some children may begin to create songs on their
    own.

color
Dismissing the Children

  • According to physical or clothing characteristics.
  • According to their likes and dislikes
  • By asking them to answer a question or create a rhyme individually.
  • By the initial letter of their name or telephone number.
  • By inviting them to say “good-bye” to a puppet.
  • By giving them each a turn with an interesting gadget.

There are endless ways to guide children through the day, yet both beginning and seasoned teachers constantly
think about ways to make the day go more smoothly. The ideas in this article make transitions easy. Simply
provide clear directions for the children to follow and present your ideas in a manner that is interesting and
meaningful to the children and you will make every day terrific!

 

When Will We No Longer Live In The United States of ‘AMNESIA’?

Hunter College of the City University of New York[CUNY] system of public colleges and higher learning institutions has a newly added course in its Fall 2017 catalog that examines “how whiteness – and/or white supremacy and violence – is intertwined with conceptions of gender, race, sexuality, class, body ability, nationality, and age.”The Abolition of Whiteness,” taught by Prof. Jennifer Gaboury, can be taken as either a women and gender studies course or a political science class, according to the school’s online course catalog.

When you hear the course title, how does that make you feel? Black or White persons, does it sound ‘divisive to you?Why or why not? In the 21st Century, why would anyone bother to attend or even enroll in this class? Because of its provocative title alone, it invites conversation, both in and outside of the classroom. Deemed irrelevant by many, but so essential to enlightenment, is civil dialogue. It is not enough to acknowledge an ‘elephant’ in the room; we must contemplate how it got there in the first place. Then we may work together towards solution-finding.

This new college course has been designed to heighten awareness of ‘white privilege’ and way it shapes[-ed] our politics, policies, and perspectives regarding the ‘other’-race in this country. Though we purport to be an equal opportunity country that allows and encourages everyone to pull themselves up by their own ‘bootstraps’, the playing field is not and has never been level. Upward mobility is not made possible by sheer desire, hard work and determination alone. Race and ethnicity remain embedded in the accessibility to opportunity. In short, people of color have fewer opportunities to achieve legitimate school, work and life success in this country…even in the 21st Century.[that summons a different argument] Why? How?

Well, in order to ponder the answers to these questions, we must take a look at our society through a wider lens, and we must return to history. Critical thinking is borne out of an honest, more complete exploration of the original sins committed within our borders, and from without. Emphasis must be on what events and conditions led an entire national consciousness and collective conscience to create a social construct from which divisive policies were supported and implemented. Throughout our national history, a divisive legacy was inherited by the sons and daughters of the original sinners, and continues to be passed on into the 21st Century.

Courses such as this one at Hunter College recognize the aim of higher education, and draws from our personal histories to cultivate a new consciousness, by encouraging critical thinking. It is the fully inclusive information acquisition that enables us to pick apart the rhetoric and  find solutions to today’s problems. Without courses that make us think differently, we will continue to pass down the legacy that all wish to forget. This past was considered necessary at that time, but today, it is perceived as it was- oppressive and inhumane. Thus, it is inexcusable and unforgivable to allow any elements from that past to persist and impact lives of a more sophisticated people. We know better, yet still governed by oppressive policies and practices in America today.

This course and certainly more to follow, is not meant to be a vehicle for increased racial tensions, bias and prejudice. Quite the opposite.

This course plants the seeds for change, positive change, and starts the necessary dialogue required of this change. It is that dialogue, this forum of reasoning, questioning, and learning, that will enable our next leaders to dedicate their life’s work to ensure the realization of democracy in its most pure form. It is within higher learning venues, that our gateways to change flourish, and learners, in pursuit of  their personal excellence, are bold enough to engage in the conversations to create a new culturally-proficient legacy.

This is a forum that allows learners to release the generations-long guilt, abandon any resentment, unmask  irrational fears, broaden perspectives, and participate  in a collective catharsis

We speak about Mexican deportation and Muslim bans, and that represents the darkest of potential of our humanity. This represents our fear of the inherent goodness and  inalienable rights of all to live, breathe and believe freely in the U.S. We are and should be stronger, a globalized model of leadership, that the whole world looks up to. Separatism, has no place here in this land and what we do here will be echoed throughout the world. Wake up children! Wake up people! We live in the United States of America!

With as many inter-racial unions as there are today, openly loving caring for and defending their rights to show that love why must we continue to oppress? Whether you are on the side of ‘white privilege’ or ‘black pride’, we must understand that this notion of defending either side is harmful ultimately to both. Whether you like it or not, approve or otherwise disapprove, it is unfair as parents, people, humans, for us to continue to adhere to beliefs that neither you nor I know from whence they originated.  Let us begin to cure this amnesia, and gather in support of new realities and  strengthen capacity for loving and living unburdened by the weight of racial tensions-whiteness.

Harvard Magazine recognized a new collection of writers, college courses and workshops designed to enlighten white people as to the “real benefits and the great cost of their property in whiteness”. It also noted a long tradition among the white race as a peculiar sort of social formation, one that depends on its members’ willingness to conform to the institutions and behavior patterns that reproduce it.

In addition to the notion of race as a social construct, people are drawn by the conditions of their lives in two opposite directions, one that mirrors and reproduces the present society of competition and exploitation, and another that points toward a new society based on freely associated activity. This internal antagonism plays itself out as a civil war within the white mind, between the desire of whites to wall themselves off from black Americans and their desire to overcome the boundaries that kept them apart. ‘NIMBY!’

Every group within white America has at one time or another advanced its particular and narrowly defined interests at the expense of black people as a race. That applies to labor unionists, ethnic groups, college students, schoolteachers, taxpayers, and white women.

Quite frankly, the system is truly rigged against certain groups of people, and the evidence of this has been masked under the reinforced illusions of negative stereotypes. Instead of viewing the reality that there are inherent obstacles to opportunity and upward mobility for some peoples, we prefer to cast blame, shake our fingers and attribute poverty and its correlated effects to those whose life circumstance reflect their own ‘laziness’.

So, this course is not designed to cast blame or facilitate any additional tension or divisiveness. It is the start of productive conversation, dialogue and facilitate an awareness among the next genertion of leaders who will shape policies, influence and challenge the ‘group think’ that perpetuates apathy and historic ‘Amnesia’. It is not possible to understand the reality of today or plan for brighter tomorrows, if we do not know who or where we were yesterday. Learners, equipped with the knowledge and awareness to create a more united nation, this course represents a cure for amnesia.