Saturday, September 28, 2019

David Mitchell Encourages Black Parents to Embrace Better Outcomes for Our Kid's Education!

Recently in Rolling Out, David Mitchell wrote the op ed piece below that is encouraging Atlanta parents and stakeholders to remember that now is time to focus on quality schools. There's more than one way to educate a child; we want Black families to be knowledgeable about them all.

The piece below is written by David Mitchell, founder and CEO of Better Outcomes for Our Kids as featured in Rolling Out.

When you’re a parent thinking about what’s best for your child, I can only imagine the fear and anger one must have when watching the conversation happening between the Atlanta Board of Education and the current superintendent. After you shed yourself of those concerns, what you should realize more than ever before, is that it’s ultimately up to you to navigate your child’s educational future.

Our children need a strong leader for our growing and diverse Atlanta Public Schools system.

But with that decision being completely out of parents’ hands, one must focus on the things that can be controlled. We believe this work includes inspiring parental engagement, empowering community leaders, activating praying pastors, and supporting capable and committed teachers. With or without a superintendent, these critical stakeholders must become and remain engaged in the process.
Now if you believe this level of stakeholder synergy and engagement is critical for our children’s educational future, then you should now have a clear understanding of the work of Better Outcomes for OUR Kids (BOOK).

BOOK is an African American-led organization that is unapologetically focused on schools and communities serving African American children. Our goal is simple, and that is to help build and support a powerful and connective ecosystem focused on supporting high performing schools and the communities they serve.

After only five years, we are once again plunging headfirst into a search for a new superintendent.

As disruptive and political as a search like this can become, we must remain focused on educating Atlanta’s children. A strong superintendent is just one cog in the wheel that must be highly functional for Atlanta to reach its highest heights.

In these uncertain times, it should be even more clear that we must look beyond the walls of the historical constructs we’ve grown accustomed to as it relates to educating our children. The ability of parents to navigate their children’s educational future must now be supported by caring stakeholders who make this goal their top priority.i

More than ever before, it’s our responsibility, and ultimately part of our children’s inheritance, to unearth every stone, look under every rock, and remove every obstacle to ensure that our children receive a world-class education. What we must now understand, is that only through this inheritance can we start to remove the shackles from our feet, and put the systemic injustices that have plagued our race since we set foot on this land back in 1619 behind us.


It is BOOK’s firm belief that we must research, understand, and take advantage of every educational option available to our children. And if you believe this fact as strongly as we do, then you should also believe that it’s our responsibility to make sure that African American children are educated “by any means necessary.”

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Local Black Male Educator, Davion Lewis, Makes a Run for City Council!

Davion Lewis, local Metro Atlanta educator, is running for City Council Ward A in the City of East Point.
His run for city council brings hope to Metro Atlanta municipalities that more Black male educators may begin to show their interest in running for an elected office in a city near you.
“We need leadership that is bold, equitable, inclusive, and transformative,” states Lewis. He is absolutely right. We can’t have a clean city, thriving businesses and poorly educated children.
I recall about five years ago when I went through the Georgia Leadership Academy for Economic Development I was the only educator in the room. If we aren’t in the room we are certainly on the menu.
As an educational leader in East Point, Lewis has ensured that The RISE Schools have been able to successfully turnaround.
Having an educator run for city council gives hope to the overlooked areas in government including affordable housing, job training and education. Lewis has done the hard work of school turnaround, building back up a local charter school in East Point.
Lewis believes that we need leaders with integrity, who will put people before politics and self-interest; leaders who are problem-solvers, not problem creators. This is our creed as educators. To lead by an example and act with integrity. “Our children are watching us as they begin to take steps into making their mark in the world; it’s important to me to be a blueprint for them!”, states Lewis.
On yesterday at a kick off event, Lewis echoed these words to supporters and community residents. “History tells us that in our East Point the leaders we choose really do matter, and make the difference between peace and in-fighting, or prosperity and decline.
I am calling to action all fellow Black male educators in Metro Atlanta and supporters to get behind Lewis the upcoming election in East Point. We need more Black male educators running for public office. Lewis is a great candidate with a strong platform, strong leadership in education and is providing yet another positive example of Black men within our society.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

School Choice Leaders, Please Don't Fail Us with the Good Ole Buddy System

We often hear the saying, "it's not about what you know but who you know!" Teachers and school leaders a like experience this in our public and charter school districts. Politics play a pivotal part in education especially Human Resources. Charter and other schools of choice aren't exempt from politics and certainly aren't exempt from bias in hiring processes. However, school choice leaders have the opportunity and chance to change the traditional policies and practices that often times push great teachers out of the classrooms and schools.

I believe that school choice leaders can change the dynamics of the good ole buddy system and bring newness to many traditional public school districts that don't protect, advocate for or truly support their educators. We all know this to be true and have had a situation happen in traditional public districts where we had to call on a teacher union to advocate or ensure that we were being treated fairly. School districts top priorities should be to educate and protect our children and to support and protect our educators.

The good ole buddy system in schools doesn't allow for everyone to be treated fairly. Especially school districts that are outside of urban areas. Mostly it empowers the wrong people into positions that aren't improving or helping schools. For example, many Black male educators are pushed out of traditional public schools because we don't want to settle with being the just P.E. Teacher, ISS instructor or persons leading discipline. This speaks to the fact that many public schools just want to entertain not truly educate Black and Brown children. Black male educators who are strong in social justice and progressive change in schools are a threat to those who profit from the school to prison pipeline. do as they disrupt the school to prison pipeline and retain more Black and Brown students in schools. There are too many people who are teaching in classrooms, leading and directing schools who don't have a clue about classroom instruction, school budgets or the importance of engaging families and communities in the school's vision.

We cannot afford for leaders of schools that aren't the traditional public school model to do the same old things that aren't working for and reaching all of our children. This includes hiring friends, neighbors, loved ones and favors for friends and putting them into the educational operational team.

Don't get me wrong. Hiring your friends isn't a bad thing; it can be a good fit for the right reasons. There's a right and wrong way to do things. In most cases, this isn't the notion. In fact, the good old buddy system, protecting people because of who they know or are connected too has caused more schools to fail and lined more people's pockets leaving children out in the cold.

School choice leaders can change the trajectory of the feared teacher shortfall by trying out some of the following:

Hire for quality


Be willing to take chances on educators who can bring something different to the table for student growth

Be understanding that in our profession teachers may have false accusations against them (teachers can be accused of something and punished even if exonerated)

Build strong HR departments that are respectful of differences, understanding and drive customer service and care

Place the needs of students, families and teachers first when filling gaps in schools and departments

Monday, July 8, 2019

We Teach Black Boys To Be Thugs

Black boys are subsequently taught how they should be as opposed to embracing who they are.

The influences from society, the streets, family life, peer pressures and the stereotypes of Black boys in school don't provide a safe space for them to simply be who they are.

We teach Black boys to be thugs and get made at them when they become one. Black boys are taught to fight instead of talking things out with each other.

"If someone hits you then you better hit them back and let them know you aren't a punk!" I've hear this every school year from Black boys who explain why they decided to hit someone at school.

This seems to be an universal lesson taught to Black boys that creates discipline problems at school.

Friday, May 3, 2019

A Parable on Whiteness

A Parable on Whiteness: Matt Halvorson

Good day, friends.

I'd like to share a parable with you today, as told to me by my son, Zeke. 
He's four years old, and he likes to make up songs.

A few days ago, we were sitting on the floor together in a hotel room in Oakland, where I was attending the Othering and Belonging Conference, and Zeke started drumming on a plastic cup.

“This song is about a town where everything is white,” he told me after a few minutes. “White, white, white. Everything used to be rainbow colored, but something happened to turn it all white.

Now they can’t tell what house is theirs.

Everything looks the same.”
Then he sang for a while as he drummed.

“White! White! White!”

He sang about confusion — people kept getting lost!

They couldn't tell any of the buildings or houses apart and couldn't find their way home.

Everything was white.

What a strange town!
After several minutes of this, Zeke paused and looked at me.

“Even the people are all turned white!” he said. “Everything is still rainbow on the inside, but it’s white on the outside.”

He sang then about how you couldn’t tell anyone apart, and about their rainbow colors being hidden.

Covered in white. Where is my family? Where is my home? Who am I?
We don’t know.

This is the town where everything is turned white.

I hope you're well. Thank you for reading, as always, and thank you for doing what you do. I appreciate you.
Love,

Matt


Rise Up Reading List:

Matt Halvorson | RiseUpMusic.org | RiseUpForStudents.org | MatthewHalvorson.com
Check out the Rise Up Music Project in Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Holistic Reflection of Black Culture is Still Missing from Curriculum in Schools

Black history is celebrated during the month of February across the United States. The idea of celebrating Black history to begin with was due to the absence of Black excellence in mainstream American culture.

Most schools prepare Black History plays for the month and have students create or complete projects on notable Black leaders.

Black youth become victims of stereotypes that label them because of the way they dress and other cultural aspects that aren't embraced by mainstream society.

School culture plays a huge role in the success of students. Culture is developed and based off of the vision and mission of the school. Strong cultural programs include all races, religions, personal preferences and beliefs should be not only celebrated but taught.

I believe the only way to heal and fix the racial divide in America is through teaching. Cultural inclusion is an important tool to teaching black history in America. Across the Nation, the drop out rates and discipline data/suspensions for Black students is higher over their counterparts .

We must begin to look at what's missing. Students are learning about the history of America in a one-sided view that objectifies races that aren't of European descent. 

The same lessons on Black history that I was taught, were the same lessons taught to my parents when they were in grade school. Some will argue that culture should be taught at home. I agree. This doesn't take away the role that schools have in teaching Black history.

We will continue to eliminate the hatred of racism through inclusive practices in our teachings and not just our celebrations.

Schools in all communities should teach Black history to help reduce and eventually end the racial divide in America.

Celebrating Black history is still needed. 

Teaching Black history as a part of mainstream American history is what is key to making positive change happen! 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Racial Bias and Offensive Study

Hey, someone needed to make it public. So I did in support of my sister and all African American women. 

Hi, I wanted to bring to your attention the racism and bias that I believe a portion of your research is encouraging. 

Under the Choline guide it has a study titled: Micronutrient Intake Is Inadequate for a Sample of Pregnant African-American Women - 2017

I am strongly encouraging that this be removed because no other race has studies specifically on them. Why the African American woman? From Henrietta Lacks to the Tuskegee Airmen the African American community has been manipulated to participate in studies that produce results that show them as inadequate. So again, what is the reasoning for this on your site? Is the African American woman who you are solely marketing to? I don't think so. Unless, you are going to include studies that state the Indian American, European American, Asian American, or Hispanic American woman simply remove the study. For far too long any data associated with the African American community portrays inadequacy or inferiority, which we all know to be extremely false and again racist. 

Racism involves being in a position of power that allows one to exert control of thought through perception by alluding to the fact that another race or culture is inferior. In Ritual's case this would be for financial gain. There is another research study by the same researcher that is titled: Longitudinal assessment of micronutrient intake among African-American and white girls: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study.

I see a very big problem with this information and this researcher. I need the following to take place:
1. This email needs to be forwarded to the founders and senior level executives of Ritual, immediately.
2. The research article needs to removed immediately.
3. I need to be contacted by someone at the management level to explain why they felt as though having such information on their site was appropriate. In addition since Choline is connected to the Brain and Central Nervous System is Ritual alluding that African American women and children are mentally inadequate?
4. Is there a diversity department with Ritual? Is there a single African American doctor that is apart of the founders of Ritual? I don't see anyone and that is problematic. There needs to be a diversity department headed by an African American doctor within the Ritual senior executive level.
5. I will be sending out this exact email along with both articles to highlight the hidden racism in the researcher and the negligence of the company.

When words such as inadequate and African American are used in the same sentence there is an issue. Even bigger is the fact that no one on the Ritual staff viewed that article as problematic. I look forward to hearing from someone. My deepest desire is that a real look is taken at the company and you may have won people over with your marketing, but it is time for the African American to be identified properly. There is no other evidence based research on any other race on your site. I am tired of the African American woman being used and abused by companies who simply know how to do good marketing. I am glad I dug deeper and I plead with the women copied to this email to share Ritual's lackluster way of providing research to their consumers. Choose your researchers more wisely next time, and fire whomever thought that article was acceptable. Stop the disrespect.

In addition, I sent my initial e-mail on April 8, 2019, and due to no response and the article is still up I realize I needed to escalate further because maybe my request was not clear. Hopefully, we can get this study removed and move forward. If not, shame on you and someone needs to make sure this bias is public knowledge.

Mrs. Elizabeth Clyde