You can’t blame this one on the Republicans………

           You can’t blame this one on the Republicans…What a terrible “Catch-22”…HELLO, the working and unemployed poor are the most likely to have a bad credit rating” (You think?). They don’t set out to have a poor credit rating, rather it is the result of living on the fringe of a barely livable existence; driven by too many factors out of their control (i.e. absence of “inherited wealth”, low wage jobs, “Pay check to Pay check” existence, a primary target of unscrupulous lenders, frequent layoffs, long term unemployment, no health insurance, higher than the national cost of living increases, etc.) But how will the children of the poor ever make the “Generational Leap” out of the vicious cycle of poverty without the stepping stone of education? Where is the Black Elected (appointed) leadership on this? Where are the Democrats?…Oh wait, wait, the Democrats are in control of the U.S. Department of Education!

             How about this:

(1) Provide scholarships instead of loans to the children of the working and unemployed poor (these types of programs got many of us, along with G.I. Bill recipients, through college, and we are now skilled and monetary contributors to America; we are definitely “paying off” our “scholarships”)  (2) Target our HBCU’S with a Science,Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) scholarship and infrastructure fund (STEM labs, technology upgrade, libraries and graduate research resources); as they have an excellent record of actually graduating Black students (perhaps this could offset the millions being raked in by “majority White colleges and universities” by their unpaid Black professional athletes posing as students!) These two actions would seriously prepare the U.S. to meet the future global challenge of a competent and adequate STEM work force; this will become critical as the demographics of the U.S. shifts to a majority Black and Brown population; and other countries (i.e. China, India) begin to absorb their own STEM college graduates. But more important it will close the terrible and immoral wealth gap in our nation.…. New U.S. Department of Education Policies Hamper Black College Enrollment…..

Educational Inequality is a National Effort.. Through “Reform”, or in any other form.

“Does school reform perpetuate inequality?”…



          The “south” surely has a lot of educational theoretical catching up to do (i.e. the importance of early childhood education, STEM  education, and school guidance counseling, etc.) But it is in no way alone, or even the worst in the continuing saga of the mis-education of Black Children; I have found in many places in the south, a form of “equity of educational theoretical mediocrity”; that undermines the education of all children, regardless of race.  There is however, enough blame to go around  for the continued failure of our “northern” public educational systems; that primary serves the poor, and students of color.  Culpable candidates for the line-up include: Elected officials/Educational policy makers; State Departments of Education; the poorly informed news media, looking for that simple “silver bullet”; Corrupt and/or overly politicized school boards (many of their ranks ironically look like the children they allegedly serve); labor unions that were, and still are resistant to professionalizing their ranks; (which means the self-action of removing the incompetent bad players and dead beats from the ranks of their craft.) One of the  reasons that public education became ripe for corporate reform take-over were those silly scenes like we had in NYC of the “rubber rooms”; centers filled with people most of whom quite honestly should have been fired, and moved as far away from children as possible; instead people saw them spending years at full salary and benefits doing nothing all day. To the average person who had to go out each day and physically work for a living, this somehow did not feel right. And asking the public annually to give us more money, did not help! Citizens who opted for “unchecked mayoral control”, clearly did not pay attention in World History Classes, where we were taught that turning over total power out of fear in  a crisis has never worked.  We were all too tired, too frustrated and looked too low for a solution. We became too timid, too intellectually lazy, or just too complacent to honestly ask one simple hard question: “is this (Reform stuff) working?” It is so fitting, and ironic that this question is being raised in the month when we “celebrate” Black History. This “reform” movement, utilizing a twisted version of a very positive Peace Corps ( “undeveloped” Black and Latino American students treated to a form of ‘foreign assistance’); are doing the greatest amount of damage to the largest number of children, not in the south, but in the urban north. Their entrance into public education was fueled by a very slow economy that could not absorb the annual production of White college graduates; and the clear opportunity on the part of the corporate community to siphon off the huge amounts of funds generated by pubic education. Particularly those huge amounts produced by “failing/underachieving” student. There is a terrible underlying belief that they (the reformers) are the sole hope of salvation for the “poor suffering Negro” (children). The parents of these students; and educators for which they are culturally linked; either don’t care, or are unable to educate them. This “reform” movement  has consciously dismissed (and holds as a theoretical foundation) the advice of experienced Black educators who have succeeded with children of color under extremely trying and challenging conditions. Many of  those Black American educational thinkers (Carter G. Woodson, Lorraine Monroe, James  Comer, Ronald Edmonds, Lisa Delpit, Adelaide Sanford, Frank Mickens and Lonetta Gaines to name a few) have built a wealthy theoretical academic achievement resource library. It was important therefore to establish (unheard of in any other profession) that certification,  professional theoretical knowledge and experience (Praxis) were now, unimportant. The fact that the “reform” measures have not produced any significant academic achievement (without cheating on exams); suggest that, perhaps “this work” was not as simple as everyone assumed it to be. We are asked to wait and watch for the arrival of a Superman; when a “super teacher”  already taught us so much about the power of creating a culture of high expectations, arrived in the person of Jaime Escalate (Stand and Deliver) The problem has been simplistically deduced, because of their lack of practical front line knowledge to  three main themes: (1) Test students (2) Eliminate Unions (3) Close traditional public schools, and turn children into commodities for the purpose of profit. All of these three items serve not as solutions but as educational theoretical “fillers”; as a cover for a true lack of pedagogical knowledge. They exist to fill the gaps in the understanding of what it really takes to create, a true school system of equity of expectations and excellence; and they are a cynical move to commoditize public education.  What the south may lack in educational theory and social equality; is matched in the north with sneaky “hidden/open” segregation of educational opportunities, expectations, resources and better teachers between White students and the students of color. Along with the debilitating  theoretical apartheid of the school improvement movement.


“Creep Teacher keeps his job”

This is why the profession is held in such low esteem in the eyes of the public. And you wonder why people are calling for the end of teacher tenure; and an end to the ridiculous power of teacher unions to control the quality of education. These “independent” hearing officers are a joke. What is the thinking here? Let’s wait until this guy causes serious bodily injury or death?……

College Degree Required by Increasing Number of Companies

College Degree Required by Increasing Number of Companies…

Well, well…..Some years ago the phrase: “A college degree is becoming the new high school diploma”; was thought to be just a “marketing trick” created by college and university recruitment offices; well………..many of us are old enough to remember when a high school diploma transitioned you nicely into a good paying (with good benefits) job. Are we in the middle of a historical shift here? And what does this mean for the horrific Black and Latino H.S. graduation rates?

(NOT Really) “Learning Under Lockdown…..”

“Flying bullets near Bed-Stuy school grounds prompt lockdown for impressionable youth; teachers call for greater police presence. Four schools, ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, located in the Tompkins Ave. institution in Bedford-Stuyvesant, have been subjected to five lockdowns due to gunfire since Feb. 4. There have been nine shootings near the school since July, said Success Academy Principal Monica Burress….”

By Mark Morales AND Simone Weichselbaum / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

 Thursday, February 14, 2013, 10:09 PM




 Adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 10 December 1959

     WHEREAS the peoples of the United Nations have, in the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

     WHEREAS the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,

     WHEREAS the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth,

     WHEREAS the need for such special safeguards has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the statutes of specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children,

     WHEREAS mankind owes to the child the best it has to give,



        “Learning under lockdown…”; or in reality, not really learning under “lock-down” is a  sad commentary on our inattention to a large class of children in our nation. It is an indication of the failure of our collective will to act boldly on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens. Other species of animals that lack our high level of intellectual brain capacity; instinctively protect their young from danger. So much for being situated high on the evolutionary scale?  Lately, understandably much of our focus has been on armed intruders entering school buildings. But for many children in this nation learning in an active, and dangerous war zone, is an everyday reality.  And if you think that “learning under lockdown” is hard; imagine what it is like to live your life under lock-down. I can only wonder what the “Poverty does not matter” crowd thinks about  this news story. It would seem that poverty does indeed matter a great deal; and only a person who has not lived it, or saw it up close, and felt its debilitating and painful effects, can say it does not matter.  Poverty hangs like a ever-present cloud that invades every aspect, every decision made in the life of the poor. The feeling of not being safe in your neighborhood, your apartment building, your house. The feeling that your environment is so dangerously arbitrary is a thought you carry with you always. This feeling of circumstantial powerlessness very often gets in the way of other good thoughts, like learning and thinking about the future. As Black teenage males in Brooklyn our conversations would often turn to the idea of not living life, but surviving life. Could we last (live) into adulthood? Will we get old enough so that the police will cease to stop us for suspicion of “being Black”. Will we escape the ever-ready arms of the criminal justice system; as we saw the numbers our friends who entered “the system” grow every year.( And we would even use soda to mimic the older teens, who before drinking, poured a wine “libation” to the guys “upstate”). And so perhaps  some of the worst effects of poverty on young people is hidden just below the surface. In rituals, fears, and a lack of confidence in their own powers and ability. Below their understanding and awareness; in places we would want to forget, if we could only remember. The scars of poverty are planted in a mind that grows to inform your worldview; your understanding as to how, “your world” and “other worlds” operate in very different ways. I came face to face with this understanding while attending a majority White high school. I visited the homes of some of my White friends and wondered: It must be amazing to grow up, and not think about being shot while walking down the street; or a “sightless” bullet slamming through your window in the middle of the night. It must be something to know that if you were not doing anything wrong; the police indeed were your friends. A White friend/teammate once confided to me in the locker room that he and a few friends were acting “rowdy”(disturbing the peace) one weekend; and damaged and defaced the storefront of a local business in their neighborhood. They were picked up by the police. Thinking to myself that I already knew the end of the story, I pushed him on: “What happen then?” I said. “The police took us all home, and my dad whipped my A___”; and our parents had to pay for the damage done to the storefront. I was stunned; “Wait, you mean you guys did not get taken to the police station?” You didn’t get a “JD” card?”. “No reporting to JD court?”  “No threat of being sent to Spofford(NYS Residential Youth Detention Facility)?” “You did not serve as a solution to an “unsolved crime”? It was an “eye-opener” to another reality; and now looking back I now understand why my White friends felt hurt and betrayed when we formed a Black Student Organization. “Why are you (Black) guys so angry, so upset and unhappy; what’s wrong with our society; after all, segregation is over?”  I think of the haunting words of  the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko:                                

        “…These panting people did not know

     that I myself was once a hungry kid,

     that the war hit me hard,

     making two childhoods and two of me…”

            Children who live a life under siege can’t expect to simply emerge at the end of the process as “OK”. Or, go through the “process”, and see the world as “OK”; the danger here is that many children in our nation are robbed of a great deal of their childhood. But one of the wonderful things about a school is that it can serve as a lighthouse and a sanctuary for children under “the gun”. In the midst of a world saturated with arbitrary Hadiya Pendleton type horrific events (doing nothing wrong, but in the wrong place, at the wrong time); the school can serve as a very predictable and positively routine place. Losing the school as a place of refuge and rejuvenation leaves many children with few defenses against the bad and sad things of life. But the recognition of  the deleterious effects of poverty on children, can’t be confused by the use of poverty as an excuse to inflict low expectations on children. Educators can’t fall into the trapped-bad- habit of  not fully exercising the full capacity of their brains, creativity, imaginations and future aspirations. Poverty does not signal the acceptance of inappropriate behavior, or academic mediocrity. In fact it should inspire the opposite. Schools must recognize the ‘in-equalitative’ effects of poverty on a student’s ability to learn; and then build in- school cultural counter-measures to neutralize these negative effects; to not do so, is to create a new and insidious form of separate and unequal schooling. A school can’t perform at a high academic level if  inside the school, students don’t feel safe with other students. However, a school in constant “lock-down” mode because of external threats also can’t function properly. A “lock-down” is an extremely disruptive event in the life of a school; learning essentially stops as understandably, the immediate and present danger is the priority; teachers can’t teach effectively in such an environment; and children can’t focus on learning in such an unnatural atmosphere. For the sake of our children, we, the people, must somehow find the courage to do better. Let’s have a constitutional amendment (since some folks seem to like them so much these days), that guarantees that all children can attend a school in an environment liberated from a war zone.


Reading Into The True Meaning of Black History

(With gratefulness and appreciation to Al Vann and Milfred Fierce; who taught a reluctant teenager about the importance of studying Black History. And to John Henrik Clarke and Kenneth Clark who taught a “knew it all” undergraduate at CCNY, that there was a great deal more he needed to know to call himself educated; thank you all for your patience, with a growing me)

“The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery…..”
–Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”
–Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro


Education can swim against the tide of a life adrift in despair and hopelessness. And it begins with the power of reading; and the reading of powerful books.  This is an initiative that is within the powerful circle of every parent, grandparent, uncle-aunt, neighbor and community religious institution. We can all arm children with the shield and sword of books; no one can stop you. Alas, there is no law now against it! Teach the children a history that includes the struggle for freedom and dignity; and why the ability to read a book, to know and master mathematics, science, writing, technology, the arts, music are the best and most feared weapons in the hands, and heads of the disenfranchised and disinherited. Negative events in history are not destiny. ‘TheirHistory’ can be the compass that guides them in knowing; “It has been done before, and so it can be done once again; I don’t need to invent greatness; I just need to continue it.” And so celebrate this month by (a) Reading a Powerful Book. (b)Teaching a child to read. (c) Strengthening a child’s reading skills. (d) Providing a reading child with a powerful reading level appropriate book.
I ask you the adults to extend your “Gifted Hands” (Ben Carson) and explore “The Souls of Black Folk” (W.E.B. Du Bois); knowing “They Came Before Columbus” (Ivan Van Sertima);in “Precolonial Black Africa” (Cheikh Anta Diop); and “Before the Mayflower” (Lerone Bennett), to understand “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” (Walter Rodney) and thus gave birth to “Capitalism & Slavery” (Sir Eric Williams); And yet we fought to come “Up from Slavery” (Booker T. Washington), and “From Slavery To Freedom” (John Hope Franklin); for “There is a River” (Vincent Harding) and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (Langston Hughes) and crossing over into freedom. All this has taught me that “Nothing’s Impossible” (Lorraine Monroe), and that I always have “A Choice of Weapons” (Gordon Parks) to take me above and beyond the “Fences” (August Wilson) and barriers that hold me artificially captive “In the Castle of My Skin” (George Lamming). Nothing worthwhile is easy, and there will be some setbacks. However, “The Struggle Is My Life” (Nelson Mandela), and sometimes “Things Fall Apart” (Chinua Achebe); yet despite “The Wall” (Gwendolyn Brooks), we continue to try; at times, we feel we are the “Sport Of The Gods” (Paul Lawrence Dunbar) and hide our failure inside “The House Behind the Cedars” (Charles W. Chesnutt); and sometimes it is with great sorrow that we still try, for it is “Not Without Laughter” (Langston Hughes), for “Behind the Mountains” (Edwidge Danticat), behind every obstacle is “A Love Supreme” (John Coltrane) and our “Ancestral Memories” (Romare Bearden) of being “Born to Rebel” (Benjamin E. Mays). And we may be “A Long Way From Home” (Claude Mckay); and yet “Here I Stand” (Paul Robeson), knowing “The Measure of Our Successes” (Marian Wright Edelman) is the success of “Other Peoples Children” (Lisa Delpit); not just our own, that counts in the end. This may mean raising a lot of “Cane” (Jean Toomer); drawing and letting loose “The Arrow Of God” (Chinua Achebe) upon the forces of denial; but “In Love and In Struggle” (Alice Walker) we must push on as “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born” (Ayi Kewi Armah). So “Weep not Child” (Ngugi Wa Tiong’o), for the “Interpreters” (Wole Soyinka) have given great thought as to how a “Native Son” (Richard Wright), an “Invisible Man” (Ralph Ellison) could become “No Longer at Ease” (Chinua Achebe) in the land of his birth. How could a man be convinced to become a “Boy” (Ferdinand Oyono) in the land of promise? And yet “Still We Rise” (Maya Angelou) to every challenge, to every setback. “If Beale Street Could Talk” (James Baldwin) and offer us the “Revelations” (Alvin Ailey) of our sprits, they would say that this is “The Price of the Ticket” (James Baldwin) and the reason “Why We Can’t Wait” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) or get discouraged; for we must “Believe” (Desmond Tutu) and gather “Quiet Strength” (Tony Dungy) from each other; because even in the worst of times there were shining examples of “Blacks In Science” (Ivan Van Sertima) and a “Parable of the Talents” (Octavia Butler);and in those horrible difficult times we saw the brilliance of “Banneker” (Rita Dove). The “Strong Men” (Sterling Brown) and “Our Mothers Who Gave us Birth” (Sonia Sanchez) planted “God’s Bits of Wood” (Ousmene Sembene) that blossomed into “Afrolantica Legacies (Derrick Bell); this gave us the strength to struggle and the “Strength to Love” (Martin Luther King). And so “Lord, the people have driven me on” (Benjamin E. Mays); our great intellectual traditions enshrined in the “Ark of Bones” (Henry Dumas); We keep these sacred truths “On Call” (June Jordan) in our memory of promise. And so I pass on my work in progress, to those “Coming of Age in the Hip-Hop Generation” (Askia Davis Sr. & Jr.) and the generations to follow; I live in, and with the hope that they will always have “The Courage to Hope” (Cornel West); the very “Audacity of Hope” (Barack Obama) that will lift even the “Whispers from a Continent” (Wilfred Cartey); they will then be able to “Lift Every Voice And Sing” (James Weldon Johnson); and they won’t ever, ever “Let Nobody Turn Us Around” (Manning Marable)!


That “Tingling Principal Sense”

“Spider-Sense is one of Spider-Man’s most unique and prominent powers. The power itself originates as a tingling feeling at the base of his skull. Spider-Sense presents a psychological awareness of Spider-Man’s surroundings. It allows Spider-Man to detect danger. The greater the danger or how close the danger is increases the tingling sensation. It also allows Spider-Man to navigate when unable to see or disoriented….” –.Marvel


Like my favorite Superhero Spider-Man, I get a “Tingling Principal Sense” when I feel I am not “getting” the entire story. Very often it was triggered by a student who was offering an explanation for some misdeed; and they be begin their narrative with something like: “You see, what had happen was…” (Tingling begins!)Or if they respond to my “restating” of an explanation: “Now let me see if I have your story correct; you were sitting quietly in Mr. (Teacher’s) classroom; doing your work, and for no reason he referred you to the dean’s office?”  Student: “Well not exactly”. (Tingling begins!)  One of my techniques was to offer a student an opportunity to make a full confession for a “reduced” punishment (truth telling is a learning objective). And so I would say: “Now when I speak to Ms. (Teacher); she is not going to give me a different version of the story you offered, nor is she going to give me additional information you have not provided?”  I am watching student’s nervous body language. (Tingling begins!)

I am following a current news story, and I am getting that “Tingling Principal Sense” thing; I have the strange feeling that I am missing a large (and important) part of the story. I am reading the LA Times this morning and discovered:

“LAPD will reopen investigation into 2009 firing of Dorner.”

“As the massive search for the fugitive ex-cop continues, Chief Charlie Beck announces he is reopening the probe into his dismissal, the event that apparently set off his campaign of revenge.”

I must say…this reopening of the investigation, is interesting; and:

“Beck said he was reopening the investigation “not to appease a murderer” but to assure the public that his department is fair and transparent. He said he wanted to protect an “increasingly positive relationship with the community” that the LAPD has developed over the last few years…”

This move sends an interesting message, and can be tricky. Particularly, while the guy is still at large; unless the hope is that he will now surrender as a result of this “reopening” gesture? I am wondering if Mr. Dorner is in a place where he even trust the LAPD to investigate itself; was that not his original  and major concern? And a resulting conclusion after this investigation “reopening” that goes in either direction could be very problematic. I read the entire manifesto, and much of his complaints sound very possible and plausible, there is no talk of space aliens or one government domination plots.  He seems to be very detailed and specific. I don’t think however, that resulting to acts of violence is the right solution.  But I am also reading the comments of some resident Los Angelinos who are saying: matters relating to the LAPD have progressed, but there is still much more to do. We need to move our societal culture away from a reactive to a more proactive approach to problem solving. Guns have been terrorizing our urban centers, and robbing these communities of their young for many years. A recent secession of horrific big news items relating to guns should not be the “motivation” to do something about the proliferation of guns in our nation. The gun makers and their NRA allies simply need to wait until the effect of the “news story” wears off, and then it is campaign contributions and business as usual. We may not be able to stop every “going postal” situation; but there are some things we can do like providing psychological therapeutic  “exit counseling” support to people who are laid-off or terminated (this could also serve as a trip wire for identifying very depressed individuals). A job can be more than a place where you go every day only to collect a check at the end of the pay period. A job can bring meaning, purpose and dignity to a person’s life. We can also strengthen the laws that investigate internal police department matters; truly independent review bodies could have prevented a huge reinstatement and financial payout recently ordered by a court against the District of Columbia MPD for a series of wrongful terminations. I only wish that Mr. Dorner utilized the court system rather than resorting to violence; he is inflicting suffering and fear on a large number of people, most of whom hand no hand in his situation. We can never heal our pain, by visiting pain on another. But as to the end of this LAPD story, I am keeping my “Tingling Principal Senses” on alert; there is another shoe, somewhere waiting to drop.


We Should Ban Book Banning

We Should Ban Book Banning: School Administrators, Teachers, School Counselors and Librarians can work together to design age, and emotionally appropriate reading lists.



Attending school and spending my initial professional educational years in NYC, I did not fully appreciate the extent of this “national” problem. NYC having over 500 high schools in one city makes it extremely hard to police the reading materials list in all of those school libraries. The “Book Censorship” issue first came to my attention when I served as a Trustee of the Brooklyn Public Library, and subsequently became a member of the American Library Association which tracks this problem nationally. It also did not pass my notice that a large number of the books that made the annual list were by Black authors; leading me to suspect that part of the opposition to many of these books was the fact that they “uncovered” the “unhealed” scars of racism that still exist in our nation. In part, the problem is exacerbated by the political structure of local school boards (LSB); that are forced to respond to every organized request from a “voting bloc,” no matter how anti-educational the idea. And in some cases this book removal issue is “whipped-up” and driven by school board members themselves due to their own prejudice, bias or just plain ignorance. To give credit where, and when it’s due; many school boards have acted in a brave and exemplary manner, and have pushed back against these attempts at censorship; which is so ill-fitting for our national character.  With so many different types of students in many different types of schools; you will always have different responses to literature. I remember as a superintendent, I had to address the concerns of an elementary parent who felt the book: “Where the Wilds Things Are”, was giving her child nightmares; and she wanted it removed from the classroom library (other parents in the same class loved the book!). I have experienced Black high-school students who had a unique and personal response to: Life and Times of Frederick Douglass; Jewish students who respond to The Diary of Anne Frank, in a similar personal way.    All Quiet on the Western Front and Johnny Got His Gun can be hard for a student with a parent or family member presently serving in the military. And reading Gilgamesh and the Mahabharata could be interpreted as challenges to a student’s religious beliefs. The list, and possible problems is endless; we would be left in the end with no literature at all in schools. Teachers must be aware of the “emotional-power’ of these works and manage these readings with student emotional well-being primarily in mind. But having a wide racial spectrum of students read about the experiences of a Frederick Douglas and Anne Frank allows for an opening by all students to the pain, struggles and triumphs of those who may not share their cultural heritage. I know that reading “Anne Frank” as a student pushed me to think (perhaps because like me, she was a teenager) deeply about the possibility that Black people were not the only humans in this world who suffered under some type of oppression; just because of who they were. Educators must be sensitive to parent’s concerns about “sexual topics”. Parents ultimately have the right to determine when and how their child is exposed to “sexual values.” In high schools this becomes a little more complicated, as parents don’t have the right to promote ignorance. Human sexuality and reproduction is very much a part of the biology syllabus (Todd Akin not a model student here). In this situation, it is the biology and not the English class that may cause some discomfort. Taking parent (and student) concerns under serious consideration; as with everything else we do, we must be driven by educationally ethical principles; and a benefit/loss analysis. An “opting out” plan must be organized and codified before the start of the school year; as making it up “on the fly” in response to a parent’s complaint will more than likely cause problems.  We must also be careful not to publicly isolate a student whose parents have opted out of a particular book or activity. But I must admit; I was much more frightened when as a principal in NYC, a student explained to me in the hall, with a straight face; that gravity would prevent pregnancy. Parents should know, there is no guarantee of safety in ignorance; what a student does not know can hurt them! Teachers, school administrators and librarians are interested in enlightening and expanding the minds of young people; and they are very practiced at “steering” young people to age appropriate reading material. They have no interest in doing psychological or intellectual harm to children. School Guidance Counselors must be in communication and familiar with the content being presented to students. As educators we must dialogue, consult and keep parents informed as to potential reading topic’s problems. School administrators you must be aware of what literature is being taught in your school. Communication, consultation and information is always better than not; however, let’s leave book selection in the hands of the professional educators. School administrators, teachers, the counseling department, and librarians; working as a team can make these decisions, and the process work, in the best educational and emotional interest of the children. Finally, as a society we may want to look closer, and see that our primary problem may not be what children read; rather it is their ability to read; and, is there an equality of access to reading resources and experiences?




Attack of the Extroverts!

“Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School”; The Atlantic; Feb 2013

                     This article is interesting, but I get a little nervous when it looks like we are going to assess students utilizing a generalized personality trait.  And perhaps, “assessment” is the beginning of the problem. And then there is the measuring tool (and the one doing the measuring,the teacher is after all, an extrovert); is there a grading scale that is consistent? Is there such a thing as “almost introverted”, or “75% extroverted”? It would seem (no matter the scale) that once we define “introvertism” as bad and “extrovertism” as good; the game is essentially over. There may be many reasons (short and long term) that will dictate the level of children “outgoingness”; (is this situational, developmental or personality type?).  And if we were a culture that valued quiet reflection over loud presentations, we might very well ask: “Why won’t these extroverted kids be more quietly contemplative?” Schools exist in, and are not independent of a larger culture.  As much as we educators like to think that we are “in charge” of education; we are in fact (and schools were created for this fact); planters and nurturers of the values of the larger societal culture (oh, I’m sorry you thought you were hired to “educate” children; you were; but you are also charged with infusing them with the values of our society; don’t worry all societies do the same thing!) The fact is that “extrovertism” is highly valued in a society where everyone must transform themselves at some point into some type of human commercial (It’s not enough to be talented; you must also be able to “sell yourself”). The key is, to the extent possible make schools comfortable places for different types of personalities, with the understanding that socialization and cooperative working/learning are part of schools learning objectives; and so should be the practice of quiet reflection.  I am not suggesting that we have a Sen. Todd Akin version of Biology; and then the rest of the planet’s conceptual view of Biological principles. I am speaking here of learning styles and personality traits not conceptual leaning objective.  I first became uneasy many years ago when I noticed that some educators (reading Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory incorrectly) were confusing interpersonal intelligence with ‘extrovertism’. I would think that it would help the “interpersonally” inclined to be somewhat extroverted; but the gift is in how you employ it. I have met what appeared to be a lot of extroverted politicians over the years; but I can’t think of anyone who could match the Interpersonal genius of Bill Clinton.  I met him the year he visited Community School District 29; and we had a discussion, and then I met him again two years later; and amazingly, he just picked up and continued our discussion where we left it; even as a seasoned educator I was stunned to see that level of intelligence in action.  I tried to imagine all of the thousands and thousands of discussions he must have had as president in two years. On the other hand, I have met some “back-slapping” extroverted politicians who don’t remember a thing you told them the minute they walked away!  Interpersonal intelligence and “extrovertism” are absolutely different! Interpersonal intelligence is different and, at the same time “equal” to Interpersonal intelligence. One is not more “intelligent” then the other. And so if we are rating children on either being less “interpersonally” intelligent or less extroverted, both would be wrong. First, it ignores the reality that developmental psychological stages don’t occur in a perfectly predictable way; i.e. all 2nd or 4th graders are not emotionally in the same place, at the same time. (It may be something as small as having a birthday in February, as opposed to August, or as a baby having a very “talkative” mommy and daddy).  And anyone who works in middle school, you know that development stages can be very dynamic, and can change; hour to hour, day to day. I am also a little nervous about how we interpret or misinterpret different cultural-linguistic world views. A child for whom English is a second language may in fact be brilliant in her silence, as she is “processing” the language (including idioms) and the conceptual learning objective simultaneously; but this may not be conducive to, or even measured by the “speed round” hand raising format. Analyzing the volume level of the “me, me” student; utilizing the speed and the rate of occurrence of “hand raising” as a measure of “intelligence”, would ignore students who are more contemplative; or who are mentally exploring other possibilities related to the question at hand. Perhaps the student who is not “speaking out” is a visual-spatial learner and is taking this time to mentally design-redesign the problem in his head; or maybe the student is culturally socialized to not be pushy in a “low stakes” situation.  The last problem is that I suspect (based on observation) that most teachers are “extrovertedly” inclined; if that is true, care must be taken when defining “the norm”.   I have always tried to get teachers to be aware that they are very much a part of the “multiple intelligence” world; the key then is to teach with your strongest intelligence but not solely to your strongest intelligence; as the students are bringing their own individual inclinations to intelligence into the classroom.  That is why a good lesson will always contain a multiple intelligence methodology. But let us also be careful that we don’t cut off and stifle learning for children who don’t necessarily share our take on the world. And by all means let us not rank them on personality traits. On the question of “extrovertism” vs. “introvertism” I want to offer two other very interesting views from books I recently read:

 Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking; Susan Cain

The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength; Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD



Jeanae’ Question Part 2: Where Do You Stand When the Standing is not Easy?


         I have been thinking about this “Drone warfare Issue” in the context of  the  speeches made at the recently televised NAACP Image Awards. You know, there is a difference between living through a historical period, and reading about that historical period (just ask your mom). My personal take away from the Belafonte comments at the NAACP Awards Program was this: When Dr. Martin Luther King came out against the war in Viet-Nam; and in particular, the indiscriminate bombing of North Viet-Nam; Harry Belafonte was one of the few prominent Black persons who did not run as far and fast, in the other direction away from Dr. King. They (the Johnson Administration) found; and when I say “found”; I don’t mean they had to look hard for them. (Meaning having to look in a basement, under a rock, or in a cave somewhere). Prominent Negro leaders  (the name that was used at the time) enthusiastically came forward to denounce Dr.  King. Mr. Belafonte was extremely gracious and kind at that NAACP ceremony; but the truth is that many people who not only denounced the “anti-war” King, also denounced the “civil-rights” King; and these same people now praise the monumental and historical (their version) of King.  Some prominent leaders who actively supported Dr. King on the “Civil-Rights” question; got “off” the train on his opposition to the war in Viet-Nam. Mr. Belafonte (at great harm to his professional career) stayed the course. I am wondering if  those professional entertainers in the audience were actually listening to Mr. Belafonte. Do they understand the level of sacrifice he represented? I think he was speaking beyond the easy task of: “giving back” (Oh, how I so dislike that phrase).  It is easy to fight for the powerful and popular; the challenge is: Can you fight for the powerless, and the unpopular? And so the final question is: “What would Martin Luther King think about Drone Warfare?