A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
Last week, I had a chance to preview documentary films that showed how a strong arts program—and that could range from mariachi to Shakespeare to poetry slams—could turn struggling schools into powerhouses of energy and promise. Last night, millions of viewers got a chance to see what students from a school that values the arts look like—on the Academy Awards, no less.
Last year, 7 of every 10 African-American high school juniors enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District scored below average in language arts.
These numbers keep Sharon V. Robinson up at night.
Robinson, special assistant to the superintendent, has seen similar numbers during her long career at the district. But before she retires in April, she is committed to tackling this issue.
Every morning at 7:15, the doors of our school open wide to a line of bus riders ready to come inside. "Hello, Jaheem. Hi, Kiara. Hey, Imani. Hope you're having a good day, Omar," I call out as the students walk past me to the cafeteria for breakfast. I stand at the doors for a moment and watch the big, yellow buses puff their diesel exhaust and chug their way to the garage until it's time for their afternoon run.
Is there a more universal symbol for public schools than a big, yellow school bus?
At the recent California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) conference in Sacramento, I found myself surrounded by passionate English teachers, those willing to give up a weekend to share best practices. Hundreds of teachers attended to find new ways to make schools better places for students.
My third-grade daughter has no idea what it’s like to have a brother with autism.
Neither do I.
So we are lounging on this Sunday afternoon in February, munching on Teddy Grahams, attempting to understand Catherine’s life. Catherine, 12, is David’s sister and his teacher; David has autism. Mostly, Catherine teaches her brother about life’s rules, over and over again. He forgets. She reminds him.
Recently my family stopped at the Civil War battlefield at Vicksburg, Miss., to take a walk and soak in some history. Near the monument to Louisiana’s troops stood a young boy, about 8 or 9, with his mom and dad. The boy was dressed up as a gray-clad Confederate soldier. The combination of the outfit and the Confederate flag sticker on his family’s car told me something important about this boy.
It told me that he was a lot like me at that age.
Ricky was a big ball of anger. In all fairness, he had plenty to be angry about. The first years of his life were pretty rough. Now, at age 7, home life was starting to normalize. But sometimes just getting through the day without throwing a chair was enough for him to handle, let alone any sort of academic rigor. He had a hard time seeing others’ points of view. He was definitely my most challenging student and constantly in need of my attention.
Last Saturday, on one of North Carolina’s sunniest, warmest days this winter, thousands of people gathered in front of Shaw University in Raleigh to participate in the NAACP’s annual march for justice, workers’ rights and educational equality. The march has been dubbed the “HK on J,” or “historic thousands on Jones Street.” By mid-day, that’s exactly what it was: Too many people to count snaking through downtown Raleigh toward the state legislative building.