Our most powerful role models shouldn’t be ‘Hidden Figures’

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This Friday, over 300 Lynwood Unified School District high school students will be treated to a private screening of Hidden Figures. The critically acclaimed film sheds light on the little-known contributions of Black women to the United States’ space program. The idea of hidden figures is especially powerful now.

It serves as the perfect segue for the continuance of conversations that have been lifted higher in light of Trump’s new administration and subsequent policies.

Our youth should be able to see people who look like them doing great things. It’s an issue of equity. Seeing their culture and heritage represented in their history books transforms pages of books into mirrors by which our students can see their reflections and potential. In hopes of broadening their horizons, we have to expose our kids to the stories of great men and women of color that are most often not found in history books.

Often, our students hear of the contributions of people of color as a concession – in most cases, only the stories and contributions of certain men of color are celebrated. Women are often left out of the conversation entirely. If our task is to shatter glass ceilings for students of color and women alike, the contributions of women must especially both be celebrated and welcomed.

Women have always been the standard bearers of the moral compass of our nation. However, many of their contributions are diminished by men who have been reluctant to yield power to their female counterparts. As such, their rights have often been the subject of debate and their participation in the course of history and the direction our country has often been taken for granted. During this last election cycle, women’s rights were a footnote. In fact, women’s rights were less than a matter for discussion and more of a shallow campaign talking point based on hypocrisy and lacking critical thinking, thoughtfulness, fact and the opinions of women. Women must lead the conversation around women’s rights.

A day after the world witnessed the, relatively, peaceful transfer of power from one president to his successor, millions of women took to the streets to voice their opposition to the new government. In cities all over the world, women and their allies came out in massive numbers – numbers that made the Trump’s administration challenge the media’s coverage of the very lean crowds at Trump’s inauguration. But we cannot let this narcissistic themed administration deter the focus on Women’s Rights nor hog the narrative.

We know that power concedes nothing without demand and women along with their male counterparts and allies made their demands heard loud and clear advocating for a myriad of causes and vital issues ranging from access to women’s health clinics to early education. As such we saw the huge intersectionality of issues which begs the question of the need to make women’s rights be a focal point of policy.

I hope that the young women and men attending the screening of ‘Hidden Figures’ are inspired by the great contributions of and that these marches are the start of a movement of increased engagement. One thing is sure, without women, our nation’s power and potential are no more than a glass that is half-full. So as men, we should get “in formation” with our sisters and support their causes as they have had to support ours whether they were called upon or not because the future is colored, diverse and female.

Gary Hardie wrote this for One Public Education.

Miami’s break from ‘sanctuary cities’ sells out families like mine

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Miami-Dade was the county I entered at the start of my life in the US.  I attended high school as an undocumented immigrant for my first few months. If my family did not have the benefit of legalization after entry, I would have been a DACA student.  Miami was also the first to react to the president’s executive order against Sanctuary Cities.

Within hours of the executive order to prevent Homeland Security from funding any city designated as “sanctuaries”, Mayor Carlos Gimenez reacted with his own executive order: Miami Dade federal jails were to comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants.

Gimenez feared jeopardizing $355 million in funding over what is claimed as a $52,000 issue: the cost of holding undocumented persons until the feds can pick them up.

Back in 2013, Miami Dade had refused to detain these persons indefinitely without full reimbursement from Homeland Security.  It was a money thing. But, the county was slapped with the designation of a “sanctuary county” by the Justice Department as a result.  Miami has been trying to rectify the designation since last year.

Though I understand Mayor Gimenez felt the pressure to protect Miami Dade’s cash flow, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t feel the need, nor did New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Both spoke out firmly against any compromise to protecting all people, regardless of where they came from.

Read the full blog post at Faces of Education.

Why Do the Poor and Children of Color Have to Go to Bad Schools?

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The New Year does not just mean a new calendar year, but it is also means a new school semester. While many schools are preparing for the second semester many parents are debating whether or not they should send their child back to the school that failed them first semester and more than likely failed them year after year. I may not be a parent, yet, that does not mean I cannot fight for the equity and justice for children’s educational rights. As we are approaching the celebration of one of the greatest champions for equal rights Martin Luther King, I am reminded by one of his quotes, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

It makes me angry when schools attempt to change their results by tinkering at the edges of their model. They will adjust their schedule, extend the day, and add many alternative programs to the school. Those are nice approaches and some may very well work, but if you have teachers in the building that do not believe that all children can learn, then you have not addressed the issue.

I refuse to sit around and allow families of color and poor families to send their children to schools across the country let alone in my city that do not treat them as king and queens they are. In my short 29 years on this earth and my even shorten time as an educator I have seen far too many of our young kings and queens who have been failed by these schools. My desire to see our kings and queen thrive in school is why I will fight against any entity that will deny families the basic constitutional right to choose the best educational option.

What really gets me is that many entities try to make parents of color and poor families feel bad for wanting to send their child to a better school. They spread lies about how alternative schools such as charters only care about the money. They tell parents to trust their neighborhood school, which all too often has been failing kids for years.  In reality the  schools they make the parents feel bad about leaving cannot meet the needs of many low income or children of colors need both educationally and emotionally.

An effective charter school is realistic option for families of color and low-income families. Perhaps that’s why black and brown parents overwhelmingly support charter schools as an option for their children. . If a charter school can educate a child and give them the supports they need to excel academically, while hopefully beginning to reverse the impacts of generational poverty, I cannot allow entities to stand in the way of parents making that choice. I refuse.

David McGuire is a school leader in Indianapolis. He wrote this post for the blog Indy Education.

We gotta do something about those radical black lives matter people!

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After the initial launch of the Black Lives Matter concept to raise awareness of the systemic oppression and racism that was killing Black people through state sanctioned police brutality and extrajudicial murders, the movement expanded.

Black Lives Matter lost some potential allies when they expanded the platform to take a more holistic approach to resisting and informing communities-in particular, white people- about what was actually happening and the duplicity of the justice system in America.

There is a backlash against schools supporting the politicization of students. In Arizona and several other places, there are measures to restrict schools’ opportunities to teach and address social justice issues. The consequence could include slashing 10% of the district’s budget if they offer social justice courses.

Wow. How dare schools really provide a platform for educators to help students navigate the systemic oppression that has deep roots in the racist, misogynist mindsets of founding members of America. Politicians frequently call themselves as champions of “preparing engaged citizens”, so the hypocrisy of Arizona’s politicians is at least consistent. The younger generation may not know this, but this is the same state who didn’t want to embrace the Dr. Martin Luther King federal holiday.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, several schools continue to help students navigate the complexity of their feelings, help them to elevate their voices, and resist oppressive state sanctioned policies.

Read the rest of this post at Philly’s 7th Ward.

53 Years Since “I Have A Dream” and We’re Still Being Excluded

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Every evening, we ask our boys to tell us something interesting they learned at school.  On Friday, one of our sons shared he learned about a great man named Martin Luther King Jr.  When I inquired what he had specifically learned, my five year old son replied, “He wrote a long speech.  He told people that black and white people should be able to eat at the same restaurant.  He said black and white people are equal.  But Mommy, I don’t know what black and white people being equal means.”

I explained to my son, that he, a black child, should be treated the same way as a white child or a child of any color.  

When I asked his twin brother what he had learned at school he just shrugged his shoulders.  After much prompting, he told me he too learned about MLK Jr., but he could not provide any specifics.

When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” in Washington D.C. he said, “One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.”  My son who frequently shrugs his shoulders when I ask him what he has learned at school each day, has felt like an exile at school.  A few months into the school year he told me he was afraid he was going to get kicked out of school forever.

Why would a kindergartner who just began his education have this fear?  He, along with many other black males in Indiana and across the nation, has been kicked out of class.

Although, we are years past Brown v. the Board of Education, when separate schools were declared unconstitutional, our minority children are being separated from their peers by being excluded from the classroom and suspended at disproportional rates.   Last year, the U.S. Department of Education released 2013-14 suspension data which revealed one in five black boys were suspended.  In Indiana, the number was higher, one in four black boys.

Read the rest of this post by Shawnta Barnes  at Indy Ed.