$125K to Teach Future Highschool Dropouts

Only 32 percent of Black men graduated from New York City public schools
on schedule in 200

Only when we decide that we are teaching young people, young urban people
with the sole intent of liberating them, will we have any success as educators.

Apparently, there is a school in New York that thinks that paying teachers
$125K per year will make substantial gain in transforming the lives of
future drop outs. Cristine Gralow writes in the New York Times,

The Equity Project Charter School (TEP) will open in September 2009 in Manhattan?s Washington Heights community, and it will aim to enroll middle school students at risk of academic failure. Students with the lowest test scores will be given admissions priority. In order to recruit the country?s top teachers to work with these at-risk students, the school?s founding principal will cut administrative costs and put a higher percentage of the school?s public funding into teacher salaries. He?s also seriously raising teacher qualifications, offering teachers a potential $25,000 bonus, and expanding the school day and work year for teachers. The principal will make $90,000. There will be no vice principal.

Only then will they become critical thinkers who feel that they can make a
contribution to society. In Living for Change, Grace Bogg’s
what young people need in order to be engaged in school.
She writes,

Meanwhile, watching high school dropouts hanging around on our corners, as our communities deteriorated, I began to talk less about education to govern and more about creating a system of education to address the needs of these young people and of our communities at the same time. Instead of seeing our schools as institutions to advance individual careers, I argued we must start turning them into places to develop our children into responsible citizens- by convolving them in community building activities, such as planing community gardens, preparing school and community meals, building playgrounds, cleaning up our rivers and neighborhoods. In this way our children will learn through practice, which is the best way to learn.

Unless you are educating oppressed people with intention of liberating them
all efforts will
be unsustainable. That is not so say that there will be no success,
what ever that may or may not mean, what I am saying is that paying more
isn’t scalable, and it isn’t sustainable.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere gets to the heart of the matter
when he writes,

Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing and storing deposits.

It is not surprising the the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable manageable beings. The more students work at storing deposits entrust to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness from which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world…The capability for the banking education to minimize or annul the students creative power to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world revealed nor see it transformed. The oppressors use their “humanitarianism” to preserve a profitable situation.

No pedagogy [way/method of teaching] which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among oppressors. the oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.

While I think its commendable that the school wants to pay the teachers more,
teacher pay does not address the fact that a banking system of education
will only produce people who only survive, not people who are critical
thinkers who feel that they can make a contribution to society

Most urban public school’s aren’t anything but jails with training wheels.

I don’t believe you, you need more people.

Some Children Are Disposable

Because what is happening on the streets of Harlem to black
boys and girls is also happening on all America’s streets to
everybody. It’s a terrible delusion to think that any part of this
republic can be safe so long as 20,000,000 members of it are
menaced as they are.

Th reality that I am trying to get at is that the humanity of this
submerged population is equal to the humanity of anyone else,
equal to yours, equal to to that of your child. I know that when
I walk into a Harlem funeral parlor and see a dead boy lying there.
I know, no matter what the social scientists say, or the liberals
say, that it is extremely unlikely that he would be in his grave
so soon if he were not black
-James Baldwin, Words of a Native Son
Playboy December 1964

People vote differently when they have skin in the game.

They MOST certainly vote differently when their children comprise
said “skin”.

I had this thought in mind while reading folks rationalize why
it was “expected” for the Obama’s to send their children to
private school because they are “lawyers” or the children
of a senator.

I don’t have an issue with where the Obama’s send their
children to school per se. I have an issue with our whole
hearted acceptance of an individualized approach to education
that clearly does a disservice to our young people (across ethnicities).

Where is our willingness to critique and reform an educational
and economic
system that has allows parents, policy makers,
and politicians to focus on “their children” and say “good luck”
the others.

It takes a village went out with the Jheri Curl, hunh?

Its easy to be angry but then I began to think about what
an alternate future could look like.

How different would our neighborhoods look if the police
officers had to live in the neighborhoods they served?

How would our schools look if teachers had to live in the
neighborhoods they taught in?

What if public servants had to send their children to public schools?

If the children of the well off are only those that receive a
first rate education then isn’t that more of a feature of an
rather than a Democracy?

All children, in this country are entitled to a first rate education
regardless as to whether their parents are senators, janitors or addicts.

I don’t mean a drill and kill education. But an education that builds
critical thinkers who are content with who they are as human beings
and feel that they have a contribution to make to society.

Baldwin continues in the same essay about how the fate
of all of our children, and I would argue similar to the fate of
our global economy is tied together. He writes,

As long as my children face the future they face, and come to ruin
that they come to, your children are in danger too. They are
endangered above all by the moral apthay which pretends it isn’t
happening. This does something terrible to us. Anyone who
is trying to be conscious must begin to be conscious of that apathy
and must begin to dismiss the vocabulary which we’ve use so
long to cover it up, to lie about the way that things are.
-James Baldwin, Words of a Native Son
Playboy December 1964

Why Can’t the Obama’s Send Their Kids to Public School?

Apparently the Obama’s send their daughters to a private school

I find it tre interesting that we are questioning whether?
his daughters should go to private or public school
and what it says about Senator Obama as a leader
when we don’t question the decisions?of our elected leaders,?
school teachers and administrators?to send?not send ?their?
children to the public schools?that they work for.

Chicago schools have been in the news lately.
Last week, in order to bring attention to the inequity in school
and headed to a suburban school district and attempted to?
enroll to shed light on inequitable funding between school
districts.?In New Trier, a suburb, spending tops at $17K per student,
whereas in Chicago, it tops off at $10,400K per student.

In light of this funding discrepancy, why is Senator Obama
expected to send his kids to schools, that teachers,
white Teachers (the majority of public school teachers in this country
are white women) would never send their children to?

I am torn on this. As a product of both public and private institutions
they both have their merits and drawbacks. What I do know, is
that education is expensive, and that until we acknowledge that
nothing will be done and analyze why what stops folks from
acting, nothing meaningful will be done.

I also know that failure creates jobs and that people would?
rather talk about “a culture of poverty” rather than about
how many people pay their mortgages off of jobs related
to the academic failure of low income students.

As parents, we all want to give our children better than what we had.
However, public servants are obligated to serve not only their families
interests but the interests of the public as well.

Perhaps, the question then becomes, where does Obama’s public life
end and his private life began.

Rather than be interested in where the Obama daughters attend school,
perhaps we should be more interested in how inequitable schools are?
funded in Chicago between low income districts and affluence districts.

Providing quality education to all is a benchmark of a healthy democracy.
As a rule, I listen to a persons words, and I also watch their actions.
It is clear that commenter’s are interested “they own”, the rest be damned.
It ain’t blatant neglect, but it is neglect just the same.

Look at the following comments it appears that folks want a better?
educational?system. In the meantime, their children are enrolled?
in Chicago Day?Prep school. No time for fake ones. Check out some?
of the comments?for the Times article,
“Any parent who doesn’t send their child to the school that best
meets their needs is irresponsible”

“I am not a believer in sacrificing my child for the potential- but not
certain- benefit for society”

“Children are not the sacrificial lambs for the greater good. As someone
who attended public school all her life, and managed to get into and?
graduate from The University of Chicago…I would have loved to have
attended the Lab School”.?
What would happen of all the parents of students at underfunded schools
said that they wouldn’t send them there any longer unless they were funded equitably.
Logistically, it would be a nightmare, but it would sure bring attention to the situation.

Black people in this country have a had a real tenuous relationship with?
education. Throughout history, we have always been fighting to learn.
At first it was illegal for us to read. Then we were allowed to read?
but in our sub par schools, just the same, we made do with what we had.
Then the schools were “desegregated”,?but first little Black boys and
girls had to be escorted to schools by?the national guard because racists
where not interested in going to school with them.

Implicit in the spirit of many of the commenter’s messages from the?
quoted above is that the lives of some children are worth more than others.
stated that only 32?percent of Black men enrolled in high school in
New York?graduated on schedule.?Yes. 32 percent. If this is the case in
New York City, then I wonder?what the case is in say, LA, Chicago,?
Baltimore and Philly.

The bottom line is until we treat the education of ALL children the way?
we treat the education of “our” children the 2008 Jim Crow system of?
education?will persist.

As long as we have two educational systems we will have two America’s.

Where is the Democracy in that?

When Did Being Smart Become Acting White?

The first thing that struck me when I walked into my
into my
college prep high school was the
It smelled of new paint, new carpet and
new books.

Books so new that they had never been used yet.

In fact, I stopped by there last August
and it still retained that new school smell. Creepy.

The public middle school that I came from?
There wasn’t anything particularly NEW about it.

The biggest difference between the schools were the money
spent on each student and the students attitudes towards learning.

Regarding the cost difference, the public school was “free”,
but we all know nothing is free. The prep school was $10K/year.

Regarding the students, there was a mixed bag.
Some dudes, came to play, get at girls, and the young ladies did the
same. Others guys came to both learn and socialize as well.
And then there were some known d-boys just passing the day
by until the could grind when the sun went down.

Now that I think about it, it was kind of bugged out to be in
middle school, with cats that were known to sell cracks,
but then again, thats Oakland/Chicago/Philly/Newark/DC….

I thought of this contrast in experience when I read the new
Will Okun post where he discusses being a teacher
and the frustrations that go with the territory

Full disclosure. Will reached out this morning and requested
feedback on his post. I started writing an e-mail response
and before I knew it, I realized that it was way too long,
and that it would be a better blog post instead.

He used Dead Prez’s song, “They Schools”, to
illustrate his point.

Will goes on to quote a veteran teacher speaking
on what it feels like to teach middle schoolers.
She states,

?We are not teaching them about their lives or their communities because it is not in the curriculum. Instruction is driven by standardized testing. We are teaching testing, not knowledge. No one hears these kids, nor do we try. There is absolutely no respect for these students. These middle schools are like prisons where the spirits of our children are slowly crushed, and I have been an unwilling participant in the destruction of young lives. Simply being witness and not speaking out daily makes me feel the soulful guilt of a thief,?.

Almost every school that I have been in since high
school has been small-
350 to 450 students.

(In fact, that probably underscores why law school, which
was approximately 1500 people, was so difficult for me).

My experience in small school settings has taught me that
only when the school is small, will the transformative, soul bending
learning that needs to take place, actually occur.

I don’t cosign on the notion that children can’t learn
in environments where there are 1499 other students.

I just know that it is a formidable and damn near impossible.

I also know that publicurbaneducation
isn’t designed to create critical thinkers.

People say, kids need to learn, “In my day…I walked
ten miles…blar, blar blar.” I always respond to those statements
with, “If it were YOUR daughter in that school, what would you do?”

In fact, I have often wondered what schools would
be like if state or federal charters required that teachers and
administrators to live in the cities that they taught? What if
they were required to enroll their children in public school system
in which they worked as well?

Can we say “skin in the game“?

Black teachers and administrators had skin in the game
prior to integration. (The other side of That coin is the seperate
but equal learning
that was taking place, damned if you do…)
I always think of this when people talk about our fear of
being told that we are “acting white” if we are high
achieving. Prior to integration, there was no one saying that
“being smart was acting white”. There were no (or few if
any at all) white students in our schools for us to be compared to.


Skin in the game and educational systems.

Acting white as a consequence of integration?

Nice combo, eh?

Oh, and I REALLY like the phrase “soul bending learning.”


America’s Failure to Educate Black Students* is Soft Genocide.

*For brevity’s sake I said Black students, but it applies to latinos, under resourced white kids and a plethora of other immigrant groups as well.

Did you know that certain governor’s base the number of prison beds on

3rd grade reading scores? The notion is, the worse the scores, the more beds will be needed.

Statistics show that a baby that doesn’t know how to read at 8yrs old/3rd grade,
will likely NEVER catch up.

I am obsessed with education.

Yall know that.

So when I came across an article this morning titled, Racism alive and well in S.F. schools – here’s proof, I knew it was about to be on and poppin’. The article actually represents a rare, candid discussion on public education.

Last spring, Cal graduate student Mandy Johnson wrote a paper looking at why parents picked certain schools in the choice-based San Francisco district.

The top factors correlated with low demand were the prevalence of low-income students and – here’s the really troubling one – race. Specifically, Johnson found, “as the percentage of African American students in the school increases, kindergarten demand decreases.”

Then it gets even more in the gristle and delicious:

Chris Rosenberg, principal of ethnically diverse Starr King Elementary, laid it out for me in clear terms.

“The bottom line is that many people do not feel comfortable sending their kids to a school with a lot of African American students,” says Rosenberg, who has been at Starr King for 12 years, four as principal. “It’s a crying shame. It’s terrible. But it is a sad and obvious truth in our schools. And no one wants to touch it.”

Nobody wants to read with the negros. Eh?

And here comes the big bad finance wolf:

With African American families leaving San Francisco, schools are losing black students. But as Sanchez says, when students leave those predominantly black schools, “nobody is willing to fill those seats.” The result is that schools in minority neighborhoods are continually threatened with closure because they are losing enrollment.


Skeptics will say we are exaggerating the problem. After all, it may not be racial. Who wants to send their kid to a school in a bad neighborhood? Rosenberg admits that Starr King is not far from the Potrero housing projects.

“I get a lot of questions from parents about safety,” says Rosenberg, a white man who majored in African American studies in college. “But John Yehall Chin Elementary (on Broadway) is a really good school with a lot of strip clubs around it. Do you think they get asked about safety? The fact is, people don’t care so much about the environment when it does not include black people.”

Which brings me to Rudy Crew. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up his new book.

He is the former superintendent of schools for NYC.

On the cover he looks proud. The rich money green background contrast’s nicley
with his bronze tone.

People are like books, its whats inside that matters.

After reading the table of contents and the chapters of interest, I came to the conclusion
that there was a fundamental problem with the book.

There was NO mention of the history of public education and how the school finance formula fundamentally screws urban schools.

Education is expensive. Right? Right!

Why else are property taxes high as h*ll in Jersey and Conneticut BUT families pay it
because they understand that a meaningful education COSTS MONEY.

The formula used to fund public education, mainly using property taxes on homes, automatically short shifts the hood.

Folks in the hood don’t own their homes, that makes for fewer tax dollars, which equals underfunded schools. Throw in hella apartment complexes full of kids and you
have an interesting prison situation.

A whole ‘lotta kids. And a little bit of cake.

In his book there was a great analysis of Demand Parents aka, those parents that demand things from their schools and their kids.

He gave valuable tips on how to become a demand parent.
He also gave examples of what happens when you are NOT a demand parent.

He did not go into the economic or a historical analysis of the system,
which undermines his credibility.
How can an educator expect a parent to leverage power in an instution when the parent has no idea of the institution’s history, and how the institution funds itself?


Are there any parents or teachers reading?
What has your experience been with No Child Left Behind?

What do you think of “Every Third Grader Will Read” as the alternate slogan?