Monthly Archives: March 2012

Students in their classroom. (Sarah L. Voisin – THE WASHINGTON POST)

America needs more black and Hispanic male teachers
By Fahima Haque

The statistics have almost become cliché: Black elementary and high school students score lower on standardized tests, on average, than their white or Asian counterparts. For years, educators have searched for solutions. For Kwame Griffith, a senior vice president at Teach For America, the way to help narrow this achievement gap is by recruiting more black and Hispanic male teachers.

“Every leader that commits to this work can have a massive impact on their kids, regardless of background,” said Griffith, who has worked at the education corps for 10 years. “But I’ve also seen how a corps member of color can be a role model for his/her students that has a profound impact beyond being an excellent teacher.”

Griffith, 32, said that seeing more black male teachers can inspire students in and outside the classroom.

“We need to set up our kids, our families, our communities — the most disaffected — and have them play a real role, as people of color, that they accept and embrace,” he said.

For years, Teach For America had difficulty attracting men of color to the teaching ranks. Griffith said he understands why: Many recent graduates of color are pressured by their families — after years of financial sacrifice — to enter lucrative fields. And recently, teachers increasingly have been fired and furloughed as state education budgets shrink, he said.

Indeed, the disparity between the percentage of black male teachers and African American students in the public school classroom is striking. A 2011 report by the Children’s Defense Fund found that 17 percent of public school students are African American. But less than 2 percent of teachers are African American males, statistics show.

Recognizing this disparity, the Department of Education has launched an initiative to recruit 80,000 African American male teachers by 2015.

Griffith and Teach For America have also specifically worked to diversify their applicant pool to attract more black male teachers.

“We disproportionately use our resources to go out and build relationships with students of color to personalize the magnitude of this education problem,” he said.

Griffith said Teach For America is beginning to have some success. He said 10 percent of the senior class at all-male Morehouse College applied to Teach For America last year. At Howard University, it was eight percent of all seniors. Also, one in seven African American seniors from Ivy League schools applied this past year.

Teach For America received more than 48,000 applications for their 2012 corps and from that, more than 2,400 applicants identified themselves as black males, or roughly 5 percent.

“That wasn’t true 10 years ago,” he said.

Griffith accepts that there is more work to do than beyond what the statistics show, good or bad. But he envisions a bold future.

CaseClosed2: Black students;especially black male students need to have black male teachers. Many students come from single parent households in the black community and many rarely see a positive black male role model in their community unless he goes to church. Many in the inner cities see drug dealers and gangbangers who are not positive male role models. And many black male students succumb to the negativity which they see every day. It’s sometimes dfficult to separate the streets from the positivity of school. However, there are black male students who are not a part of the negative elements in their inner city neighborhoods. They have positive role models and emulate them, but more are needed especially in the classroom.

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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Education News


They’re Not Suspicious

The Digital Media students of YES Academy in Paterson, NJ produced this video in tribute to Trayvon Martin. Enjoy and share.

There are many many more like these young men, so take heed and don’t target or stereotype.

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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Education News


More Student Walk-Outs

Aerial footage of students in Cutler Bay in south Miami-Dade County formed a TM in support of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford. Martin, from Miami Gardens, was visiting the central Florida city with his father. Students from all over South Florida staged walkouts on Friday.

Hundreds of students at several South Florida high schools staged walkouts Friday morning in a massive protest against the lack of an arrest in the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Students from Miami Central, Miami Edison, Miami Norland, American Senior, William H. Turner High and Southridge High in Miami and Blanche Ely High School in Broward held walkouts.

Meanwhile, the walkouts got some star power when LeBron James tweeted out a photo of the Miami Heat wearing hoodies.

At Miami Central and Turner, students were seen pouring out of the school buildings and into the streets just after 9 a.m.

In Cutler Bay, at Miami Southridge High School students formed a “TM” on a field in support of Martin.

Miami-Dade Police also reported a crowd of students had congregated at Southland Mall.

Miami-Dade Schools Police spokesman Sgt. Ivan Silva said there had been no incidents reported.

“Our job is to make sure the demonstrations are being run in safe and peaceful manner,” Silva said.

Miami-Dade Police said they were helping with crowd control as well.

Broward County Public Schools spokeswoman Nadine Drew said the protests in that county were organized with the help of the school staff.

“For the most part they are being organized and are being supported by the school family as an outpouring show of support,” she said. “I think the reaction is similar to the national reaction. I don’t think our students are any different than others.”

In Miami-Dade, the school district sent out a statement saying Martin’s mother wanted students to honor him through reflection, not walkouts.

“While we respect the expression of emotion by our students, we ask that they remain focused on their education,” said Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “Our most important mission is to provide a safe learning environment for students, and so we are asking them to respect the wishes of Trayvon’s mother by celebrating his memory not through walkouts, but through reflection and civic participation.”

Students at Krop Senior High School, where Martin was attending when he was killed, were going to make a banner for Martin that will be signed by students.

Also on Friday, President Barack Obama called the incident a “tragedy,” saying that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon.” Martin’s family thanked the president in an email statement.

“We’d like to thank the president and the millions of people from around the world who have shown their support for Trayvon by participating in hoodie marches, rallies or through social media. We are all working together to not only get justice for Trayvon, but also to ensure that this kind of senseless tragedy doesn’t happen to another child.”

On Thursday, students at Miami’s Carol City High School staged a massive walkout outside the Miami Gardens school. Police said the school’s principal had approved of an on-campus demonstration but that students left school grounds.

Martin, 17, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Feb. 26 in Sanford.

Martin was visiting with his father at his father’s girlfriend’s home in a gated community and had gone to buy a bag of Skittles and iced tea at a nearby convenience store and was walking back when the shooting happened.

Though Martin was unarmed, Zimmerman told police the shooting was self-defense, and no charges have been filed in the case.

Zimmerman’s attorney emerged Friday night, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that the facts will show his client acted in self-defense.

“I’ve talked with him. He states that he is not a racist and this was not to do with the fact that Trayvon Martin was a African-American,” Orlando criminal defense attorney Craig Sonner said.

He said he has advised Zimmerman, who has gone into hiding since the shooting, to cooperate in the investigation.

In Sanford, City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. formally introduced the two men who will lead the police department for the time being in the absence of Chief Bill Lee Jr. He temporarily stepped down Thursday as he acknowledged that his role “as the leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation.”

In his place, the department will be run by Captain Darren Scott, a 22-year veteran of the Sanford police force, and Captain Robert O’Connor, who has extensive experience in investigations, intelligence-led policing and other areas, according to a statement from the city.

Bonaparte said he has “complete confidence” in the two captains.

Thursday night, the Rev. Al Sharpton held a rally in Sanford with Martin’s parents to push for Zimmerman’s arrest.

“We did not come here for a temporary leave of absence. We came for permanent justice,” Sharpton said, responding to Lee’s earlier announcement. “From top to bottom, we don’t need temporary relief. We need permanent change.”

About a half-hour into the rally, which was attended by around 8,000 people, word came that Gov. Rick Scott had appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into Martin’s death.

The governor said he appointed Angela Corey, a prosecutor for the Jacksonville area, to lead the investigation after Norman Wolfinger, the state attorney for Seminole and Brevard counties, recused himself.

Scott also appointed a task force led by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll to hold hearings about the shooting and make recommendations for changing state laws and procedures.

The U.S. Justice Department and FBI are also investigating the shooting. Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, met with representatives from both departments before Thursday night’s rally to discuss the case.

Sharpton told those gathered at the rally that “Zimmerman should have been arrested that night” and that police had probable cause.

Martin’s 9th-grade teacher, Noemy Pascual, remembered him as a good student. He went to George T. Baker Aviation School two years ago, and she taught him three classes of Aerospace Technology.

“He was a normal student. He was well-behaved. He passed all the classes,” she said.

She said he left the school because he went to live with his father in Miami Gardens.

“Really, we always feel bad because to lose a young life. It’s terrible,” she said. “I told my husband ‘Oh, he was my student.”

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 6 Miami

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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Education News


How Does A Student read Blacker?

Fairfax Teacher Probed Over Racial Insensitivity Allegations
Ninth-grader says teacher instructed him to read poem “blacker”

A Fairfax County high school teacher is being investigated for using racially insensitive language by telling a student to read a Langston Hughes poem “blacker.”

Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, told the Washington Post that he was reading Hughes’ “Ballad of the Landlord” when teacher Marilyn Bart interrupted him.

“She told me ‘Blacker, Jordan. C’mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'” Shumate told the Post. He claimed that when he refused to continue reading the poem, Bart read it herself, apparently to demonstrate the style of speaking she meant.

“She sounded like a maid on the 1960s,” said Shumate, who said he asked Bart if she thought all black people spoke that way. He was allegedly reprimanded for talking out of turn and was told to sit down.

Marshall High School Principal Jay Pearson told the Post Friday that the matter was under investigation, but declined to provide further details. Bart has not spoken publicly about the alleged incident.

CaseClosed2: My take on this is when you are a student in school, proper English shows a student is learning and being properly educated. So for a teacher to tell a student to read blacker means she’s trying to de edcuate the student by having him speak ebonics which shows the ignorance of the teacher.

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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Education News


Home Schooling On The Rise Among African Americans

Home schooling: Why more black US families are trying itBy Brian Wheeler

BBC News, Washington

Until recently, home schooling in the US was mostly practiced by white families, but a growing number in the black community are now also turning their back on the public school system and educating their children at home. Why?

“There were lots of fights and people getting shot,” says Sonya Barbee.

“It was just too much. To me, it’s not a good environment for a kid and even though I work full time, so it’s really hard for me, I still feel like it’s the right decision.”

Sonya has not made life easy for herself. A single mother, who works for the US government, she now has the added burden of being a teacher to her 11-year-old son, Copeland.

It was not the violence, or even the fact that he was being bullied, that finally led to the decision to remove Copeland from his public school in what she describes as a “really bad area” of Washington DC, but the fact that he was “losing his love of learning”.

“The failings of public schools have caused all of us, whether we are white or black, to come up with creative ideas about how we can educate children”

Joyce Burges

Co-founder, National Black Home Educators

Now, with the help of her mother, who looks after Copeland two days a week while he works online, and a home schooling co-operative, she is hoping to “rekindle the fire”. She herself teaches him after work and in the holidays.

Her only regret so far is that Copeland is not more enthusiastic, saying he misses the “madness” of the classroom – although, she stresses, it is early days.

Until recently, Sonya’s story would have been highly unusual in the United States.

About two million, or 4%, of American children are home-schooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) – a rough estimate, as families do not have to register with the authorities in some states.

But home-schooling has traditionally been dominated by white Christian families in the rural south, who object to what they see as the public schools’ liberal agenda on sex education and Darwinism.
Famous home-schoolers
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum educated all seven of his children at home and has mocked America’s schools as “factories”
Denver Broncos star quarterback Tim Tebow took advantage of Florida law allowing home-schooled children to take part in school sport
Inventor Thomas Edison was taken out of his public school by his mother and taught at home
US presidents including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were home-schooled
Home-schooled showbiz figures include Charlie Chaplin, Whoopi Goldberg and Louis Armstrong
The number of inner-city parents choosing to educate their children at home, for educational rather than religious reasons, has been growing for a while, but until recently few black families were thought to be among them, according to NHERI director Dr Brian Ray.

“For the African-American community there was a huge amount of pressure against it, because in America, the grandparents of today’s home-schooled children fought for desegregation of schools. They thought, ‘The public schools are going to save us,'” he says.

But Dr Ray, who regularly interviews black home-schoolers as part of his research, says attitudes are changing fast – and it’s also a lot easier today for black families to try it than it was 20 years ago, he points out.

Joyce Burges, co-founder of National Black Home Educators, who home-schooled all five of her children, aged 16 to 35, says the practice is growing “exponentially” in the African American community.

“The failings of public schools have caused all of us, whether we are white or black, to come up with creative ideas about how we can educate children.

Museum trips are a big part of the home schooling experience “That explains the rise of the co-ops and African Americans seeing that this is not just a white thing any more.”

Despite the desegregation of schools, the attainment gap between African-American and white students in American schools has barely changed since the 1960s. The problem is particularly acute among black boys.

According to a 2008 study by the Schott Foundation: “Over the last 25 years, the social, educational and economic outcomes for black males have been more systematically devastating than the outcomes for any other racial or ethnic group or gender.”

Monica Utsey, who runs a home schooling co-operative for African American children in Washington DC, says: “African-American mothers, especially those who have boys, have a lot of trouble in the school system. The way the classroom is designed is more conducive for girls.”

For her, though, the main motivation was cultural – she wanted her sons to learn about their African roots and not “to believe that their history begins with slavery”.

Home-schooled children, like Sia Li Wright, are given more freedom to grow, parents claim Home-schoolers are scathing about the way public schools teach to the test, at the expense of providing what they see as a rounded education.

Another common complaint is that teachers are too ready to blame behavioural problems on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and encourage them to medicate their children with drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall.

“The teachers are always telling the parents they have to drug their kids, like they have some kind of problem. It’s just crazy.” says Sonya Barbee. “You don’t want your kid to be a zombie.”

Home-schooling co-operatives, where lessons are held in mixed age groups by parents, have sprung up in cities across America in recent years, helping to break the social isolation critics of home schooling often warn about.

But even its most ardent advocates concede that home schooling is not for everyone.

Is home best?
Home-schooled children regularly win national spelling bees and get into top universities.

But, argues Prof Rob Reich of Stanford University, nobody really knows how well the average home-schooled child measures up academically because it is hard to take a large enough random sample.

“We have little evidence to conclude home schools are better than public schools,” he says.

He says home-schooled children should be tested annually “to discover whether or not they are making even rudimentary progress” – and that public schools often produce better citizens because children are exposed to a greater diversity of beliefs and people.

“What you are looking to avoid is either the tyranny of the state in standardising every child in its own image – or the tyranny of the parent controlling every last aspect of a child’s socialisation.

“You want a balanced authority that acts as a check on the potential tyranny of each agent.”
Only the most committed parents, who want to be involved in every aspect of their child’s development and enjoy spending time with them, can make it work.

Not all parents can keep up with the demands of the curriculum, particularly if they want their offspring to go to college. Many children who are home-schooled in their early years return to the class room when they reach secondary school age.

It is also does nothing to address standards in public schools which, some experts say, will fall still further if highly-motivated and engaged parents start taking their children out of them, harming the African-American community as a whole.

Joyce Burges believes the day could soon be approaching when the local home-schooling co-operative, run by a group of committed parents, could be a real alternative to the public school, for children of all ages and ethnicities.

The demand certainly appears to be there.

“I get emails and phone calls from people all the time who want to know if there is someone that can home-school their child,” says Monica Utsey. “I tell them that it doesn’t work like that. It’s really the parents’ responsibility.”

CaseClosed2: Since black male students are treated badly by some teachers and in some cases,set up for failure or to become future criminals what better way is there than to educate your children at home where they would have a better chance for success if the parent is qualified to teach?

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Education News


Gonja Wolf has been put on leave pending a district investigation into claims she instructed a student to urinate in a bucket. (courtesy San Diego Unified school district

SAN DIEGO (CBS) — A Southland high school teacher was on leave Tuesday after a 14-year-old student claimed she was forced to urinate in a bucket after the teacher refused her request to use the restroom.

KNX 1070′s Tom Reopelle reports school officials with Patrick Henry High School in San Diego are investigating the allegations.

A claim filed against both the school and the San Diego Unified School District alleged that art teacher Gonja Wolf prohibited the unidentified student from leaving the classroom despite her insistence that the request was urgent.

Wolf allegedly directed the girl to use a bucket located in a “small room adjacent to the class”, according to a statement from principal Patricia Crowder.

The girl said she was unable to wait any longer and complied with Wolf’s instructions.

Wolf has been put on administrative leave while the district conducts its investigation.

“Please know that as a district we are taking this very seriously,” said Crowder

CaseClosed2: Teachers need to know sometimes a student really does have to go to the bathroom and not just want an excuse to leave class.To make a young lady urinate in a bucket in the classromm was totally disrespectful to the student and should not have happened and should not ever happen again.

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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Education News


L.A. School Denies Racial Tension Led To Massive Brawl Written by Associated Press

CARSON, Calif. — Classes are proceeding normally amid heightened security at a Los Angeles-area high school where eight students were injured in a courtyard brawl.

Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Monica Carazo says that 10 extra patrol cars from the district’s police department are at the campus of Carson High School on Thursday, but there have been no further incidents.

A melee involving about 30 students erupted Wednesday during the school’s midmorning snack break. The cause of the fight is still under investigation by the school police.

Carazo says that first period attendance Thursday was 83 percent, lower than normal 90-plus percent.

A brawl involving dozens of students that left eight students injured at a Los Angeles-area high school was an unusual incident for the normally peaceful campus and was not racially motivated, contrary to initial reports from authorities, school district officials and police said.

“Descriptions of these fights as racially motivated have not been substantiated,” LA schools police Chief Steven Zimmerman said in a statement on the melee at Carson High School Wednesday. “This campus has no current racial issues.”

Principal Windy Warren said student leaders at the ethnically diverse campus of more than 3,000 students assured her of the same thing.

“This is a very unusual incident for the Carson campus, which has been very peaceful this entire school year,” she said.

At least 30 students traded punches and kicks in a series of fights that erupted in a campus courtyard during a 10 a.m. snack break, said Monica Carazo, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

School police, with assistance from sheriff’s deputies, quelled the disturbance.

The brawl left eight students injured, Warren said. Four were taken to hospitals and four were treated by the school nurse. The extent of the injuries of the hospitalized students was not clear.

Seven students were arrested or suspended, the principal said.

The district said in a statement that despite earlier reports, investigators couldn’t substantiate that the Wednesday melee at Carson High School was brought on by racial conflict.

Schools police Chief Steven Zimmerman says the ethnically diverse campus of more than 3,000 students “has no current racial issues.”

The school was placed on modified lockdown with students confined to their classrooms, but they were allowed to go to lunch and were dismissed at the usual time.

CaseClosed2: As the days go by, schools are becoming more violent than ever.And why is this happening? Is there unreported bullying going on and the bullied take matters into their own hands to get the attention they needed? And to say that there isn’t any racial issues going on in this case,doesn’t mean there aren’t racial issues. School administrators and teachers don’t always know what is going on inside schools walls.

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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Education News