Meeting DeKalb School Supt. Green

Great to meet New DeKalb School Superintendent Green last night at Leadership DeKalb’s event last night! 200 people RSVP’d and it was my first time at the Mary Gay HoGreen at leadership dekalb eventuse in Decatur. Only 45 days on the job and everyone seems optimistic about his potential for success.

Take aways:

He says all administrative staff were out in schools for the first day. This was partially in response to my desire to see Department administration cleaned out and when I mentioned that there is a big disconnect between district admin and implementation at the school level. Admin’s job is not “done” when they develop a program or curriculum. they need to see it through to the classroom.

He said that we are going to get academic achievement up one way or another (not 100% sure what the “other” way is)

When taking about cleaning house, he said he has already started and when I mentioned the nepotism, he said “if they are qualified and are doing the job” but I told him I don’t want to hear any more stories about someone’s son or daughter, cousin or whatever with a job at the school department to give them a job.

I explained my experience with substitute teachers in DeKalb. How I couldn’t get a spot as a sub when I first moved here, but that there is now a huge gap of sub opportunities not being filled.

I explained that it needs to be ok to fail, and how I knew of a situation where a school got “all hands on deck” for a state review, but was awful most of the time.

He agreed that middle school is critical to college and career readiness, and also made an interesting comment. He said he doesn’t like school counselors, that all the counselors he has met didn’t care about counseling students and they simply wanted to do admin work. I told him about how in RI you have to be a teacher for 3 years before you can be a counselor and seemed to me that the lackluster teachers just got a cushy job at the counselors office.

I’m just hoping he doesn’t mean that school counselors aren’t critical to student success when he said he would rather have hired someone else for the counselors spot. I am hoping he said that because that person was ineffective and not because he doesn’t believe in the work of school counselors.

 

 

My public school was not a quality education

My public school was not a quality education

RI Mayoral AcadmiesI no longer live in the community that I went to K-12 school in but I am still connected to many folks through FB. This morning a Warwick, RI city councilor posted an article I did not agree with, making a comment about how she was against the Mayoral Academies. I thanked her for the post, but told her I disagreed with her position. My experience at my high school was not quality and here are some of the various reasons why:

  • There was no direction. We took classes but it didn’t mean anything. There were some outside the box classes, I was part of a marine program once a week that I left the building for, there was a business/finance class I took, we had some history electives I liked where we actually read novels of people in history. Those made sense, whereas “history class” did not. I made no connection between my classes and my life.
  • There are no guidance. In fact my guidance counselor was the worst. and guess what? She was also the head of the RI Guidance Counselors Association for a period of time. What a union waste of time. Never mind that there was no guidance in terms of what you might want to do with your life, but guidance was basically just college applications. My counselor was obnoxious and rude and did not actually help me. I had a healthy list of 7 or so schools, with at least one reach school, one safety school and several match schools. My reach school was GWU. She told me I’d never get in.
    • First – that’s a terrible thing to tell a student.
    • Second, if you are going say something that abrasive to a student you MUST offer some alternatives. I had two schools in Wash. DC on my list. She “nixed” one of them. She NEVER suggested any other DC schools. Could I have done more research, sure. But at the college fair I went to, I only saw those two schools in DC (GWU and Trinity U.) She should have asked me if I knew of others schools in DC besides GWU that I may want to apply to. Because maybe I could have gotten into UMD, or American, or Marymount or something else
    • Third, She never talked with me about what I was interested in or help me find any other schools that might have fit my needs.
  • I graduated with a B+/A- grades and had no idea what I wanted to do. As I ended up in more a social service field – why couldn’t more of the classes fill those topics?
  • The best teachers were the newest ones, which a few exceptions. One of my worst teachers was a senior teacher and he just talked all day. I don’t even remember doing any work. Years later when I returned to get involved in the community, turns out this teacher is the President of the Warwick Teachers Union. What a croc! You want to know why I don’t like teachers unions, because they have leadership that I know was a terrible teacher! What kind of representation is that?
  • I never really learned how to write. I was baffled in senior year English why I couldn’t get a higher grade. I just didn’t learn to write in the way the teacher had expected. All I could do was write in a research based manner. Look something up, and regurgitate it onto the paper. I never learned any analysis or persuasion. I didn’t figure this out until college, where I quickly figured it out and managed to learn how to write in other styles.
  • I could go on but it actually is making me sad how much high school didn’t help me. If you really want to know more, ask.

We won’t fight crime with police – fight crime with education

My boyfriend and I were recently watching the movie “Blood Diamond.” Certainly reminds us that we live in a 1st world country as even our poorest people don’t have to live in situations as grave as portrayed in the movie. However, I was still able to draw connections between the life portrayed in the movie and the life of kids and adults who do not receive a quality education in the US.

What I saw portrayed in the movie was a country with very minimal resources and all the people living there gathering into “gangs” and fighting each other for one of the most viable resources the country has – its diamonds. Young children are forced into working manual labor, being recruited for the “gangs,” being turned against their family, being brainwashed into thinking what they are doing is right. All to support individuals at the top, and not actually benefiting the people doing the work.

I gotta say, that sounds like most of the experience of our kids in the streets of the US. Obviously, I haven’t experienced this for myself, but we know these things are happening. The kids in the US may have more government stability, more access to clothes and material things, more access to food, more access to education, more access the healthcare than the kids portrayed in the movie – but their lives function much of the same.

When your family and your school fail to show you the value in being a productive citizen, when schools fail to provide an engaging education and when we fail to listen to and counsel our students – they find a teacher that will. Life on the streets provides a sense of value, power, importance, employment – because kids are not receiving that type of environment at school. And really what is in the middle? Either you see the value of education and want to make a positive life for yourself, or you turn to others who can help you get it in an unproductive way. What does that say for those who follow neither path?

As I examine issues of crime through my role with my Neighborhood Watch, it all comes back to education. Every single criminal has been failed by our education system – likely by others too including their family. But we had a chance to help them see a positive contribution to society and we failed to engage with them in a way that encouraged positive behavior.

And once you commit one or two crimes, now you have to overcome the enormity of little or no education AND have to check the box that you committed a crime. How can you become gainfully employed with no education and a criminal record? If you can’t make an honest living, then you are left to the life of a criminal.

We won’t fight crime with police – fight crime with education.