Thursday, November 11, 2010

OUR kids can't read: Will you help?

I was stunned to see the statistics in the November 9, 2010 New York Times article entitled "Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected". It hurt my heart to think about the magnitude of what we are dealing with.

Recently as I sat listening to students read to me, I realized I have to find a way to do more. I volunteer two days a week at a local District 150 school to read with students. This is my fifth year. I read with 4 students for 20 minutes each. Ideally, a child should probably read at least 20 minutes per night.

It started out selfishly - it was a way to be at the school; I could observe my student and I could help out. Win-Win. But I never lost sight of the fact that in many cases, the twenty minutes I was giving a student to read, may be the only time they had an adult, other than a teacher, sit with them and encourage them to read.

Read the article below and think about it...

Black kids can't read: What are you prepared to do about it?

The statistics in the November 9, 2010 New York Times article, "Black Boys Score Far Behind White Students," leave one speechless. According to the report entitled "A Call for Change" released November 8 by urban schools advocacy group the Council for Great City Schools, only 12 percent of black males are proficient reading at grade level reading while in fourth grade, compared to 38 percent of white males.

The statistics do not look much better when comparing for poverty as measured by qualifying for school lunches. Poverty does not seem to answer the question because, according to the report, poor white males do just as well as black males who are purportedly not in poverty. Looking forward, things don't get better. The article states:

President Obama stated: "One of the best anti-poverty programs is a world class education." I wholeheartedly agree. We know that people learn in different ways and many have different styles of learning, but there is no excuse on the part of our country, teachers and parents for the abysmal performance of our young men in education. The ability to read and do very basic statement analysis is crucial in just about every area of life. If one cannot read, they will not make solid, well-informed decisions. The likelihood of being deceived by contracts or any type of written agreement, multiplies when someone is a poor reader.

Armed with these new statistics, we must take action as a community and nation. We know that black male dropouts lead the country in terms of incarceration and that this trend will continue to increase. The high cost of sustaining a prison system -- in desperate need of reform -- is illogical and fiscally impossible. We need to conduct a national dialogue on how to get to the heart of criminality and truly start intervening at the first sight of risk factors. These traits unfortunately start before the child is ever born. As a strategic forecaster, I'm tempted to bury my head in the sand as I look forward.

So let's look at our options. Black males who drop out of school are likely to live in long protracted periods of poverty. They will pick up skill-sets often involving a criminal lifestyle. More than likely they will spend time in jail or prison, leading to the wrong type of schooling. We are faced with mounting crises in the black community and the days of deflecting simply will not work.

We can no longer trust in a savior that will emerge and fix our problems. The deliverers will emerge within our community. Mentors, coaches, parents, grandparents and professionals from all walks of life will say, "Enough!" The question is: How unbearable must this situation become?

We know that we should mentor young men and women in all areas of life, but we also have to send this message: "If you are unable to take care of children, it is unacceptable to have them. Stop!"

We have a plethora of "baby mamas" and daddies in all communities -- black and white -- who do not have the wherewithal to raise healthy kids. The 40 percent out of wedlock rate is a national crisis. We have to read the writing on the wall -- enough is enough. Unfortunately some can't read it. Those who are literate have to start reading it for those who can't, and teach them a better way.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Film quotes on public education

Here are quotes taken from various documentaries focusing on public education...

“Waiting for Superman”
• “You wake up every morning and you know that kids are getting a crappy education right now ... Oh, I don’t think they are; I know they are.” -- Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the Washington, D.C., school system

• “Either the kids are getting stupider every year, or something is wrong in the education system.” -- Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone

• “Your children and future generations are on the bridge of that Titanic, and everyone is going to drown.” -- Davis Guggenheim, director of “Waiting for Superman”

“The Cartel”
• “It is a crime. It’s not terrorists that are going to destroy America. It’s urban public education if we don’t do something about it.” -- Joe Williams, Democrats for Education Reform

• “The teacher tells the parent, ‘Oh, this is a good school.’ When I said, ‘Lady, your kid can’t read or add two and two. What do you mean it is a good school?’” -- Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City

“The Lottery”

• “The problem is not the parents. The problem is not the children. The problem is a system that protects academic failure.” -- Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Charter Network (Harlem Success Academy)

“The War on Kids”
• “Kids need to feel safe, not only from other students, but they need to feel safe from the administration and from teachers. And often that’s not the case. Teachers are allowed to bully kids. Administrators are allowed to bully kids.” -- Olga Yatzus, child psychologist

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

District 150 students arrested for fighting in school

Here it is folks - the news you have been waiting for...

Several Peoria High School students were arrested after a lunchtime brawl in the school Wednesday.

The initial fight broke out just after noon. Some of the teens were led away in handcuffs, while others were released to their parents.

Further information is not yet available. Peoria police referred questions to District 150 officials. Source

Actually, I am pleased that these knuckleheads were arrested. Hopefully the other trouble makers will take this as NOTICE that fighting will not be tolerated by the District. Good for you PSD#150PD.