In a recent piece in The Washington Post, (“The education-reform movement is too white to do any good”), Dr. Andre Perry brings up some very relevant, viable arguments about the education reform movement today. I had the pleasure of joining him at a recent conference, where black leaders in reform gathered to discuss the issues that matter most about education and securing our children’s future.

To our community:

Today, we want to honor the life of an incredible leader, writer, and advocate: Maya Angelou. She once said:

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

We want to celebrate that love today, and we want to remember the work and wisdom of Dr. Angelou, who has inspired both of us with the power of her words. Throughout her life, Dr. Angelou’s writing addressed issues of justice and equity with a power that few possess. Her words will live on, and her legacy will continue to inspire us—she reminds us of the impact that teachers, families, and communities can have when we unite in our shared love of children and our shared commitment to what they deserve.

Angelina D. Phebus

(Photo credit: sunchild123)

Teach For America’s emphasis on the importance of identity and culture in teaching is impressive. I am Choctaw, and I became interested in serving as a South Dakota corps member during grad school. The Native Alliance Initiative (NAI) and Teach For America’s commitment to growing its presence in Native community schools resonated with me and my experiences as a student.

I did not have any Native teachers when I was in school. I received a good education, and I adored my teachers, but I never felt validated or understood in terms of culture and race. The concept of Native culture was so uncommon in the community where I was raised that most of my classmates assumed I was Hispanic. I had a hard time understanding who I was and why my family had relocated from their community, and I went through a difficult process of self-discovery. I was inspired to serve as a teacher in a Native community so that I could provide my students with cultural experiences that I didn’t receive as a child. I was determined to serve as a role model to my students of what is possible and foster a love and appreciation for culture in my classroom so that my students would never have to experience the emptiness of not knowing and understanding their identity.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

Did you know boys commit suicide at five times the rate of girls? They do worse in school, have more social problems and learning disabilities, and are less likely to attend college. Yet frequently their needs are ignored—often because many boys believe reaching out is a sign of weakness.

Recognizing that boys’ issues and problems have too long been ignored, Rosalind Wiseman (author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, the book that inspired Mean Girls), decided to pull back the curtain on “Boy World.” Working collaboratively with middle-school and high-school boys for a period of two years, she charted the emotional terrain that boys inhabit. But, as she was working on her book for the boys’ parents, Rosalind realized that teenage boys themselves are in desperate need of guidance. They need a book that speaks directly to them (in a boy-friendly format and in their language) about the problems they face every day. With the help of 200 middle and high school-aged editors, Rosalind has identified and answered the most pressing questions teenage boys have.

How do you get out of the friendzone (where girls refuse to take you seriously)?

What’s the right way to react when getting made fun of?

How do you talk to your parents so that they’ll actually listen?

Wiseman’s The Guide has already become a popular ebook. Now it's available in hard copy online and wherever good books are sold, and It includes additional lesson plans. Get a feel for the kind of advice the book offers in the excerpt below:

Teach For America

In the worlds's biggest thank you card for teachers, our community comes together to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week by sharing their best moments and memories. See it below:

Teach For America

As we reflect upon today’s Supreme Court decision, we are mindful that too often, students of color must overcome difficulties as they pursue their education. Out of these hardships, strong, smart, and socially-conscious young people emerge; by sharing their unique perspectives, they broaden the awareness of everyone around them.

Becca Bracy Knight, Executive Director of The Broad Center

I recently met with a fellow education wonk. We talked about the latest happenings in Newark and whether there’s a tipping point at which adding heavy cream to hot beverages becomes too much of a good thing. It was fun. I always enjoy connecting with and learning from others in education, discussing issues both big and small.

Sometimes I read pleas to strengthen STEM education in America, and they break my heart. Not because I don't think we should be preparing more students to be successful in STEM fields, but because the rationale shared, like so many other arguments for STEM education these days, centers on international competitiveness. When advocates drum up urgency around American students being less prepared for the future than students in other—particularly Asian—countries, and single out China and India rather than countries like Canada, Germany, or Finland, they make a nationalistic appeal that scares me.

It doesn't scare me because I don't love this country. In fact, this country and the opportunities available here lifted my family and me out of generations of poverty and political oppression. I am forever indebted to the United States of America for it. It doesn't scare me because I don't want to see this country succeed. A country that’s magical enough (however imperfect) for my parents to be willing to trade their families, their language, and their culture for decades of discrimination, taunts, and limited opportunities, is a country I want to see succeed.

(Photo: Flickr)

Anna is an 8th grader who was born with one lung and a rotated and slightly abnormal heart.  She attends one of the schools where I provide school-based telemedicine in rural North Carolina through the MY Health-e-Schools network.  If you saw her at school, you would have no idea that she takes asthma medication that costs over $150 per month, or that until recently she was unable to receive recommended preventive healthcare due to cost. Her pediatric cardiologist recommends that she have a $1200 echocardiogram at least every 18 months. Prior to February, Anna had not had an echocardiogram in over 3 years due to her family only being able to afford health insurance that did not include medication coverage, and that would have required her family to pay for her echocardiograms.

Anna's dad is a single parent who works full-time, and until now he has only been able to afford a $600 per month plan with a $5000 per person annual deductible, no medication coverage, and minimal coverage of routine preventive care services. Anna's two asthma medications alone cost the family approximately $200 per month, or approximately 8% of her dad's annual take-home pay. Fortunately, Anna's dad was able to find ways to pay for her asthma medication, but it came at a cost for other preventive health care services and significantly decreased the family's discretionary income.

In part one of my interview with Tony Klemmer, we spoke extensively about rethinking the model of teacher leadership and the lingering opportunities and challenges in that work.

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We believe education is the most pressing issue facing our nation. On Pass the Chalk, we'll share our takes on the issues of the day, join the online conversation about education, and tell stories from classrooms, schools, and communities around the nation.

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