Hey, Hey "I-Team". I'm so glad to welcome the month of June and my summer break. I hope you're doing well. In thinking back to where we were this time last June, our country was deep in the middle of two global pandemics: one of those was COVID-19 and the other was the reminder of racial injustice that continues to keep us divided. The world watched in horror and disbelief (well...disbelief to some but not all of us) as we witnessed the senseless murder of George Floyd under the knee of a now convicted "police officer". Due to the manner in which Mr. Floyd died and in the mist of protest from people around the world, words such as equity, inclusion, diversity, and CRT (Critical Race Theory) began to gain traction. This was particularly noticeable with school districts across the country as the pandemic-coupled with police brutality-highlighted the well known disparities in Black and Brown communities.
Now one year later, while we may be seeing a decrease in the number of COVID cases as more and more people continue to receive vaccinations, the plight to abolish racism world-wide is one pandemic that will take centuries to undo.
On May 31, 2021 the country recognized the 100th year anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre which was ignited by an angry mob of White supremacists. The massacre killed hundreds of residents and destroyed Black-owned businesses. Set off by a false narrative or better yet an outright lie (I'm reminded of Emmitt Till and the countless number of other innocent Black men whose stories will never be heard). The Tulsa race massacre was enraged with jealously, hate, and of course fear. The town of Greenwood was burned to the ground within 24 hours. It's safe to say that Black Wall Street, Black economic empowerment and progress in the Black community has not risen to that level of prominence since those days. Another important date that is worthy of recognizing is June 19th, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day. This American holiday commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved Africans and Black Americans throughout the former Confederacy of the southern United States.
In spite of the barriers that are consistently placed in our way, we as a people prove time and time again that we are fully equipped to achieve excellence. The question however becomes: Why are policies and practices set in place to make our ability to achieve our God-given greatness so difficult? And as I'm thinking of the younger generation coming up, I'll even go a step further and ask: Why are history lessons that would allow Black students to see their heritage prior to and beyond slavery missing from text books? And finally this rhetorical question began to spark discussion during the time NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick decided it was time to bring awareness to racial injustice by kneeling during the singing of the National Anthem. That question was: When public school students are required to learn the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or learn the words to the National Anthem, at what age do they begin the recognize that those words don't apply to every person in this country? Those are the kinds of questions that have gained more traction since the age of social media, but more importantly they've gained traction since bystander video footage show key evidence that would go missing if it were not filmed.
To emphasize the importance of why equity is invaluable to the world that we live in, and to dissect key components that are necessary for achieving educational equity in schools, for this month's podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Howard Fields, III; author of the latest book titled How to Achieve Educational Equity; so head on over to the podcast to hear his insights on how equity in schools is possible. Under the Intentional Toolkit I share the link to Dr. Fields' book as well as the video book trailer. I also share some additional resources relevant to equity, diversity, and inclusion in schools. As always, I hope you find these resources useful.
So as those tough conversations around racial equity, inclusion, and diversity challenge us to speak up and take appropriate action, let us be reminded that the work we do-while not easy- will have a positive impact on those who will follow behind us. When we take necessary steps towards changing policies and practices which have been designed to exclude specific groups of people, that's when we will all be in agreement when we say "liberty, justice, and equity for all!" Until next time...go out there and be GREAT!
Book of the Month
Click on the book below to access the link.
This article focuses on why equity matters in schools.
A closer look at what it will take to achieve equity can be found in this article.
This article discusses 8 powerful ways to promote equity in the classroom.
Eye See Me Books--Check out this Black-Owned Book Store to order Dr. Fields' book. You can also take a look at other amazing books written by Black Authors.
Hey "i-Team" and happy May! 'Tis the season for grilling, chilling, and sunny days. I hope this month finds you well. So far it's going pretty good for me. Although the 2020-2021 school year will come to a close in a matter of days, it feels like this year has been the longest one on record. Mind you that although it was certainly the most challenging year of historic proportions, it has been filled with highs and lows. As we know, students in schools across the country have been in a virtual classroom setting (some districts in certain states have remained that way even at the time of writing this post).
To emphasize learning loss and summer break, in my June 2018 post, I discussed research based strategies for avoiding summer slide. When you have a chance, go check it out. Although "brushing up" on skills taught during the school year can have a positive impact on student academic growth, students need the opportunity to take a break by doing things they enjoy. Activities are typically self-initiated and create choice. Coincidently because of the change in school as we were all use to in years past, schools are now looking for ways to make up for the learning loss of many students due to the pandemic. So what should it be... summer school or summer break? An article in the Washington Post written by Fordham University professor Nicholas Tampio says that children in the pandemic era need a chance to play before they resume their formal education in the fall. On the other hand an article from Bloomberg columnist Andreas Kluth points out studies from the U.S. show that on average students started the current academic year having learned only 67% of the math and 87% of the reading skills that are typically expected. In schools with mostly non-white students, the percentages were 59% in math and 77% in reading. And those are last fall’s numbers, after only half a year of “online learning.”
As an educator for over 20 years, I have to admit I'm on the fence with this issue. On one hand, I see the need for students to catch up on learning loss. But on the other hand, I see the need for students to be able to take a break from school-be it hybrid, in-person, or virtual. Just like adults, children need balance; too much of anything can become problematic. Learning loss due to the pandemic has especially impacted students of color as well as students from rural communities. With so much still unknown about the upcoming school year, we're hopeful that we'll get back to doing school the way we did Pre-COVID. And this debate about summer school vs. summer break will be a long discussed topic as research studies are taking shape around this issue.
Under this week's Intentional Tool Kit, I've included a few articles mentioned in this post. I also included a great Summer Activity Guide that I found on the Georgia Afterschool Statewide Network. And if you head over to my podcast, you'll hear more about my thoughts around Summer Break Post Pandemic. As always, I hope you find these resources useful. So as we continue moving towards some type of normalcy as many across the country have received at least one vaccine, let's take some time to get out and enjoy the sunshine; because as the saying goes, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". But on the other hand remember that "all play and no work makes Jack a mere toy". And on that note, until next time...go out there and be GREAT!
Shorter Breaks for Students
More play, less catching up
8 Summer Resources for Parents
GSAN--Georgia State After School Network
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