Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Portrait of the Black Family

This document was prepared by Save America Ministries. The group leader is an attorney, minister, and author.

The popular declaration "figures don't lie but liars sure can figure" or some variation of that statement, must be kept front and center when any set of numbers are pushed forward in support of a position.

But, I have seen many of these figures in other formats, and know them to be fairly reliable. However, I had not seen this arrangement tagged PORTRAIT OF THE BLACK FAMILY. Ouch!

I am inclined to study the message rather than question the motives of the messenger,as is so often the first instinct. Actually, could this document be more correctly titled Moynihan 2010?

If even 1/3 of these allegations are accurate, then another popular saying comes to mind.."Houston, we have a problem."


portrait_black_family_1-28-10.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Can Politicians Really Create Jobs? -

An excellent read. Clearly there is a need for us to "learn things" during this economic crisis and thus be prepared to participate in the recovery. Black folks, this is a heads-up.

Can Politicians Really Create Jobs? -

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Improving No Child Left Behind -

One thing is for sure, without No Child Left Behind, with all its warts, we would not be nearly as focused on education in general, and poor/black children specifically, as we are now. Having acknowledged the laws' impact on the "focus" on education, it will never "fix" education. In my view, there will always be some degree of inequity present as well. However, the inequality should not be "government" driven. Local school district and/or state financing mechanisms should not discriminate against children simply as a result of their zip code.

In addition, I feel so strongly that improved performance within the poor and/or black communities will be driven mainly from within those communities. You can not legislate "desire and motivation." You can facilitate those traits, but you can not create them. The creation of "desire and motivation" come from deep within us. It will take a mass movement nationwide to get that message out, and thus tap into the real power to excel.

Until then, we can tinker with this and other legislation as long as it makes us feel good, but it will not generate improved and sustainable academic outcomes. Your thoughts?

Improving No Child Left Behind -

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

ACT Results for 2011

On August 24, 2011 the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) released 2011 ACT results at the district-level. School level results should follow very shortly.

Caddo produced a composite score of 19.8 for 2011 which is unchanged from 2010.

This compares with a State composite score of 20.2 and a National score of 21.1.

The district results include only public school scores, while the State and Nation results include public and nonpublic school scores.

A review of the state summary report provides some additional information of interest.

By race, black National score 17.0 as compared with a State score of 17.5.

White National score is 22.4 as compared with a State score of 21.7.

Asian National score is 23.6 as compared with a State score of 22.3.

In addition, a recent Education Week (EW) article indicates that 2011 saw at least 25% of test takers meet ACT college-readiness benchmarks. This is up slightly from 24% in 2010.

However, it appears there are still problems with significant gaps in performance. The EW article goes on to state that "But troubling gaps persist, something Mr. Erickson said "reflects the inequity of the rigor of the curriculum and of school systems as a whole." Only 4 percent of African-American students met the ACT's college-readiness benchmarks in all four subjects, for instance, compared with 11 percent of Hispanic students, 31 percent of white students, and 41 percent of Asian students."

This site advocates for blacks aiming for a 24 on the ACT. Such a score is associated with higher college completion rates. In addition, if black students would elect the TOPS curriculum, a 24 score(although not required) would earn much needed merit financial aid.

Results will not improve unless and until we first seriously set high expectations for ourselves and then strive to hit the mark.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bronx Charter School Disciplined Over Admissions -

There is a pattern slowly emerging around education reform.What we are seeing is that there is no silver bullet. It certainly is not charter schools. You can not avoid the five essentials for excellence. It takes a Motivated student to show up for school, supportive parents, high quality teaching, high quality principal leadership and a rigorous curriculum to achieve excellence. There simply are no short cuts! These are the elements found in any successful school: urban, suburban,charter or non-charter. These are the basics that should be vigorously identified and promoted at the community level.

Bronx Charter School Disciplined Over Admissions -

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

State report depicts Parks Middle as example of problems in district  |

Atlanta is not the only one that will shake out in this HIGH-STAKES TESTING environment. Other states who are showing alleged academic progress measured only against their own internal measurements are just as guilty. Results that can not be independently verified are useless and a fraud on the involved communities. Just wait, there will be many, many others. This will be the legacy of NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.

State report depicts Parks Middle as example of problems in district  |

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why the Achievement Gap Matters and Will Remain | National Education Policy Center

It is critical that the poor and people of color implement grass root strategies aimed at academic excellence. No one else will admit the inequity that is in place and the impact it has on children. But, we can and must overcome this challenge.

Why the Achievement Gap Matters and Will Remain | National Education Policy Center

Review of Florida Formula for Student Achievement: Lessons for the Nation | National Education Policy Center

One killer finding that gets my attention. The fact that grade retention based on high stakes test results does not improve achievement. Why the black community has tolerated a policy that clearly hurts our children is beyond me.

Review of Florida Formula for Student Achievement: Lessons for the Nation | National Education Policy Center

Thursday, June 23, 2011

16818_BlackMale_trifold3_WEB.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Take a look at these stats on black males and blacks in general. I am convinced that success in education is the only rational strategy, over which we have direct control, that can contain and reverse these numbers. It will never be the government!

16818_BlackMale_trifold3_WEB.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

About | Khan Academy

Check out this free educational site. Free video help on many, many subjects.

It is very neat and useful. You will not be disappointed. Just click on the

link below.

About | Khan Academy

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dorsey Amicus FINAL 4.18.11(Story of the Confed flag in Caddo parish)

Dorsey Amicus FINAL 4.18.11

Parents, teachers seek federal probe of D.C. erasing scandal - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

Parents, teachers seek federal probe of D.C. erasing scandal - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

Now comes another allegation of widespread cheating on standardized tests. Here the issue touches Michelle Rhee. Rhee is an individual I think has some good ideas in the area of accountability for teachers and administrators. However, any expectation of improved results, must carry with it an equally clear expectiation of results with integrity.

People must be allowed to fail if there has been no clear cut change in strategy or practices that can drive improvement. Simply to demand achievement of a streatch goal with no material structural changes breeds a climate in which cheating will occur.

And, any organization should vigourously test or audit itself to insure the complete integrity of results that are significant and dramatic from past performance. To do otherwise is to be a partner in the crime. I hope that is not the case with Rhee. But, a good investigation should tell the whole story. Read the blog post in The Answer Sheet.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vision 2020 Right for Caddo

Dr. Gerald Dawkins has demonstrated significant courage and wisdom in pushing forward with his bold plan for the Caddo school system. This strategy seeks to right size the district and therefore make better use of all district resources.

Better resource deployment means an overall better opportunity for Caddo students to excel.

Change is always hard and significant change is only that much harder. I have long since given up on buildings in favor of people. The right decision is the one that favors people. In this case, the people most important in the calculation are the students themselves.

Calls for more time to study the plan and its implications were without merit. They demonstrated the usual paralyzing fear of the unknown.

As one board member astutely noted, if some elements of the plan are wrong, then admit the error and change it.

Congratulations to Dr. Dawkins for standing on his convictions in the face of an orchestrated community onslaught. Of course it is not over yet. Those who oppose change will  not go away quietly. They never do.

But this important victory is a critical first step of a journey in the right direction. 


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Diane Ravitch - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 03/03/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central

 There is currently an education war going on in this country. I would suggest that education historian Diane Ravich and former D.C. school chief, Michelle Rhee represent the opposing sides.(Pictured above are Diane Ravich and Michelle Rhee)

Dr. Ravich , and her supporters, argue that POVERTY is essentially the raw education/achievement issue of the day. This line of argument carries with it the explanation of low test scores being most associated with and/or caused by POVERTY and/or RACIAL ISOLATION.

A March 2, 2011 Education Week commentary by author Richard Whitmire makes the following points about Rhee.

"Rhee raises existential threats not presented by voucher conservatives.  Rhee wants to curb teacher tenure; overturn "last hired, first fired" layoff policies; and impose teacher evaluations with teeth.  Most important, these are not just think-tanky proposals.  Rhee actually did all these things in Washington."

"The real nut of this is the threat to the pride of thousands of teachers, especially those in low-performing school districts.  For years, they have argued that poverty and single-parent families explain the low performance of their students.  Rhee is saying maybe, maybe not."

For the black community, it is critical for us to understand these arguments and listen carefully. We can not allow our children to become even more of an educational casualty as this debate rages.

My view is that neither side is all right or all wrong. And, if the volume could be reduced and everyone pull back for a breather, perhaps some resolution of the positions would emerge that would benefit all children. However, I don't look for that to happen anytime soon.

Click on the link below to view Dr. Ravich state her position.

Diane Ravitch - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 03/03/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Charter schools better? - Find a School | GreatSchools

The most recent comprehensive study on a large number of charter schools. Seems that some are better than regular public schools and some are not. However, overall trend regarding closing the achievement gap appears to be better than average.

Charter schools better? - Find a School | GreatSchools

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What to expect in preschool: Literacy - Academic Skills | GreatSchools

This site is an advocate for reading to young children. It is identified as one of the "Characteristics of a Learning Culture." Click on the link below for some excellent tips on preschool literacy. The struggle to Achieve Academic Excellence actually starts before the child ever enters an actual school. It starts at home with parents.

What to expect in preschool: Literacy - Academic Skills GreatSchools

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bucks Co. Teacher Suspended Over Blog About Students « CBS Philly

Now, this is at least one view of how a teacher really feels about what she experiences in her classroom.
And, this from a middle class school. (Pictured: Teacher, Natalie Munroe)

Bucks Co. Teacher Suspended Over Blog About Students « CBS Philly

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

U.S. Department of Labor -- History -- The Negro Family - The Case for National Action

The Moynihan Report, 1965.

U.S. Department of Labor -- History -- The Negro Family - The Case for National Action

Black History Month 2011

This year Black History Month should focus on rebuilding the nuclear family and the critical importance of academic achievement.  I will create a special page called Black History Month. My intent is to post nothing but information related to family and academic achievement.

(Pictured: Carter G. Woodson, 1875-1950, founder of  Black History Week)

Our history is rich in both of those areas. Yet, today over 70% of our kids are born to single mothers. This, even in view of significant data suggesting these children generally struggle in all key indicators of quality of life.

This is not our history. It was not our history even in slavery or the era of Jim Crow. But somehow we came to a fork in the road, and got on the path of a matriarchal family structure. And, our children have paid and are paying a dear price for that choice. Yes, in far too many instances, it is a choice to be a single mother. And, it is time we confront that head on and reverse this destructive trend.

And, no this is not sexism.  And, no it is not wage discrimination. And, no it is not racism.  It is realism. It is a destructive deviation from our history that must be corrected.

Black History Month, 2011 should mark a turning point!

Unwed Birth Rate Signals the Collapse of Marriage | The Heritage Foundation

Unwed Birth Rate Signals the Collapse of Marriage | The Heritage Foundation

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies by Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal Summer 2005

Moynihan and baby mama are a strange pair. But, the report below makes a case all of us should at least thoughtfully consider. While I am still urging breaking the gravitational pull of race, economics and class to achieve, I also believe, without reservation, in a strong nuclear family.
And, it would have to be my personal testimony that I owe my own modest success in a huge measure to mom and dad.

It is a bit long, but worth the read. Click on the link below:

The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies by Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal Summer 2005

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Caddo Parish School Board Finance Department (Budget Information)

The link below is take you to the Caddo Parish School Board's Finance department. There you will find budget information.

Revenue Allocation (Revenue and Expenditure Data) Louisiana Department of Education

The link below will take you to the revenue and expenditure data page for the Louisiana Department of Education.

Diane Ravitch On Fixing The Countrys Broken Education System - Bing Videos

 It is always helpful to listen to a variety of points of view. That is certainly the case in the current volatile debate on education reform.  Here, celebrated education historian Diane Ravitch is interviewed by Andrea Mitchell on the overall subject of education reform.

Now, you must remember, Diane Ravitch was for No Child Left Behind before now being against it. I am OK with positions evolving over time as circumstances change. However, I am also much more cautious about the new position.

Listen to this interview and how Dr. Ravitch, who is obviously highly skilled at communicating (and debating), now frames the conversation.  Obama's plan is characterized as "close, fire, punish." You mean there is no middle ground here?

Also, there seems to be a defense of poor performing schools based on the fact that they often serve poor children. I call that the "Poverty Defense."

Here is what I see happening. First, I am not against teachers. I am, however, for students. This debate ,in my opinion, depends on what perspective or through what lens you are filtering expected education outputs.

If you focus on student "outputs" (how well a student can read or do math), then it will obviously mean looking at all of the "inputs" (teachers, principals, curriculum) as a way of examining the means for improving "outputs."

Of course, the other way of looking at "outputs" is to accept no responsibility for them or otherwise blame parents, poverty and stupid reformers.

I also want to make it clear that I don't feel Dr. Ravitch or teachers overall are uncaring about students and the impact an education or lack thereof has on their lives. To the contrary, I happen to believe they care deeply.

I also believe that what is commonly called a "special interest" or perhaps more correctly called "self-preservation" is at play here.. Teachers probably do feel under seize, but my advice would be to hang in there and lets all agree that unless and until "outputs" improve to acceptable levels, the climate is not and should not change. Only ACCEPTABLE RESULTS should change the conversation or the tension.  

Click on the link below to view the interview.Your comments are of course welcome.

Diane Ravitch On Fixing The Countrys Broken Education System - Bing Videos

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Leadership Summit Presentations and Documents

A leadership summit was held in Baton Rouge, La on January 12, 2011 for new school board members. It is reported that ninety new board members attended. (Pictured: Paul Pastorek, State Superintendent of Education)

The Louisiana Department of Education generated a press release on Jan 21, 2011 concerning the event. I have listed the link to that press release below for your easy access.

I strongly urge those interested in education for this state and parish to review the release and take a moment to check out the wealth of other information that is available.

I strongly recommend you review, download and study the document titled District At-A-Glance for Caddo Parish. Again, if you have an interest in local educational issues, you will certainly find this document helpful.


Press Release Archives - Louisiana Department of Education

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Return on Educational Investment(District by District Comparison)

This is a report by the Center for American Progress that attempts to measure school district productivity. The analysis is based on spending per pupil and compared with achievement levels. A special interactive map allows you to look up a particular state and compare all the districts within the state to each other.

Productivity is a business concept. This exercise may or may not be useful in the field of education. The decision to close a school has far more implications than is reflected in a dollar and cents analysis. Surely some facilities are being underutilized. And, of course closure and/or consolidation may ultimately be indicated.

But, that decision must be based on more than a simple calculation.

In any event, it is wise to study this data. I am sure it will hit the national, state and local educational conversation like thunder.

Return on Educational Investment

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Neither Fair Nor Accurate

Teachers fight High Stakes Test results from being a part of their performance evaluation system but, ok to impose High Stakes Tests on students (meaning students either passes or fails a grade based on the results of one test).

This site has opposed High Stakes Tests (as defined above) period. No student should be retained based on the results of one test.

I am ok with standardized testing as a diagnostic tool and I want our students to take such tests seriously and make every effort to do well on them.

Perhaps I missed it, but where was the teacher protest and outrage at retaining based on these High Stakes Tests? I welcome comments and further enlightenment on this question.

Click the link below to gain perspective on the teacher evaluation system issue.

Neither Fair Nor Accurate

Friday, January 7, 2011

Education Week: Early-College High Schools: 'Why Not Do It for All the Kids?'

This is an example of why I will not accept POVERTY as the catchall excuse for poor kids not learning.

Click on the link below for a rewarding view at what success looks like in a economically depressed community.

Education Week: Early-College High Schools: 'Why Not Do It for All the Kids?'

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Building a Grad Nation_FullReport_FINAL 11-30-10.ashx (application/pdf Object)

"Together we can-and we will-prepare children and youth for college,work and life." General Colin Powell

America's Promise Alliance is a national effort to improve the lives of children and youth through education. Founded by General Colin Powell, it reflects the hope of our entire nation for our children.

The link below is to a recent report for this group. The report should be considered by all with an interest in this subject. Click the link below to view the report online.

Building a Grad Nation_FullReport_FINAL 11-30-10.ashx (application/pdf Object)

Monday, January 3, 2011

The way we speak now - Science, News - The Independent

Depending on the point you wish to make, some argue that the vocabulary gap between affluent children and children of poverty is huge. Diane Ravitch in a tweet on December 31, 2010 said "Read Ristley and Hart studies of vocabulary gap between children of affluent and of poverty. Gap is there in first year of school."

This of course refers to the so called 30 Million word gap.

I am posting this link to establish a baseline as to just how many words are estimated to be in the entire English language. Looks like they came up with just over 1 million. And, that most folks know some 75,000 words and only actively use about 50,000.

There is no consensus as to how many words a child should know when starting school. You can do your own research to confirm this statement, if you wish.

My concern is that Ristley/Hart in the tweet above is more of the poor kids vs. teacher expectation debate.

While I am squarely in the "poverty is not an excuse or destiny" camp when it comes to learning, I believe it works both ways. That is, poverty is not an excuse for the child nor the teacher. Both have a responsibility in the education equation.

The child is there to put forth an effort to learn and the teacher is there to adopt strategies that meet students where they are developmentally. Both are accountable.

Click on the link below to read the article.

The way we speak now - Science, News - The Independent

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