Archive | Education RSS for this section

The Land of Opportunity

There was a song that I vaguely remember from my childhood and School House Rock Days.  It is titled, The Great American Melting Pot.

This song, though missing a colorful representation of African Americans and Native Americans, was the premise of which American culture was shaped and formed in some sense. There were no immigration papers, and it was an open policy for all who could merely arrive here by boat. I used to unnerve my brother when I would awake every morning and sing the National Anthem (let’s leave out the historical context of the reason this song was written; I desire to stay in my euphoric state for this blog). On Friday, a colleague shared that he had officially become an American citizen. Considering the demographic I serve, as a technologist and corporate motivator, I asked his permission to share his photo and his story. So…enjoy my colleague Armando in our Q & A.

ME: Armando, on March 29, you became an American Citizen, this is a fantastic journey. How long have you been in the US? Where are you from originally?

A: I have been in the US for almost 25 years. I’m originally from Mexico City.

ME: When and why did you come to America?

A: I came in September 1993 as a child. My father died in 1990, and my mother did not have any formal education. During this time the government started privatizing many factories because of NAFTA’s new regulations. My mother lost her job in the same year, and she had no other option but to immigrate to the US.

ME: What opportunities do you have in the US that were not available in Mexico?

A: One of the opportunities I did not have in Mexico was an education. After losing her job, my mother was not able to keep paying for both my brother’s and my education.

ME: Not looking for a right or wrong viewpoint, but what do you see as major cultural differences in the US vs. your home of origin?

A: I want to say a major change was the language. For me, it took me a few years to start communicating and adapting to American culture. Other than language, I noticed that in the United States, Americans spend more time in their profession, so much so that in some cases, work is first and second is family. Children are often raised more independently and are encouraged to be independent of their family.

ME: Do you think you will take your skills to your country origin in the future?

A. I don’t see my future back in Mexico. I have my family here, and I don’t see my wife and kids moving to Mexico.

ME: Some people frown on immigrants who are not “legalized” citizens. With Congress being inactive or slow on DACA, what do you recommend for DACA recipients who are here of many ethnicities and countries, and they’re striving for US citizenship?

A: To all DACA recipients, I want to share my personal story. After graduating from high school, I did not have many options to continue my education since I was undocumented. My only options were work in a factory like the rest of my family or go back to Mexico and try to continue my education, but neither of these two options was an alternative for me.

I wanted to go to college and pursue a higher education. I decided to attend my community college, and while attending college, I worked in a restaurant to be able to pay for my education and help my family. After four years I earned two Associate’s Degrees: one in Computer Science and the second in Arts. It was not an easy accomplishment. In 2010 I was able to fix my immigration status and started working in my field.

ME: You are graduating from college with your degree in Information Technology and have become a US Citizen in the same year, what does this mean for you and your family?

A: After fixing my immigration status I was able to go back to finish my BA. During this long journey with many sacrifices, I never lost faith in my dreams. With the support of my wife and my community, in fall of 2018, I will be finishing my BA in Computer Network Security.

This year also gave me the chance to accomplish another dream–becoming a US Citizen finally. This means so much to me. Now I want to keep helping my community and many other dreamers.

______________________________________________________________

I want to thank Armando for allowing me to share his truly inspiriational story. It is one of many and we hope and pray, there are more to come.

Armando is a technologist for a major educational institution in Chicago, IL.

 

 

Online Success for Adult Learners

I was asked by my cousin (we actually met on Facebook) to give her keys to success as she continues her collegiate career in an online environment.  I was excited she decided to continue on to a Gradate program after completing her Bachelors’ within the same year.  She’s starting an online journey so I thought I’d share “best practices” that have lead to my success as an online student.

90 percent of my Associates’ Degree is from online classes.  Here are a few thoughts/practices I use as templates for success.  As working professionals, it’s very important for us to use judgement and wisdom when engaging in online classes.

  • Finding the right class.
    • Ensure your class is not a hybrid where there is a split portion between online and onsite requirement
    • Ensure the class(es) you take line up with your particular goals and degree.
    • Utilize your academic advisor.  I would have saved about 12 credit hours early on if I had done this.
    • Find out your professor in advance and do research on their teaching style.  I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into professor rating sites.   However, the particular link has not led me astray.
    • Find out what book you need but wait for a final word from your professor, which is why I recommend finding out your instructor and emailing them in advance.
      • Use Amazon to rent books.  Way more cost effective!
    • Download your syllabus and print it out immediately.
      • Cross off your assignment as they happen
      • Ensure you put all your deadlines on your calendar immediately and setup reminders
      • Syllabus’ can shift often so ensure you keep a tight look on your professors announcements
    • Balance your family, your job, and your education
      • Be intentional in your communication. Even though you are online and not in a classroom, your home is your classroom.
    • If you’re utilizing Blackboard at your Learning Management System (LMS), download the Mobile Learn App.
    • Subscribe to all discussions.  Email can be a bit cumbersome when people are updating but I find it valuable so I know when to respond to post
    • If your class has exams, ensure you find out if there is a webcam requirement.  If so, you’ll have to pay for the software monitoring system at your own cost, typically $54 – $75
    • Take what you can handle.  Adult Learning is a life journey not a quickie.  If you are working and have a family I don’t recommend taking more than 2 classes.  Ensure you adjust to the demands of your family, your job, and other responsibilities you may have.

You will either be your own best friend or own your worst enemy with online classes.  You have to be disciplined.  You are the professor, the teacher, the student, and the leader of your own success.  I’ve had great success and I am only stressed when I don’t follow 100% of the playbook I listed above.

These are a few tips I shared with my cousin.  Feel free to comment and add more.

The Journey to Godly Fathering

I am not a perfect dad.  If the cameras where rolling in my house last week, even while in a class led by a good friend on godly fathering, you may have even questioned my day to day life.  It was one of those moments when a father reacts in emotion and not under the guise of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, a few hours later I apologized to my wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent daughter.  12 year-olds know how to push buttons.
IMG_9585

Our final class was a couple of days later. “So brothers, how did it go last week?”  To which I confessed, “I blew it but I grew it”.  That translates to, I blew what I learned the previous week but grew in what I learned the previous week also.  One of the things we discussed on being Godly Father’s was owning our mistakes with our children.

Our theme scripture comes from Ephesians 6:4, which translates in The Message Bible, “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them.  Take them by the hand an lea them in the way of the Master”. In conjunction with the previous text, Proverbs 22:6 (train up a child) and I Timothy 3:4-5 where key scriptures in our development and training process.  The three goals of the class are as follows:

  1. Educate men on the distinction between a “good father” and a “godly father”
  2. Provide practical principles that define godly character and development
  3. Create an apparatus where men can commit to being a godly father
    1. Culminate this apparatus with a Commitment Letter to our families addressed to the wife and children of each represented household.

My cousin Arlene raised her two children along with my brother and me.  Years before she passed on to Glory we had a heart to heart and with tears in her eyes said, “I messed up with you all, especially you, and I’m sorry”.  (Had to pause after crying a little myself while typing this).  Ownership is so key on journey of becoming great parents.  So, we’ve begun an intentional journey together as fathers.  6 men with 15 children between us have vowed to share our trials, our successes, our failures, and our financial planning for their future, with several other strategic commitments with a focus on seven developmental areas.

7 Practical Principles: A Guide to Train and Point my Child in the Direction of the Lord

by Elder Marlon Medious

  • Imparting principles of life:  Forgiveness, apologizing, mercy, truth, and the living the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5)
  • Teaching godly habits
  • Protecting against moral dangers through appropriate discipline
  • Instilling daily prayer
  • Leading Bible Study at least once a month in the home
  • Engaging in interactive church participation
  • Explaining how decisions are made regarding their lives and choices

Proverbs 20:7 (AMP) reads, The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs–How blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow].”

As I close out this blog, I will share what we have in place now and will end with an image of the Commitment Letter to my wife and daughter.  If you would like a template to draft your own please email me.

We are not looking at this as consecutive weeks because we realize that life and family aligns with life and family situations.  However, we will be intentional in our sharing, our cause, our purpose, and our growth.

A major thanks to my brother Marlon Medious for pulling us together for this phenomenal training.  He is a true friend, confidant, and brother in the Gospel.

Blessings.

Untitled 11.jpeg

 

FireKeeper: A Voice for All Generations

Her name is Loretta Hawkins.  The People of Extraordinary Talent, to which she is a member, and Chicago’s poetry scene know her as FIREKEEPER.  Tonight I have the honor of capturing her event that will surely be a photo experience.

I met Loretta Hawkins 2 years ago when she joined the P.O.E.T family.  Her voice is second to none.  She holds her own weight, embodying the spirit of Harriett Tubman in “These Shoes”.  Her voice, hard, subtle, strong, melodious, and powerful.  She doesn’t have to work at grabbing the attention of any audience, it’s simply a gift that comes with her anointing.  She is a retired teacher but she has never stopped educating.

Tonight, at Gallery Guichard, located 436 E. 47th Street in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community, she will have a 3 Genres Book Signing.  This is a culminating event for her recent A Taste of Theater Award for her play “Of Quiet Birds”.

Loretta Hawkins is determined to utilize her remaining time on this earth to release books, poetry, plays, and inspire a young generation to embrace their heritage, their ancestry, their melanin, their history and their future.  Chicago’s best kept secret is no more and her work here is not done.  Today we celebrate a legend and I am honored to know that a fire of passion for life brews in all of us and FireKeeper is part of that Great Flame!

The Endurer
Photocred goes to the producer of the flyer for Loretta Hawkins.

7 Years…Part III-Final


I interviewed 5 times at the Noble Network of Charter Schools 7 years ago.  I remember going from cracking jokes at a friends house when my phone rang to instantly transforming into business mode.  It was my first call back from a job I applied for two weeks prior.  It was a 30 minute phone interview and the rest is history.

Fear kicked in.  I didn’t feel qualified for the job and was ready to turn down an opportunity that The Lord answered after all this time.  Strange how we so quickly revert back to that dark comfortable place.  Was I ready to rejoin the work force?  Yes.  Was I ready to work for this organization?  Based on the job description, no!  Yet, a sermon from my pastor on Sunday morning stated, “Who are you to close a door that God opened?  Don’t put him in your box, He’s way larger than it can hold.”

I started as a technology manager (not the listed title when I applied) in 2010.  I run hard. Earned the name Hulk Smash.  Won our first ever MVP award named the Hulk Smash Award.  I almost didn’t win.  My boss said I came close to losing because I didn’t develop a good work life balance.  I didn’t for the first five years but I am not hear to talk about all of that.

7 years later, I am the Director of Information Technology for the number one charter school in America.  I am faced with that same fear everyday.  I really don’t know how long this will last but I love where I am.  I have an uncanny devotion to people I work for and an uncanny devotion to my team members.  I am working to rebrand myself.  The Hulk Smash has to go. I have to become a master of so many corporate deals, policies, financials, terminology, and people management. 

A new challenge is upon me and it is unfamiliar, it is uncomfortable, it is uncertain.  Yet, I will do what I grow to do daily, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.  I am not sure what’s next for me but I know it’s beyond being a director of technology.  I am in a place where I get to impact African American and Latino American lives.  I am in a place where I get to work and see a very incredible organization do very incredible things.  I work with teachers I love, students I serve, principals I support, co-workers I would die for, chiefs I answer to, and a very special person who shall remain nameless.  He’s a man I have grown to admire, be unnerved by, challenged by, be supported by and ultimately to serve with.  Who would have thought a meeting at Starbucks would yield an opportunity to be Super.

A part of me is hesitant in this new role.  Yet, I have incredible people who support me, a former boss, a right and left arm at work, and an incredible team member who I hope to call friend one day with her critical feedback, insight, and precision.

7 years is said to be the year of completion, a time to move forward.  For Tony Briscoe, it is a time to grow and I am just getting warm.

Blessings.

Illinois: No Budget, New Laws

First, I give it up to ABC7Chicago.com for keeping Chicagoans informed.  I also want to give credit to Illinois Policy.  Their Facebook Page is my primary go-to for information regarding policies and politics that affects the good citizens, any not go good citizens, of Illinois.

I’m not going to list all of the new laws that initiate today.  I extracted the ones I felt pertinent after a review of the bills listed by ABC.  I’m also included links to each of those bills that will coincide with my initial thoughts.  A direct link to all Bill numbers searchable on ilga.gov can be found by clicking here.

  1. HB 5913:  This will largely have an impact on small business owners who for years ran a business as plumbers and outsourced and trained people to work with them who were capable of doing the work and worked in conjunction with this since they are licensed and bonded.  For those in the construction field, more than likely, their general contracting corporations will provide the training for them but this may not be so cut and dry for the little man as it may prohibit the execution of training options for those who are gifted and simply looking for work.
  2. HB 4517:  You’ll have to dig through this 58 page law in order to gather it’s full meaning.  You will see some previous parts of the law restricted (meaning they have lines drawn through certain paragraphs) that does eliminate the Center for Comprehensive Health Planning (links to a surface indication of what the CCHP was intended for but it’s fairly dated). It looks like it removes bureaucracy but those in the health care creation, planning and evaluation would be able to provide more insight.  The governor, with senate approval appoints the members from various demographics including doctors, nurses, business community on for and non profit sectors.  I do like that fact that a member has to be a regular citizen over 60.  Elderly healthcare and concerns should be noted.
  3. SB 1120.   Return rental equipment or pay the price for thievery. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Bottom line is people can’t afford to be lax when returning rented items.  This is more than likely a protection for SBO (Small Business Owners), that have little means of quickly replacing what customers have stolen.  Don’t get a felony and fine people. Rent it, return it!
  4. SB 2900:  APN’s and PA’s will finally get a seat at the table. Highly qualified and often unregarded work of those that work hand and hand with physicians on a daily basis have more authority to be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of the physicians they serve and the patients they work for.  I am banking this will lead to an increase in the field and a governing organization that will drive more roles and responsibilities for these great people.
  5. HB3239: If this gives our students more power to have an active voice on Local School Councils then I am all for it.  They should be able to engage their future and the future of their piers by being at the table.
  6. SB 2777:  This is a win for Juvenile Justice Advocates.  I hope there are more restorative efforts for young people in the inner-city as most rural juvenile offenses go unreported or privately dealt with when it’s public knowledge.  Hopefully the young people that find themselves on the opposite side of the law see this (and it should be publicized) as a second chance opportunity.
  7. HB 6006:  We need not lose any more State Troopers or citizens for failure to change lanes.  “Move trick, get out the way”.  Sorry, I had a hip hop moment.  Change lanes people.  Simple as that.  Beware of traps though, I can see the state using this even when it’s innocent and cars won’t permit you to pass.  After all, people can be rude.

Now, Bills I don’t care for and I’ll get dinged on this.

HB 4264:  This is an arrogance of legislature that baffles me.  It’s as arrogant as the governor mandating students be taught how to engage police officers.  Even with training, there is nothing under the law to protect cosmetologist, aestheticians, barbers, etc. from retaliation from families.  It’s a requirement that will subjectively, and one again, put pressure on the small business owners.  It would seem that the one area that is effectively staunch in the Black community is coming under indirect fire an assault of the legislature.  It has absolutely nothing to do with their profession. It’s almost like making an account doing family taxes a mandated reported, or a construction worker repairing a house that notices a bruise and has to become a mandated reporter.

I’m off my rant people, get educated, stay informed.  If you ready any of these bills one statement will resonate:

"Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:"

We can ill-afford to vote for people without knowing.  If they are making laws on our behalf, let’s ensure we are informed.

Happy New Year.  May 2017 be a year of information and community!

A Man of Passion: A Student Champion and Leader

IMG_6865.JPG

Vondale Singleton is a soul on a mission.  He is an associate minister at an active church on the south side of Chicago and has his hands embedded in the community.  He is an assistant principal of operations and community relations at a major charter school network in Chicago.  I meet him four years ago on a school visit as he was making his transition from Oklahoma to ChiTown.  He is a stellar husband and a glowing father of two, but his fatherhood extends way beyond his home.  Many of the young men he mentors in the city of Chicago look to him for guidance and instruction.  Whether he’s recruiting students for Gary Comer College Prep, A Noble Network Charter school and 2015 Broad Prize recipient, or running the C.H.A.M.P.S (Culturally Helping and Making Positive Success) Male Mentoring Program Vondale is committed to changing the culture of Chicago.  He’s beyond someone you should know.  He’s a man this city should invest in.  A few weeks ago he received what he perceived as a prank call.  It was king of the crossover, Chicago’s own Tim Hardaway.  “I heard what you’re doing and I want to help in anyway that I can.”  I asked my brother some very poised questions about what he envisions for Chicago.

  • You spent a great deal of time in Oklahoma working for KIPP, a great position building and solidifying their network infrastructure at the school you were located, why did you come back to your native Chicago? Although, I had a wonderful opportunity serving the city of Tulsa, and working at a great organization at KIPP Tulsa for 5 years, I was always called to come back to Chicago, because I always knew that my destiny was in my hometown.  When I would come back home to visit family and friends, I would hear of the gun-violence and stories about how the youth were off-the-chain, and I knew that God apprehended me to go back and be a light in the dark world of the inner-city of Chicago.
  • Mr. Singleton, you have spent an inhumane amount of hours with grieving families impacted by the violence in Chicago, what do you say to them?  It is appalling to know that we are leading the nation in murders. Furthermore, we see the majority of murders are from school-aged Black and Latino Males and often males without fathers in the home.  The thing that grieves me the most is instantaneous lost of 2 lives though 1 incident.  The victim and the murderer.  The victim’s family has to prepare a funeral, and the murderer family has to now visit them in prison.  These are both lose-lose situations, but the biggest lost is when a family has to deal with the reality of not getting their loved one back.  I realize that at any point it could be me or my family in this situation, so I never become desensitized to the fact of a family grieving and want them to know that they have me in their corner and I am willing to walk with them through this tumultuous process of bereavement.
  • The CHAMPS Male Mentoring Program has received national acclaim with being honored as a 2015 White House Film Festival awardee.  Kelly Wright of Fox News also came out and interviewed several students and staff members, why is this type of media coverage significant for Chicago? I want to dispel the narrative that all Black and Brown boys are gang-members, thugs, and cynical.  I decided that though the CHAMPS 3 E’s; Education, Empowerment, and Exposure, we wanted to show that through our own positive media, that we can compete with any people group anywhere on the planet in any academic arena, and that we have something great to offer the world.  Our young men deserve to turn on the TV and see themselves as important, powerful, and celebrated.  
  • Why is the June 4, Born 2 Win conference so important? I believe that this conference will help kick our summer off the right way, by involving the young men that it need the most.  This should be something that the whole world is behind.  I figured that if we can get 500 young men that will go into there respective communities, schools, and groups of influence then we can help empower a movement that will spark a necessary change our city and this nation needs.  
  • It’s not summer, Chicago has experienced more deaths than days of the year at current, how can hope be brought to the hopeless? There are three things I share with our young men. When we have facilities, resources, and finances then we are able to empower our community with a sense of hope.   We realize that part of the hopelessness is the institutionalized systems of racism and poverty.  When a man has a legal job, and is able to provide for his family it lessens the need to have to rob another man, it also occupies his time so that he isn’t left be the idle mind that bends towards evil.  We need more men stepping into the roles of fathers, and modeling how to overcome the negative influences of the streets, by capitalizing on opportunities.  Education is the greatest equalizer, with it you can go in any room and compete.  

Chicago is my kind of town.  When it’s violent we hear of the west or south sides of the city.  When it’s celebratory we hear of downtown.  Vondale is not only committed to changing the culture, he’s committed to changing the perception of African-American and Latino American students. He’s more than someone we should know, he’s someone we should be.

If you’d like to make a contribution to the C.H.A.M.P.S Born 2 Win conference, please email vsingleton@noblentwork.org or visit the Noble Network website to make a donation electronically and reference Born2Win-2016.

The Legacy, The Icon…Blaq Ice

He is an activist, writer, poet, artist, motivator, coach, entrepreneur, and father.  De’Andre Hawthorne, known as Blaq Ice, has been on the arts scene in Chicago since rapping and entertaining in his early days as a student at Simeon High School located on the south side of Chicago.  He is the founder of the award-winning International Spoken Word group named P.O.E.T (People of Extraordinary Talent).  Founded in 1990, P.O.E.T does various community service projects throughout the city and external of Chicago including chapters in Minneapolis, Detroit, Michigan City, and Las Vegas. P.O.E.T visits battered-women shelters, public schools, hospitals, parades, community rallies, and various other community events as part of their call to heal the world “one word at a time.”  Their membership includes people from all walks of life and religious beliefs.  Their focus on community, mentoring, and social equity drives them.

Under his leadership, many poets and spoken word artist have become published authors, have released music, and gained local notoriety.  The annual A.C.E Tech High School sleep over held on May 14, 2016, was a major success.  But as always with recognition comes trials, ups, and down.  I chopped it up with the P.O.E.T CEO, entrepreneur, and community activist this morning to engage the mind of one of Chicago’s own.

1.  Why is P.O.E.T so important to Chicago and beyond?

As you know, over the years, Chicago has increased in gun violence, so much so that we have as many murders as of May 2016 as there are days in the year so far. What P.O.E.T brings to the table inspires teens to make positive choices and decisions. Not only have are mentorship programs been effective in Chicago, but all across this nation. When you see those whom we have mentored become mentors, at that moment our mission and motto become complete. Our Motto is “Changing The World, One Heart, One Mind, One Word At A Time.”

2.  There seemed a time in 2012-2015 there was a lot of tensions amongst poets and groups with a lot of that social media hostility directed towards you.  How were and are you able to maintain, still be you, and not retaliate?

I war not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. There will always be those who hate what they don’t understand.  Jesus had haters so you know I’m not exempt. However, in order to be a leader you have to love those whom you lead more than they hate themselves. I don’t retaliate because as a leader I have to be the example, besides, my city (Chicago) has a problem, so my fight and my war is against the violence on my people by my people.

3.  What do you think is lacking from African-Americans with all the violence in our communities?

My people are destroyed by lack of knowledge. The knowledge of God and our true identity (Israel) has caused so-called African-Americans to carry the label of MADE IN AMERICA. God created us, but America made niggers. So as many young people as we can reach and teach the truth to, it will enable us to help to save the future generations to come.

4.  I have seen you on Fox News often addressing some of the issues with violence.  Why is local community activism a must narrative for African-Americans?

People are tired of talk, that’s why activism is important. The root of the word activism is ACT and actions speak louder than words. Our youth wants to know that they are loved and appreciated. Spending time, sharing what connects us (our stories) with them, allows them to feel comfortable opening up, releasing that buried hurt and pain. Once they release, we can replace the hurt and dirt with positive spirits.

5.  30 years, 19 albums, 4 published volumes of poetry, business owner; what’s next for Blaq Ice?

I love art, entertainment, and poetry.  If my existence on this earth doesn’t help change or save lives, then my living is in vain. Yes, I will release more albums and books, but the entertainment platform allows me to use a bigger stage to reach more people. It’s all about developing programs that will continue to exist beyond our own existence.

We are already seeing other poetry groups follow our lead, doing the very things that P.O.E.T was once criticized about in arts, entertainment, and social activism. We have already inspired others who are recreating what we are doing and have done. I believe the programs I have created such as the P.O.E T, the A.C.T.I.O.N Mentorship program, P.O.E.T RADIO, The TYRONE HAWTHORNE CANCER Scholarship, The P.O.E.T TEEN IDOL, Stand Up, and The Legends of Chicago Hip Hop will continue to exist in some form or fashion even after I’m gone.

Surely Chicago will see more of one of its greatest entertainers.   To reach out to P.O.E.T and learn more about the organization please visit their website.

PARCC to Prison ~ One Aspect of Standardized Testing

There is no doubt that test are required in this world.  We have them everyday of our lives be them via academia or life, test are glued to the fabric of our makeup.  Standardized testing, however, has taken on a new face throughout the country in the form of PARCC testing.  CPS and ISBE clashed last school year but ultimately CPS buckled with threats of losing serious funding.  You should also note that the FEDS limited E-Rate funding across the country causing many school districts to front the money for new infrastructure projects.

In the Chicago Tribune a staggering look at the results of PARCC (first glance) has given a dark look at the pending results that we were told “didn’t matter”.  It wasn’t enough that PARCC was partially administered in conjunction with other state mandated exams which added to the pressure of academic success for our children, but also the amount of instruction time that was lost during this “trial” that no teacher was satisfied with are gone forever.  I’m all for change.  Many people in this day and age are all for change.  We need to change how we teach and engage our students.  We can either continue down a path of “teaching to the test to prove” or “teaching to the heart to learn”.

PARCC to Prison is a very strong statement but it’s one that I will stand by.  We can’t have a common core when we have African and Latino American’s that don’t live common lives, don’t live in common communities, and surely don’t have common technology.  We are consistent as a country and driving a level playing field without fully understanding the socio-economic impact in some communities neighborhoods.  Our Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP CODE) has lead to a path of isolation, discrimination and manipulation.  Don’t believe for a second that some Prison Industrial Complex investor is not sitting in some boardroom planning the next land development project scope for a penitentiary.  If factual that they base future incarceration off 3rd Grade reading scores then they will do more to ensure a community stays barren and economically depraved to indirectly force our young people to make decisions that are not in their best interest.  It’s only part of the picture but still part of the plan.

Don’t twist my words, I actually worked with my daughter on PARCC but as a technologist when I sat down and began to engage it on a high school level I felt cheated.  Granted I’m in my 40’s and had a long route through my academic journey, I was in junior college at 35 taking basic algebra with students that just finished high school.  Scary thought, right?!

PARCC is about thinking before the answer; it’s about cognitive mathematics and learning the thought process of a solution without guessing an answer.  At the end of the day standardized testing sends a message of, “you’re just not smart enough”.  Unfortunately we are PARCC’d on the wrong side and when politicians decide they know how to teach students better than educators we slide down a very slippery slope and more than likely African-Americans and Latino-Americans will end up on the short end of the exam!