Tennessee’s Smallest Urban District Needs Speedy Turnaround for Distressed Schools

According to an article in the Times Free Press, Hamilton County Public Schools is in peril and what happens to children anywhere in Tennessee matters to all Tennesseans. Recently released state test scores show the district produced the lowest possible score in all areas but one. It doesn’t matter if you are not a fan of the type of assessment, standardized testing as a whole, or the robust reliance on high-stakes tests — results are results. We have them and must respond swiftly.

The district’s low performance certainly warrants the attention this article offers, but it misses a critical point that must be addressed. Though the writer points out disparities in performance among schools, he failed to spotlight the characteristics of the higher performing and lower performing schools.

Based on the 2015-2016 State Report Card, the student population at schools performing at the lower end is comprised of 90% or more students of color and high poverty. Meanwhile, the higher performing schools listed in the article are majority white students and minimal poverty. This narrative plays over and over again in school systems across the nation as schools with large vulnerable populations tend to have high concentrations of ineffective and/or the least experienced teachers, minimal parent engagement, a revolving door for principals, and little belief in the kids with the greatest needs.

We must be honest about the disparities among schools and groups of students. To bury or ignore this information is dishonest reporting and parents deserve better.

Incidentally, I have high hopes for the embattled district with its new superintendent Bryan Johnson who, by all accounts, was a strong leader in Clarksville/Montgomery County. Expecting a change in trajectory for our Chattanooga babies.

Read the Times Free Press article in its entirety.

 

As Summer Fades, Education Stories in Tennessee Heat Up and Urban Districts Are on the Hot Seat

And all at once summer collapsed into fall. – Oscar Wilde

I seriously cannot keep up with all the stuff going on in edu-world today – like Wednesday today, not the universal today. I’ve scrolled through a number of articles that forced a pause only to be preempted by the next pause-worthy story. It seems a perfect storm of good-to-great and bad-to-worse is converging upon us as the school year settles in and long-awaited test scores make an appearance. Let’s dig in, shall we?

A bit of good news…

Nashville’s crack edu-watcher and writer Zack Barnes recently went on a data bender and tweeted out the amazing growth outcomes for many of our schools – traditional and charter. The most fascinating chart shows a list of schools achieving the greatest growth (level 5) for the 2016-2017 school year.

Screenshot 2017-09-20 at 10.51.35 AM

Great for these schools!

Note to ponder: every level 5 performing school on this list is a magnet or charter except for the dual-enrollment Middle College.

Follow @zbarnes for more chart love!


Not so good news…

Did you see the story “Regular Public School Teachers Miss More School Than Charter School Teachers?” 

A study performed by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that on average traditional public school teachers miss 10 more of school than charter school teachers. The EdWeek article explores two possible reasons for this gap in teachers showing up to work — collective bargaining and school culture.

Screenshot 2017-09-20 at 9.57.47 AM

Teachers in traditional public schools are protected by unions that negotiate sick leave while the majority of charters are not unionized. For instance, Tennessee’s teachers are greatly protected by the Tennessee Education Association (MNEA in Nashville) while not one of Tennessee’s charter schools has union influence. Could that be the reason our traditional public school teachers miss 25.3% of school while charter teachers miss 7.6%?

Of the 6,900 charter schools nationally, about 1 in 10 have teachers’ unions. According to the report, 18 percent of teachers in unionized charter schools are chronically absent. It’s about half that in charter schools without unions.

Culture is the other possible explanation. Charter schools pride themselves on creating a culture of exceedingly high expectations for students, parents, and faculty.

Teachers who work in charters “agree to go there as an at-will employee in most cases,” said Miller, who once served as a president of his local teachers’ union in Palo Alto, Calif. “This means you’re buying into a school culture and a way of doing business. That doesn’t include the elaborate leave policies you can often find in a collective bargaining agreement.”

But the million dollar question is “does teacher chronic absenteeism affect student achievement?” The article briefly touches on a study by Raegan Miller, a Georgetown University researcher quoted in the article, that concludes math students fall behind and are less engaged when their teacher is chronically absent. I’m no researcher, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest the “less engaged” part of his conclusion is pretty important.

For the past two years, Tennessee (and Nashville, specifically) has been plotting and planning to triage the chronic absenteeism problem within our schools — for students. Maybe they are following the examples set before them? Don’t misunderstand me, parents need to be sure their child is in her seat, but if we have a problem with teachers showing up, then let’s make it, too, a prominently acknowledged and measured indicator for student success.


Downright ugly…

But most students in three of the state’s four largest districts — in Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga — aren’t growing academically as they should, and neither are those in most of their “priority schools” in the state’s bottom 5 percent.

Tragically, the districts with the greatest number of vulnerable students are not growing. Hamilton County has gotten unwanted attention after scoring ones across-the-board except in one area. There is no shortage of articles about Memphis and their academic struggles, but Nashville has avoided the spotlight – until now.

Screenshot 2017-09-20 at 11.07.00 AM

An overall score of one is a sure-fire way to regain exposure – whether you want it or not.

Admittedly, I’ve been generous to the district that educated my entire family and helped me provide a nice life for us. Additionally, working hard every day are Metro School staffers I care for deeply making it more difficult for me to call foul when foul clearly needs to be screamed.

But where I’ve failed to acknowledge weaknesses in our district, fellow blogger Thomas Weber of Dad Gone Wild (norinad10) has been on the case- for years. While we tend to see things differently, I understand the importance of respecting different points of view

You never know, there might come a time when the two points of view converge.

Screenshot 2017-09-20 at 11.38.56 AM

No One Can Explain Widening Wage Gap Between Blacks and Whites And The Elephant in the Room Is Not Happy

Last week The Washington Post published on its opinion page the most infuriating piece I’ve read in a long time. The opinion-piece by Robert Samuelson titled “The growing black-white wage gap is growing — and it’s scary” is, dare I say, scary.

The basis for Samuelson’s opinion-piece is a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco which offers five possible reasons why black men earn only 70% of white men’s earnings (down from 80% a few short years ago) and black women earn only 82% of what white women earn:

  1. Education
  2. Age
  3. Geography
  4. Occupation/industry
  5. Part-time status

The reasons are quantifiable and academic potentially protecting the study from any real resistance, but, disappointingly, before things get kicked off in the study, the researchers concede failure in identifying an explanation for the consistently widening wage gap:

Especially troubling is the growing unexplained portion of the divergence in earnings for blacks relative to whites.

Samuelson acknowledges the San Francisco study’s failure to explain the growing gap and cites an earlier study published by Federal Reserve economists out of D.C. that offers an entirely different set of possibilities for the “unexplained” increased in the wage gap since 1979.

  1. Blacks are undereducated
  2. Black men are incarcerated at higher rates
  3. Outright discrimination (ya think?)

The economists in both studies go out of their way to blame black people for their own unemployment, underemployment, and poor and disparate salaries. Unfortunately, Samuelson falls in lockstep with the blame game with his repeated use of “unexplained” refusing to acknowledge the truth of structural racism that feeds our education and criminal justice systems and fails to call out the cognitive dissonance of those bleeding hearts who talk about diversity but fail to walk it.

I get it — it’s difficult to quantify something as insidious as structural racism or the discriminatory thoughts of those with the power and means to hire. But just because we can’t (or won’t) attach percentages to the generational barriers many are born up against, doesn’t mean they are not there. Any failure to acknowledge this American-bred construct dissolves all credibility.

A final exasperating thought from the article:

Another hypothesis — consistent with poor schooling — is that employers value achievement, as measured by test scores, as much as degrees, says economist Harry Holzer of Georgetown University, chief economist of the Labor Department in the Clinton administration. “There are big racial gaps in achievement” that could be depressing black wages. “But we really don’t know,” he says.

Nationally, our public school system is plagued with low-performing schools churning out underperforming students and dropouts often leading to incarceration, unplanned families, and poverty. We are all well-educated about the evils of this cycle, yet we allow it, and then lay blame to the products of it. 

giphy-downsized

Read the full opinion piece– if you can stomach it.

 

1,012 Nashville Public Charter School Parents Resolve to Stand Up, Speak Up, and Lift Up

At tonight’s school board meeting, a letter signed by 1,012 charter school parents was distributed to each school board member and the director of schools demanding a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T – again.

You may remember last Spring’s letter to the editor signed by 374 charter school parents respectfully requesting to be held in the same regard as other public school parents. The heartfelt plea for basic respect ultimately became mocking material for a school board member.

Well, this is the “hold my beer” version. And they are not playing… PowerUP!


September 12, 2017

To the Metro Nashville Public School Board and Dr. Shawn Joseph:

We are signing this letter as 1,012 representatives of the thousands of parents across
Davidson County who have chosen to send their children to Nashville’s public charter
schools. Our children attend every public charter school in Nashville: East End Prep,
Explore!, Intrepid College Prep, KIPP Academy Nashville, Knowledge Academies, LEAD
Public Schools, Nashville Classical, New Vision Academy, Purpose Prep, RePublic
Schools, Rocketship, Smithson-Craighead Academy, STEM Prep, Strive Collegiate
Academy and Valor Collegiate Academies.

Some of us signed a letter last spring asking for the public charter-focused attacks from
some of your members to stop and for you, our elected school board, to come together and focus on making all Nashville schools excellent.

Since that time we, along with many of our fellow public charter school parents, have been dismayed to see that on June 27, 2017, you were unable (or unwilling) to pass a resolution committing to treat us, our children and our public schools with the same respect as the rest of Nashville’s schools.

And so, as we begin another school year with our children enrolled in MNPS Public Charter Schools, we have come together to proudly support our public charter schools and to send to you a resolution of our own.

Here are OUR commitments related to the education of our children:
We resolve to stand up. We will continue to stand up for our children and for our right to choose the education that best fits their needs. Across our city, families exercise choice every time they buy a home, complete an application, or look at magnet schools. Choice schools that partner with families, offer transportation, and engage communities deserve recognition rather than scorn.
We resolve to speak up. Parents in Nashville deserve to know about the great work happening in our schools and to know that they, too, have choices. Leaders in Nashville deserve to know about our system’s bright spots. We will continue to ask this Board to recognize that our children and families are part of this district and, in many cases, our schools are among the district’s strongest.
We resolve to lift up. Our children deserve to know that their socioeconomic status DOES NOT and WILL NOT define their ability to learn. Our elected officials should use their bully pulpit to highlight what is possible for our city’s most vulnerable children and families. Likewise, we believe that the conversation about schools needs to change. We will model civility by respecting diverse viewpoints, using facts to support our beliefs, and operating with humble spirits. We resolve to never resort to name calling, partial-truths, or libelous attacks.

We hope that our commitments set forth here will inspire you to make a similar commitment to do the job you were each elected to do. We look forward to seeing you commit to a focus on ensuring that ALL Nashville children have the ability to attend great public schools. We look forward to the day when a public school family knows that they can make the best choice for their children without receiving the worst treatment from our elected officials.

Thank you.

1,012 Proud Nashville Public Charter School Parents

Martha Abarca
Salwa Abbas
Abay Abdalla
Nadia Abdalla
Adan Abdi Kokani
Lamees Abdul Shaheed
Bieri Abdulah
Daisy Aboagye
Ebalo Abonga
Dirie Abshir
Muhubo Adan
Edna Adana
Mohamed Aden
Stephani Adkins
Lilian Adqui
Guadalupe Aguilar
Sergio Aguilar
Eman Ahmed
Claudia Ahuet
Kauther Ajaj
Nnodi Ajoku
Gabrielle Akins
Zainar Alaqqad
Delmira Albanez
Ericka Alexander
Saadia Ali
Hibo Ali
Shamso Ali
Whitney Allen
Takiesha Allen
Alisha Allen

Zeinab AlQadree
Ashwak Alrazak
Jassim Alsarhan
Faris Altamimi
Erika Alvarado
Angela Alvarado
Maria Alvarez
Edna Alvarez
Patty Alvarez
Samer Amer
Melissa Amrhein
Hawa Amuri
Natashia Andrews
Lisa Andrews-Young
Marcia Anthony
Dominique Appleton
Sandra Aquilar
Isabel Aranda
Elsa Arevalo
Maria Argentina Calderon
Hidalgo
Amron Ari
Hayde Arias
Alene Arnold
Leticia Arredondo
Maria Asela Sanchez
Ocampo
Kathy Ashworth
Kelly Astolos
Francisca Avila
Hany Ayad

Maricruz Ayala
Manel Azer
Heba Aziz
Kalvin Baker
Kathy Baker
Neyvi Balderas
Kara Baldwin
Alexandra Ball
Tomorrow Ballard
Mustefa Bame
Hassan Bangura
Brittany Barbe
Jessica Barefield
Nichelle Barksdale
Laura Barnes
Brittany Barnes
Laura Barnes
Cira Barranco
Veronica Barrera
Carla Barrios Benitez
Barsoum Barsoum
Hanan Basaly
Gopi Basnet
Kenya Bass
Hanaa Basta
Gwendolyn Battiste
Lara Bauchiero
Ashley Baxter
Brenda Bean
Jasmine Bean
Leslie Becker

Tawharrah Behar
Doneisha Bell
Rashad Bell
LaVonda Bell
Jennifer Bender
Yolanda Bernal
Maria Bernale
Veronda Berry
LeQuesha Berry
Claria Bertran
Simon Besada
Aileen Biete
Katashia Bigsby
Miranda Bills
Rebekah Bitzer
Ryan Bitzer
Jeremiah Bivins
Jessica Bivins
Marquita Black
Robyn Blake
Erika Blanco
Ebonie Bluing
Brittani Boleyjack
Jacqueline Booker
Phillip Booker
Faustine Borranco
Samia Botan
Chasity Boyd
Jomekia Braden
Kameron Brainard
Jaronda Braithwaite
Kimberly Branch
Evelia Bravo
Christopher Brenner
Jacqueline Brewster
Lee Broadwell
Melissa Broadwell
Ebony Brodie
Angel Brooks
Courtland Brooks-James
Ashaunda Brown
Sada Brown

Chenera Brown
Jennifer Brown
Amanda Brown
Tangia Bryant
William Bryant
LaToya Bryant
Paige L. Buchanon
DeAngelo Buford
Shiwshia Buford
Cornelia Buntin
Melanie Burnett
Jadia Burns
Lesly Buruca Garcia
Samera Busally
Terri Bush
LeKiecia Butler
Angela Butler
Blanca Calderon
Golding Calix
Eastern Campbell
Kendra Campbell
Trudy Campbell
Tonya Campbell
Sonia Campos
Berneice Cansino
Claudia Cardenas
Dane Carder
Danielle Carder
Jennifer Carlisle
Sandy Carrillo Santos
Morecca Carter
Lemeka Caruthers
Bany Castillo
Gyovanna Castillo
Ana Castillo
Ana Rosa Castro
Maria Chacon
Rose Chamber
Brittany Chapman
Taneshia Chase
Liliana Chavarria
Oralia Chaverria Lopez

Maria Guadalupe Chavez
Teresa Chavez
Teddy Chuquimia
Lillian Cisneros
Erwin Citavez
Andrea Clark
Takarra Clark
Patricia Clark
Shalisa Clayd
Maria Coceros
Tosha Colas
Leslii Congden
Erica Conn
Antonio Contreras
Franklin Corea
Maria Cornejo
Krista Correnti
Brittany Cosby
Gennyfer D. Coss
Jessica Couch
Robert Covington
LaWanda J. Crawford
Andre Crenshaw
LaCrisha Crooms
Christina Crump
Tandrea Crump
Hector Cruz
Pablo Cruz
Ismael Cruz
Virginia Cruz
Maria Cruz Gomez
Margarita Cruz Rodriguez
Silvia Cuellar
Martha Cuellar
Latoya Curly
Antonio Damian
Kellie Dandridge
Roashanda Daniels
Rashonda Daniels
Monica Davidson
Natasha Davidson
Cherielle Davis

Tamekia Davis
Tysheka Davis
Ebony Davis
Kanitha Davis
Esteban De Jesus
Juan Luis de la Cruz
Nancy de Leon
Udom Deu
Mulu Deyo
Maria Diaz
Patricia Diaz
Kim Dickens
Veronika Dickerson
Hamima Dida
Frank Dirr
Twilia Dixon
Breonna Dockins
Devonte Dockins
Cornelio Domingo
Ema Dominguez
Robert Donaldson, Jr
Sherreese Dones
Josephine Donkor
Cheryl Donnell
Natasha Dorsey
Mike Douglas
Sherry Douglas
Shani Dowell
Shannon Dowell
Kristen Downs
Nataleigh Drew
Latoya Dudley
Brittany Duke
Tara Dulin
Heather Dunn
Michelle Durham
Areej Dwikat
Ashley Eades
Kareem Ebied
Philopos Ebrahim
Jason Egly
Kelley Eguakun

Kareen Eleied
Dora Elias
Nevy Ellis
Bernadette Ellsworth
Josh Elrod
Daysi Elvir
Myra Emerton
Tabitha Emerton
Mwangabwoba Jean
Emmanuel
Nakia Esaw
Maribel Espinoza
Denia Espinoza
Gladys Estrada
Crystal Evans
Jennifer Evans
Angel Ewing
Farag Fahim
Anna Fahrenholz
John Fahrenholz
Aida Faltus
Rahma Farah
Neven Fares
Tony Farr
Dan Favors
Veda Favors
Andrea Fenderson
Jateka Ferguson
Irma Fernandez
Sara Fernandez
Ethan Fesperman
Dakini Fields
Curtis Fields
Alexandria Figueroa
Jamie Fischer
Monique Fisher
Valerie Fisher
Megan Fitchuk
Jeana Fletcher
Chelsea Florence
Esmerelda Flores
Tina Flores

Ana Flores
Norma Flores
D. Van Ford
Tracy Foster
Seda Franchesa
Derrick Free
Gloribel Fuentes Avalos
Fawzy Gad
Antronica Gaines
Ahi Galal
Rozhan Galnasky
Fabiolo Garcia
Gladis Garcia
Jaqueline Garcia
Kamisha Garcia
Maria Garcia
Adriano Garcia
Abraham Garcia
Maricela Garcia
Yurisa Garcia
Yadira Garcia
Tenisha Gardner
Hortencia Gareia
Alejandra Garibay Ramirez
Jennifer Garner
Javier Garrido Carrasco
Seife Gashaw
Michael Gatson
Abdulameir Gaudan
Tesfaye Gebisso
Samya Gerges
Rasha Gerges
Mariana Gergis
Zara Ghaderi
Rozalen Ghaly
Maria Gijon Jimenez
Leah Gillen
Ronnie Givens
Grace Gleaves
Shaunese Gleaves
Courtney Glenn
Norys Godos

Huda Gold
Concepcion Gomez
Rebecca Gomez
Concepcion Gomez
Guzman
Ana J. Gonsales
Yelitza Gonzales
Hector Gonzalez
Juana Gonzalez
Margiana Gonzalez
Reyna Gonzalez
Hilda Gonzalez
Zaira Gonzalez
Melinda E. Goodwin
Victoria Gordon
Tabitha Gordon
Dwight Gordon II
Judy K. Gower
Mayra Gracia
Milton Gray
Christina Greer
Felix Gresham
Esmeralda Guereca
Angelica Guerra Garcia
Dolores Guevera
Maria Guillen
Francisco Guzman
Vaneska H
Angel Habib
Ahmad Haidous
Chinee Hall
Dante Hall
Tikiana Hall
Lakesha Hall
Beonke Hambrick
Rocquel Hambrick
Manal Hanna
Leisa Hans
Bethany Hanserd
Bethany Hanserd
Sherickea Hardison
Ebony Harris

Tamica Harris
John Harris
Lashonda Harris
Taylor Harris
Layla Hasan
Farhiyo Hashi
Zahra Hassan
Heath Hatcher
Monica Haugabook
Minnie Hawkins
Jennifer Hayes
Ebenezer Hayford
Tremayne Haymer
George T. Haynes
Jodi Hays Gresham
Carlice Hendrix
Maggie Hendrix
Johanna Hern
Emilio Hernandez
Elizabeth Hernandez
Enriqueta Hernandez
Leticia Hernandez
Maria Hernandez
Amanda Hernandez
Juan Hernandez Sebastian
Soada Hersi
James W Hewlett
Tomeka Hicks
Curtis Hickson
Lee-Ann Higgins
Michael Higgins
Sandra Hill
Mamawah Hill
Brittany A. Hill
Jordan Hines
Angelica Hinojosa Cordero
Simone Hodges
Virginia Holland
Jasmine Holmes
Maria Honorato
Celina Hortado
Jeralyn Horton

Tina Houck
Jason Howarth
Aidan Hoyal
Sade Huddleston
Brittany Hudson
Eustalia Huerta
Shericka Hughes
Keenan Humphrey
Shirelle Humphrey
Fatima Hunter-Brown
Shwan Hussein
Alicianiah Hussein
Yousef Husseini
Alondra Ibanez Martinez
Monica Illescas Palma
Zyara Intisar
Latoya Isaacs
Mariam Ishak
Mahabad Jabbary
Jennifer Jackson
Adrienne James
Donna Jean-Jumeau
Sherae Jefferson
Amor Jimenez
Celia Jimenez
Kendra Johnson
LaTori Johnson
Wykisha Johnson
Tearra Johnson
Chandra Johnson
Danielle Johnson
LaTasha Johnson
Tarleshia Johnson
Tiffany Johnson
Xavier Johnson
Christina Johnson
Joyce Johnson-Gardner
Adele Johnson-Kebe
Crystal Jones
Rochelle Jones
James Jones
Lisa Jones

Torean Jones
Kelvin Jones
Ki’Dejah Jones
Tira Jones
Arita Jones
Felton Jones Jr.
Joycelyn Jordan
Fanta Kallon
Elizabeth Keeler
Patrice Kendrick
JaTavia Kennedy
Teya Kergo
Krystal Keys
LaTonya King
Latonya King
Desiree King
Jackie Klaver
Tara Knight
Mohammed Kokoy
Kofi Kutten
Ebenezer Kwaw-Mensah
Ester Labeb
Halima Labi
Luis Lago
Chiquita Lambert
Cynthia Lamptey
Nii Lamptey
Kayla Lamson
Barbara Lane
Laura LaPrad
Louis LaPrad
German Lara Paredes
Guillermo Larrea
Bassima Lassin
Gaylene Latham
Jason Latham
Myrtesa Lawrence
Shenika Lawrence
Robbie Laymon
Evelin C Lazo
Kelly Lebel
Heather Lee

Kelli Lee
Monterey Lee, Sr.
Shamakia Legges- Lyons
Kris Leggett
Teresa Leggs
Iris Lemus
Karla Leon
Lovie Lester
Natalie Levi-Sousan
Kenia Leyva
Natividad Leyva
Deb Linn
Sarah Litten
Megan Long
Yesenia Lopez
Anayeli Marcia Lopez
Fanny Lopez
Fatima Lopez
Liliana Lopez
Brenda Lopez
Elizabeth Louie
Michael Love
Abigail Lozano
Carina Lozano
Reyna Lozano
Manuel Lozano
Celia Luna
Blanca Luna
Erica Lyons
Margarita Magdaleno
Aldigani Mahamud
Naseema Mahmoud
Kenia Mairena
Irma Maldonado
April Malone
Jose Mancilla
Sheena Maness
Irene Maqueda
Kesha March
Tomika Marks
Maria Marrufo
Lori Marsh

Carly Marshall
Carla Marshall
Geneva Martin
Ashlie Martin
Kathy Martin
Katy Martin
Jorge Martinez
Anwor Marzouk
Shaun Mason
Jude Mason
Stephen Mason
Hanan Masoud
Yossay Matos
Andreus Matthews
Natashia Matthews
Helen Matusala
Shaleeta McAdoo
Angela McCorkle
Kristi McDougal
Kate McGowan
Alisa McKissack
Tiffany McKnight
Sheron McLaurine
Shaneka McLemore
Jade McMath
Brent McMillian
Marcy McMillian
Esther McNeil
Nesreen Mechil
Elida Medina
Robyn Meeks
Ana Melgar
Jorge Melgar
Sandra Mendoza
LaShurida Meredith
Jim Messer
Rob Metcalf
Blair Metcalf
Nely Meza Lagunes
Michael Milad
Jamal Miles
Leslie Miles

Stephanie Miller
Jennifer Miller
Cecilia Miller
Heriberto Miranda
Shaka Mitchell
Stephanie Mitchell
Austin Mitchell
Leslie Mitchell
Tina Mitchell
LaNeise D. Mitchell-Hayes
Dionna Mobley
Janet Mobry
Merima Mohammed
Abdulqadir Mohammed
Muriu Moldanado
Carmen Molina
German Molina
Avikki Monts
Maria A. Moore
Anjanette Moore
Aaronnetta Moore
Anita Moore
Dedrick Moore
Marquita Moore
Tamecia Moore
Rachel Moore-Beard
Leautrice Moorer
Bertha Morales
Rosa Morales
Juan Morales
Karina Moran
Claudia Moreno
Maria Moreno
Akram Morkos
Hanan Morkos
Nicole Morris
Mary Morris
Soheir Mosad
Charasma Moseley
Amina Muhamed
Ashley Muller
Aracely Munguia Lopez

Araceli Munoz Pastrana
Claire Munyankindi
Ahmed Musonera
Jim Myers
Shemekia Myles
Mona Nady
Deepa Najhawan
Lisett Naranjo
Amir Nashed
Mariem Nashed
Dulce Navarro
Georgia Nawa Moreno
Elizabeth Neese
Bethany Neff
Sean Neff
LaDontae Nelson
Lovena Nevato
Phuong Nguyen
Piper Niemann
Anna Niemeyer
Lois Nixon
Rosemary Nkrumah
Mattie Nowlin
Martina Nunez
Mariama Nur
Desiree O’Neill
Issac Oakley
Guadalupe Ochoa
Alysa Ogbeiwi
LeKeisha Oglesby
Aderinsola Okunola
Vincent Onuoha
Ada Ordonez
Lucina Orellana
Ismael Ortiz
Maria Ortiz
Anna Ostrander
Anyson Overton
Michael Overton Sr.
Pat Oyinloye
Celsa Pacheca Trejo
Sharon Paoletta

Antonio Paredes
Sabrina Parker
Lakresha Parker
Bernice Parker
Dominiqutria Parker
Jeff Parker
Onya Parker
Tyrone Parker
Dan Parr
Riya Patel
LeToi Patillo
Arcola Patterson
Sheri Patterson
Kam Pau
Tishana Paulson
Maria Paz
Adriana Pena
Denitha Pendergrass
Lucinda Penney
Aretina Perez
Oliverio Perez
Leocadia Perez
Maria G. Perez
Shemika Perkins
Henry Perkins
Stacie Perry
Terica Peyton
Betty Phetsomphou
Aiden Phillips
Ashley Phillips
Khourimy Phinith
Pamela Pineda
Joao Pinho
Teresah Pinho
Tiffany Pinson
Brenden Pittman
Annie Poag
Corinthian Pointer
Concepcion Ponce
Elia Ponce
Porsha Pope
Zachary Pope

Eric Pope II
Denise Potter
Ashlee Pride
Yadira Prieto
LeSondre’ Proctor
Stephanie Proctor
Mohamed Qasim
Grace Quagraine
Maria I. Quintero
Carlos Ramirez
Lucia Ramirez Jimenez
Yasmin Ramirez Perez
Jose Ramos
Megan Ramos
Evelin Rangel
Jennifer Rauch
Kakali Ray
Jessica Reaves
Orfa Recinos
Karen Reyes
Maria Reyes
Ana Reyes
Elizabeth Reyes
Esthela Reyes Ochoa
Michelle Reyna
Chris Reynolds
Gwen Reynolds
Jessica Ricalday
Jeaneen Richard
Alisha Richardson
Shataria Richardson
Zaquito Richardson
Nick Ridings
Princecilla Ridley
Sandra Riley
Nancy Rios
Elurdes Rios Robles
Rafaela Rivas
Vicenta Rivas
Jose Rivera
Concepcion Rivera
Gerson Rivera

Kelita Rivera Valera
Juana Rivera- Soledad
Lashanda Robbins
Lesha Roberts
Leslie Roberts
Erica Roberts
Ron Roberts
Darlene Robertson
Darlene Robertson
Kimberly Robinson
Charlie Robinson
Alma Robles
Patricia Rocher
Augusto Rodriguez
Veronica Rodriguez
Yanet Rodriguez
Maria Rodriguez
Cindy Rodriguez
Celia Rodriguez
Estela Rodriguez
Jennifer Rogers
Stephanie Rogers
Jose Luis Roman
Alma Romero
Angelica Romero
Maria Romero
Marisol Romero
Rosario Romero
Carlos Romero
Kimberlyn Rose
Lemicah Ross
Lisa Rowan
Mischa Rowland
Sheila Rowland
Ambera Rudquist
Gladis Ruiz
Mariela Ruiz
Narketta Russell
Fredricka Russell
Christopher Rust
Kristina Rust
Tracey Rutherford

Nieves Saavedra
Emmanuel Safari
Fathi Saied
Vasace Sails
Mariam Saleh
Modjie Salmeron
Julie Salyers
Mariano Sana
Eva Sanchez
Lorena Sanchez
Marta Sanchez
Sandra Sanchez
Yanira Sandoval
Gisela Sarabia
Luisa Sawyers
Kathryne Scates
Crystal Schwartz
Julie Schwarz
Tim Schwarz
Dana Scott
Michael Scruggs
Teressa N Seabrook
Alisha Seay
Tabitha Sekura
Jeff Sellers
Tammy Sellers
Julio E. Serano
Noheny Serrano
Veronica Serrano Salinas
Tracey Settles
Reham Shafik
Ron Shaw
Rebecca Shaw
Mervat Shehata
Shanna Shelton
Suzan Shenouda
Tameka Short
LaQuita Shute
Martha Sierra
Francisco Sierra
Araceli Silva
Rose Simmons

Allison Simpson
Susie Simpson
Ethel Simpson
Harry Simpson
Carmen Sims
Amber Smiley
Larry Smith
Theresa Smith
Renita Smith
Tiffany Smith
Jennifer Smith
Jeanette Smith
Nancy Smith
Natasha Smith
Tyrone Smith
Brent Snader
Melinda Snader
Tashi Sneed
Wanda Sneed
Elizabeth Snellings
LaQuisha Soles
Arleth Solis
Isidra Soriano
Fabiola Soto
Alaina Southall
Andre Southall
Williera Sowell
Shade’ Spencer
Romeka Starks
Pamela Staten
Elizabeth Stein
Brandi Stevens
Tarrius Steverson
Latiaa Stewart
Keyonna Stewart
Dorothy Stewart
Renee Stewart
Michelle Stewart
Jerrisha Stockard
Katherine Stone
Reginald Stone
Jennifer Stone

Sherrill Stratford
Keshia Strickland
Dominique Summers
Bonssa Sura
Teresa Swain
Dominique Swanson
Ashley Sweatt
Teade Tagaloa
Shahrazad Taha
Brian Talley
Griselda Tapia
Kim Tatum
Melody Palmer Taylor
Angela Taylor
Vicki Testerman
Sonya Thomas
Sheree Thomas
Auslyn Thomas
I’Kesha Thomas
Lindsay Thomas-Batey
Robin Thompson-Hancock
Fiker Tngegne
Brandy Tode
Saed Tolentino
Sarah Tolentino
Terry Toran
Norma Torres
Maria Torres
Edith Torres Romero
Kerri Toth
Olga Tovar
Donyelle Townsend
Domonique Townsend
Ebony Trammell
Yaneth Trejo
Elona Tribue
Erika Troche
LaShuna Tucker
Yaronda Tucker
Tasha Turner
Kernia Tyler
Chris Unick

Jesus Valenzuela
Martha Valenzuela Fonseca
Maria Valle
Maria Vanatta
Jennifer Vance
Andolyn Vanderpool- Pope
Patricia Vaquera
Amairani Varela
Wendy Vargas
Ignacia Vargas
Mykel Varona
Otilia Vasquez
Deja Vass
Dustin Veazey
Karen Veazey
Abigail Velazquez
Audrey Vernon
Maria Villagomez
Elizabeth Villaneuva
Bonifacio Villanueva
Yolanda Villarreal
Adriana Villeda
Leticia Villeda Lugo
Ruth Villegas
Jalal Wahidi
Judy Walden
Quasia Walker
Amanda Walker
Teresa Walton
Amber Ward
Sonya Ware
LaDeshia Washington
Peytyn Washinton
LaKeith Washum
Nevin Wasif
Charlandra Watson
Damon Weakley, Sr.
Alicia Webb
Terriqua Webster
Yosief Weldeghebriel
David Wells
Meredith Wells

Kim Whitaker
Brooke Widmer
David Widmer
Lily Widmer
Rana Wigdahl
Crystal Wilcox
Denisha Williams
Ke’Andria Williams
Abiola Williams
Desiree Williams
Senora Williams
Emma Williams
Lisa Williams
Roman Williamson
Kellie Williamson
Erica Wilson
Tonya Wilson
Sarah Wilson
Maria Cristina Wiseman
Dereje Woldmeskel
Darren Womack
Amber Woods
DeAundrea Woods
Lakeia Woods
Rosemary Woosley
Jacqueline Wright
Sean Wright
Torror Wyatt
Cari Wymer
Janet Yanez
Tralecia Yarbro
Milad Yosef
Tao You
Tonya Young
Amira Youssif
Kelly Zaimah
Magda Zakaria
Ning Zam
Carlos Zapata
Teresa ZaragozaInsilar Zyara

Insilar Zyara

In Times of Upheaval, Teachers and Spiritual Leaders Calm Minds and Feed Souls

Exactly twenty-eight days ago, filled with anger and a hint of disgust at the display of hatred and depravity at Charlottesville, VA., I tweeted out:

Classroom and The Pulpit

As I wrangled with the events at and surrounding Charlottesville, I couldn’t help but think about today’s youth entering classrooms to learn about the various battles during civil wars when there is no shortage of history-making battles occurring just outside the schoolhouse steps. Since it was Sunday morning, my mind shifted to adults looking to their spiritual leaders for two-thousand-year old answers to modern-day mysteries.

In my mind, the classroom and the pulpit are the most influential platforms in our lives -save for media. Teachers and spiritual leaders have captive, pliable audiences ready and willing to receive instruction and wisdom. These trusted public servants help us think critically about the world in which we live and equip us with the tools to navigate toward a better tomorrow.

I’ve heard from teachers instructed not to mention the events at Charlottesville to students and witnessed teachers on social media working creatively to integrate current events into lesson plans in a valiant effort to satisfy both state and moral obligations.

Thankfully, in the four weeks since that tweet, I’ve been fortunate to experience answers to my questions.

Teaching and Preaching

Last Friday, I joined the ProjectLIT book club at Maplewood High School, where the LIT teacher Jarred Amato leads discussions on the book of the month, books relevant to current day issues and to the students he teaches. Two days later, I visited a church whose theme for September is “Timeless Principles for Perilous Times” and the sermon for the day was “Silence is Not an Option.” The unvarnished, powerfully delivered sermon offered by Pastor John Faison, Sr. of Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church is one for the ages and just the tea the nation needs right now. In the words of Pastor Faison, “silence recycles injustice.” Amen.

Amato and Faison are not the lone agents of courage and compassion who have accepted the enormous and unpopular responsibility of influencing social justice change through their respective platforms. And since Charlottesville our country was again shaken, this time by the president’s announcement to dissolve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), removing protections for undocumented youth.

In response to the DACA debacle, I’m reminded of a group of teachers, the DREAM keepers, and the strong message widely distributed defending their current and former DACA students. I also think of Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin courageously tweeting statements of unconditional love for DACA recipients and denouncing actions against them.

 

I am grateful for these acts of love for our sisters and brothers by protesting injustice through teaching and sharing. We need more of it.

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There’s a (Project)LIT Movement Spreading Like Wildfire and I’m Here For It

For several months now I’ve been following Jarred Amato’s crazy book club antics on Twitter. Like, this dude had the wild idea of setting up a book club introducing books relevant to the students he teaches at Maplewood High School. Further, he opened up the club to members of the community who are afforded rare opportunities to interact with students  eager to share their points of view. 

If that’s not wild enough for you, Mr. Amato collects thousands of donated books and sets up little libraries around Nashville’s most distressed communities. Sounds silly, right?

Mr. Amato is white male teacher serving a population of mostly students of color and  has made reading popular through the study of books with modern-day social justice themes. Merging the importance of reading and offering a platform to make sense of the world many students find themselves, Mr. Amato has launched a movement. 

A movement wonderfully named ProjectLIT. Obviously, LIT is a play on words by using today’s “lit” when referring to something incredible or on fire while evoking the word “literature.” (“Lit” chart by generation: 90’s babies think “da bomb”; 80’s peeps think “fye” or “rad”, 70’s cats think “dynomite!”)

Mr. Amato downplays his brilliance in kickstarting this reading revolution by saying “it’s just so easy!” Yet, this easy little project has spread (dare I say ‘like wildfire’) to other Nashville schools and Tennessee school districts. 

I’m wildly impressed with the work of Jarred Amato and ProjectLIT community. I just had to meet him and check out their monthly book club this morning at Maplewood. This month’s book was All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. 

While I did not participate as a book club member but rather as a spectator, I was so inspired by the students that I’m signing on and will be back in October!

Next month’s book is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and I’m there for it! The young ladies in my group expressed their excitement about getting started on this book which is not at all surprising because after all the author probably reminds them of someone. That person they see in the mirror. Beautiful. 

I look forward to sharing more information about ProjectLIT and Mr. Amato soon! In the meantime, I’ll be somewhere reading a ProjectLIT book club-approved book. 

NOTE for educators: follow and participate in #ProjectLITChat Sundays at 6pm CST.

The fearless leader of the most LIT book club in the state!

My new LIT TRIBE! We made a pact to read every single page of the next month’s book club pick The Hate U Give.
We’re ready for October!

Life Comes At You Fast And Sometimes Kicks You In the Teeth — At Full Speed

Apparently, it’s my four-year blog-aversary. Before Volume and Light, I had the bright idea of creating a platform for this worn-out mom facing a future that didn’t include a daily mom routine or hearing “mama” screamed at me 30 times a day. The blog Echoes from an Emptying Nest launched four years ago and has only about 4 entries because life comes at you fast…


In the beginning there was this…

A blog, huh? A veritable anti-diary. Blowing out my feelings, opinions, stupidity, and brilliance for the world to inhale. Although I expect to have few readers because I am not a writer and I have nothing profound to offer. BUT, I will write anyway because I am in my early 40’s and about to drop off my last child at college.

Wow! Was it 20 years ago that we had our first child and a short 21 months later our second child showed up? I remember bragging about the future – TODAY. About how young I would be with college-age kids. About how much life would be ahead of me after spending all of my young adult life parenting. The countdown to today would begin.

After nearly two decades of making brownies for school events, buying a billion bottles of gatorade, searching for summer enrichment activities, wiping tears, causing tears, sitting through sporting events (even if they were benched), bands, choirs, tryouts, wins, losses, arguments, arguments, disrespect… I forgot where I was going with this. Bottom line: it has been a trip and I would not change a minute of it.

So, I have spent the past two decades being mommy.

Now what?