Shelby County Tennessee Superintendent Offers Aggressive Proposal to Close Schools 

Chalkbeat’s Laura Faith Kebede writes about Shelby County School District superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s proposal to close and consolidate up to 13 schools affecting 4,600 students. 

The struggling district began the school year with 22,000 empty seats and the aggressive plan will eliminate roughly 9% of those seats. The proposal recommends closing schools with severe maintenance issues and opening 3 new schools combining several communities. 

I fully expect anti-reformers to blame charters for empty seats, closing schools, and disturbing communities. While closing schools is never easy and not my first choice, I will always side with families over buildings.

Still, the thought of closing so many schools tugs at the heart strings. I wish the children and families in Memphis great success. 

The Blog Post of a Mad Black Woman

Nearly 20 years ago, I met a Black woman in her late 40’s and listened to her spew hatred about America and White people who gain the world at the expense of minorities. I remember being so offended by her anger and latent bitterness that I moved away from her as soon as I could. How could she negotiate life anchored by such vitriol?

Fast forward a couple of decades full of harsh disappointments and a plethora of brutal reality checks and, voila, I am she. 
From earning 66 cents on the dollar to a white woman’s 86 cents to our absence on boards and higher ed to being called an “ape in heels” when serving as the First Lady of the United States. I’m an angry black woman. 
I’ve worked hard to keep it light, to play nice. Working for the Chamber of Commerce and Metro Schools to serve my community with unrelenting loyalty and for what?
Nashville’s children of color are vulnerable as ever to fall victim to gaps in education fitted with the pipeline to prison and poverty. The recent school board election illuminated this ugly reality when most of the city flipped a collective middle finger to families desperate for quality choices for their children. 

Then half of America did one better by hiring a man who spoke like a 5th grader. Coining the phrase “the blacks” while describing the war torn neighborhoods that we all live in — yeah, I’m mad as hell. 

I once believed education was the great equalizer, but, again, 66 cents on the dollar AND we are the most educated subgroup in America. So, yep, I’m mad.

I demand the America I deserve. 

The President-Elect’s School Choice Platform Aligns With His Own World of Grandeur

Less than a week after #Election2016, half the country sifts through the psychological wreckage resulting from the unexpected victory of political neophyte Donald Trump over career politician Hillary Clinton.

Although the decision to vote for Hillary caused many sleepless nights and her stance(s) on education was sound as whispers in the wind, I was prepared to continue my work fighting for school choice for families in the margins. Hoping that once in office the lifelong champion of families would return to her public service roots fighting for vulnerable children. There would be no shortage of blogging content and valuable information to  disseminate to Nashville families.

Boy, What a Dream!

Then I awoke the morning of November 9, 2016 to The News. The businessman and reality TV star won the Electoral College while Hillary won the popular vote. Breathe.

P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T – E-L-E-C-T DONALD J. TRUMP.

There, I wrote it.

Personal feelings aside, there are serious matters that urgently need to be addressed. The issues of which I’m speaking are — well, all of them, but most specifically, education. It’s a safe assumption to think the Trump Mr. Trump will support school choice because, after all, that’s what Republicans are known to do. So I take a trip to his website for confirmation:

DONALD J. TRUMP’S VISION

  • Immediately add an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars.
  • Give states the option to allow these funds to follow the student to the public or private school they attend. Distribution of this grant will favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws, encouraging them to participate.
  • Establish the national goal of providing school choice to every one of the 11 million school aged children living in poverty.
  • If the states collectively contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice, on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.
  • Work with Congress on reforms to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for the federal tax breaks and tax dollars.
  • Ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.

Lipstick on a Pig

The manner in which I process information pares down the most accessorized verbiage to two or three words – and this case I was given very little to process. However, the words that stretched out and smacked me down were located in the first two bullet points “$20 billion” and “grants”, respectively. The remaining bullet points are like decorative pillows on an old couch serving no substantive purpose.

First, where to search and successfully find $20 billion? Let’s be clear, I’m in love with the edict “immediately add an additional federal investment of…” It’s a beautiful thing and some fairy tales do come true, but I’m guessing we needn’t hold our breath.

Second, the use of grants as code word for vouchers is dishonest. We will monitor the populations and institutions earmarked to receive these “grants”.

 

But At Least One of Us Believes

According to Rudy Giuliani in Monday’s New York Post, “President-elect Trump is going to be the best thing that ever happened for school choice and the charter school movement.” More superlatives and grandiose thought bubbles! But the vice chair of Trump’s transition team boasts the support for more charter schools, not better.

Because children in poverty lack time and money, we certainly want every child to have access to a school of their choice; a school that fits – a school exceeding expectations and leaving standards in the dust.

At the heart of my fight lies the right of families to choose the educational institution that provides the best opportunity for success for that child. I’m not looking for designer knock-off charters to temporarily appease families by offering lies while stealing dollars from other schools. “Bigly” thinking without proper filters is a recipe for disaster. Failure is not a option.

Big, Lazy Promises

Because Trump’s education campaign platform is lazy, it’s up to us to work harder and yell louder. We must ensure our children aren’t political pawns exploited every four years to cement partisan power.

Trump must understand that our fight includes ALL children – Muslim, Mexican, with disabilities, GIRLS, the Blacks, Whites – ALL means ALL. That we are not builders of walls, but futures. Finally, we can’t be satiated with promises of big and more, we revel in results kids winning every day.

 

Dave Chappelle’s Genius Sparks Laughter, Healing on SNL   

A sincere thanks to #SNL for taking a chance on Dave Chappelle. 

Chappelle, who is no stranger to controversy, hosted #SNL after the shocking outcome of the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. (see Transcript of monologue)

Opening the monologue with side-splitting jokes about the president-elect, it was Chappelle’s closing statement that will be etched in the annals of NBC’s history, forevermore.

https://twitter.com/nbcsnl/status/79768157806338457

“I’m wishing Donald Trump luck and I’m going to give him a chance and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he gives us one too.”

Dave: Thanks for the laughter and giving us the ok to start the healing process. 

Peace. 

An Intervention Trifecta Puts This Blogger in Her Place

I did it this time…

It’s certainly not one of my prouder moments; allowing the earth-shattering election results to negatively affect my social media behavior. Shock and paralyzing fear will do that to you.

So I’ve seen the error of my ways. Thanks, in part, to an email from a former boss and friend (his intervening was clearly an intervention), a conference call with bloggers around the country, and finally, an asthma attack that warranted physical inactivity, thereby, forcing me to reconcile my feelings on the presidential election. The triage resulted in an awakening, of sorts. 

Here’s my latest Facebook post:

Stepping back to clean my mess. 

I’m accepting responsibility for posting incendiary statements on my Facebook page. I do not apologize for what I said as the statements are my truth. However, in hindsight, it was irresponsible for me push out unfiltered thoughts and feelings to such a diverse audience during a time of political upheaval. 

In the past, I’ve acknowledged the blessing that is my diverse FB community. Well that beautiful community is at war due entirely to my carelessness. 
Don’t get it twisted– I’m still pissed, but I’m no agitator; at least not intentionally…

The end of this post identifies friends caught in the crossfire of my ire as represented in the post. 

Still reconciling…

Still unpacking…

Desperately Seeking Better Days and the Words to Talk About Them

Stunned. Angry. Sick… 

These three words succinctly yet sufficiently describes the brutal process by which I internalized Election 2016’s results for the President of the United States. Currently, I’m uncomfortably resting at the sick stage.

In this stage, I find myself with little to say and burdened by the lack of desire to even try. Volume and Light’s author is empty. Devoid of hope and, dare I say, light. 

Though, I do appreciate the accidental social media tribe formed out of sheer disbelief in the outcome of Tuesday’s election. The range of emotions are as extreme as Life’s greatest motivators – love and hate. 

Facebook and Twitter are littered with cries of outright rejection (#notmypresidentelect) to affirmations of hope, faith, and unity. In the middle, are those seeking to make sense of their new reality through the use and massaging of empirical data.

Maybe I’m an outlier. I’m angry and fearful, but just short of rejecting my new POTUS. However, it would take an act of The Great Spirit to inject hope and faith directly into my veins nonstop for many, many days. Like, a lot of days. 

Here’s to better days and finding the words and desire to talk about them. 

Peace. 

It’s a Great Day to Learn about a Charter School and Eat Some Popcorn 

The greatest thing about blogging is there are few rules – and, oh, there’s app for it. 

At the present, I’m sitting in my car on a beautiful Saturday morning waiting for a tiny family member to hop in because his grandmother heard about an event a charter school is holding in their housing development. She asked if I would join them to assist with getting the necessary information. 

So, I’m here. His grandmother, my aunt, likes this choice stuff, even though it’s not something she is totally comfortable with doing. I’m proud she’s willing to step outside her comfort zone. 

My tiny cousin has choices and those responsible for his growth and development are all in – whatever it takes. Amen. 

By the way, thanks to Nashville Classical for the community outreach and the popcorn. 😉