Please watch this short two minute video created by Michael Elliot – 2 School Districts, 1 Ugly Truth.
In our fight for justice for ALL children, this inequitable funding machine has got to be taken down. The fight is happening here in CT, in TX, and all across our nation. The answer is not more technology for the poorer districts. The answer is updated facilities, smaller classroom sizes, and well-prepared and supported teachers.
Please help spread this very vital message and help bring down a funding system that encourages the “haves” to have more and the “have nots” to be fed cheap online quick fixes.
Thanks to Superintendent John Kuhn and NPE for speaking up for education.
One of the most brilliant and important achievements of PS 55’s visionary Principal, Luis E Torres, is that through innovative programming and a relentless public relations campaign, he has totally overshadowed the Success Academy Charter School co-located in his building! Normally, Success Academy tries to humiliate and stigmatize the public schools it is co-located by pointing out how much better it’s performance is! Not at PS 55! Here, the action, innovation and excitement is all with the public school, whether it is the scientific and pedagogical innovations of the Green Bronx Machine, the school based agriculture program housed at the School; the full service Medical clinic Principal Torres has created; or the school’s championship step team and basketball team! People from all over the city and the nation come to see what Principal Torres has done; while Success Academy stays in the background.
This is what should happen all over!! Principals and teachers should not just roll over when a charter comes into their building; they should show everyone what public education at its Best can do, which is draw on the resources of entire communities! And what I mean by community resources is not only the cultural capital of the neighborhood the school is located, but the skills and resources of everyone in the city and the country who supports public education. Principal Torres has done this brilliantly
Everyone seeking to defend public education against the relentless charter attack needs to visit his school and draw upon his innovative and inspiring strategies not only in programming, but in public relations!
On July 19, 2017, the unelected, governor-appointed Connecticut State Board of Education approved 504 additional seats in state charter schools for next year, with 154 of those seats going to Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport.
Connecticut is in a budget crisis with every expense being monitored, yet new charter school seats, which cost the state $11,000 each, are being initiated. The cost will be more than $5.5 million.
The new seats will cost the beleaguered and impoverished Bridgeport Public Schools money it cannot afford and will strip them of much needed resources. The Bridgeport Board of Education unanimously voted against the expansion plan because the cost of adding grades to Capital Prep Harbor School requires the Bridgeport Public Schools to pay additional costs for transportation and other services at an additional location.
The expansion plan for Capital Prep Harbor School, approved by the State Board of…
It has been a while since Poetic Justice featured a student hero but Coral Ortiz deserves the title. As published in The New Haven Independent, and with Coral’s permission, here is the text of her graduation speech from James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, CT.
Not only does Coral speak with a powerful voice for her fellow classmates, she speaks also for each of my own students, and, I believe for multitudes of students in the United States.
Speak on Coral – Write on – and we wish you the best of all possible things as you begin the next phase in your education at Yale University.
Here is her speech:
I would like to start by first and foremost thanking God and every person who helped us get where we are today. In particular, thank you to our friends and families who supported us as we worked towards this moment, and who are here supporting us as we graduate. I would like to personally thank my teachers, mentors, counselors and all of my peers and friends. Lastly and most importantly, my family: I could not thank my parents enough for the support they gave me.
I’ve thought a lot about this day; about what I want to say, and what message I want to send. I thought about preparing something different, but as I thought, I decided it was best to share the truth. The truth about what this day actually means. The truth about what we as a class represent.
When we were young, we were taught that we were “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Our country taught us that no matter our income or race, we would all have the same chance to achieve our dreams. We were taught that there would never be a bias against a certain group of people, and that society believes in each and every one of us. These lessons of equality were taught as self-evident. These lessons of equality have and continue to be a lie.
The reality is that despite the fact that we recite the words “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” it has been 50 years since the civil rights movement that our country has never been equal. We—a class mostly made up of minority, low income, and first generation students—have had the odds stacked against us, but here we are standing at this graduation with 3 state championships, college acceptances, and one of largest increases in graduation rates in the State, because we didn’t let the inherent inequality stop us from achieving our goals.
I would be lying if I said today is like any other day, because today is not like any other day. Most importantly, Today is not your typical high school graduation; it is more than that. Today is the day when we walk across a stage and take our diplomas, as an act of defiance to those who said we could not. We have had many students, administrators, and teachers come and go. We have had heart break; we have had our nation turn its backs on us, through supporting those who support hate. So, to those that believed my classmates and I were incapable, I have decided to leave a message for you:
To the teacher who said my classmates and I would fail and that the taxpayers wasted resources on our education -– Today, we teach you that you were wrong.
To the counselor who told me students at this school never get into prestigious colleges – we didn’t let your perception of us define who we are.
To the people who assume we are robbing their stores because of the color of our skin – don’t judge a book by its cover.
To the people who told us that only boys were good at math – Girls are more than just pretty faces.
To the people who violated our bodies – no means no.
To the people who questioned our dedication to the things we were involved in – you didn’t see our sleepless nights and three championship trophies.
To the person who believed that our socio-economic status would define us – you do not need to be a millionaire to succeed.
To the lady on the bus who told me my peers and I would go to jail because of the high school we attended – we are still free.
To the politicians and corporations that refuse to address gun violence because it might cost them money- life has no price.
To the people who assume that our names are too ghetto to be qualified – our names have taken us farther than you could have imagined.
To the leaders who thought it was okay to make decisions that forced us to go to classes without textbooks – it is far from okay.
To the person who told us we only got into college because we were minorities – the color of one’s skin does not determine intelligence.
To the people that talked poorly about us in the newspaper – you taught us how to be fearless.
To the people who thought it was okay to experiment with our education – the math of 5 principals in 4 years just doesn’t add up.
To the people who want to privatize education – public education is the reason we succeeded.
To the politicians who choose unqualified people to affect our lives because you feel loyal to your party – you did not take a vow to serve a party. You
took a vow to serve the people.
To the person who believes my classmates and I are dangerous – we are human.
To the people who told me my friends and I are not beautiful – black is beautiful.
To those who believed that my peers and I would drop out – looks like you were wrong.
To everyone who voted for hate – love wins.
I could go on for hours talking about the people who defined us as something other than successful. But today is not solely about the obstacles that were placed in front of us. Today is about the truth. The fact that there were several times people underestimated us and we were able to prove them wrong. We stand here and take our diplomas not only as an act of defiance, but also as an act of gratitude. Thankful for the adults that cared, thankful for the teacher that spent hours educating us, thankful for the parents, family members, counselors, friends, politicians, and mentors that believed we could make it to this moment.
We could not have done this without you because it takes a village to raise a child. Despite the fact that our education was treated like an experiment, lacked in resources, and was marked by the presence of people who stopped believing we were capable, we did it. In 6 years we were capable of going from a 51 percent graduation rate to a 91 percent graduation rate. Today we acknowledge the fact that our country is not equal and that we have it harder than many other people. We acknowledge that, despite this inequality, we beat the odds. We did it, and now we have the chance to not only reach our own dreams, but also to help others reach theirs.
If we were able to overcome all of these obstacles, then there is nothing that can stop us. No one that can stop us, no dream that we can’t reach, and no adversity that we cannot overcome, because in the end, they said we couldn’t, so we did, and when they say we won’t, we will. Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2017.
2017 – it’s 2017
Who would think that in 2017
I would feel the need to have you read
a poem in favor of humanity?
I look out at my students
what do I see?
I see wires from teenage ears
red, yellow, black pods in and around their ears
talking to them
I see the omnipresent ChromeBook
on their desks – their laptop computer instructors
And on tables as stand alones
I see the Boxes standing tall –
They are Black
They are Powerful
They are Teaching my kids
And I am complicit….
What did I just say?
The black plastic and metal square heads
Are everywhere… scrambling
the brains of my students
teaching them to be compliant
all the same
But my kids are the outliers on the scattergrams –
the next generation’s movers and the shakers
At least they used to be
They used to be when we treated them as humans
not little red, yellow, and green bars on Excel data sheets
not as inhuman commodities
not as a dollar sign
not as a deficit
not as the invisibles
the shame of the school
the student who brings down my VAM
So – where is the humanity in 2017?
The little rectangular plastic and glass slab that sits in our pockets
I won’t even begin to go where that slab has pulled our children
a place where our children hide out
a place where our children hide from reality
a place where a child is no longer human
Why do our kids want to get lost in the Screen instead of in the woods?
Why do our kids want to get lost in the Internet instead of in a good book?
Why do our kids want to live inside a box instead of in the real world?
I cry out for a return to humanity
for a return to nature
for a return to that which makes us human
and unique and real and immortal.
I cry out for a 21st Century Transcendental Movement.
Who will join me in the fight to transcend
the pie charts
the Excel Spread sheets that try to
define our students?
Let us together form a new world
for our children and grand children –
a world that celebrates the child in each of us
a world that loves nature
a world that believes we are more than just flesh and blood –
certainly more than a data point –
a world that believes we can transcend the rational
a world that reaches for the stars.
This is really hard to watch but every teacher, parent, and grandparent needs to watch this through to the end. The truth of what has been going on in public education, what is happening now in public education, and what is planned for the future of public education needs to be understood and shared with the public. If not, our future will be determined by a small group of elitists.
We need a miracle uprising to take down this scheme.
This is Poetic Justice’s idea of educational transformation:
Thanks to Christopher Chase and the Art of Learning Facebook page for the above graphic.
Please visit Alison McDowell’s blog Wrench in the Gears. You can download the slide show from the video. Feel free to use and share.