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Segregated Schools and Inequality in Funding Is Destroying Us

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 12.30.14 PMFrom The Conversation I’m Tired of Not Having by 2016 National Teacher of the Year Finalist

“As a nation, we’re nibbling around the edges with accountability measures and other reforms, but we’re ignoring the immutable core issue: much of white and wealthy America is perfectly happy with segregated schools and inequity in funding. We have the schools we have, because people who can afford better get better. And sadly, people who can’t afford better just get less–less experienced teachers, inadequate funding and inferior facilities.

Middle class America would never allow the conditions that have become normalized in poor and brown America to stand for their kids.

The images coming out of Detroit Public Schools: buckled floors, toilets without seats, roaches, mold and even mushrooms growing in damp, disgusting, mildewy classrooms. Like the images of American torture and abuse last decade in Abu Ghraib, these images should have shocked the nation. Instead, they elicited a collective national shrug, stretch and yawn.

The View from the Burbs is Sweet. Through white flight and suburbanization, wealthy and middle class families have completely insulated themselves from educational inequality. They send their kids to homogeneous schools and they do what it takes, politically at the local level, to ensure they’re well-funded, well-staffed, with opportunities for enrichment and exploration.

I spoke to a veteran teacher (17 years in the classroom) from Maryland. Her school is located five miles from the nation’s capitol and in her career, she has never taught a white student. Never. Her county and its schools are completely segregated. We aren’t in this together.

“61% of Blacks, 55% of Hispanics support gov’t intervention to address school segregation. Vast majority of whites (72%) say nope!” They’re perfectly satisfied with situation as is.

Our most needy students need our best teachers, yet our highest need schools have the least experienced teachers, the most turnover and are becoming burnout factories for those who remain. All the existing structural incentives for effective educators push them toward work in suburban schools, where they’ll be better supported and the workload is sustainable. Nobody wants to talk about this.”

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Social Emergency Response Centers (SERC)

Yes. Yes. Yes. THIS!

 

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Personalizing Student’s Educational Experience. Yes!!

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Asheville Youth Voices & Leadership

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 2.39.15 PMOur youth deserve dignity and respect as they ARE our leaders. The premier issue of the Word on The Street/ La Voz de Los Jovenes teen magazine just came out. I’ve met some of these youth and they are AMAZING. These are the voices of leadership we need to be listening to NOW. Read. Learn. Share what touches your mind or heart.

This is Asheville.

Our youth deserve dignity and respect and one way we can show that to them is by being real with the conditions they are facing right now, recognizing that some youth do not have access to some opportunities as fairly as others do. We must face how opportunities do or don’t prepare youth to navigate the world. We can shift that narrative that is playing out and create a new reality… This is Asheville.

 

Footage for the film, Beneath the Veneer, a documentary currently in production about opportunity, success and inequity in America?

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Gifted and Creative Individuals

I would love to hear your thoughts on this perspective of gifted and creative individuals.

The article is The Application of Dabrowski’s Theory to the Gifted by Kevin J. O’Connor and was published in the book Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?.

Here are a few quotes from the article to give you a taste of its content:

Dabrowski observed that gifted and creative individuals are often in conflict with the demands and expectations of their environment…

Many in the gifted community believe Dabrowski’s overexcitabilites, as they contribute to developmental potential, are a measure and indicator of giftedness.

Overexcitabilities are enhanced modes of being in the world. The word ‘over’ used in connection with ‘excitability’ connotes responses to stimuli that are beyond normal and often different in quality. Dabrowski identified “psychic overexcitability” in five forms: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational and emotional.

While the concept of developmental potential emphasizes the positive aspects of experiencing life with greater intensity and sensitivity, these same characteristics may also be experienced in negative ways. Individuals with elevated overexcitabilities are more susceptible to being misunderstood and alienated by those who don’t share or understand their unique personality traits.

Parents of gifted children and gifted individuals themselves may find that Dabrowski’s ideas provide a useful “framework for understanding and explaining the developmental patterns and challenges that occur for those of high ability.”

Photo source

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The Power of Collaboration

Whether you’re the CEO of a company, the super mom of a household, or the wide-eyed 7-year old in a room, you know the power of being in a group that plays well together!

Think of a time when you were working on a project or creating a family experience and the group was cooperating beautifully. I imagine ideas were sparking, people were curious about one another, everyone was contributing, it was fun to be together, and smiles were flashing from face to face. Isn’t it true that being able to do the dance of successful collaboration brings joy, inspiration and unimaginable opportunities into companies, families, classrooms, and groups of all types?

So what makes a group collaborate well? And how does collaboration connect with performance or individual happiness? A recent study led by Anita Williams Woolley from Carnegie Mellon University looked into what makes groups perform better, studying what they called the intelligence of groups. Her team recognized that in today’s world, such skills are critical. “More and more, people need to collaborate to solve problems,” she says.

The study found that a group’s intelligence is highly influenced by the quality of interactions between the individuals. Opportunities for equal participation, distributing turn-taking, and how socially sensitive the group members were proved to be the key factors in predicting a group’s intelligence. -source

This leads me to think about how we develop the skills for social sensitivity. How do we learn to better understand what other people are thinking and feeling in a moment? How do we become more graceful at allowing other people a chance to talk and genuinely valuing the contributions that they make?

One tool that I’ve been using lately and loving comes from The Center for Collaborative Awareness and is called The State of Grace Document. This is a collaboration process used to establish healthier, more resilient business and personal relationships. It is a practical way to learn more about the people you’re relating with, understanding what makes them tick. It gives you a window into their thoughts, feelings, habits and ways of interacting and allows you the opportunity to specifically desgin your relationship. I’ve found these practices potent for increasing social sensitivity.

Sedona, age 14, participated in the Milestones ProjectWise at Heart, and she notes that “people get angry at each other because they don’t understand each other.” So why not invest our energy in understanding one another better? Not only can it make us feel happier and more connected, but as teams and families we can actually become more successful!

You can also watch this 3 minute video to learn more about The State of Grace Document, also called the “Blueprint of WE”.

Colorful puzzle piece image from LuMaxArt and all other images from Center for Collaborative Awareness

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Risk-taking and Creativity

“Fostering risk-taking and creativity in children can ensure that they learn the basics of economics and independence—and develop a mentality of innovation.”

How do you foster risk-taking and creativity in your own life and/or in the lives of children or other adults? Please share.

A couple of organizations focusing on entrepreneurship with youth referenced in this article:

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