Black & Brown Students, A Peek into most of America’s Public Schools

As we approach the Dr. King’s birthday celebration and the 54th year of Dr. Martin Luther Kings’s assassination, many within the African American community and beyond continue to follow the path of Dr. Kings’s beliefs and teachings. Year after year, the country continues to celebrate and rejoice in the vast contributions Dr. King made while fighting for social justice and equality for African Americans and others.  Dr. King particularly focused on employment, housing, and military institutions which are all central to Americans’ social life.  

Dr. King did not write or speak a great deal on education. Several scholars believe Kings’ minimal writings or statements may be as a result of timing. During the year of 1954, Dr. King was but 25 years old as well as a newly appointed pastor of Dexter Ave Baptist Church. In 1954, Thurgood Marshall won a landmark victory, from the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s position supported the parents of African American students who were constantly denied access to white schools simply due to their origin or race. The court stated, “Kansas laws allowed for segregation of school enrollment based on race. This violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by denying African American students “benefits” and “opportunities” of education equal to white students.”  

Though there may be limited writings from Dr. King on the purpose of education, he did publish his thoughts on education while attending Morehouse College in 1947. He argued that to benefit society, high quality education should focus on developing students’ critical thinking and moral compass or imperative. Dr. King, continued by saying, “Setting a high bar for critical thinking is important not only within the context of a specific course, but also as a lifelong skill. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life” (Stanford University, 2022). Retrieved 1/15/2022 from: “The Purpose of Education” | The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute ( 

Dr. Martin L. King Jr was assassinated over five decades ago and the landmark Civil Rights victory of 1954 outlawed separating students on the basis of race. The Supreme Court ruled students of color shall be afforded equal access to American Public Schools. Since 2014, there are more students of color in American Public Schools. The same students who more than not read several grade levels below. Students of color are less likely to enrolled in rigorous math courses. A much-needed discipline to master in the 21st Century. After all, many current and future careers will be in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Numeric Literacy (Math).

We are now 22 years into the 21st Century. How are students of color fairing in American Schools? Since the 1954 Supreme Court ruling which favored the Brown family, are African American students doing better? Do American Public Schools systemically work against students of color? Do all American students have equal access to public education? In the next section, I will provide answers to the questions raised above.  To begin, I find it necessary to provide clarity by starting with a breakdown of teachers and students’ demographics.  

21st Century Findings for USA public school African American Students 

As of 2015, there are 50.7 million public school students: 

White 48.9%  

Hispanic 25.9% 

Black 15.5%                           51.1% of students are of color 

Asian 5.0% 

Native American 1.0% 

National Center for Education Statistics, 2017

As of 2018, there are 3.2 million Full Time Equivalent (FTE): 

White 80.1% 

Hispanic 8.8% 

Black 6.7% (2% Black male teachers and 4.7% Black female teachers in the USA) 

Asian 2.3% 

Native Americans 1.4%

National Center for Education Statistics, 2017

When the onion is peeled back, the data findings show significant disparities as it relates to the ratio of African American students to African American teachers. This is also true for Hispanic students. Hispanic students make up 26% to 30% of public-school students. However, there are only 8% to 10% FTE Hispanic teachers. Additionally, White students make up 48.9% of public-school students. However, of the 3.2 million teachers in public schools, 80.1% are White teachers (National Center Educational Statistics, 2017). Does the lack of teachers of color really matter? (Yes). Does the lack of teachers of color have a negative impact on students of color as well as white students? (Yes). Do white teachers benefit from having a diversified faculty and staff? (Yes). According to the research, do non-black teachers and administrators believe students of color can earn a four-year degree? (Not all). Several of the questions raised are grounded in what is known as implicit bias.  

Implicit Bias Defined 

If you have a brain, you have biases. Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or origin humans have biases. Do our implicit biases allow for collateral damage for students of color? Some will say, yes with supporting evidence from reputable institutions such as John Hopkins University and others. Do teachers and administrators’ implicit biases diminish access and opportunities to learn for students of color?  (Yes, more than not).

An implicit bias “is any unconsciously-held set of associations of particular qualities to all individuals from that group. Implicit biases are the product of learned associations and social conditioning. Biases begin at a young age and most people are unaware they hold them” (Berghoef, 2019; Nittle, 2021). Teacher bias promote barriers which prevent missed opportunities to learn (OTL). Missed opportunities to learn may spell a lifetime of hardship such as inability to endure the rigor of post-secondary institutions, lower lifetime earnings, or possibly worse such as a shorter life expectancy due to the stressors associated with poverty (Reeves, 2021).  

All students benefit from a diversified faculty and staff

Teacher Bias, Perception, & missed Opportunities to Learn 

Black and white American cultures are still significantly different in regard to how teachers read behavior depends in part on the teacher’s race. Research shows that black and white teachers provide vastly different evaluations of behavior of black students. According to the Startz (2016), when a black student has a black teacher that teacher is much, less likely to see behavioral problems than when the same black student has a white teacher (Startz, 2016). 

Wright’s research study focused on 20,000 early childhood students and their school experiences from kindergarten, first, third, and fifth grade. The data findings suggested a Black teacher is much less likely to see behavioral problems than the same Black student with a white teacher.  “When a black student is evaluated by one black teacher and by one non-black teacher, the non-black teacher is about 30% less likely to expect the student will not complete a four-year college degree. Wright’s findings show Black teachers rate white students very similarly as do Caucasian teachers. “Being race matched matters a lot for African American students but not for others” (2015). The more African American students are matched with African American teachers, the less likely that student gets suspended by half.  

The effect of race matching is entirely as a result of the perception toward Black Boys (Wright, 2015). However, not as noticeable for African American girls. Secondly, the effect of matching is limited to the year of the match. Unfortunately, “when that same black student is given a white teacher the following year, the unwanted behavior is again a problem”.  These bias adult practices can be remedied through a heavy dose of ongoing professional development with a focus on Excellence, Equity, Access, fixed mindsets, and implicit bias.

2% of teachers are African American males

The research findings of Wright (2015), Papageorge (2016), and Gershenson (2015; 2016; 2021) suggest teacher perceptions rather than real behavior differences since we might expect improvements in behavior to persist the following year, and that is not what happens. Considering the research findings regarding teacher demographics, public schools lack of adult diversity, as well as implicit biases, African American boys are more likely to suffer in public schools across America in areas such as graduation rates, low enrollment in rigorous college courses, high suspension, and a lack of opportunities to learn (OTL). These mentioned determinants may equate to increased incarceration and a breakdown in African American families because African American women have significantly less equitable African American men to select as a marriageable partner.  These findings are not new. Year after year, and regardless of the institution conducting the research on the importance of a more diverse staff, the results are the same. Having African American and Hispanic teachers are essential for student success and improved cultural acceptance and competence within the organization. As we continue to find solutions for many of the concerns raised, we cannot forget our moral imperative.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the purpose of education is to teach citizens critical thinking skills and to improve their moral compass. Dr. King gave his life in the name of social justice for all people. We must live up to Dr. King’s vision and dreams by pushing through adversity and challenges. We cannot give up on his dream of a better America. There is no better place to begin, than improving academic outcomes for Black and Brown students across the nation.

In closing, the researchers nor myself are suggesting malice, prejudice, or favoritism. However, the findings are glaringly clear, “Race Matters in America’s Public Schools.” To not acknowledge that race matters for all students, is a disservice for all of America’s Public Schools and their students in which they should be serving. Nevertheless, the challenges of finding certified African American teachers are extremely difficult. The demand for all teachers in public schools is enormous and the challenge of identifying certified African American teachers in that same candidate pool is a grandeur feat.  


Number and percentage distribution of teachers in public and private elementary and secondary schools, by selected teacher characteristics: Selected years, 1987-88 through 2015-16

A Sidewalk to Nowhere for a Native Son’s Return

While visiting my hometown, Hammond, Louisiana last week to pay my respects to a family member who passed, I had to leave the house for fresh air due to the massive amount of people delivering food, comfort, and prayer. I just needed to take a little drive to allow myself to mourn on my terms. As I drove around the town, it became glaringly clear not only did a family member pass, but the entire community seemed to be dead and I thought to myself, things will remain the same for too many citizens of Hammond. Most of all, there is no sense of urgency. Where are wrap around services designed to improve conditions for humans’ well being? Why do people seem as if they are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? A psychological condition which causes one to lock arms with those who cause ongoing harm which brings about continual stress, dependence, and most of all, African Americans tend to feel they shouldn’t push on the system of oppression due to their need to survive.
Consequently, long lasting harsh conditions continue to wreak havoc on certain areas of Hammond, LA. These areas are severely saturated with African Americans and other minorities. People of color who are oppressed, suppressed, and depressed. I continued to ask myself as I drove around my hometown, “why?” Why do these conditions continue? Why do African Americans seem to get the shortest stick in multiple ways year after year and decade after decade?


So, I started to ask people their opinions as to why such traumatic conditions continue to plague their community? I even asked some who were standing outside of a liquor store. In isolation, all reported similar reasons for the unwanted conditions, which is the “system was designed to keep them in one area
with no hope.” Believe it or not, many of the citizen’s replies were valid. While asking questions at the liquor store near St. Paul Church, I realized there was a person passed out in the sweltering heat near the woods located on side of the store. So, I went over to check on the person to realize it
was a lady. I asked questions and locals informed me it was no big deal and that “this is what she does.” Then they walked away with absolutely no concern. May I add, I was visibly appalled. I proceeded to ask the lady if she was all right and if she needed some help, and she stated several times “no” but she never got up.

Education and Homeownership

This leads me to reflect on the correlation between traumatic conditions, achievement gaps, education and homeownership. The term “achievement gap” refers to disparities in the academic achievement of specific groups of students (Coleman et al., 1966). The achievement gap now measures four years: by the end of high school, African American and Latino students have skills in literacy (reading) and numeracy (mathematics) that are virtually identical to those of White students at the end of middle school (Lyman & Villani, 2004; Scherer, 2002-2003).
The achievement gap exists during school years, but when the school years are over the achievement gap becomes an opportunity gap. In other words, students become adults. In many cases, adults who will not be able to pay for everyday essentials such as food, purchase a home, have access to health, vision, or dental insurance. The achievement gap can very well impact one’s life time earnings. Lower life time earnings can have a direct impact on where people live and what kids are exposed to as they grow up. Lower life time earnings can very well impact one’s credit score and put up barriers that prevent home ownership and can sometimes prevent the opportunity to rent. Consequently, most are forced to live in low credit score neighborhoods. Low credit score neighborhoods can breed a host of negative exposures such as violence and childhood stressors. Low score neighborhoods are inundated with liquor stores, cigarette ads, and corner stores that sell nothing but unhealthy processed food. All of these factors add to negative childhood experiences and have a direct impact on minority students’ academic outcome. But, how did we get here? Was the system created to hold down certain citizens based on their race? Are people of color of Hammond, Louisiana still feeling the impact of the racist Housing Act of 1934-1968?

As a sociologist who studies society and groups, I would say, “yes” based on the resounding research that’s readily available as well as my own truthful observations. The Housing Act of 1934 was created during the Great Depression by Franklin D Roosevelt. “The Act was designed to stop the tide of bank foreclosures on family homes and to make housing more affordable for Whites.”

There is a term associated with the Housing Act of 1934 through 1968. The term or practice is known as Redlining. Redlining decided who received home loans. Redlining is also a practice in which the government created neighborhoods based on race and location. For example, green areas were able to receive home loans and the areas were/are predominantly white and red areas were/are considered bad and troubled and of course inundated with African Americans as well as other minorities, which was validated by my unwavering eyes. Redlining, debilitating policies and practices forbade African Americans from receiving home loans despite their social economic status or level of education. This can be observed from the educated African American principals’ and teachers’ homes located on JW Davis Drive near what was known as Greenville Park High School, Hammond Jr High, and now Greenville Park Leadership Academy. Though the name continues to change, the demographics which walk into GPLA daily have not changed since its origin. Student performance has plummeted and GPLA has been labeled as a subpar school by the state of Louisiana; but there’s hope as I am hearing great things about the current administration.

34 years of racial housing practices continue to hover over most of America’s Cities. Cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and yes, Hammond, Louisiana are all victims of these awful though enforced practices.

Image: Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, Digital Scholarship Lab, University of Richmond. To explore an interactive map of your neighborhood, check out Mapping Inequality from Richmond University’s Digital Scholarship Lab.

The result of these deplorable policies, ensured 98% of loans were given to white families. Hammond was not excluded. Families in the green were able to purchase homes and accrue wealth. Whites were able to sell then use the equity to send their children to college all the while producing generations of wealth and generations of college educated whites. One thing is true, when neighborhoods are segregated, the schools are segregated too.

According to USA Today (2018), Hammond is considered one of the cities in America with the lowest graduation rate.

Salem, Oregon
⦁ High school graduation rate: 74.7%
⦁ May unemployment rate: 4.0%
⦁ Median income, less than high school graduate: $20,474
⦁ Percent of adults with a college degree: 24.0%

Hammond, Louisiana
⦁ High school graduation rate: 74.0%
⦁ May unemployment rate: 5.2% (highest 25%)
⦁ Median income, less than high school graduate: $20,495
⦁ Percent of adults with a college degree: 20.1% (bottom 25%)

Tucson, Arizona
⦁ High school graduation rate: 73.9%
⦁ May unemployment rate: 4.0%
⦁ Median income, less than high school graduate: $17,936 (bottom 25%)
⦁ Percent of adults with a college degree: 31.9%

Jackson, Mississippi
⦁ High school graduation rate: 73.6%
⦁ May unemployment rate: 4.2%
⦁ Median income, less than high school graduate: $18,681 (bottom 25%)
⦁ Percent of adults with a college degree: 29.9%

According to ProPublica/Miseducation, Hammond High School students of color lag behind White students in a variety of Categories. Retrieved from

Hammond High School Data on Opportunity to Learn & Disparities
⦁ White students are 3.2 times as likely to be enrolled in at least one AP class as Black students.
⦁ A comparison between Hispanic students and White students enrolled at least one AP class is not available.
⦁ A comparison between Asian, Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian students and White students enrolled at least one AP class is not available.
⦁ A comparison between students of Two or More Races and White students enrolled at least one AP class is not available.
⦁ A comparison between Native American or Alaska Native students and White students enrolled at least one AP class is not available.

Hammond High School Discipline
⦁ Black students are 4.2 times as likely to be suspended as White students.
⦁ Hispanic students are 2.5 times as likely to be suspended as White students.
⦁ A comparison between Asian, Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian students and White student suspensions is not available.
⦁ Students of Two or More Races are 3.8 times as likely to be suspended as White students.
⦁ A comparison between Native American or Alaska Native students and White student suspensions is not available.

The majority of these disparities could be the result of a long history of enforcing America’s Housing Act Policies which barred prosperity for far too many of her citizens. Over the years, red zones have taken a harsh beating. Landlords and homeowners in too many cases are simply not financially able to repair the severely aging homes. Therefore, they sit and rot along with abandoned cars. There are organizations who pay $50 to $100 dollars to take guns off the streets. The same should happen for the massive number of abandoned cars. The City of Hammond should provide $100 to the owner or so for all the inoperable cars and give them to surrounding scrap yards or technical schools which improve outcomes. I’m sure with collaboration between aldermen, councilmen, the community, and mayor, good ideas can become reality. No need to compound poverty with harsh demands which force the underserved population to pay.

Shame, Shame, and Shame on the city for spending taxpayers’ money to glamourize and most of all commercialize the way life used to be in Louisiana. I am referring to “Peter Hammond’s” burial site and the unnamed slave boy. A favorite of Peter’s. What type of message are we sending to so many of Hammond’s minority and majority citizens? Think of minority students having to face these awful reminders of slavery while walking to school everyday for years. This is traumatic to say the least. Take a play from the former Mayor Landrieu’s play book. “New Orleans is a mostly black city of nearly 390,000. The majority black City Council voted 6-1 in 2015 to take the monuments down, but legal battles held up action.

Favorite Slave Boy. What’s his name? Maybe Slave. Did the boy desire to be the favorite? How does one become a favorite? 9/20/19
I was informed these are the live in rooms for slaves. As you can see there is an air conditioner in the window. Looks like money has been utilized to keep the slave quarters up for all to be reminded for some reason.

Landrieu, a white Democrat, proposed the monuments’ removal and rode to victory twice with overwhelming support from the city’s black residents. Opponents of the memorials say they are offensive artifacts honoring the region’s racist past.” Retrieved from:

The Visible-Invisible Line
The corner of North Holly and East Church Street makes it explicitly clear there is a Visible Invisible line that separates devastating neighborhoods and neighborhoods who now benefit from laws that supported and enforced “White Privilege” from Reconstruction 1877 through Jim Crow years, which ended on books in the 1960s by LB Johnson. I actually stood in the middle of the street at the corner of Holly and East Church. I looked South and North without moving my position. While looking south, one is able to see homes, opportunities, and wealth.

The Visible-Invisible Line. 9/20/2019
As you can see, both pictures are at the corner of Holly and Church. One picture shows hope and opportunity and the other picture not so much and saturated with African Americans. 9/20/19

As a native of Hammond, the view hasn’t changed. Yes, I am actually surprised and disappointed. I too am a victim of the same harsh conditions. Much of my early years have been erased. I decided to visit my Great Grandmother “Mama Picky’s” home on Noah James Drive, only to find a sidewalk to nowhere. Just faded memories of throwing my GI Joe Parachute doll into the air and watch it float to the ground. The days after church and Mama Picky would take her hair piece off and insisted the great-grand kids take turns scratching her scalp.

The Impact of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects

For the purpose of providing explicit clarity, it’s necessary to provide research study findings which clearly show that neighborhoods have an impact on people’s beginnings as a child and their outcomes as an adult (Chetty & Hendren, 2017). “Neighborhoods in which children grow up shape their lifetime income, college attendance rates, and fertility and marriage patterns” (Chetty & Hendren, 2017). The researchers analyzed more than 7 million families by analyzing de-identified families with IRS records from 1980s. The results of the findings show “neighborhoods affect intergenerational mobility primarily through childhood exposure” (Chetty & Hendren, 2017).

The findings also revealed, place matters. Children who grow up in poor environments tend to mimic the same income and outcomes in adulthood as the permanent residents in the community. The same can be said if a child is exposed to improved environments. Secondly, neighborhood matters largely because of differences in childhood exposure, rather than the differences in job market conditions. Third, each year of childhood exposure matters (Good or Bad environments) roughly equals that of a child born in the neighborhood. However, age of the child’s move to an improved environment does matter. For example, moving to an improved environment has less of an impact on adults who are 23 years old compared to a child who moves to an improved neighborhood by age 9 or 10 (Chetty & Hendren, 2017). Retrieved from:

So, we must improve conditions in which we live. This can only be accomplished with enduring collaboration from all stakeholders such as taxpayers, community leaders, TPSD, councilmen, churches, and others. The research did not suggest moving to other neighborhoods, though there is nothing wrong with moving. Nonetheless, the research findings do suggest improved environments or improving our environments in which we reside. Retrieved from: http://www.equality-of

As I conclude, we must acknowledge Hammond as we know it today, only gets worse with an uneducated population. The superintendent of schools and BOE must increase their efforts as it relates to educational outcomes and disparities. 26% of high school students fail to graduate in 4 years (Miseducation, 2018). Abandoned homes and cars, violence, and poor opportunities are not alluring to companies and industries. Industries do not move to cities where subpar school districts are still fighting desegregation from the long gone Jim Crow Era.

What will the Mayor of Hammond, Aldermen, Superintendent of Schools, Community Leaders and others do to combat these harsh conditions? To remain silent is to remain complicit. These awful living conditions for too many have nearly destroyed Hammond, Louisiana. By the Grace of GOD, let’s save her now!!

Dr. Kevin W. Brown, PhD

The Gap Between The Science On Kids And Reading, And How It Is Taught

This is an awesome article and I had to share this with my colleagues and friends.

By: CLAUDIO SANCHEZ         February 2018
Mark Seidenberg is not the first researcher to reach the stunning conclusion that only a third of the nation’s schoolchildren read at grade level. The reasons are numerous, but one that Seidenberg cites over and over again is this: The way kids are taught to read in school is disconnected from the latest research, namely how language and speech actually develop in a child’s brain.

Seidenberg is a cognitive scientist and professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In his latest book, Language at the Speed of Sight, he points out that the “science of reading” can be a difficult concept for educators to grasp. He says it requires some basic understanding of brain research and the “mechanics” of reading, or what is often referred to as phonics.

I talked with Seidenberg about what it will take to improve reading instruction. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

So how do you explain this to teachers?

Success in reading depends on linking print to speech. There’s a massive amount of behavioral research, neuroimaging research, on brain organization and brain development, which conclusively shows that skilled reading is associated with children’s spoken language, grammar and the vocabulary they already know. It’s about teaching kids the correspondence between the letters on a page and the sounds of words.

And you’re saying that teachers don’t know this?

This basic science does not go into the preparation of teachers. More often they’re told it’s not really relevant, that the science is sterile and has no connection with what teachers do in the classroom.

What I point out in the book is that in order to grasp the research, [teachers] need basic scientific literacy to be able to understand it. They can dismiss [what I’m saying] or they can share my outrage.

Is that the reason you wrote Language at the Speed of Sight? Outrage?

I was motivated by accumulating frustration. I’ve reviewed the science of reading and documented how little impact it has had on educational practice, and I think this is bad. It has put kids at risk for failure.

Reading scientists have been talking about this for a long time and tried to communicate with educators and failed. We have not been able to get the science past the schoolhouse door.

In your book, you wade into the reading wars and argue that the debate over phonics vs. whole language is largely to blame for the poor reading skills of American students. But you say it’s not a question of “either/or.” Kids need to be exposed to great books and rich literature and they need to know the symbols and sounds of letters. Where are we on that front?

The reading wars are over and science lost. Phonics is just one specific component of learning to read that’s important at a particular point in a child’s development. The reading wars did not focus on this, so the conflict was set up in a bogus way.

You say the conflict has been political.

The political solution was called “balanced literacy,” which called on teachers to use the best of both approaches. But it left it up to teachers who had been trained to dismiss phonics and brush off the science.

One interesting recommendation you offer is that college graduates who sign up for Teach for America be hired not as classroom teachers but as an army of reading tutors.

Yes. They could be trained to provide supplemental reading instruction, one-on-one or in small groups. That’s what wealthy people do. They pay for tutors. Poor people can’t.

So I would say yeah, put more people in the classroom or after-school programs who focus on reading and language. This would be helpful.

What about legislation like what Michigan passed recently that prohibits schools from promoting third-graders to the fourth grade unless they can read at grade level? Educators have been supportive of the new law but say the funding for it is sorely lacking. Do you think such a mandate is a good idea?

I don’t think its a good idea if they merely passed a law that says, “You better read.” That’s punishing the kid. There have to be programs and investments to support teachers, students and parents.

You insist that the training and credentialing of teachers is also inadequate, and you single out colleges of education.

It’s clear that ed schools are setting teachers up to fail. [The teachers are] plopped in the classroom to learn on the job because the ideology in ed schools is a “learning by doing” philosophy. I think it’s really a mess.

At the end of your book you recommend that schools of education overhaul the curriculum to make sure newly minted teachers leave with a basic understanding of linguistics and child development. You say states must change their teacher-licensure requirements. And, finally, you want school districts to vastly expand tutoring for children who are struggling to read.

Yes. It’s necessary to get all these folks on board. And indeed, one could see how parents and community leaders would also get on board. I don’t pretend to know how to approach them. What I can do is explain how reading works, how children develop and how we can teach children to read better.

7 Fears You Need to Overcome to Be An Effective Leader

Written by:  LOLLY DASKAL

Everybody has fears—and that means every leader has fears. But not letting those fears get the best of you is an important part of successful leadership. If you don’t learn to manage your fears, you’ll be tempted to take the kind of shortcuts that undermine your authority and influence. Here are seven of the most common fears that leaders, in particular, need to look out for:

The fear of being seen as an imposter. If you secretly feel you’re not really good enough or smart enough for leadership, you’re not alone. But left unchecked, those feelings can do harm to your effectiveness. Fear can make you forget everything and want to run. Instead, leverage your fear by experiencing it and being great anyway. As Mark Twain once said, courage is the resistance to fear, not the absence of fear. You can feel the fear and still be who you want to be as a leader.

The fear of being criticized. Facing criticism is part of the territory of leadership. You don’t have to let it bother you—in fact, you should be concerned if you never hear criticism, because that means you’re probably playing too safe. Think of it this way: If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success. So don’t fear criticism but take it in stride and strive to be your own best and meet your own standard of excellence. On the other side of your fear is everything you need to be.

The fear of being a failure. When you fail as a leader, you get everyone’s attention. Failure is something we all fear, but it doesn’t have to mean it’s fatal to your leadership— think of failure as simply part of succeeding. When you become afraid to fail forward, you end up missing out on new learning experiences and new opportunities. In the end we regret only the chances we didn’t take.

The fear of not being a good communicator. Not everyone is born to be a great communicator, but good communication skills are essential to leadership. if you are fearful that you’re not good at communicating in a compelling way—in a way that inspires and motivates others—practice your speaking or writing skills. The more you practice and rehearse and revise, the more confident you will be and the less fearful you will become.

The fear of making hard decisions. As a leader, you need to be able to make hard decisions without getting stuck in “paralysis of analysis”—taking too long to choose because of indecision. A lack of decisiveness can cripple any business or organization. Hard choices are sometimes necessary without much time to reflect. Make the best decision you can based on where you want to go, not where you are, and then move on.

The fear of not taking responsibility. As the saying goes, with much power comes much responsibility. To take responsibility you have to first realize that your leadership is the cause of and the solution to the things that matter, and you can’t escape that responsibly by postponing or evading it. The moment you move past your fear and take responsibility is the moment you can change anything.

The fear of not getting it done. In today’s global economy, effective leadership is defined by results—but, as we all know well, there are hundreds of distractions and millions of diversions that can get in the way. If you’re fearful you won’t get the job done, stop focusing on the results you want and concentrate on the actions you can take right now that will lead to those results.

Lead from within: These are just a few of the possibilities. The leaders I coach have all kinds of fears. Whatever form your fears take, once you learn you can tackle them head-on you’ll quickly realize you can handle anything.


Do Educators’ Mental Models Impact Student Achievement

Just today May 23, 2018, my colleagues were talking to me about the “Achievement Gap” and “Equality.” One stated, “After so many years, very little has changed as it relates to closing the gap which continues to linger between Hispanics and White Students as well as African American and White students.” My reply, “Well that’s absolutely true.”  Due to reflecting on that conversation,  I have been motivated to write out my thoughts.

So, I am wondering how do we educators and the implemented systems or barriers contribute to the widening of the ever pressing achievement gap that shows up on multiple metrics such as the American College Testing (ACT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Measurement of Academic Performance (MAP), National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), as well as state assessments such as the LEAP of Louisiana. Research consistently provide evidence, despite ethnicity and social economic status of students, there is a smaller and more manageable achievement gap when students enter kindergarten. Consequently, as students persist through secondary schooling the gap widens. “Why?” What happens for students who attend school 90% of the time but still suffer from the achievement gap?

These questions led me to think about our mental models. Mental Models are “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action (Senge, 1990). Very often, we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they have on our behavior” (Senge, 1990). Sometimes we are not aware of the negative impact on certain students’ academic success.

Explanation of the Achievement Gap

There are many thoughts as to why there is an achievement gap. For example, there are views on what happens at home or in the community and what happens within the walls of the schoolhouse (Ford, 2008). It is clear educators cannot control what happens at home. However, at school many times teachers’ mental models of poor students or students of color are extremely low. As a result, we get what is known as a dumb down curriculum.  In other words, Algebra II of the 1990s is not the same Algebra II in the 21st Century.  To many teachers severely do not believe all students can learn if given increased time on task, necessary supports, and interventions supported by prioritized standards with aligned common formative assessments.

Nevertheless, teachers and principals are in control of the schoolhouse and they should be using data sets to drive instructions every hour of the school day for every student. Subsequently, strong negative mental models of certain groups of students may very well impede teachers from operating in good faith in regards to students of color and their parents who do not have loud voices and possibly less educated ( Noguera, 2012).

It is imperative for principals, department chairs, and administrators to challenge the mental models of implicit biases. This should be a non-negotiable. Those responsible for educating students should be held accountable. Why? Because for many students its truly a matter of life or death. Education breaks poverty. Educated citizens have more opportunities because doors are open for them. Educated citizens are more likely to have insurances such as health, vision, dental and opportunities for homeownership. “The American Dream.”

As of 2014, there are more children of color in public schools than there are students from the majority group. I point this out in order to make the case of how important it is to hold all accountable. There are now more students of color in public school. The very populations who tend to significantly lag behind white students.

“Of the projected 50.7 million public school students entering prekindergarten through grade 12 in fall 2017, White students will account for some 24.4 million. The remaining 26.3 million will be composed of 8.0 million Black students, 13.6 million Hispanic students, 2.8 million Asian/Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.5 million students of Two or more races. The percentage of students enrolled in public schools who are White is projected to continue to decline through at least fall 2026, as the enrollments of Hispanic students and Asian/Pacific Islander students increase” (National Center Educational Statistics, 2017).

As leaders, we must lead with integrity and we must lead with students at the core of every decision that we make. Stay WOKE!!

NAEP Shows Little to No Gains in Math, Reading for U.S. Students

By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter |April 10, 2018

Fourth- and eighth-graders in the United States have made little to no gains in math and reading since 2015.

While the average reading scores for eighth-graders increased compared with 2015, there were no changes for reading at fourth grade or for math at either grade, according to results from the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress, also called NAEP or The Nation’s Report Card.

Moreover, the latest results reveal a disturbing trend in which the country’s poorest-performing students scored worse in both subjects than they did in 2015, while the highest-performing students posted increases, reflecting a growing gap between those at the top and bottom of the achievement spectrum.

“I’m pleased that eighth-grade reading scores improved slightly but remain disappointed that only about one-third of America’s fourth- and eighth-grade students read at the NAEP Proficient level,” said former Gov. John Engler of Michigan, the chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which along with the National Center on Education Statistics, the Department of Education’s research arm, administers the test.

“We are seeing troubling gaps between the highest- and lowest-performing students,” he said. “We must do better for all children.”

To be sure, results varied considerably among states and the 27 large urban school districts that volunteered to have their scores individually analyzed and included in the 2017 Trial Urban District Assessment, which was also released Tuesday and is known as TUDA.

When it comes to breaking down NAEP scores by state, this year Florida was the stand-out.

Florida was the only state to see an increase in math, as the average scores of both fourth- and eighth-graders increased between 2015 and 2017. Most states’ average scores remained unchanged in math, though 10 states saw declines in fourth-grade math and three saw declines in eighth-grade math.

Most states’ average scores were also unchanged in reading, with the exception of 10 states whose eighth-graders posted increases.

“Something very good obviously is happening in Florida,” said Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of assessment at NCES, though she stopped short of correlating those increases with any specific policy change. “Florida needs to be commended.”

In addition to an uptick in the Sunshine State’s math and reading scores, Florida saw increases in almost all student subgroups inching up their proficiency rates, including students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities and those still learning English.

Moreover, two of Florida’s three large school districts that volunteered to participate in TUDA, Duval County and Miami-Dade, also posted similar increases.

“I can’t tell you why,” Carr said. “But something interesting is happening in Florida.”

Tuesday’s results, however, were undercut by the fact that the test was administered digitally for the first time via a tablet device. Research shows students tend to score worse on digital assessments than on traditional paper tests, prompting some state education officials and policymakers to dismiss the results ahead of their release, despite Carr’s insistence that NCES researchers properly accounted for the change.

“We’re going to learn a lot more about what students know and can do, not just their answers, but more about how they arrived at these answer through this more digitally based assessments,” Carr said to reporters on a press call Monday.

When researchers at NCES analyzed the scores more than 200 times and compared them to the smaller cohort of students who took the test as it has been traditionally administered with paper and pencil, they found very few inconsistencies with the results. In fact, Carr said, in the handful of the inconsistencies they did find, it was often the case that students who took the test digitally performed better.

“We are just ecstatic about being able to move these assessments to a digitally based format,” she said. “Students are communicating, living, they learn and are taught in a digitally-based world, so assessments such as NAEP are moving toward a digitally based assessments.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s results, policymakers and advocates were bracing for students to fare worse than in years’ past, concerned about what the the country’s most cited indicator of student achievement will mean for the trajectory of education policy across the country, despite a chorus of attempts from education researchers to caution against making causal claims.

“We’ve come to anticipate NAEP results as an indicator of student academic achievement, but we shouldn’t base our perceptions of education in America, or in individual states or cities, so heavily on this one data point,” said Chris Minnich, the CEO of NWEA, an organization that designs K-12 assessments.

“The concerns I hear from education leaders center on making sure we use multiple measures of student learning to inform our opinions on how our schools, districts, and states are doing,” he said, stressing that student growth data is a better representation of education progress.

In addition to reporting math and reading scores by state, this year’s release also includes the results of fourth- and eighth-graders in 27 urban school districts that volunteered to have their scores reported out separately via the 2017 TUDA.

Again, mirroring the flat-line trend that occurred among states, most of the average scores for the city school systems remained unchanged in both subjects since the last assessment.

A handful of outliers include San Diego, where fourth-graders increased their average scores in math and reading; Duval County, Florida, Fresno, and Miami-Dade, where fourth-graders posted increases in math; Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas and Detroit, where average scores declined in fourth-grade math; and Albuquerque and Boston, where eighth-graders increased average reading scores.

“Today’s release of The Nation’s Report Card confirms that there is still much work to be done to close achievement gaps and ensure that our young people are ready for success in college, careers and life,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the organization that represents every state’s top education official.

“State chiefs recognize the urgency of improving outcomes for all students, and these recent results from the Nation’s Report Card only further demonstrate this call to action,” she said.

Standards, Curriculum, and Assessments

 Standards are skills and knowledge students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a lesson, chapter, unit, semester, or school year. Standards are constant and tend not to change from grade level to grade level.  What students should know and are expected to do comes from various cross sections of society such as schools, parents, military, businesses, colleges & universities, and communities. Curriculum on the other hand is flexible and can change from day to day. It’s the material and resources used to help students master the necessary skills or improve readiness.

Since knowledge is intangible or unable to be grasped because it’s inside students’ head, educators must administer assessments or other forms of measurements for the purpose of determining what students know, do not know, or partially know. Formative assessments  which are assessments for learning, provide the instructor tangible insight as it relates to what students know or their readiness level. This valuable insight should be used by educators  to adjust their actions or strategies. Therefore, formative assessments are essential for progress monitoring knowledge gained or not while proceeding with teaching and learning.  Just as a doctor who uses diagnostic tools to determine health levels such as a thermometer, a stethoscope, or blood work and prescribe a treatment plan, a check of mastery by the teacher can design the treatment the student needs in the form of  pathways to enable students to attain the skills that have been determined necessary for the student to know. During the teaching and learning process, formative assessments or checking for understanding should be immediate in order to provide students with immediate descriptive feedback that allow students opportunities to work toward meeting the identified purpose, goals or targets.


How can we hold those who benefit from racism accountable?

Editor’s Note: This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.   

Andre M. PerryTuesday, March 27, 2018

The other side of the inequality coin that we need to confront

The evidence that racism is directed at black people to impede their social and economic progress keeps growing (and growing), but discrimination persists. That’s because isolating racism as a cause of racial disparities, particularly among black men, is only part of the solution. Showing how racism benefits white people, and white men in particular, is the evidence black people can take to court and the bank.

New, important research out of Stanford University, Harvard University, and the U.S. Census Bureau shows that even wealthy black men who live in tony neighborhoods are more likely to have sons who will grow up to be poor than their white male counterparts. The researchers controlled for many factors, including the family’s socioeconomic background, neighborhood, education, and wealth, among others, and still disparities existed.

The New York Times created a stunning data visualization based on the study that showed how black children in wealthy families become adults in lower income brackets. The graphics also represent how different racial groups that started out rich end up poor; even here, more black children end up poor than kids of other races. Many are calling this research groundbreaking. One Times columnist went so far as to say the work puts “an end to the class vs. race debate.”

Actually, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement put an end to that discussion. But those who don’t believe that blackness led to the killings of the unarmed Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice are still mired in debate.

Black people, including black academics, have long accepted research that shows racism is a causal factor in the social and economic outcomes of black people. It has been the irrationality of racism and the elitism of the academy that have precluded conservatives and liberals alike from accepting the works of William Darity, Roland Fryer, Julianne Malveaux, William Julius Wilson, Ida B. Wells, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Cornell West, who wrote the book Race Matters.

Black people, including black academics, have long accepted research that shows racism is a causal factor in the social and economic outcomes of black people.

We also know that race matters through our lived experience. The depressing number of educated and wealthy black women who die during childbirth is hard proof that race matters. Black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Black women can’t buy or educate their way toward better health outcomes. Black folk whose lives and deaths illustrate those shocking gaps don’t need further convincing that something besides class is at play.

What we do need more evidence of, however, is how racism works—for white people.

Instead of focusing on the negative impact of racism on black boys, the headline of that Times story could have read, “Racism enables whites to maintain wealth.” The charts presented in the reporting also highlighted white men’s elevated position in society. Yet the reporting on the study inexplicably placed the scrutiny on black men.

I fear that the spotlight on racial disparities ultimately helps widen the gap between black people and their peers of other races. When we see black people as problems, we almost guarantee that no one will want to invest in them. After all, who invests in a problem or a deficit when investing in a solution is so much more attractive? Education is littered with white saviors fixing black children for this reason.

There are still people who continue to blame poor women for having too many children and not getting married—rather than fixing the systemic problems of unequal pay, tax policy that favors the rich, and discrimination in housing and employment.

But if investments that can be used to create wealth, build better schools, and develop training programs go to other (often white) people who we assume have the capacity to fix black people, the people on the lower end of the disparity never truly develop. Likewise, the focus on differences ends up perpetuating a line of research that ultimately leads to victim blaming—and we have enough of that. Think about the rhetoric around single mothers causing poverty. Believe it or not, there are still people who continue to blame poor women for having too many children and not getting married—rather than fixing the systemic problems of unequal pay, tax policy that favors the rich, and discrimination in housing and employment. You know, the factors that determine how much money people make.

Since 1965, when Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan published his report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” better known as the Moynihan Report, researchers and journalists have continued framing poverty mainly as an individual choice—i.e., mothers form families that put children in harm’s way. Moynihan also offered a robust structural analysis of the economic and social conditions that help shape black family structures. However, he set a dangerous example by identifying the main problem as black people not living up to white middle-class ideals. It’s a mold that researchers of black men willfully maintain to this day.

“When there’s only one parent with a meager income, the burdens mount and feed on themselves,” wrote Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson in an op-ed just this month. “That’s one reason the growth of single-parent households is rightly regarded as a cause of poverty.”

When you fault single parenthood, you inevitably to go down a path of chastising women, culture, and individual behavior. The focus on negative outcomes among black men has led to programs to instill “grit,” charter schools that “sweat the small stuff” (i.e. suspend and expel children), and other initiatives that condemn the effects of housing and employment discrimination, lack of access to capital, and the prison-industrial complex on black families while privileging white men.

Let’s shift the scrutiny from the plight of black people to the privilege of white people. Of all the reactions to the amazing charts in the Times article, you didn’t hear much about white male power. It was summarized in a tweet by economist Arindrajit Dube: “If you overlay the @nhendren82 (+coauthors) percentile-percentile plots, it suggests the exceptional mobility is for white men. This point should be discussed more when hypothesizing explanations for these patterns.”

Just as cell phone cameras have shifted the national debate by capturing unarmed black folk being shot by the police for being black, we need research to reveal how the system privileges white people at the expense of black.

What is maintaining the upward mobility of white men? This is evidence our legal and policy nerds could use to address structural inequity. Just as cell phone cameras have shifted the national debate by capturing unarmed black folk being shot by the police for being black, we need research to reveal how the system privileges white people at the expense of black.

Proof that racism matters may be illuminating for those who’ve had the luxury of believing that class explains all outcomes. But it’s not that empowering for black people to constantly be portrayed as “at-risk” or as an “endangered species.” We have to keep a spotlight on the system that oppresses us, not on how it breaks down our brethren. We need to turn our gaze to how the system uplifts white men, unfairly, and at our expense. Don’t show me how bad black men are doing; show me how to hold people who benefit from racism accountable.