94% of Indiana Schools Can’t Fill Teacher Vacancies and There Is a Bunch of Reasons Why

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By Andrew Pillow

Do you fill like your school is having trouble finding new teachers? Well, you are probably right and you are not alone. According to an Indiana State University survey of school districts, 94% of respondents say they are dealing with some manner of teacher shortage.   

It appears that the shortage has actually gotten distinguishably worse as the same survey last year found that “only” 92% of districts were experiencing a shortage. Special education was also hit harder this year with the survey finding a 10% increase in the number of respondents that reported a shortage in special education roles.

What is interesting about this phenomenon, is that everyone has their own ideas about why this shortage is happening.  The great thing about Indiana State’s survey is that it left room for comments. And the comments were revealing.

Applicant Pool:

Many of the comments made reference to the lack of qualified applicants in comparison to past years.

“Teacher shortages are increasing each year as well as a lack of ample pool of qualified applicants. In addition, we continue to hear that if Indiana does not begin to treat teachers and public education better, more of our younger teachers will be leaving also.”

“Pool is shallow, quality pool is even more shallow.”

“The candidate pool is horrible.”

“Where we once had 15 to 20 qualified applicants, we are now lucky to see ANY qualified candidates, and often are taking people with qualifications less than optimal.”

Pay and compensation:

Closely related to the number of qualified applicants is the lack of, or perceived lack of fair pay.

“Pay matters more to the new generation than ever before”

“Salary is going to doom the profession”

Bigger/Wealthier Districts Poaching Candidates:

In every profession, there are the haves and have-nots. According to the survey, the have-not districts are struggling to compete.

“Teachers are moving to other districts like no other time in my career. Some are leaving in the first week of school, one left today (9-21-17). The teacher shortage is creating districts taking teachers from each other to fill slots and lots of dominoes falling from that. Some have 15-20 years and moving.”

“Big problem finding qualified teachers in all areas. Big problem having teachers recruited away from our district even after school has started.”

The comments in the survey also touched on politics and the new teacher requirements.

Read the full survey here. (Indiana State University via: Document Cloud)

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Weekend Links (10/22/2017)

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

A Principal’s Words Has Power

Shawnta Barnes, third grade

Shawnta Barnes, third grade

When I entered Mary Evelyn Castle Elementary School in second grade, it was my third elementary school in three years.  We moved for a third time because my parents had finally saved up enough money to purchase a house.  Although the house was located within Indianapolis Public Schools’ boundaries, this was one of a few parts of the district being bused out to desegregate other school districts in Indianapolis.  Not only was I beginning a new school, I was also switching to a new school district into the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township.

The worse part of attending a different school each year was losing friends. My best friend in kindergarten was a red-head girl and in first grade, it was a boy named John.  When I entered second grade, I decided I would not make any more friends because I didn’t see the point.  What if we moved again?  It would be another friendship lost.  By end of  second grade, I’d succeeded. I ended the school year without friends.  

I was determined to carry on that mission into the third grade, but a little girl in my class had other ideas.  Although third grade was the first year I had been at the same school for more than one school year, I wasn’t convinced we wouldn’t move again.  A girl in my class really wanted to be my friend.  She talked to me every chance she had.  At recess when I tried to avoid classmates by walking the perimeter of the playground, there she was walking right alongside me.  It didn’t matter what I did, she wasn’t getting the message.  I decided I had to take action because she was wearing me down and was interfering with my no friends plan.

From her ramblings when I was trying to ignore her, I learned she had a favorite sweater and I decided this was my opportunity.  She had taken it off, placed it on a bench, and went to run around the playground with some other kids.  I took her sweater, left the playground, and threw it into dumpster.  Of course someone saw me and the told the teacher supervising recess.  The teacher was shocked and the girl who tried to befriend me asked why and I said, “I hate you and wish you would leave me alone.”  This prompted the teacher to radio the principal Mrs. Dyer.

Mrs. Dyer, Former Principal of Mary Evelyn Castle Elementary School

Mrs. Dyer, Former Principal of Mary Evelyn Castle Elementary School

Inside I began to panic.  My mom was a faithful school volunteer and always told my sisters and me, “You don’t know when I’m at your school.  I could pop up at any moment.”  I knew the principal knew who my mom was.  I had imagined my mom running out of the school in front of the principal to snatch me up.  Fortunately for me, my mom wasn’t there that day.  

Once the principal arrived to the playground, she and I walked over to the dumpster and she reached in and retrieved the girl’s sweater.  Then, we walked to her office.  I sat next to her in a chair with my head down and eyes focused on the floor.  She said, “Shawnta, I don’t understand what happened here.  You don’t normally act like this.  Why did you throw her sweater in the dumpster?”  I told her about how I didn’t want any friends because we might move and it made me mad that she was ruining my plan.  Mrs. Dyer said, “Shawnta, you’re lucky.  You have been to more than one school and you know different kids from different neighborhoods.  Even if you move again, you will have your memories and stories to tell your new friends.  I think you would be happier at school if you tried to make some friends.  Who knows, you might not even move again.”  I finally looked up and asked her the question that was swirling in my mind while she was speaking, “Are you going to call my mom?”  She said, “No, I don’t think that is necessary.”

Those words made all the difference.  Mrs. Dyer changed my perspective about school and I made some friends including the girl whose sweater I threw into the dumpster. She helped me deal with my fear of moving again and instead of dishing out a punishment (which I rightfully deserved), she was compassionate.  Turns out she was right; my parents didn’t move again and still live in the same house today.  

Today, during National Principals Month, I want to thank Mrs. Dyer.  She probably never knew what her words meant to me.  I hope all principals remember their words have the power to change the trajectory of a child’s life.

Black Schools Shouldn’t Be Named After Confederate Leaders

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

By Andrew Pillow

Recently there have been two separate school name controversies but both center around the same debate: Should schools be named after Confederate officers and politicians?

One situation involves a school in Mississippi named after Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. The other concerns a Texas High School named after Robert E. Lee, the most successful and well-known Confederate general. In both of these situations, the school districts decided that the names should change. The decisions to change the names were not without controversy, but they were the correct choices to make. Particularly in the case of the Mississippi school because it is a mostly black school. 

America’s history is not perfect. That is a known fact. But we have come a long way from the days of slavery and jim-crow.  With that being said, the remnants and stains of America’s racist past (and to a degree present) still remain and probably always will. The founding fathers that adorn our currency had slaves. Even our national anthem and state songs remember slavery fondly. I can deal with these daily reminders of our past, however problematic they may be. But the least we can do is afford our black students the dignity of not having to attend schools named after people who wouldn’t want them to go to school.

Why would you have a majority black school named after someone who didn’t even believe black people should be free?

“Well, this school was named a long time ago. Way before the school became majority black.”

Then change the name. As demographics and dynamics of a neighborhood change, it is only natural that opinions and sensitivities will along with it.

“Well, the Civil-War wasn’t actually fought over slavery.”

This is patently false. Historians are pretty much in agreement that the civil war was about slavery. It also didn’t require a plethora research to come to that conclusion. Most of the southern states cited slavery as the reason for withdrawal from the union in their own declarations of secession. Even the conservative-leaning Prager University admits the civil war was mostly about slavery.

Given that the primary cause of the confederates was to secure the right of the southern states to keep blacks as slaves, it seems borderline paradoxical to use their names for schools that have blacks as students.

One of my favorite TV shows is Firefly. Ironically, it’s a space western based loosely on the reconstruction period following the civil war. The protagonist of this show, Mal, has a quote that is eerily relevant to this debate.

“It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of 'em was one kinda sombitch or another.”

This is a quote that rings true. It is probably too much to ask that every single historical figure we choose to memorialize be a perfect person in every way. I’m not arguing that every person we honor be free of sin. I’m arguing that we don’t honor them in a way that was antithetical to the life they lived.  

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Mississippi:  A book makes people ‘uncomfortable’ but what about your flag?

American flag and Mississippi state flag located in downtown Jackson, Mississippi

American flag and Mississippi state flag located in downtown Jackson, Mississippi

A school board in Biloxi, Mississippi has banned the Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird because it makes people ‘uncomfortable.’  This novel, set in the 1930s, focuses on racial inequalities.  Now, more than ever, youth need to be aware of America’s tragic past so they can understand what minorities and allies are fighting for today.

I find it interesting in a state where the Confederate emblem is part of its state flag that being ‘uncomfortable’ was the reason this novel was banned.  How many Mississippi citizens are uncomfortable when they see the state’s flag flying in the air?

The flag with the Confederate battle emblem has flown since 1894 in Mississippi and in 2001 a referendum to change the state’s flag failed to pass.  Although all eight public Mississippi universities, some government buildings, and some cities in Mississippi including Biloxi have decided not to fly the flag until the emblem is removed, that seems like an easy way out.  I guess it might make people too uncomfortable to fight for change.

During my fall break, I spent some time in Jackson, Mississippi where my husband’s paternal family resides.  While walking downtown to the Parlor Market restaurant, we walked past the American flag beside the Mississippi State flag.  I have been to Mississippi many times over the last 13 years and I really never stopped to think about the flag.  I do believe the flag should be changed, but removing the emblem won’t change the hearts of people in Mississippi who don’t understand why the battle emblem is problematic for some of their fellow residents.  

This is why it is dangerous to censor material like To Kill a Mockingbird in schools.  We need the next generation to be comfortable engaging in difficult conversations.  We don’t need to pass down archaic beliefs and ideals.  The real problem isn’t being uncomfortable, it’s fear. What if Mississippi students read about injustice and wanted their state to be different?  People aren’t uncomfortable, they are fearful of their way of life disappearing.  If Mississippi schools were teaching students about social injustice and the history of the south, maybe students would be more engaged in learning and the Mississippi Department of Education wouldn’t be potentially taking over yet another school district, Jackson Public Schools, the second largest school district in the state.

 

Charters Give Choice

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I, like many other parents, want the best for our children. I want my children to be healthy, safe, and very high on my list is well educated in a diverse setting where they can interact with people of all backgrounds and ethnicities.

Easy right?

When I began to research where my now seniors in high school would go to kindergarten I found out, it wasn't that cut and dry. There were a lot of challenges to providing the education I wanted for my children.

First off I was poor and I was a full time student. I quickly learned that not only did the places I could afford to live had failing schools, they had been failing for years. All the best schools were in the suburbs or private schools, neither of which were options for my family.

The second thing I found was a lack of diversity. The great majority of schools were either predominantly Caucasian or African American.  Diverse schools just weren't a reality.

Last but not least I had two five year olds who were as different as night and day. I wanted a school that could meet both of their very different needs. My daughter was eager to please and loved preschool and was at the head of her class, but her twin brother wasn't very interested in preschool  and took a little longer to catch on to several things.

I could not offer my children a quality education. Like many parents in poor and minority communities across the country, I felt trapped. How could I send my children into a failing system and expect success?

It wasn't until I read a local newspaper article that I felt hope. It was an article about charter schools, a public tuition free option. I researched several charter schools and eventually entered my children into lotteries for the ones I thought would be a good fit for our family.

They were accepted to our top choice. It was a school that was diverse, had a challenging curriculum with lots of opportunity for extra help, offered bus service, extracurricular activities, and test scores that were improving every year.

My choice to send my children to a charter school was to give them a chance. I knew the traditional school options had failed and continued to fail the children in our community. I strongly believe all children can and will learn, even my poor minority children who were born to a single mother on welfare.

Their education has been a journey of choice. They were not just funneled to the next school in their zip code regardless of whether or not it was a good fit for them. Because of school choice, I was able to choose from a variety of public, private voucher school, and charter school options.

It has been exciting to watch my son and daughter receive college acceptance letters these last few weeks. I have no doubt my opportunity to chose schools that were best for them played a huge part in their success.

Having the freedom to chose a school that was a good fit for our family has made all the difference. Quality education is a civil right; it should not be attached to your zip code or economic status.

 

Comment

Cheryl Kirk

Mrs. Kirk is a married mother of three children, 16-year-old twins and a 9 year-old son, who all currently attend private school on a voucher. She is a Gary, Indiana native but has lived in Indianapolis for many years. While trying to provide a quality education for her children she met many obstacles and became determined to access the best education for her children. Cheryl is a licensed practical nurse and has worked in home care, hospice, long-term care, and is currently the clinical director for an assisted living facility.

Will Craig Middle School Reopen in 2019?

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Reopening Craig Middle School is one of three options the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township is considering since their enrollment has consistently increased over the last four school years.  Enrollment for the last two school years has been higher than when Craig was closed.  Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Dr. Steven Goeglein said, “We also have to be realistic about what’s going on in IPS – closing down John Marshall…Will the families want to come here?  There’s lots of movement.  We know we’ve got to do something; doing nothing is not an option.” 

Lawrence Township, dubbed the “district of destination” with the core values integrity, achievement and service, serves a little under 16,000 students on the northeast side of Indianapolis.  It currently has four Early Learning Centers, 11 elementary magnet schools (grades 1-6), two middle schools (grades 7 & 8), two traditional high schools, one alternative high school and an Innovation and Technology Center.  Most of its elementary schools are close to capacity.  Two elementary schools, Amy Beverland and Sunnyside, are over capacity with some classrooms located in portables.

In 2009, due to a decline in enrollment, the school board voted unanimously to close Craig Middle School and move sixth graders from the middle school to the elementary school.  Those changes went into effect during the 2010-11 school year.  Currently 75% of the building formerly known as Craig Middle School is being used.  The building is now known as the Lawrence Education & Community Center and houses district administration, the Lawrence Advance Academy (the district’s alternative high school where students complete a semester of work per quarter to graduate from high school) and other district activities. 

The district is studying two other potential options to accommodate its growth.  The second option is to remove all sixth graders from the elementary schools and send them to the former Craig Middle School as a sixth grade center for one year.  The third option is to add two sixth grade academies to each of its currently existing middle schools, Fall Creek Valley and Belzer. 

Lawrence Township is in the middle of its “Blue Ribbon” Facility Plan.  Under this plan the district is improving its facilities, including building additions to a few schools, without increasing taxes.  The plan selected to address the district’s growth will adjust the timeline of the current facility plan.  The school board would have to vote on one of the proposed options by December 2017 for changes to go into effect by the 2019-2020 school year.   

At the Building Capacity Community Forum held on Tuesday, October 17, district representatives made clear they were going to take the time necessary to study each option and consider community input.  Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Dr. Kathleen Rieke stated, “We aren’t going to be moving any kids before 2019 in the fall.  That’s been our timeline and if we need more time, it’ll be 2020. We’re going to do it right and not rush.”

There also seemed to be more benefits for the options to either reopen Craig Middle School or add sixth grade academies to the existing middle schools.  Student services and special education saw no benefit to having a dedicated sixth grade center and concluded, “a one-year transition would be detrimental to the educational welfare of students.” The district estimates it will cost approximately 16.3 million to open a sixth grade center, 33.7 million to add sixth grade academies to existing middle schools and 18.4 million to reopen Craig Middle School. 

If you missed last night’s Building Capacity Community Forum, you can attend the next forum being held Thursday, October 19 at Lawrence Central High School, 7300 E. 56th Street, at 6 p.m. or you can view the Facebook live recording from last night’s meeting on the district’s Facebook page.  It is important to stay informed and have your voice heard because changes are coming to Lawrence Township.

Celebrating National Black Poet Day: 10 Black Poets You Should Know

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I often get annoyed with these National Days that seem to be every day, but there are some I do actually enjoy. One is today. National Black Poet Day was established in 1985. The day is designed to celebrate the importance of black heritage and literacy. We should also celebrate the contributions made by these black poets. The day is recognized in honor of our country's first black poet, Jupiter Hammon. October 17 was chosen because it was the day he was born in 1711. In honor of Jupiter Hammon and National Black Poet Day here are 10 black poets you should know for their brilliance in the world of poetry and their contribution to the community:

  1. Gwendolyn Brooks: Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Her winning poem was "Annie Allen." 

  2. Alice Walker: Alice Walker widely known for her famous and award winning book Color Purple. She also wrote many of her first poetry books while being a college student at Sarah Lawrence College. She is an advocate for Social Justice and many of her poems speak to the harsh realities of the civil rights movement.

  3. Nikki Giovanni: Nikki Giovanni is well known for her poetry which speaks to race and social issues. She has also written for children’s literature. She is arguably one of the most famous African American poets. She was nominated for a Grammy for her album: The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collections. She is currently a Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech University.

  4. Sonia Sanchez: I was introduced to Sonia Sanchez by her book Shake Loose My Skin. She is a well known poet, who is credited for introducing black-studies courses into university curricula. She has written 18 books of poetry.

  5. Etheridge Knight: Previously married to poet Sonia Sanchez, Etheridge Knight is well known for his 1968 debut poetry Poems from Prison. This was inspired by his eight year long prison stint for robbery back in 1960s. He is one of the most powerful voices in black poetry. While known as a stalwart of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He also spent some time in Indianapolis IN.

  6. Mari Evans: Born in Toledo Ohio; however, she is most certainly considered a Hoosier. She taught at IUPUI from 1969-1970. She later moved to Bloomington to teach African-American Literature at Indiana University.  From 1968 to 1973, she produced, wrote and directed the television program The Black Experience in Indianapolis. It was her second collection of poems in 1970 I am a Black Woman that gained her national attention. She died in March 10, 2017 at the age of 97.

  7. Rita Dove: She was the second African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Thomas and Beulah. She is the first black poet laureate in the country. Many of her poems focus on her personal experiences as well as some politics. She is currently a professor at the University of Virginia.

  8. Lucille Clifton: Lucille Clifton is a winner of the National Book Award. She was also a poet laureate of Maryland. Her work has earned her two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She is well known for her work around spirituality, womanhood and African-American identity.

  9. Maya Angelou: Maya Angelou’s work speaks for itself. She is the “Queen” “The Godmother” of Black Poetry. She is truly one of the gems of not only black poetry community, but the black community. Oprah said it best when she said, “She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.” Her work lives on in so many ways. Phenomenal Woman was a book to celebrate women and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings illustrated how love can help overcome racism, oppression, and trauma.

  10. Langston Hughes: In 1951 Langston Hughes, “The Father of Black Poetry” wrote "What Happens to a Dream Deferred?" One of his best known lines and arguably one of the best poetry lines in history. He is synonymous with the Harlem Renaissance. His work has inspired generations of black poets.

On this day, I encourage everyone to find a work by these great poets and share it and read it with your students.

  

 

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

My Weekend at the National Black Male Educators Convening

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“God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”

There are moments in time where African Americans have a chance to shine. For example, in 2002 at the Oscars when Halle Berry and Denzel Washington won the two most prestigious awards for Best Actor and Best Actress, we shined. In 1999 and 2002, when Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys won five solo Grammy awards in the same night, we shined. There are other times when there is just black excellence everywhere. To give you glimpse of my weekend at the inaugural  National Black Male Educators Convening held in Philadelphia, try to imagine those events I previously listed, NAACP Image Awards, and Black Girls Rock all wrapped into one with educators. That’s what this weekend was for me. Having the chance to be in the room with over 500 black male educators was simply breathtaking. Not to mention having the opportunity to hear from some amazing educators doing incredible work. One of my personal highlights of the weekend was I  had the chance to facilitate the session “Elevating the Black Male Voice in Education.” Read more about that in an upcoming blog post.

This weekend, I was fortunate enough to sit in a room full of educators who are the who's who of black education and have my mind blown away with their wisdom, their insight, their passion, and most importantly their love for our black babies. Here is the recap from my weekend at the Black Male Educators Convening.

Friday Night:

Friday Night was the opening ceremony. The night was kicked off with words from Pennsylvania State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera. He talked about the important work that was ahead of us as black educators. One of the most memorable things he said was, “Having just one educator of color changes perspectives for a lifetime for all students.” Those words were powerful because it reminded us that our work as black male educators has an impact on all students not just the black students. He spoke with so much passion and love for education and the work of education students of color. Next, was Shavar Jeffries, President of Democrats for Education Reform. Mr. Jeffries challenged us to fight harder and push harder to ensure black students receive a quality education. He spoke about the importance of not giving up. He said, “The education of a black child is inherently a political thing.” That quote reminded me this work of educating black children is ingrained in us and it is part of the fabric of who we are as educators and a nation. Those two speakers were just the preview of the greatness that was about to happen.

Saturday: 

Bright and early at 8 a.m. over 500 black educators packed the ballroom on the third floor of the Sheraton in downtown Philly ready to celebrate this inaugural occasion and learn and receive insight from some of the brightest minds in education. The opening panel picked up right where the speakers the night before left off. The session was titled Stay Woke:  Taxation without Representation - The Invisible Tax on Teachers of Color. This session of heavy hitters including former US Secretary of Education John King, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite, former Executive Director of White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans David Johns and it was moderated by one of my favorite educators Kaya Henderson, former Chancellor of DC Public Schools. This session comes from an op-ed written in the Washington Post by Secretary King about the invisible tax.”   

Sometimes you get a chance to sit back and listen to excellence and that panel was every bit of it - so many gems dropped. Here are some of my favorite quotes. David Johns spoke about the importance of self-care. He asked a question that had everyone thinking, “How can we as educators do our best for kids when we are not at our best?” Secretary King said, “We have no future as a country if we fail to educate low income students or students of color.” These students represent the diamonds in the rough that will be the beacons of hope and prosperity for our country. For too long they have been left in the dust and it is time now for us as educators to ensure their future.

Immediately following lunch was the second of three panels for the day. This panel was titled The Movement:  Then and Now. This panel featured Head of School for Edison Charter Salome Thomas-El, Marquette Professor and Educational Expert Howard Fuller, and CEO of Wayfinder Foundation Chris Stewart. These three gentlemen kept everyone on their toes. You couldn’t help but to switch back and forth between the three of them.  Just as with the first panel, there were many gems shared during this session. Principal Thomas-El hit the nail right on the head when he said, “One day with a great teacher is worth more than a lifetime of study.” In a room full of teachers, he reminded everyone the power a teacher has. It cannot be underestimated how important the role of the teacher plays in the lives of students.  

Sunday:

The final panel of the day really brought home the theme of the conference, “Stay Woke.” During the opening session CEO of The Fellowship Vincent Cobb spoke truth when he said, “Being here is an act of protest. We are taking a knee and in fact reclaiming our time.” This panel was called Radical Educators:  Activism in our communities, classrooms, and schools.  Why there can be no separation between activism and education.  The panel featured Derrell Bradford, Robert Simmons, DeRay McKesson, and Brittany Packnett. DeRay kicked it off by challenging us to not just love the idea of equity, but to also love the work that comes with equity. One of the highlights for me of this panel and probably of the weekend was when Brittany Packnett said, “Go and be your black selves. Have the audacity to be authentically you.” I felt chills. She spoke truth and power during that session and definitely left everyone feeling inspired and excited. She was right. By being our black selves it gives black students the permission to do the same.

After a full weekend of unapologetic blackness and black educational excellence, I left Philadelphia and returned to Indianapolis inspired. I have a new fire lit inside. I have to take all the gems I learned over the weekend and I have to put it into action. It is time to go to work and do the work necessary. The most important thing this weekend taught me was there is power when you get black male educators together. The rally cry for The Fellowship rings ever true “2% is not enough.” It is not enough and we must inspire more black men to become teachers and we must also support and retain the black men that we have. Thank you to The Fellowship for hosting this convening it was much needed and all too inspiring!

 

 

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Weekend Links (10/15/2017)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.