Some call me "Flem"

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I'm a passionate, purpose-driven, public school teacher! Period! I hold both a Bachelors and Masters in Education and am a certified Elementary K-6 and English 7-12 teacher as well as a certified Reading Specialist! I love teaching! I love learning! I love what I do and will defend it at all costs!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Army nephew surprised me at work, sort of...

So, my nephews decided to surprise "Unk" at work yesterday. The one on the far right? Just got back from Hawaii, served in the United States Army! The surprise was actually on them!! We had no school and I was out of town. Yet and still, this picture and their thinking about their old head uncle means a lot. Family means a lot!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

School Choice Week huh?

Many politicians and ed-reformy people chose to change the original vision of charter schools and made them market-type businesses competing for "seats" (Their words not mine. I don't like to think of feeling, breathing, intelligent children as seats, but humans. I digress).

With the establishment of these charters, strained budgets of school districts become "strain"ger now that these quasi-public schools need to be funded. Such moves have forced the layoffs of thousands of teaches and the closings of dozens of real public schools. This, in short, has widened the resource gap and has all but doomed the real public school to failure.

Despite these deliberate efforts, many parents chose to keep their children in the public schools that they themselves once attended and received a high quality educational experience. Truth be told, many of these same politicians, and other ed-reformy folks also attended one of the many thousands of public schools in the nation. There were no charters.

Apparently it's school choice week or whatever (lower case intentional). Code for: Go to the charters! In addition to the fact that many charter schools have a budget for advertising, another issue that I have is that there is no positive media support and air time for the public schools that have been the corner stones and academic foundations in our communities for many generations.

You say it's school choice week? Acknowledge the choice that many parents are making to keep their children in the public schools, they themselves attended!!!

Barbershop PhDs

Anyone who has ever frequented a barbershop knows that there are very interesting conversations that can be had there! Sports, religion, politics, women, the news, and myriad other topics! Guy code says, what is said in the barbershop, stays in the barbershop! (Or did I just make that up? lol)

Anyone who has ever frequented the shops knows also that EVERYTHING is a conspiracy!!

Many brothers are passionate about their beliefs, whether fact or conjecture! Sometimes the foolish thoughts and topics on which we opine are annoying and at other times, hilarious!

But barbershop conversations, debates, and arguments definitely have their place in the overall movement of black men into civic, family, academic, and other forms of constructive engagement! Since I'm black and I frequent black shops, I speak from that perspective! In the shops are voters and tax payers! In the shops are fathers and sons, mentors and mentees, youth sports coaches, teachers (YES SIR!!), Pastors, clerics, politicians, and very attentive young boys and teens who are listening!

While I jokingly attach PhD to barbershop to poke fun at some of our sermons that are based on unfounded facts and upon which some of us will swear, I don't mean to belittle the opinions of our barbershop comrades. (Although some of us do speak with such authority (feigned)---as if we, ourselves, advised the President and foreign leaders or conducted the scientific research that proves the government conspired)

When public schools in Philly are brought up, I ALWAYS insert myself into the conversation! Some are on my side, others are not! When we're on opposite sides of the aisle, it can be.....ahem.....interesting! I do not stand down! Because I teach in the same community where I get trimmed up for the weekend, I have a whole slew of students and parents who can vouch for this young, black, male teacher who speaks from the core of his soul!!

I may not be a true Barberhop PhD, but I'm a teacher! And doggone it, a good one!

Cigarette Tax

So, Philadelphia received its long awaited cigarette tax! Whew!! Now we're just a ship a mile below the surface and not two miles! Whew!! What a relief!

I hope no one is sitting comfortably in 400, City Hall, or Harrisburg. The spring season will bring the same desperate begging, bargaining, and fighting for adequate, steady, and sustainable school funding that we've been fighting for!

During the normal discourse of what I call "Barbershop PhD" discourse, a guy sitting in the chair next to me asked me point blank, "Where's the money school teacher?? Tell me!" My response can be summed up like this, the problems are complex and so, too, will be the solutions, especially since Philadelphia is home to the two largest school systems in the state, with our charters being the 2nd largest! If they stay and if we will forever share the same pot of money and if money must forever be taken from the district's bottom line to go them, this crisis will not go away anytime soon! Period!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Importance of Black Male Teachers

I am grateful for Dr. Mike Robinson (@DrMikeRobinson on twitter) and Forest of the Rain Productions: An Education Affairs Organization (@anaturalbridge on twitter) for giving me the chance to record a 3-minute mini-talk on an educational topic of my choosing. I chose to speak very briefly on the importance of black male teachers in our schools.
There is so much to say and so much that can be done nationwide and I did my best to summarize some of my ideas in three minutes! This was my first time doing something like this and again, I'm grateful for that opportunity.

Just as a side note: I'm the only black male teacher at my school and one of only two male teachers, period. Our current principal is a black male and there are other strong black men who work in various capacities in our building. So our approximately 700 students do see some positive male role models.

So, yes I am a proponent of higher numbers of male teachers at the elementary level, no matter the race. But speaking for my race, I'd like to see more black men teaching at the elementary level across the country and in different geographical settings. Here are some of my thoughts...(click the link)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our waiter-teacher

Today I took a former supervisor of mine, who was like a mother to me where I used to work, out to lunch. As a retired teacher turned director of early childhood education for a large nonprofit organization, we most certainly started talking education and schools.

Two of my rants included "I'm going to speak up for my kids no matter what" Rant and the "I probably would've have been fired a long time ago if it was up to _____" Rant. While talking, our waiter, a younger black male, overheard me talking.

"I know that's right! Are you a teacher?"

From there, he began talking of the work he does in the community and all that he does with youth sports and how he wants to be a positive influence to young kids. Boss Lady and I informed him that he already is a positive influence. We also began to speak of how more black males are needed in our school systems. We also asked whether he was going to go back to school.

From our conversation, we could tell that he was passionate about his work and his insatiable desire to do more! Before we left, I made sure he had my contact information. We must support each other in this work...ministry!

At this juncture I should insert some statistics or some inspirational proverb about the importance of effective black male teachers in our schools, especially in elementary schools. I should probably insert the fact that only 2% of the nation's public school teachers are black men. I should probably also include how much of an impact an effective black male teacher can have on an entire school and not just his classroom. Maybe I should mention that some of our colleagues start to get a little uncomfortable when black teachers start talking like this because "we shouldn't see color" or "a skilled teacher can be effective no matter what color he or she is."


Monday, August 25, 2014

Encouraged by a former student and parent

When teachers are demonized as the source of the problem for all of society's woes, it's tweets and facebook messages like this that really are encouraging!!

From a parent on the page I set up for former students and parents:
I love u as a teacher!! I admire the love u have for our children I wish there were more like u educating them u care so much keep doing what ur doing God Bless U!!

I replied to both student and parent! THIS is what keeps me going! The accolades of principals doesn't impress me. I don't need my back patted on by district officials. I'll be polite and say thank you. But when former students and parents, and even current students and parents can tell you mean well by their children??? Then my teaching is not in vain!