Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Conversation Recap for February 11

Our conversation this week really centered around education and youth.

First, new folks were introduced. Debbie Olson (Tim Olson’s wife)-Oneida invited
BJ Bailey also invited by Oneida and Julia Harris.

Next we heard Susan E’s Story—thank you Susan, we’re glad you’re a part of us.


Mary-Thanked for card.

Steve- Wed. meetings to organize event on 4th anniversary of Iraq war. 7pm Wed. at Assoc. Ministries 13th and I St. Folks who’d like to join planning efforts welcome.

Tom-reminded about Ebony Fashion Fair. April 21st at 7pm at Mt. Tahoma H.S.

Regina- Black History Celebration sponsored by the Sankofa Club at Evergreen-Tacoma Sat. Feb. 17th 2-4 Keynote will be Dr. Maxine Mimms and a possible surprise guest Adefua, spoken word followed by reception with food.

Tom M. Feb. 28th at 12:30 at TCC Angela Davis will speak.

Tom H. Tacoma Civil Rights Project Kick off Feb. 28 event 5-8pm at Washington History Museum.

6th Annual More music at the Moore—Pam’s daughter J’Nai will perform as part of this production. Tickets $15 and if purchased through Pam, 15% will go back to J’Nai to help defray costs of continuing education.

2nd half of movie, “Black Is, Black Ain’t and discussion:

Large group discussion:

There are differences that make a difference the film makes a point of showing how some differences are used to make a difference that should not make a difference

Young people aching for an equal chance—“no one told us not to be in a gang. We have to tell the next generation so they don’t end up like us.”

3 essential questions—

How to we challenge the youth in a way that they will here it?

How do we get past us and them?

How do we encourage community involvement?

Teachers in the group-does the education system address the needs of the issues the youth raised in the film?

Pam-would you think that a school targeted by a major funder to reform, would you think if that school turned away big money to target the achievement of African American kids because they don’t want to engage in the professional development it would take to learn the strategies to help these students learn? Teachers filed suit against the district when being forced to take the money.

Judith-Can’t put too much burden on teachers, though some are problematic. So much of the day is dictated and teachers are becoming more powerless. What can we actually impact?

Kristeanna-1st year teacher came in very idealistic—if on improvement list, have to get scores up 20% or lose money—and if lose money, get to keep the 14 year old computers.

Amy and Dalton—goes way beyond the teacher-it’s a societal thing. If you’re down, you have to work so much harder to get back up, (credit score, bank loans, kids/schools “low performing”). Need to embrace children as children and not TV characters.

Tom M.-teach at TCC and Pierce-appreciate Judith’s comments about teachers being part of a larger system.

Laurie-Tacoma Urban League Academy experience and teacher burnout differences. Conservative Right or political spectrum teachers burn out on kids “not motivated” “disrespectful”, “academically unprepared”, “too many personal and family problems”, etc. Progressive, Left of political spectrum burn out on system “school admin. Bureaucracy hinders teaching what kids really need to learn”, “constant fight over so called standards”, “high-stakes testing makes authentic teaching and learning nearly impossible” etc.

Tom H. Seriously challenged by what Laurie reported. We’re at a crossroads and we are in charge. It’s the system AND the children. We change the children by our engagement and living with them-change the system by our authority—the people who make the laws are us.

Dick-Our example as a group and as individuals is moving us toward an ethos of asking for a different kind of society. Questioning capitalism and thinking globally.

Amy-So passionate about public education-one of the last frontiers of social justice work. I think about how to empower kids to understand access to power. Motivation is very key.

Crestina-15 years ago on the Hill, had a conference on education and presented to the Sec. of Health, Ed. and Welfare. We should start asking our state leaders to be here to talk to/with us.

Mary- Question of education ever being done, or only occurring in school, or commitment from elders ever being over, Society seems to be set up to say “aha—you failed-game over”. Some say—“some kids just can’t succeed, stop trying.” But we are it—maybe we need to act more.

Keith-sent kids to private school-everyone knows everyone. Kids disruptive should not be in school.

Magda-In terms of they are us-I would like to be a they. If you are a title 1 school can come to history lab free or reduced.

Regina-Let them learn in a way that’s enjoyable. Show films, then they might start to read. Teach in different ways. Let kids see that they have something to offer.

Rosalind-at the store and heard 2 teachers talking about the superintendent. If a bad character who’s appointed, how do we get rid of him. Need to start with the school board they are elected.

Judith-public education means our duty is to teach everyone who shows up regardless of their abilities or attitudes. Need to be careful about how kids who act up are perceived. Need to find out why. One thing is kids need to feel they are seen for who they are. Complex issues.

Sid- Have been over the literature and written about it for years. The best book about the issues is Kozol's "Shame of a Nation".

BJ- kids need to be healthy. Can’t teach them unless they are healthy. We need to investigate where we are with basic health care for every child. There is legislation currently in the works.

Dalton-Where we really need to start, is everyone of us needs to go out right now and get involved in some kid’s life. Volunteer. Dalton has a child he reads to every term. Very bright, can read but very distracted. Last week said “I miss my mom and dad” “They’re in jail.” Also, stop and think for a moment how we each got where we are. Who influenced us, and how did they do that?

Crestina-disabled children are a concern—for example seizure disorder. Stereotyped as less capable. Need to be willing to accept kids for who they are.

Keith-correct a mis-impression-one of the reasons I come to this group is because of the teachers. Of course Bellarmine is not a solution for the country. I agree with Dalton—I’ve been remiss in the sense that Diane Powers asked the group to come read to kids at McCarver and I’m going to go do that. Believe in public education.

Tom H.-endorse all the suggestions. Did have an opportunity to interview the 3 candidates for superintendent, gave feedback. Not surprised at the complaints and criticisms being voiced. When you start out castigating everything that came before that’s a problem. He said to everyone to go to the school board and tell them what we know and if we don’t we are falling down on our responsibility.

Mona- it takes a village. Leadership needs to come from we the people. We need to think about community education, open up here a chance for the community to see videos, like the Highlander School. They need to see that all people can make a difference. We need to dismantle white privilege, the system. Collectively it is we the people.

Amy- liked what Dalton said about going into schools to volunteer. It is easier to go into elementary schools but she encourages you to go into high schools as well. They need you too.

Regina-Birney Elementary “A Time to Learn” Need volunteers to help with math and reading Metro Parks bldg. 7102 S. L St. Mon-Fri 3-6pm Contact Regina Husbands 475-0341.

Pam-After 30 years in education. It really does take a village and yes, it is about responsibility—everyone’s-- students need to take responsibility, parents, school system, society. Any question about I as an individual can make a difference just call any school and ask how you can help. It’s a national dilemma. Have seen some progress, we do understand some things about cultural competency, for example.

Laurie- You have to care about the kids. They will learn from you if they believe you really care.

Tom H. Race & Pedagogy Conference taught us something about how the system is built to enhance a certain set of people. Think about what we’re up against.

Last week, Tom shared with us 2 areas of state and national policy we all need to keep a close watch on and hold folks' feet to the fire on. One is Gov. Gregoire's State of the State speech in which she outlined her priorities. Read about it here. Also, the Democratic Party, when it retook the Congress, pledged itself to a 100 Hour Agenda. We are fast closing n on that 100 hour mark. We need to a) hold them to their promise to focus on these issues and b) get them to understand issues we want them to focus on that may not be part of their 100 Hour Agenda. Read about the agenda here.