Tag: Phillip Jackson


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Rewind: The Dropout Nation Podcast: Building Ties Between School Reformers and Grassroots Activists


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As part of a further discussion about the importance of Beltway school reformers to embrace the grassroots, here is a rewind of a February Dropout Nation Podcast on the subject….

As part of a further discussion about the importance of Beltway school reformers to embrace the grassroots, here is a rewind of a February Dropout Nation Podcast on the subject. Inside-the-Beltway policymaking, important as it is, will mean nothing for improving the educational destinies of children if school reformers don’t reach out to urban groups such as the Black Star Project and activists working in suburban and rural communities.

You can listen to the Podcast at RiShawn Biddle’s radio page or download directly to your iPod, MP3 player or smartphone. Also, subscribe to the podcast series. It is also available on iTunes, Blubrry, Podcast Alley, the Education Podcast NetworkZune Marketplace and PodBean. Also, add the podcast on Viigo, if you have a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android phone.

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Three Questions: Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project


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When Phillip Jackson founded the Black Star Project in 1996, few school reformers had fully focused on the crisis of low educational attainment among young black men. Fourteen years —…

Tackling youth violence and educational decline all at once.

When Phillip Jackson founded the Black Star Project in 1996, few school reformers had fully focused on the crisis of low educational attainment among young black men. Fourteen years — and numerous reports on racial and gender achievement gaps — later, the former Chicago Public Schools Chief of Staff’s grassroots efforts have fostered organizations focused on improving education for young black men such as UCLA’s Black Male Institute and Success for Black Boys. But Jackson still sees plenty of ground uncovered — especially among inside-the-Beltway school reform types and major education reform philanthropies — on addressing the black-white achievement gap.

In this week’s Three Questions, Jackson offers some of his own thoughts on achievement gaps, school reform, and the role of families in improving education and stemming youth violence. Read, think and consider.

Why should African-Americans care about achievement gaps and the quality of education in their schools?

The educational achievement gap is predictive of the social and economic achievement gaps in life.  If Black children are not trained, equipped and empowered to do well in school, their chances of doing well in life are severely limited.  The educational achievement gap is a precursor to a generational curse of failure, cultural destruction and genocide.

What is the one thing school reform activists inside the Beltway seem to ignore when it comes to addressing education and youth issues and why?

The number one solution ignored by theorist inside the Beltway is the role of parents in producing successful students.  Schools cannot produce successful students without the support of caring, nurturing and demanding parents, guardians, families and communities.  Until Washington realizes this and invests in this, the United States will never be a 21st century global educational power.

Given your experiences working on youth violence and educational issues, what are the three solutions you offer for dealing with youth violence?

Rebuild the family.  The current epidemic youth violence, mostly in Black communities, can be traced back to the degeneration of the Black family.  The police have no ability to stop youth violence. They have arresting powers and can disperse mobs, but they cannot eliminate the source of youth violence.  Failed families is the source of youth violence.  The family is the most important social unit in human society.  Without strong families, education, economics, spirituality, physical health, emotional health, morality, etc. are all in jeopardy.

Provide positive mentors and role models for youth, especially young Black males.  Children become what they see.  They are going to adopt a model of behavior and a value system that is available.  If we don’t have positive role models and a constructive value system for them, they will adopt negative models and the destructive system.  In fact, negative role models and a destructive value system is heavily marketed to our children. Without a counter-marketing strategy, we have little chance of reaching, impressing and persuading our children not to be violent.

We must provide an education that prepares our youth to become viable parts of our society.  They must have economic alternatives and practical reasons not to engage in negative, destructive behaviors.  We have not helped most young Black men to obtain the necessary skills to be successful in the 21st century.  We should not be surprised at the hyper-violence as their response to our failure to create a viable world in which they can live.

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Read: What is NAEP? Edition


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What is happening today in the dropout nation — or what has been happening while your editor has been on the road: Amid last week’s woeful responses to the reading…

The senseless deaths of youth must stop. It's just that simple.

What is happening today in the dropout nation — or what has been happening while your editor has been on the road:

  1. Amid last week’s woeful responses to the reading test results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, Education Sector’s Chad Alderman offers a different perspective. He notes that if you break down the results — and realize that the underlying sampling now includes more blacks and Latinos (in order to better represent the nation), one will see some real progress. Black 4th-graders, for example, scored 23 points higher than fellow students in the same grade four years ago. This is all good. But a more-longitudinal assessment — showing progress among students between being in 4th and 8th grade — would certainly offer more perspective on the nation’s academic progress.
  2. Meanwhile the Bluegrass Institute’s Richard Innes notes that Kentucky’s NAEP performance may seem better than that of California, but appearances are deceiving. Especially when Kentucky’s education officials suppresses 46 percent of its English Language Learners and special ed students. Declares Innes: “only two other states in the entire country played the exclusion game harder.”
  3. Those two states, according to Dropout Nation‘s analysis: Maryland and Tennessee , which respectively excluded 57 percent and 55 percent of their ELL and Special Ed students. Which may explain why Maryland, in particular, is among the most-stubborn in resisting school reform efforts (and always seem to be the best-performing state in the union). New Jersey, which excludes 42 percent of ELL and Special Ed students, is no better, and neither is Delaware (it excludes 42 percent of ELL and Special Ed students); North Dakota excluded 44 percent of students while Ohio excluded 40 percent of its ELL and Special Ed students from NAEP. Certainly this dishonor role deserves much in the way of scorn; it also offers more ammunition to opponents of Common Core State Standards and other attempts at putting the nation under one national curricula standard.
  4. Speaking of scorn, two more deserving of it are the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local and the Big Apple branch of the NAACP. They succeeded in convincing one judge to halt the shutdown of 19 of the city’s worst-performing schools and their replacement with higher-quality options. As Chancellor Joel Klein rightly notes: ““My view is that you don’t send students to failing schools, schools that can’t provide them what they need. The sad thing is that the union would bring a lawsuit to resign kids to failing schools in order to save jobs. And ultimately, that is what this is about.” Exactly. Shame on the two groups and those who support their position.
  5. Tom Vander Ark offers some thoughts on how to develop high-quality urban schools through a portfolio approach.
  6. Meanwhile in Chicago, the Black Star Project is looking for 1,000 men to help mentor the city’s children and keep them out of violence. Given that 143 Chicago Public School students have been shot during the 2009-2010 school year (and 20 slain), the need for adults to take to the schools and take action is greater than ever. Do your part.

Check out this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, this time a part two of my focus steps needed to improve teacher quality. More will be coming down the pipe later this week.

And finally, to start off your Monday, here’s a little Tower of Power. Enjoy.


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Voices of the Dropout Nation: This Past Weekend


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“Black men must mentor Black boys.  No other way has worked or will work.  Many Black men say that they, themselves, have too many problems and competing issues or that…

They are all our children. All of us -- including black men and even white men -- should teach them well.

“Black men must mentor Black boys.  No other way has worked or will work.  Many Black men say that they, themselves, have too many problems and competing issues or that they are “too busy” to mentor Black boys… Unless Black men mentor Black boys, Many, if not most, Black boys will continue to struggle and fail in this life.” — Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project on the need for black men to play stronger roles in the lives of young men.

If traditional public schools had been meeting the community’s needs, there would never have been a discussion of using public education dollars for anything other than “traditional” neighborhood schools. This is not the case. America has had it up to ‘here’ with the failures of traditional neighborhood schools. Therefore, charters have no impact on good traditional schools.” —CNN commentator Steve Perry on why urban parents are looking to charter schools and other forms of school choice.

Mistreatment and miseducation causes student failure. The failure experience as a repeated occurrence frequently constitutes child abuse for at-risk kids as debilitating and inexcusable as the better publicized child abuses.  Moreover, failure is condoned and perpetuated as expected traditional educational policy. Teachers, having been successful in school, have difficulty relating to kids’ devastating failure and imperiled lives. Educators and community leaders who should be outraged are, instead, contributing to the calamity… Meanwhile, children’s lives are devastated. Without publicity, there is no outcry; without an outcry, there is no change.” — Bill Page of the At-Risk Student Advocate to EducationNews‘ Michael Shaughnessy about why he is dedicating “my twilight years” to activism on behalf of the most-neglected children.

“If we revert to a patchwork of standards and assessments that vary according to political pressures or societal and community biases, historically disadvantaged students, whether intentionally or unintentionally, will be mislabeled as achieving high standards when in fact they are not. In turn, the schools in which poor and minority students are enrolled are likely to be overlooked when it comes to badly needed investments in teaching and learning and in formulating and implementing fundamental reforms in chronically failing schools.” — Democrats for Education Reform and the Education Equality Project in a recent report explaining the need for standardized testing.

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