Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The editors of the NY Times today highlighted one of this country’s most shameful systems—the GED testing process. The editors were pointing out
Although I appreciate the spotlight on this issue that too frequently slips through the cracks of the radar of education reform advocates and social service policy makers, I feel that the editors misunderstood the full range of issues.
The editors focused on the poor GED passage rate in
GED candidates are required to take the entire 8 hour, five-subject GED exam in one sitting. However, they are only required to retake the sections that they failed. Most often, GED candidates will fail the math or the writing. For my former students, it made sense to take the test in full, knowing that they will probably fail one or possibly two sections. That way, when they attended my preparation program, they could focus exclusively on the one or two sections that they did not pass. They were motivated to stay in my preparation program because they already passed the rest of the subjects, and this knowledge motivated them to prepare for the sections that they missed.
In DC, the GED testing office recently implemented a rule requiring the students to demonstrate proficiency in all five subjects before they were permitted to register for the official test. The result—the only candidates who register for the test are the ones that can pass the entire exam. For the city, this resulted in high GED passage rates. For the high school dropouts, the removal of the test’s low-hanging fruit exacerbated the psychological barrier of preparing for the GED exam.
I hope that today’s editorial provokes conversation around remedying the issues surrounding this country’s high school dropouts and improves the GED preparation and testing systems. However, I hope that this conversation expands to include the point of view of the dropouts themselves rather than statistics that too frequently drive policies that are separated from the human face of the issues.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
More to the point, this was not a plea for it; it was a statement of it. We are equal. We always have been. The prison of inferiority is in our own psyches as well as in others' fears. But I sense now, for the first time, a critical mass of self-respect among my LGBT brothers and sisters. It was there before; but now it's everywhere, especially the young, who seem to have found the courage of their own desires and the knowledge of their own love.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Nonetheless, I wonder, if this is deserved just yet. My fellow ReGenerate, Pilar, says he is laying the crucial foundation necessary for future peace and prosperity in the US, and around the world. I agree. However, I wonder if the committee could have waited for his efforts to bear fruit before awarding such a high honor.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I wonder how the DC Council is going to manage the crisis when the thousands of homeless individuals and families have no where to go but the streets.
With hypothermia season just around the corner, this is an absolute outrage.
Monday, October 5, 2009
By Ihotu Ali
Originally published in LIMIte Magazine
We all remember the Hillary - Barack infighting, and how the nation and all its various ethnic-racial and gender lines subsequently went haywire. Race and gender fought to hold central stage in American politics and, although we now have a black president, I dare say we still have significant skeletons in our closet when it comes to the media and powerful women. Take Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools since 2007, and controversially portrayed and yes fierce, if perhaps misunderstood, advocate for DC school children.
In a city where private schools overflow with affluent sons and daughters of politicians, public schools are a near disaster. And Rhee has stepped up to the plate with so-called “tough-talk” and “arrogance” that, in my opinion, would be a necessary requirement for the job. This is DC, folks: generations of educational disinvestment and disenfranchisement. Not a walk in the park. However, Rhee has been painted as an unwanted intruder.
First off, she’s Korean, and we all know how well Koreans and blacks get along…except that this one read Dr. King as a child, was married to a (black) NBA player, and taught for three years in Baltimore, Maryland. She’s certainly not black, but certainly not a stranger to black cultures. She’s been scolded for antagonizing teachers with the front cover of New York Times image of “sweeping out” old and ineffective teachers like an old and cranky schoolmaster that wants things her way. She may want things her way, but “her way” has a pretty good track record - Rhee founded the “New Teacher Project” which trains and recruits thousands of high-quality teachers to provide to struggling school districts.
But she does not beat around the bush and does not bend over to please, which may not sit well with Washington-types. She knows her strength and is not afraid to flex her muscles. She’s quoted in the cover article of the Washington Post Magazine: “I don’t mind firing people, because I know it is going to benefit kids.” For complacent, or for earnest, but bureaucratically limited teachers, this may sound like a threat. But it seems those that meet her face to face see her deep commitment to students and passion for not just talking about reform, as many in DC do, but acting on it. In a year of promised change and reform, she seems to me a truly bright light on the DC horizon.