Thursday, January 21, 2016

Are You Really, Seriously Promoting Justice, Equality and Opening Doors to Education?

As a long time faculty member at the University of Northern Iowa, it still amazes me each year how students freely and openly share about the Conference on African American Children and Families as well as the African American Read-in. There is one gap as they share- "I wish my other professors either allowed us to attend or encouraged us to come. Surely they admit how they dread coming to some events because of the unknown, but once they get there, what an awesome learning experience they have.
One of my early childhood majors shared, "I am so glad that I attended this conference. I learned so much and wish all future teachers could attend a conference like this." She referenced how the keynote speaker motivated her to go out and do more to promote a positive learning experience for her students at her field site.
All over the United States, students are crying out to be accepted, recognized and treated fairly. Furthermore, they want equal rights as others and want to be heard when there is an expressed need. They look forward to that lifelong journey of going to college- for all too many a lifetime dream come true. But once they make it to their respective campuses, they do not appreciate meeting up with too much disappointment and the opposite of what college was supposed to promise them.
Being the first out of generations of family members to be able to attend college was such a big thing in one student's family that three generations saw her off to college wishing her well! She wanted to do well, represent the family, be a strong force for those who came behind her. So when she endured her first challenge at college and being called the "N" word, she quickly had to get it together and decided to use the approach that I am bigger and better than that "N" name than anyone could ever call her. So she used the approach of how beautiful she was and that she was going to be a teacher someday. She was going to be a teacher who:
1) Promoted justice and equality throughout her curriculum 
2) Advocated on behalf of all of her students regardless of their family's background
3) Promised to stand up against bigotry, racism, bias and unjust treatment of students
4) Planned to incorporate integrated multicultural curricula in an ongoing basis
And now,
are we really seriously promoting justice, equality and opening doors to education for all?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cedar Rapids School District and the Civil Rights Commission Take A Look At School Discipline

Living in Waterloo, Iowa, I was able to capture the Cedar Rapids news on September 23, 2014. The information was not new, but the process was different for now. Meetings were being held because leaders wanted a change in the data that was being provided:

African American students are treated differently when being disciplined in the Cedar Rapids School District! Well, unfortunately their data was corresponding with data from so many cities, counties and states in the United States.

  So what is the next step-- we will find out!

So Who's Teaching the Children and What Are They Learning?

I must admit, I wasn't really shocked when one of mu nieces showed me a video of a young toddler cursing (using profanity- the worst type) in conversing with his mother. This child whose language developmental skills were just developed had learned or been taught that this was a way to communicate with his mother.
The words were very clear---- he had the enunciation and emphasis all in the proper place and to the amazement of adults all over the world who viewed the video would assume that he understood every word he used in this conversation.
But I couldn't help but think of how many times these opportune times and teachable moments are missed because someone did not know what to do or chose not to do what needed to be done.
  There are young children all over the United States crying out to be challenged and crying out to learn to their maximum potential. But who will take the time out of our busy schedules to stop and share in a teachable moment with a child?

  When this video was posted, it was termed as one to show how young "hoodlums" (just the term used by some) begin on the path of failure and unsuccessful experiences. But then I thought for a moment, if we indeed know of some of the approaches, tactics and experiences that lead to failure, why are there adults promoting the lack of education rather than the support of and strength of positive educational experiences?

Thursday, February 20, 2014 Black Is Not A Risk Factor

Very important link and report on Black children!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Race Does Matter Part II

Young children often ask questions about race and culture. There are many ways that some of us choose to answer them. Some choose the belief that race doesn't matter and that we live in what is termed as a" color-blind" society. But the truth of the matter is that race does matter. Yes children see racial differences and similarities. Research also shows that even young infants are often inquisitive visually and verbally about making connections of parents and relatives of other infants in the environment who may look (feature and ethnicity-wise) alike. They may physically crawl, walk, point, touch or utter sounds in the direction of the recognized persons entering the environment to demonstrate an initial thought of the racial/ethnic/cultural connections.
  I remember a three year-old coming up to me in a grocery store and asking if I was baked in an oven like cookies. Well, one would say this is one of the innocent, initial questions that a young child may ask as they are very observant of race, but still looking for answers as to why some people are browner than others, so it seems.
 Race does matter as children at a very early age begin to notice the inclusion and exclusion of people who may look like them in books, with toys and other educational materials. They also notice whether there are other children and/or adults in the educational environment who not only look like them. But they also are even more aware of whether they are treated differently, similarly or unequally to others who may not be of the same race. So yes, race does matter- and it is best that we not pretend that it doesn't. Children let us know right away that they notice race. They have questions about race. They want to learn more about race. They want us to know that they have a lifetime ahead- a lifetime of where race does matter!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Race Really Does Matter- Part I

 In the field of early childhood education, many educators have written about the importance of race and it's relationship to unequal opportunities for African American children and their families.
While some of us may seem surprised when the issue is brought to the forefront, are we really surprised or are there some truth in that we see it on a daily basis. Programs such as Headstart started early educational programs to help support children in need of greater opportunities to help them advance toward equality in educational opportunities.
1) Young children grow, develop and succeed with support and in supportive environments. Yes they can and do flourish when equal opportunities are provided to and for them.
2) Are we contributors to the continued efforts needed to help young children maintain their natural curiosity, desire and eagerness to learn?
3) Are we willing to nurture children so that they can be ready to enter educational settings in a positive manner and with supportive and positive, caring adults?
4) Are we willing to include each child's parents and family members in their developmental learning experiences?
5) Are we willing to assure equal opportunities regardless of race for children's health and well-being, social, emotional, psychological, spiritual, cognitive, cultural, linguistic and respectful experiences?

  If we are willing to be supporters of children's willing spirits of resilience, then we are at the first step of promoting equal opportunities for children!

(Continuation of Part II- Race Really Does Matter- next blog)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Colorado's Legalization of Marijuana- Ran out after 2 days

Dr. Gail Thompson and Waterloo's Safety Director, D. Trelka will speak on some of issues related to Iowa's Law at the Conference on African American Children and Families. Please keep abreast of the happenings in Colorado because their actions can impact our nation.

1) What have you seen on the news? Positive or negative?

2) Do you visualize this legalization as a way to decrease the incarceration rates of African American males?

3) Many still question the addictive effects of the drug.

4) What are your viewpoints on how this law could affect children and families?