Education Policy & Practice

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Dear EducationCEO,

Like you, I am up at 2 in the morning!  I checked my phone and saw that I had an e-mail notification alerting me to a new post on your blog.  The title intrigued me, “Let me set the record straight …”  I couldn’t resisit!  However, please forgive my middle-of-the-night, my laptop-battery-is-low-and-I-don’t-feel-like-fetching-my-powercord-in-the-next-room brief response to one thing in particular that you wrote:   

Perhaps they could ‘color’ their respective boards to reflect the communities in which they serve, and simultaneously make millions each year, per school?

If I read correctly (and please correct me if I am wrong), I understood this comment in context to mean that the boards of KIPP and TFA (among others), are not reflective of the communities they serve.  And though not explicitly stated, I understood you to be talking about the organizations’ national boards.  You’re right, names do pop up in more than one place on the national scene.  But at the local, I feel I can speak to this issue of representation from personal experience, having served a 3-year term on the KIPP Baltimore board of directors.  I believe there is real value in pursuing racial and ethnic diversity at the local level.  What does it really matter if the national board is lily white and estrogen deficient?  At the local level is where I believe board members are going to be most impactful – mobilizing local resources, involving the local community and businesses, and really being champions for our kids.     

So, I’d love to chat with you about this!  Thanks for posting your thoughts – these conversations are necessary. 

– Samantha

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I love words.  Here are my top 5 from the weekend, in no particular order:  [tweetmeme=”wordpress”]

1. Ennoble

2. Indomitable

3. Virulent

4. Innumerable

5. Basilisk

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What memories do you have of your pre-college experiences on a college campus and how do you think that helped shape your attitude toward and perception of college? [tweetmeme=”wordpress”]

Here are a few of my memories.  Frankly, I thought college was cool.

  • My earliest memory is from elementary school.  I participated in a summer arts enrichment program at Towson University.  The program was only for a few hours in the morning, for the duration of a few weeks.  I remember the cookies and juice that they served us for snacks.  I remember reading Rudyard Kipling.  I remember the sculpture class.  I don’t remember any of the people, however.
  • Another memory is of spending at least a part of a summer or two at an overnight basketball camp. I was probably a young teenager at that time. I remember my fascination with the concept of dormitory living, shared bathrooms, and the cafeteria.  I liked it.
  • My older cousin was a standout basketball player at Morgan State University, which is only a mile from where I grew up.  She invited me to spend the night on campus after attending one of her games.  I was excited, because at that time I was a varsity starter at my high school and was in awe of the real-ness of being a college basketball player.  And to boot, I would get to spend the night in a real college dorm with real college kids.

I recently asked my 15-year old cousin, “Have you ever spent any time on a college campus?”  He has not had any meaningful experience in a college setting.  To be fair, he has attended several college graduations at such institution as Duke University, Trinity College (Hartford, CT), the United States Naval Academy.

He then said something that I didn’t anticipate hearing.  After telling him that I wanted him to spend time on a college campus this summer, he quickly said that he didn’t want to do that because college campuses are so big.  Then I knew for sure that I had to get him on a college campus and help him to feel “comfortable.”  I believe that there is a college size and setting for everyone, and I want to help him find one.

I encourage you to speak to as many young people you know about college.

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In an earlier post, “Finding the Road to College,” I urge those who read this blog to speak up about college, to talk to our young people and plant the seed of higher education attainment. Well, this evening, I had the opportunity to practice what I preach.

I was in the checkout line at a local grocery store. We were moving slowly, which afforded me the opportunity to overhear two African-American young ladies chattering away.  They both appeared to be young teenagers – 13 or 14 maybe.

One said to the other, “I said stop f*@$%ing touching me.”  My ears perked and my mind started racing.  That young lady continued, “Look, I’ve had a bad day!”  I seized the opportunity.

Me: “Why did you have a bad day?”
Young Lady1: “Because something bad happened right across the street from my school today.”
Me: “I’m really sorry to hear that.”

Both girls are quiet and stare at me.

Me: “What grade are you in?”
Young Lady1: “8th grade.”
Me: “What college are you going to attend?”
Young Lady1: [pause] … “I don’t know.”
Me: “Well, what would you like to study in college?”
Young Lady1: [smiling]  … “Acting”
Me: “That’s great.  So over the next four years you’ll do well in high school and apply to a great college with a great acting program.”

The young lady nodded affirmatively and smiled.

By that time, I had been rung up and I was paying for my items.  I turned and smiled at the two young ladies and said, “Have a good evening, ladies.”  They both said thank you.  Then “Young Lady1” replied, “You have a good evening, too.”

What a great memory.  I pray that my chance meeting with two young minds will be a part of a set of experiences that lead them in the direction of higher education and plant in their minds the seed that yes, they are college material.  I don’t know anything about those girls – but that does not matter.  They ARE college material.

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Athletes Highlight Education as Key to Their Success

Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets [and Duke Class of 2001] and Myron Rolle, former Florida State football player and current Rhodes Scholar, share their personal stories to encourage students to take responsibility for their education.

Shane Battier, a classmate of mine from Duke, has always been academically-focused.  Myron Rolle, chose to defer the NFL for one year to study medical anthropology at Oxford.

Two young, successful African American males.  It pleases me to see this story planted on the U.S. Department of Education website.  But I’m a 30 y/o education researcher/evaluator with nerd-like tendencies – of course I’m going to see that story because visiting ed.gov is something that I do for fun.

Is my 9th-grade cousin, who is quite academically capable, but who has also announced his dream to aspire to become a professional athlete, going to see this?  Yes, in fact, he will!! He will because this blog post will be imported to my facebook page, and I will tag him in that note.

Great.  But he’s just one.  It is incumbent upon us [if you are reading this, then you are included in the “us” to which I am referring] to push these stories down to where the younger generation will be exposed to them.

I feel a surge of passion coming on here! I believe that the current generation of K-12 students must not be studied, talked about, or used as pawns, but rather they should be ENGAGED.   We need to bridge this gap.

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