My first Monday Musings of each month will include links and my reflections about all my Indy/Ed posts from the previous month.
I began writing for Indy/Ed, an education blog that is part of the Citizen Education network, January 2017. This network includes blogs in L.A., D.C., NOLA and Memphis. I am humbled to be part of a network of educators and/or parents who are advocates for the least of these in the world of education.
The Mind Trust Educational Bus Tours 11/2/2017
The Mind Trust has a goal of, “creating great public schools for every student.” To show the public what makes a great public school, they offer educational bus tours. These tours allow stakeholders to see up close the elements of an excellent public school in Indianapolis.
Weeks after this piece was published, I had the opportunity to speak to a few parents who children attended failing schools. One parent shared she had attended a not so great school herself. Before becoming informed, these parents didn’t realize how much better their children’s school could be. How can you demand better if you do know it is possible or even what it looks like? This is one way to inform parents, but not the end all be all.
Indianapolis Urban League’s Director of Education and Advocacy Mark A. Russell shared, “The Indianapolis Urban League is deeply committed to educational excellence and innovation in all schools from traditional public schools, charter schools, innovation schools, and voucher and tax credit schools.”
Mark A. Russell was kind enough to invite me to the Annual School Excellence Awards Luncheon last Wednesday. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but I did learn which schools won awards:
- Abraham Lincoln Elementary School – MSD Perry Township
- Cardinal Ritter High School – Private/Parochial
- Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School – Charter
- Decatur Central High School – MSD Decatur Township
- Emma Donnan Elementary School – Charter Schools USA & Indianapolis Public Schools
- Enlace Academy – Charter
- Forest Glen Elementary School – MSD Lawrence Township
- Scecina Memorial High School – Private/Parochial
- William Penn School #49 – Indianapolis Public Schools
These schools are doing great work with Indianapolis students and I’m was pleased there were all types of schools represented.
We give our blood, our sweat and our tears. We sacrifice time we should be spending with family and friends. We spend money from our salaries, which aren’t up to par with other professionals with four year degrees, to buy supplies for our classrooms and now the GOP wants to eliminate a benefit that helps us with that cost.
I love what I do and for the most part stay upbeat and positive about the teaching profession. I know there are phenomenal educators doing phenomenal work with children in many schools across the United States, but legislative actions like this discourages people from entering this profession. I believe my fellow Indianapolis educator Idalmi Acosta said it best in her piece, “Teacher Commentary: The House Tax Cut Will Force Educators Out of the Classroom” when she wrote:
Imagine if doctors had to pay for their patients’ robes, syringes, or medicine. We would think that’s outrageous. What makes teachers different? I love my students and am committed to them. But I also need financial stability, and the ability to claim even a small amount of my classroom expenses on my taxes is a way to do that.
If we don’t start elevating the teaching profession and treating teachers like other professionals, we are endangering the future of our society.
Veterans Day: My Father’s Story 11/11/2017
There are nearly 20 million Veterans living among us, in every state and territory and from every walk of life” and counted among them is my father James A. Stockton. For this Veterans Day, I decided to interview him to learn more about his time in the military.
This was my favorite piece I wrote this month because I learned so much about my dad. I didn’t know about the racism he faced or what life was like for him during the time of the Vietnam War. When I think about the struggles my father went through just to obtain his education, it makes me even more committed to helping students, especially students of color, obtain the same for themselves.
The most aggressive innovation pathway, which has divided our local community, is restarting a chronically underperforming school as an innovation school. This is the path that will be recommended to the IPS Board of School Commissioners for Washington Irving School #14 and Wendell Phillips School #63.
One thing I learned after writing this piece is that people don’t understand innovation in IPS despite the information publicly available on their website. I am currently writing a series that will follow the innovation restart process for Wendell Phillips and Washington Irving. Stay tuned. The first piece in the series will post this week.
Teachers, It Isn’t Your Job to Judge Parents 11/18/2017
We judge some of our most vulnerable families because of choices they have made in the past or choices they are working through today. Instead of showing empathy, we share our disappointment with the child or with the parents.
If you have attend a predominately black church service, you may have heard the preacher say, “If I have stepped on your toe, say ouch.” A few educators I spoke to exclaimed, “ouch” after reading this piece. We all must check ourselves from time to time to make sure we don’t lose sight of showing empathy to parents even when times get tough in the classroom.
I’m a parent and I get it. You feel the teacher has wronged your child and you are angry. I’ve been there, but I also know I have to think about how my actions will affect my relationship with my child’s teacher and how my actions might change the relationship between the teacher and my child.
During the 12 years I have been in this profession, seven was spent serving Haughville families. When I heard a middle school was coming to the Haughville area, my interest was piqued. I wanted to know what this school was about so I went to their first board meeting. The school leader Robert Marshall seems to have a well thought out plan and time will tell how this school will serve Haughville families. I plan to bring my readers an update after this school opens next school year.
Indiana Chinese Lantern Festival 11/26/2017
Beginning now throughout the next several weeks, I plan to highlight options, free and for a fee, parents can take advantage of during the next break with their children.
My husband and I decided to take our first grade twin boys to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to attend the Indiana Chinese Lantern Festival. This event is open each night November 24, 2017 – January 7, 2018 from 5:30-10:00 p.m. The festival is presented by Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc and it includes 33 larger than life lantern displays crafted by Chinese artisans, live performances and handicrafts for sale.
I excited about this series I am currently writing. I plan to highlight local museums and activities around the Circle City. My boys are especially excited since I told them I would be interviewing them for each of the pieces I write for this series.
Instead, I decided to stay and fight. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but parents want to learn. They want to know what it takes to make their neighborhood school a great school. Now, I can say my neighborhood school is an A school and I want that for other parents.
Ashley Thomas is fired up about education because of training she received during Stand UP classes. I heard people who dislike Stand for Children say this organization is brainwashing parents. I find it hard to believe anyone could brainwash Ashley Thomas into doing anything. She decided to stay and help her son’s school move from F to A and regardless of whether you like Stand for Children or not, you cannot deny their classes were part of the reason parents became involved and changed school 93.
Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, released her areas of focus for the next legislative session and lowering the compulsory age from seven to five is one of her priorities. I agree the age should be lowered, but I think we should aim for six instead five.
The most surprising research I came across writing this piece was the mandatory school start age for Pennsylvania and Washington is eight. I thought seven was the highest. I’m sure most students in those state attend school before eight, but I wonder what the history is in those states that led to the decision and I wonder how the history keep this decision in place.
Back to Indiana…I hope we can lower our age to at least six. When I entered kindergarten in 1989, there was not an expectation I would leave reading on level C or D, but that is the case now for students. The longer we allow students to not attend school, the more work it puts on the teachers.