Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

17Mar/160

THE JOURNEY: “Between the World and Ta-Nehisi Coates”

Ta-Nehisi and HU President Frederick

Ta-Nehisi Coates has deepened the national conversation about race and identity.  On this episode of The Journey, President Wayne Frederick chats with his guest, the award-winning author and journalist about his work, the inspirational traditions of Howard University and the responsibility to recognize that “Beauty is not free.”

Aired on Sunday, March 13, 2016, on Howard University radio station, WHUR.

Click here to listen to the 15-minute discussion.

7Jan/160

Turns Out Monkey Bars And Kickball Might Be Good For The Brain: Old Knowledge Always Returns

Here's a very brief piece about the importance of "recess" within schools, something more and more schools are either decreasing, or completely eliminating, from the typical child's school day. It's from this past Monday (1/3/16) on NPR.

I won't add much commentary here, except to say that it's interesting that all of these creative and more developmentally appropriate "innovations" (more like returning to ancient practices) appear to pop up more frequently in places not heavily populated by Black and Brown people. I'm not sure about this particular effort, but I do know that in the schools closest to me, recess is either (nearly) non-existent, or has been turned into structured group (frequently quiet) time with minimal chance for children to be like children.

The piece is less than 5 minutes long, and the full article is can be read here. A few excerpts highlighting the major points are also provided just below. I encourage folks to do the quick listen and read, though.

But in one sense, recess at Eagle Mountain is different. Journey gets more opportunities to role-play than many of her peers, because recess happens a lot here — four times a day, 15 minutes a pop for kindergartners and first-graders.

That's much more time on the playground than most public school kids get in the U.S. Over the past couple of decades, schools have cut recess time to make room for tests and test prep.

Ask Journey why she and her friends get so much more recess time, and she giggles. "Lucky," she says.

But ask the adults, and they'll tell you it's because Eagle Mountain is part of a project in which the school day is modeled after the Finnish school system, which consistently scores at or near the top in international education rankings. The project's designer is Texas Christian University kinesiologist Debbie Rhea.

"I went over there to find out where they've come in the last 20 to 25 years. Yes, their test scores are good, but they are also healthy in many regards," she says.

The biggest difference Rhea noticed was that students in Finland get much more recess than American kids do. "So, I came back with the idea to bring recess back to the schools. Not just one recess, but multiple recesses."

This year, Eagle Mountain Elementary started tripling recess time, from 20 minutes to an hour. The program also focuses on character development —things like empathy and positive behavior.

Rhea is working with a handful of local schools already. More will join next year in Texas, California and Oklahoma.

Teachers at Eagle Mountain say they've seen a huge transformation in their students. They say kids are less distracted, they make more eye contact, and they tattle less.

And then there's the longer term impact on a school's ability to move through their curriculum, as well as key benefits to children's brain development...

Wells and fellow first-grade teacher Donna McBride have six decades of teaching between them and say this year feels different. They were nervous about fitting in all the extra recess and covering the basics, but Wells says that halfway through the school year, her kids are way ahead of schedule.

"If you want a child to be attentive and stay on task, and also if you want them to encode the information you're giving them in their memory, you've got to give them regular breaks," says Ohio State University pediatrician Bob Murray.

He has compiled research that backs up what teachers at Eagle Mountain are seeing in class. Murray says brain imaging has shown that kids learn better after a break for physical activity and unstructured play.

He and his colleagues wrote up a policy statement for the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting that kids with regular recess behave better, are physically healthier and exhibit stronger social and emotional development. That's as school districts nationwide have been taking recess out of the school day.

15Nov/150

Educate Girls

Took a picture of this sign at a charter school primarily serving African American and Latina girls in Los Angeles last week. We must prioritize the full education and healthy development of our young girls.

Given the increasing rates of incarceration, the increasing exploitation of our young girls through sex trafficking, and the relative inattention to the abuse of our young girls and women at the hands of law enforcement, one might reasonably conclude that the full and healthy development of our young girls is not a priority for our community.

While I, like most of you, remain clear about how important girls and women are within our community, I would also argue that we all need to express and affirm this in increasingly public ways.

11Nov/150

Black Student Activists and Black Athletes Stand in Solidarity Against Racism on University Campuses

Yesterday on Democracy Now...

Despite what some people say, the landscape of anti-racism organizing is very different today. Universities, as with other institutions, will have to be far more responsive to the increasingly public student protests against racism and hostile educational environments experienced by Black students and other groups of students who find themselves on the receiving in of white racism and related hostility. Whether it will fundamentally transform the mission, nature and culture of these educational institutions, I'm not as convinced; however, that has to remain the goal.

Black Student Revolt Against Racism Ousts 2 Top Officials at University of Missouri

A revolt by African-American students at the University of Missouri has forced two top officials to resign. On Monday, President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced they will step down in the face of protests over their handling of racism on campus. African-American students have staged weeks of demonstrations against what they called a lax response to bigotry and vandalism. In a key moment Saturday, African-American football players joined the protest, vowing to boycott games and other team activities until Wolfe resigned. We are joined by Mizzou student Danielle Walker, who has organized "Racism Lives Here" demonstrations on campus; and University of Missouri Black Studies Chair Stephanie Shonekan. "[Racist] incidents just seem to be almost a rite of passage for black students when they enter the University of Missouri," Walker says. "I think it is atrocious that these protests had to get to this point in order to truly bring about change, that a student was willing to give their life in order to bring the necessary attention [to] what we have been experiencing so long at this university."

(approx. 23 minutes)

How Black Football Players at University of Missouri Changed the Game on Racism

The protests at the University of Missouri have been growing for weeks, but a turning point came this weekend when African-American players on the school’s football team joined in. In a tweet quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the players wrote: "The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere.'" They announced they will no longer take part in any football activities until Wolfe resigned or was removed "due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experience." The coach and athletic department soon came out in support. We are joined by Dave Zirin, sports columnist for The Nation magazine and the host of the Edge of Sports podcast.

(approx. 9 minutes)

"Another Yale is Possible": Students Confront Racism at Ivy League School

The protests at the University of Missouri come as a similar dynamic plays out at one of the nation’s top Ivy League schools. On Monday, more than 1,000 students at Yale University in Connecticut held a march over racism on campus. The "March of Resilience" comes after several incidents where students of color said they faced discrimination. One woman of color was reportedly denied entry to a fraternity party because she is not white, and a faculty member drew criticism after rejecting calls for students to avoid culturally offensive costumes on Halloween. Monday’s crowd chanted slogans including: "We are unstoppable, another Yale is possible." We are joined by Lex Barlowe, African American studies major at Yale University and the president of the Black Student Alliance.

(approx. 9 minutes)

29Oct/150

Criminalizing Our Children in Schools and Classrooms – A Tragedy and Pattern

Schools, and the communities that sanction their policies and practices, are increasingly criminalizing our children and adolescents.

From yesterday's Democracy Now...

Cops in the Classroom: South Carolina Incident Highlights Growing Police Presence in Schools

We turn now to shocking new videos that have surfaced from inside a South Carolina high school where a police officer has been caught on camera slamming a teenage girl to the ground and dragging the student out of the classroom. The videos, which went viral on Monday, appear to show Deputy Sheriff Ben Fields approaching the student, who is seated at her desk, then wrapping his arm around her neck and flipping her and her desk to the ground. He then appears to drag her out of the classroom. The student was arrested. Another student who filmed the assault was also arrested and held on a $1,000 bail. The incident reportedly began when the student refused to give her teacher her phone. The incident is the latest in a series of cases of police officers in schools using excessive force against students. - Update: South Carolina authorities have announced the officer, Ben Fields, has been fired from his position.  (approximately 12 minutes)

Texas Student Spent 52 Days in Coma After Being Tased by Police at School

In one of the most shocking cases of police brutality inside a school, 17-year-old Noe Niño de Rivera spent 52 days in a medically induced coma after police tased him at school in November 2013. He was permanently brain injured. Last year Bastrop County in Texas settled a federal lawsuit for $775,000 with his family. We speak to his attorney, Adam Loewy.  (approximately 6 minutes)

Criminalizing the Classroom: Inside the School-to-Prison Pipeline

New York City has more than 5,000 police officers patrolling the city’s schools—that’s more than the combined number of school guidance counselors and social workers. Nationwide, more than 17,000 officers work in the school. What happens when students are arrested in the classroom? We look at what many experts call the "school-to-prison pipeline." (approximately 13 minutes)

29Oct/150

If the Novel is Dead, So Are We All. Keep Reading Alive.

Literature must live...

Literature, explains Pulitzer-winning writer Junot Díaz, is the closest that we've come to telepathy. It's through literature that we educate our souls by transporting ourselves into some other character's mind. It builds empathy. It allows for new perspectives. It triggers provocation in all the best ways. Novels aren't as popular a medium today as something like Twitter, but that doesn't mean they're not still hugely important.

28Oct/150

“Think Out Loud” – A discussion about the emerging “black digital intelligentsia”

From October 15, 2015 at the Schomburg Center in New York...

In the New Republic's fall issue, contributing editor and Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson explored how the emerging black intelligentsia is embracing social media and technology to shape American thought. On Thursday, October 15, the New Republic brought this conversation to life with a discussion with a bevy of black thinkers, including Dr. Dyson, Ebony senior editor Jamilah Lemieux, Duke professorMark Anthony Neal, Director of the Schomburg Center Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Assistant Rutgers Professor Brittney Cooper, and Lehigh professor James Braxton Peterson. New Republic Senior Editor andIntersection host Jamil Smith moderated.  (approximately 2 hours)

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29Sep/150

Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Prof. James Smalls and Dr. Mary Hoover on ‘Like It Is’ with Gill Noble

Understanding the relationship between history and education in the lives of African people in the United States and beyond remains absolutely critical.

23Sep/150

Why are African American boys falling behind in third and fourth grade? How can and must schools do better?

Someone just passed this along to me, hoping to share some more information and perspective about the experience of Black boys in many of this nation's public schools.  While the discussion is from a 2012 talk show conversation, there are still some recurrent themes in here that folks should continue to be mindful of.

The larger take away... We continue to need classroom and school settings led and shaped by people who truly understand and appreciate who African American people are, African history and culture included, and can use this understanding to both inspire and guide African American children into a healthy adolescence and adulthood. Education is about the full development of African (African-American) people, and not simply preparation to work in someone else's economy and workforce.

Studies have shown that by the fourth grade, many African-American boys fall behind in the classroom. Some statistics show that most black men don't graduate from high school, which can often lead to a life in and out of the criminal justice system, unwed fatherhood and even an early death. This program will focus on the closing the achievement gap, the critical need for mentors and the importance of social influences in a young black man's life. (approx. 30 minutes)

27Aug/150

THE JOURNEY: “Knowing History, Knowing Self: Howard University President Wayne Frederick Talks with Dr. Greg Carr”

dr carr and HU president dr wayne frederick

From Howard University radio station, WHUR...

On this episode of The Journey, President Wayne A. I. Frederick talks with Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of African American Studies at Howard University.  They explore the joy of learning, the importance of understanding historical context and the promise of a new generation of scholar-activists.  (Originally aired on Sunday, August 23, 2015)

Click to listen to the 15-minute conversation.