Another occasional re-post. In spite of our location in proximity to fast growing communities and increasingly expensive housing the regional percentage of students considered economically disadvantaged remains constant at approximately 60%. Our Teaching and Learning group offers a Poverty Simulation to help develop empathy and understanding of the conditions many of our students and their families experience. The excerpt below that I originally posted in 2006 is one compelling example.
For the past several months I have been participating in the Urban Engagment Book Club. This month's book is A Betrayal of Work by Beth Shulman. Below is an excerpt....
For generations, Americans shared a tacit understanding that if you worked hard, you could earn a livable income and provide basic security for yourself and your family. That promise has been broken. More than 30 million Americans--one in four workers--are stuck in low-wage jobs that do not provide the basics for a decent life.....
Cynthia Porter works full time as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home in Marion, Alabama. When she comes on duty at 11 pm, she makes rounds, checking the residents for skin tears and helping them go to the toilet or use a bedpan. She has to make sure she turns the bedridden every two hours, or they will get bedsores. And if bedsores are left unattended, she tells me, they can get so bad you can put your fist in them. But there aren't enough people on her shift. Often only two nursing assistants are on duty to take care of forty-five residents. And Cynthia must also wash the wheelchairs, clean up the dining rooms, mop the floors and scrub out the refrigerator, drawers and closets during her shift. Before she leaves, she helps the residents get dressed for breakfast.
For all this, Cynthia makes $350 every two weeks. She is separated from her husband, who gives her no child support. The first two weeks each month she pays her $150 rent. The next two weeks, she pays her water and her electric bills. It is difficult to afford Clorox or shampoo. Insuring that her children are fed properly is a stretch. She is still paying off the bicycles she bought for them last Christmas.
She can't afford a car, so she pays someone to drive her the twenty-five miles to work. There have been a few days when she couldn't find a ride. "I walked at 12 o'clock at night," she said. "I'd rather walk and be a little late than call in. I'd rather make the effort. I couldn't just sit here. I don't want to miss a day--otherwise, I might be fired." No public transportation is available that could take her all the way to work.
Cynthia lives with her three children in a small maroon-colored shack. It is miles from a main road. Inside, the plywood floor is so thin and worn that the ground can be seen below. In the next room, a toilet sinks into the floor. There is no phone. A broken heater sits against the wall; the landlord refuses to fix it.
Keeping her children's clothes clean requires great effort because Cynthia has no washing machine. Instead, she fills her bathtub halfway and gets on her hands and knees to scrub the clothes. Then she hangs them out to dry.
Despite the frustration and the difficult conditions, Cynthia beams when she talks about her job. "I like helping people," she says. "I like talking with them, and shampooing their hair. I like old people. If they are down, I can really make them feel better. The patients say, 'Nobody loves me or comes to see me.' Sometimes I help the residents play dominoes. Sometimes their hands shake, but I hold them. It's a lot of fun for them. I tell them 'I love you,' and give them a hug. I like being a CNA. I'm doing what I want to be doing."
Shameless plug - registration and the call for presenters is now open for our 25th Annual Technology Conference.
As I think back to that first conference 25 years ago, I can still remember having each participant grasp long strings of yarn to introduce the radically innovative concept of being connected to a network. There was this brand new thing called the World Wide Web and something called Mosaic would soon make its debut as the first graphical browser.
Just as it was difficult then to imagine the changes that the world would see over the next 25 years, it is not possible to know what the next 25 years will bring. I do feel fairly safe in predicting that the amount of information and the rate of digitalization will only increase. As @jcasap pointed out this past week at the TASA Midwinter Conference, that brand new iPhone X is the oldest technology my grandchildren will ever know.
Another important point Jaime made was that the education system is not broken - it worked for the thousands of administrators in the room, and it was his own personal vehicle out of poverty. What has changed, and continues to change is the digitalization of the context in which education takes place. Organizations like ISTE and movements such as Future Ready Schools and Education Reimagined provide powerful frameworks for the systemic changes needed to adapt to the changing context.
It's also important to remember that the future is not some nebulous time that will eventually come - it is here. right. now. @lgracey does a presentation called The Future is Now - she will be presenting it this week at #TCEA19 - where she emphasizes that many of the technological and societal changes we think of as futuristic are already here - we can't afford to wait to begin preparing learners.
Within each of our circles of influence - classroom, campus, PLN, whatever spheres we work in - we must do what we can to develop the capacities of the learners we influence to adapt to a future that is already here.
Another occasional re-post from several years ago...Poverty continues to be a significant factor in educating the more than 850,000 students in Region 10. Nearly 60% of our students are economically disadvantaged, and that percentage has been relatively constant since this was originally posted in 2005.
City Square (formerly Central Dallas Ministries) continues to be one of the most effective advocates on behalf of the poor in Dallas. At the 2005 annual Urban Ministries Prayer Breakfast, CDM Executive Director Gerald Britt introduced keynote speaker Eddie Bernice Johnson. Here is an excerpt from his remarks...
And so, just as there is a politics of infrastructure, or public safety, or public education, there is a politics of bread.
The number of households which suffered from food insecurity increased by nearly one million from 2003-2004. Texas leads the nation in the percentage of households which experience food insecurity at 16%.
Any serious conversation in a city like Dallas about those among us, who daily face the issues of food insecurity and food inadequacy, dare not be confined to individual charity and institutional good will.
In a city like ours, people among us who go daily without healthy and nourishing food, because they don’t make enough money, or live in the wrong neighborhood, is a sad commentary on our collective priorities and ambitions.
While many of us seek to excuse ourselves from the conversation by pointing out the social pathologies of those whom we classify as “poor,” I would remind you that we are reminded daily of the pathologies of those who have sought safe haven in the suburbs. The purposelessness, self-destructiveness, the histories and habits of sin, the nihilism and materialism that characterize those of us who are middle class, leave us no room to point fingers.
The desperations of the poor and the prosperous, don’t teach us that any of us are better than one another, they teach us that we need one another.
The fact is, in a city like Dallas, there are far too many churches, far too many non-profits, far too many programs for anyone to go hungry because they don’t have access to healthy and nutritional food choices.
...But I will also make you another commitment. We will keep on working on the politics of bread.
It’s not enough to salve our corporate, theological, or electoral consciences by quoting Jesus, when He says, “The poor you will have with you always.”
We will continue to provide the pantry, AND train our neighbors for living wage jobs; we will feed the children AND work on fit and affordable housing; we will help those who are providing warm hot meals AND we will make health care accessible, AND we will work with every segment of and system in our society to bring people from dependency to the dignity of self-sufficiency, because it is what is right and just. And because that which is owed in justice, should never be given in charity.
A legacy comes from both actions and words. Here are a few of the words that contribute to the powerful legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King...
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Trust is one's willingness to be vulnerable to another based on the confidence that the other is benevolent, honest, open, reliable, and competent...Megan Tschannen-Moran
Fear. Suspicion. Disdain. Alternative Facts. One cannot spend much time on social media or traditional media without recognizing that these attitudes are pervasive in today's world. These conditions undermine the trust that is fundamental to the building of effective educational communities and make it more important than ever that leaders are intentional about building trust.
Building trust involves both extending trust and acting/living in such a way as to be worthy of trust. Bryk and Schneider identified 4 significant components that are present in someone who is regarded as trustworthy:
Demonstrating respect, integrity, competence, showing personal regard - these are all within the sphere of our own control.