Archive for the ‘arts programs’ Tag

Big dreams require big faith & friends with big hearts   6 comments

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is about my desire to fulfill my purpose by helping the kids of my community. If you do not believe in faith or big dreams, please stop reading. From this point forward, only positive thoughts are allowed. Thank you!

Have you ever wanted something so bad, that the thought of never getting or achieving it caused you to lose sleep at night? Have you discovered your true passion but are at a loss for ways to make it happen? Have you ever had a dream that you were afraid to share with people because they would probably have something negative to say, like ‘That will never happen,’ or ‘You’re dreaming too big.’ How did that make you feel? I know when the Georgia’s charter schools division told MSA that we had 30 days to raise $1 million dollars, I was devastated. And quite frankly, a little pissed. But that is not why I am writing this blog-appeal to you. When I finally accepted that God wanted me to keep hold of my purpose, but use different means to achieve it, I felt as though I had achieved victory. No, the school did not open and we did not raise those funds, but I found another way to do what so desperately needs to be done: Provide quality arts programs for kids in my community, for free. More specifically, I want to provide free arts programs to kids who may not otherwise have access, either because their parent(s) do not have discretionary funds or the arts are not easily accessible, meaning the programs ARE NOT being offered in the schools or the community as a whole.

Those of you who have been following either my blog or tweets for any amount of time already know that I hold no punches when it comes to discussing criticizing public education, especially here in Georgia and Gwinnett County. I participate in both #BlackEd and #ArtsEd chats on Twitter to discuss what’s wrong. More importantly, I offer my opinions on how I think things could and should be, not because I am an expert but because I have common sense. I have been in both traditional and alternative schools. Kids talked to me. About everything. Many of the things they shared were not coerced from me; they obviously felt that I was trustworthy enough to have the intimate details of their lives. That meant (and still means) something to me. I made the right decision when I decided to become a teacher and I miss working with kids. Everyday. But thankfully my passion for the classroom and kids didn’t leave when I chose to advocate for my own child instead of remaining in a job/school where I was neither respected nor valued.

As I mentioned earlier, we did not raise the $1 million dollars in 30 days. More importantly, I didn’t lose sight of my vision and passion although I came pretty close on numerous occasions. When everything seemed to work against me, I kept going. I didn’t have friends with large sums of money, but I kept going. I didn’t have personal relationships with politicians or board members, but I kept going. I guess there’s something to be said about the benefits of having my back against a wall – my creativity is at its best during those times! So, all of the ‘no’s’ have led me to re-conceptualize how I will change education in my community. Here’s my ‘big’ dream: I want to start a Summer & Saturday Arts Academy for kids in Snellville, but here’s the catch: I want to offer these programs for free to kids who may attend a Title I school, as well as ELL students and those who may have a disability. Yes, I said FREE! We are going to submit a $250,000 proposal for the Pepsi Refresh Grant competition to start our program, will serve at least 150 kids during the summer and possibly 250-300 during the Saturday program. Yes, that’s a big goal because I have never been encouraged to think or dream small. It’s going to take a lot of money to do this, but with support and commitment from those who believe in the arts, their value (both alone and their impact on education), and those who know there are disparities in programs and resources in some public schools, this CAN and WILL happen! So what do I need from you? No, I am not asking you to whip-out your credit cards or checkbooks (of course if you want to, you can). I am asking for a few simple favors:

  1. After you have carefully read this post, please Retweet it if you believe in and support what I am trying to accomplish;
  2. Once I tweet that our submission has been accepted for a Pepsi Refresh Grant, encourage all of your friends and Followers to vote for us;
  3. Repeat Step 2 for 15 consecutive days.

See how easy it can be to make a difference! I am believing that this program will happen because it needs to happen. I will submit the proposal to Pepsi at 12:01 a.m. on June 1st and will receive notice about Pepsi’s acceptance a few days later. As soon as I receive the acceptance via email, I will begin tweeting to solicit votes. Please join me in the campaign to ‘Wake the artists, change the world.’

Thank you!

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Could homeschooling be the next ‘big thing’ in education?   3 comments

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.”
— Source Unknown

I believe that quote is perfect for the way I am feeling right now, about education in general. The good. The bad. And the b.s. that has become too much to stomach on most days. If you have been following the road to rhetoric, where everyone with an Ivy League degree, a column in a major newspaper, or tv show is an expert, then you know what I mean. One thing that is true, no matter how you dress it: Our public education system is in shambles, but it did not happen overnight. Some blame No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I think placing the blame there is taking the coward’s way out. That legislation was a symptom, disguised as a solution, to the problem. As one of the most industrialized and wealthy countries in the world, there is no justification for huge achievement (opportunity) gap that exists between White students and those racial/ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, or those eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch (FARL). Brown vs. Board of Education was supposed to eradicate separate but (un) equal educational facilities, but I think we can all agree that it did not happen as planned. And that discussion requires more than one blog post.

As important as those issues are, there is something else happening across the country: School districts are making significant budget cuts and eliminating hundreds of teaching jobs, as well as those of support staff, bus drivers, etc. Just today, the Cobb County School Board announced that it will cut 734 jobs; 579 of those are teaching positions. Just last week, the Fulton County School Board announced that it would slash $4 million from the arts budget, putting both the band and orchestra programs at risk. As I watched the news, a parent (and former educator) stated that she would have no choice but to homeschool her kids. The budget cuts will force districts to increase class sizes and her kids would not get the level of attention they need (and deserved) in order to be successful. I am still thinking about her words because I am inclined to speculate that the number of families who opt to homeschool will increase during the 2010-11 school year for that particular reason. Let’s face it: Teachers already have their hands full with current class sizes, ranging from 17 for Kindergarten to 23 for grades 6-8. Keep in mind, those are minimum class sizes required for full state funding. It is very rare for a district to maintain the smaller class sizes, especially in districts that have experienced consistent growth like Gwinnett County, because it is more cost-effective (so they say).

But here are some potential drawbacks to a mass homeschool movement:

  • Not ony will traditional schools lose kids to charters, but they will also lose a large number to individual or group homeschool programs;
  • Those students physically ‘left behind’ by the homeschool movement are the same kids being failed by the pubic education system in present day;
  • If schools begin to lose significantly large numbers of students to private, charter, and homeschool programs, how will they remain open?
  • Some states could implement tougher requirements for parents who opt to homeschool, i.e., each homeschool parent must possess a Bachelor’s degree and take certain courses to prove they are qualified (this is something I forsee).

I have spoken with a close friend about the possibility of starting a University Model School program in our community. I have researched this program and it is sound; all schools using it have grown and produced very intelligent and ambitious students. These programs also teach kids things that are considered ‘extras’ in pubic schools, e.g., arts, college readiness, and basic life skills. I also struggle with this concept because, again, a large number of students who could benefit will not be able to participate for several reasons: Either their parens are unable to stop working in  order to fulfill the commitment requirement; or they simply cannot afford the tuition.

And so begins my quest to find a way to open access to this program for those who would benefit the most. Oh yeah, homeschooling will be the next big thing for parents but not for entrepreneurs because they can’t make nearly as much money as they do operating cashcows charter schools.

Could homeschooling be the next 'big thing' in education?   3 comments

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.”
— Source Unknown

I believe that quote is perfect for the way I am feeling right now, about education in general. The good. The bad. And the b.s. that has become too much to stomach on most days. If you have been following the road to rhetoric, where everyone with an Ivy League degree, a column in a major newspaper, or tv show is an expert, then you know what I mean. One thing that is true, no matter how you dress it: Our public education system is in shambles, but it did not happen overnight. Some blame No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I think placing the blame there is taking the coward’s way out. That legislation was a symptom, disguised as a solution, to the problem. As one of the most industrialized and wealthy countries in the world, there is no justification for huge achievement (opportunity) gap that exists between White students and those racial/ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, or those eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch (FARL). Brown vs. Board of Education was supposed to eradicate separate but (un) equal educational facilities, but I think we can all agree that it did not happen as planned. And that discussion requires more than one blog post.

As important as those issues are, there is something else happening across the country: School districts are making significant budget cuts and eliminating hundreds of teaching jobs, as well as those of support staff, bus drivers, etc. Just today, the Cobb County School Board announced that it will cut 734 jobs; 579 of those are teaching positions. Just last week, the Fulton County School Board announced that it would slash $4 million from the arts budget, putting both the band and orchestra programs at risk. As I watched the news, a parent (and former educator) stated that she would have no choice but to homeschool her kids. The budget cuts will force districts to increase class sizes and her kids would not get the level of attention they need (and deserved) in order to be successful. I am still thinking about her words because I am inclined to speculate that the number of families who opt to homeschool will increase during the 2010-11 school year for that particular reason. Let’s face it: Teachers already have their hands full with current class sizes, ranging from 17 for Kindergarten to 23 for grades 6-8. Keep in mind, those are minimum class sizes required for full state funding. It is very rare for a district to maintain the smaller class sizes, especially in districts that have experienced consistent growth like Gwinnett County, because it is more cost-effective (so they say).

But here are some potential drawbacks to a mass homeschool movement:

  • Not ony will traditional schools lose kids to charters, but they will also lose a large number to individual or group homeschool programs;
  • Those students physically ‘left behind’ by the homeschool movement are the same kids being failed by the pubic education system in present day;
  • If schools begin to lose significantly large numbers of students to private, charter, and homeschool programs, how will they remain open?
  • Some states could implement tougher requirements for parents who opt to homeschool, i.e., each homeschool parent must possess a Bachelor’s degree and take certain courses to prove they are qualified (this is something I forsee).

I have spoken with a close friend about the possibility of starting a University Model School program in our community. I have researched this program and it is sound; all schools using it have grown and produced very intelligent and ambitious students. These programs also teach kids things that are considered ‘extras’ in pubic schools, e.g., arts, college readiness, and basic life skills. I also struggle with this concept because, again, a large number of students who could benefit will not be able to participate for several reasons: Either their parens are unable to stop working in  order to fulfill the commitment requirement; or they simply cannot afford the tuition.

And so begins my quest to find a way to open access to this program for those who would benefit the most. Oh yeah, homeschooling will be the next big thing for parents but not for entrepreneurs because they can’t make nearly as much money as they do operating cashcows charter schools.