Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cultural Revolution

Maybe you've seen the signs posted around the city. Maybe you're a facebook friend. Or maybe you post frequently on an education blog and followed the link to this site. One thing is for sure is that the terms "culture of education", "cultural revolution" or "parental accountability" peaked your interest. The purpose of this blog, in a simple phrase, is to help inspire an education cultural revolution. Achievement in communities is determined by a culture, a way of doing things. If we can change our culture, we can change our lives.

But how? How do we collectively inspire a cultural revolution? How can we make it so that if governments, teachers, and schools do their part, parents and students do theirs? How do we make it so that the collective mentality is focused on high achievement, and that there is a zero-tolerance paradigm concerning failure? The movement to reform education in America must not just be a series of federal and state directives. It must also be grassroots and created by the same people who will benefit from it. Such a movement also must involve people from all walks of life including young and senior professionals, small business owners, politicians (but minimum politics!) and of course teachers and schools. Below are some general suggestions on how to help inspire cultural paradigms of education. It is divided into suggestions for the nonparent, the parent, and the student.

For the non-parent, non-student stake-holder
Reach out to every young person you know in school and/or every parent you know.Talk with them, and support and encourage them. Hold conversations with people about what is at stake in terms of local and national viability, and offer your moral support.

Be a mentor!

Stay tuned to this blog, which will announce local education culture events that demonstrate the gravity of passionate numbers.

Research movements and initiatives such as the Harlem Children Zone ( and the SEED boarding school movement (, and write to your community, city, and state leaders expressing your desire to see replicates or variations of such transformations. Get involved in the movement to bring these innovative initiatives to your local area.

Support local education initiatives which seek to improve communities and schools. Volunteer or support them financially, especially in these challenging economic times. Visit

For parents
Turn the television off- Less television gives more time to focus on homework and classes. Television is a waste of time. Time wasted can never be recovered.

Make sure your children have a balanced, healthy diet. Junk foods with too much sugar and salt are not helpful in allowing your child to think clearly. Remember that raw foods make great snacks.

Tutors and books over clothes and video games—The most important thing for your child’s chances in life is their education. The brand name of their shoes will not get them into college or find them a good job and can very well be a distraction. It is important for you to dedicate as much of your resources as possible for not only what is required for school (supplies, etc), but making sure your child possesses and retains the instruction they receive in school. That includes tutors, summer programs, exam fees, etc. Shop at discount or second-hand stores, use coupons, or look for other ways to save money. If you haven’t already done so and even if your child is already in high school, try to open up a savings for your child’s college education.

Independent study—Challenge your child to learn more than what they are taught at school. Assign them projects and book reports to make them more competitive.

No tolerance – Adopt a no tolerance policy toward your child regarding low grades. Chances are your child is fully capable of learning and excelling. There is no acceptable reason for low achievement if your child is not mentally challenged or has a learning disability. If you suspect your child has a learning disability, get it check out! Be involved about your kid.

Reward your child for excellence

Environment—try to make sure your home is a quiet, safe place for your child to study. If that is not possible, find a community center or afterschool program where your child can work.

Get involved—meet your child’s teachers and learn about what your child is doing everyday at school. Keep track of your child’s progress. Check your child’s homework. Meet the counselor. Ask parents of high-achieving students about what they do on a daily basis and how you can improve.

De-stress yourself---find a way to de-stress, whether it is through exercise, meditation, prayer, etc. The more calm and centered you are, the more effective of a parent you will be.

For students

Dream Big—Envision yourself in ten years as a successful individual. Write down your dreams, believe in them, picture them everyday, and work toward them first with academic excellence.

Strive for your very best—Why get a B when you can get an A? I promise it will pay off. Challenge yourself and test your limits. You will probably surprise yourself with what you are capable of. Strive to be number one or the best you can be.

Get organized—keep separate binders for your different subjects and keep track of everything that you do in school. Make sure you have enough school supplies everyday.

Go to bed on time!---your body needs its rest in order to function properly. No matter how talented you are, a tired body and mind will limit your progress greatly.

Find a mentor---find someone that you admire to be your mentor. They can teach you about a certain career you are interested in or just be a friend.

Need help? Get a tutor--- If you are having trouble with a subject and need help don’t struggle with it alone. There are many people waiting to help you. Ask your teacher or call

Stay fit---Body and mind are one. Take care of one to take care of the other. Join fitness or dance classes at your local recreation centers.

Reach out to the people who can help you---Your counselor, your mayor, city councilperson, even your own president! They all want you to succeed. Write them letters, ask them questions, make them hear your voice.

Manage your time---Write down what you have to do each day and try to set a time for it. Make a weekly, daily, and hourly schedule.

Be well-rounded---High achievement is a must, no exceptions, but it is also important to be a balanced person. Join a sports team, participate in the arts, take up a creative activity. Express yourself!

Help a Friend---pass the word on to a friend. Success for one person in your community is a success for all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Center for Education Culture Reform

This blog is long overdue...and I am surprised that I have not come across any others with this mission. Direct and to the point: The author of this blog is of the conviction that we need to focus on the cultural factors that play into student achievement. This applies specifically to the areas and communities that in the most critical state, namely those areas that are black and Hispanic. While student do benefit from better teachers and schools with better technology, we should also understand that changes in cultural have just as great of an impact--if not more of an impact--on the status of the acihevement gap. In conjunction with good, equitable policy, communities must develop a grassroots approach to instilling a culture which venerates education, and to eliminate those aspects of subcultures which tear down this paradigm.

So many netizens (a majority of whom are frustrated teachers) maintain that parental involvement is the missing factor. Yet parental accountability is pitched to education power brokers, there is an outcry of injustice and insensitivity to a very complex issue in our communities and schools. While the issue is complex, it is not hard to understand why culture is so important. Brilliant policies have already demonstrated the importance of culture. Take school choice for example. The reason why school choice helps so many students is because students are placed into a new culture where new messages about the value of education are being promoted.
What people fail to realize is that we have essentially set up a catch-22 which sabotages our well intended efforts to improve the state of education in America: We obscure the true value of education, we generally lack high expectations and do not possess the cultural template which require parents to play the roles that are necessary in student achievement (all the while ignoring the fact that parental roles and the home are most influential). We do not object to the cultural values which obscure the natural incentive to obtain an education. Then we expect our dollars to magically produce results when the real issue has never been addressed. The point of this blog is to discuss ways in which we can create a culture of education in communities and establish parental accountability in a sensitive, fair, and progressive way.

What is a culture of education, you may ask?
Culture was defined in my third grade social studies book as a way of life. Such would be the totality of habits, world-views, priorities, and ways of relating to others in our relationships, homes, and communities. If we can tackle each of these aspects and inculcate a serious veneration for education, perhaps we wouldn't need as much money for school reform. Of course, it is much easier to stream millions of dollars in schools than to transform communities. Transforming communities, as Geoffery Canada has showed us, takes work and time.

Now is the time to put away the excuses. Let's remember struggle as a means of survival. Let's declare a cultural revolution.