Monday, July 12, 2010

Remember the Past, Prepare For the Future

Teachers and school administrators have to understand and be sensitive to the attitudes and ideas parents of color have toward the education system. Until the 1960’s, this country’s education system was not inclusive of African Americans. Parents and grandparents of students in our schools right now have had past negative experiences in the educational system and tend to bring those memories with them in dealing with current administration. I feel it is the school’s responsibility to develop opportunities to partner with parents, helping them set family education goals for the student. When the family, school, and community nurture and support a child who wants to succeed, it’s very difficult for him to fail.

Several years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of teachers on ways they could communicate and work with African American parents. I was made aware of the teachers continued efforts to work with parents who “cursed them out” “threatened” and just did not show any signs of wanting to be involved with their student. After thinking about the negative attitudes of some African American parents, when dealing with our schools, I remembered my own personal experiences growing up in our education system in the 60’s and 70’s.

In my elementary school back in Missouri, before integration, Black kids didn’t know they were being treated differently than their White counterparts in schools outside their neighborhoods. We thought everyone sat in “new” second-hand desks, and were made to clean off gum, pencil marks and assist with minor repairs at the beginning of each school year. We didn’t think twice, that our brand new elementary school with the shiny tile walls and floors, and beautiful glass-bricked rotunda, didn’t house a cafeteria with hot lunches, as we still had to bring a sack lunch or walk home and return within 45 minutes.

We didn’t know that those “new” books we received, where we had to erase and tape page-by-page, were already outdated and being thrown out by the other schools – until we were bussed to the White schools during my middle school years.

In elementary school, I had been a straight A student. In the new school, I started out in the accelerated group, by the end of first quarter, I was moved to the regular group. I could not keep up. My past education had proved inferior.

My children’s school experiences could have mirrored my own, if I had let it. I was determined to stay on top of everything and not let my past rule their futures. Although our education system has many flaws, with parent engagement and involvement every step of the way, our children can still receive the education they so rightly deserve.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

School Closures Reflect Lack of Parental Involvement

Here in Sacramento, as in most other cities across the country, school closures are threatening our communities. The economy, the lack of students, and low test scores, all play major roles in public schools closing in our urban, low-income, minority neighborhoods.
When both my kids were of school age and learning well at our local school, Everett Elementary, the boom was lowered. We were notified that the school was going to close. I immediately began organizing the community, meeting with neighbors and community leaders to develop a plan of action against the closing. We met almost daily to research how this could be happening and what actions we could take to reverse the decision. We organized petition drives, spoke before neighborhood groups, and marched in picket lines before each of the school district board members' homes.

We learned that the closure had been planned long before we had knowledge and several factors had been put in place to guarantee it's demise. Maintenance on the building had been deferred for years. It was too late to make repairs or renovations economically feasible. The district had redesigned the school boundaries, thus decreasing the number of children enrolled at the school. The district could then make the argument that the school no longer served its community and that the projected number of kids available for enrollment was insufficient to support the school in the future. It closed.

Several things happened that we never imagined. As a result of the closing, a large part of our sense of attachment to our neighborhood disappeared. Our kids were bussed out of our neighborhood, according to the space available in other schools. We didn't know what our kids were doing in school, because we stopped attending school meetings, where we now felt uncomfortable or left out. Our kids didn't know each other. They no longer played together or even talked to each other. It was like someone had taken the heart out of the neighborhood.

Because of our struggle, my family and community learned valuable lessons about working within the system to effect change. If you are on the outside looking in, complaining and criticizing, you can't do squat. You have to be willing to stand up for your convictions and work from the inside. You have to pick your battles and go in with realistic expectations so you can experience a realistic sense of accomplishment. And we need to teach our children that you take small successes and build on them or you can take losses and disappointments and regroup with new strategies.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being involved in your child's school and their education. Being knowledgeable is a large act of involvement. Knowledge is power and knowledge is power.

In the words of the great African American tennis pro, Arthur Ashe, " Start where you are, Use what you have, and Do what you can". But do something!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Working Your Village" Back to School

Sometimes I miss the excitement and anticipation that preparing the kids for back to school always brings. New clothes, school supplies, teachers, classrooms and rules all add to the always changing routine of those first few weeks. Although my kids are now both in their thirties, I am still involved in their pursuits of higher education and back to school.

Over summer vacation, Corey decided to return to school, yet again (at age 30) to complete a Doctorate degree in Education. She enlisted me to write a letter of recommendation as a former employer as she expressed her consternation at possibly not being accepted due to a waiting list of students. It just so happened, that the school she wanted to attend, was a university I had contacted about being a sponsor for my Yes2Kollege Saturday Scholars Academy of middle school parents and students who prepare for college over a six week period. I met with the President and discussed our future partnership. While telling him about the program, I just happened to mention my daughters plans to return to school. He suggested I mention her applying at his university. So, I did.

She did the research, and decided the class time, fee's, location and ability to work online, met all of her requirements. She applied, met with staff and was informed that there happened to be a waiting list. When she mentioned her apprehension at being selected, I of course, referred to my networking bag of tricks. I gave the President a call, told him about her application, and asked if he would help. He committed to putting her on the VIP list, to make sure she was accepted. Voile!!! She begins class in a few days.

In my workshops, I cannot over stress the importance of using your network of friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who might be able to help you, or help you find someone who knows someone, who knows someone. I call this "Working Your Village". We all have three sources of networking possibilities: People who know you (family, co-workers, etc.), People who know about you (church members, community associates, etc.), and People you want to know (politicians, celebrities, business people, etc.).

I teach that you should never be shy about asking for help. What are they going to do to you? Tell you yes, or no. If the answer is no, I always ask if there is someone they can refer me too.

Having the ability to communicate what your needs are, is essential for our youth. The old saying, "A closed mouth, is never fed", is very true. Having the skills to know what to ask for and then who to ask, can literally mean the difference between a full stomach or starving to death. Work Your Village!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Power of a Lifetime of Learning

In the coming weeks, I will offer you advice for raising your student scholar. This advice can be found in my book, "Say Yes To College: A Practical and Inspirational Guide to Raising College-Bound Kids" with foreword by Bill Cosby. I hope you will enjoy, learn and give me a call.

Setting the Stage for a Lifetime of Learning
The willingness to learn is the most important single skill we can teach our children. In order to do that we have to possess a curiosity and a desire to know more than we are being told. Parents in my workshops are brought up short at the notion that their video game-playing, I-don't-care-about-anything child can become an inquisitive, knowledge-seeking person, but I can tell them confidently that it is possible.

The same is true for parents. Parents who are themselves lifelong learners - who read, take classes, and are involved in the community - demonstrate to their kids the importance of being in the know at any and every age.

I have always valued the power of education. My kids heard from both their father and me how important it is to continue to learn, even outside of school. I had clear ideas, very early on, of how I wanted to raise my children. I've changed as my children have grown, but never wavered in my core beliefs, that children should be obedient, thoughtful, and encouraged by their parents to do everything that furthers their education. Learning and accomplishment are never ending, and the process of learning is an ability that everyone possesses. It is school and so much more.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Staying in Touch

It is so important to stay in touch with you and find out all of the amazing things you are doing with Children. I am new to all of the technology that is available today...but I am catching up quickly. You can follow me on twitter or my blog as well as my Odiogo Podcasts in Itunes and by signing up for our newsletter. Be encouraged, stay in touch and be inspirational to those you influence, and don't forget stay in touch.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our Own Success Story

On May 16th we became the proud family of our first student with a Juris Doctor Degree (Law). My son Christopher Chandler and his wife Nhong (she has been his loving support and inspiration for the past 10 years) invited the family to witness the graduation ceremony. Needless to say, we took plenty of pictures and enjoyed the occasion to reflect on all of the hard work, challenges, and prayers Chris and the family expended along the way. Chris did the difficult work over the past 4 years. His family has delayed gratification on several levels and now they are on their way to living his dream.

In my Yes2Kollege classes with parents and students I explain that none of us get to where we are going, alone, without the help of family, friends, and sometimes people we don't even know. It always takes a lot of goal setting, organization, networking, exposure to new ideas, and don't forget the prayers.

My family has celebrated so many successes because of Chris and Corey's academic accomplishments. Corey is going back to college for another Master's degree (business) and Chris will take the California Bar exam in July. We are so blessed!

Giving back is what is required of anyone that experiences success. Purchase our book about the Chandler family and our experiences and the lessons we learned on our way "Say Yes To College: A Practical and Inspirational Guide to Raising College-Bound Kids" with foreword by Bill Cosby.

Thank you friends and family for your support over the years. Keep up with our Yes2Kollege presentations for youth and parents and let me know what you think about the book.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Learn more about me by visiting this link to my main page

Please pass this on

Dalton will inspire your heart

Iphone friendly version