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    Page 18
Minority & Small Business Week
September 28, 2016
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Welcoming and Respecting Every Child
Teaching for
by M arian
W right e delMan
As a new school
year begins, how
do we teach black
and other non-
white children and youths and
all those who are poor or have
special needs to ensure their suc-
cessful readiness for the future?
How do educators and all those
with primary responsibilities for
preparing children for the future
understand that every child is sa-
cred and deserves fair treatment?
How do we create a pedagogy that
respects the unique gifts of our di-
verse child population and nation
of many colors and faiths and be-
come a beacon for our multiracial
multicultural world?
Dr. Terrell L. Strayhorn of The
Ohio State University and director
of its Center for Higher Education,
reminds teachers they must begin
by making sure all children know
they belong and are valued. He ex-
plained: “All of us as educators are
about trying to inspire students to
reach their highest potential to be
innovative, to be creative, to move
outside the borders, to imagine and
connect the dots that aren’t even
connected yet. They can’t get there
without first satisfying dysfunction
around belonging. That’s how cen-
tral and important it is. How do you
start to build it? . . . The first thing
you can start to do is accept stu-
dents for who they are. Short,
tall, skinny, thick, real hair,
fake hair. Clean clothes or dirty
clothes. Smell like you and
don’t smell like you. We have
to, first of all, love them, em-
brace them; that is, we accept
them — because they can’t pos-
sibly be free in a place that starts to
treat them as different, as outcasts,
as outsiders.”
Dr.Christopher Emdin, associ-
ate professor in the Department of
Mathematics, Science and Tech-
nology at Teachers College, Co-
lumbia University points out that
many teachers didn’t have all the
right role models in school them-
selves: “There’s so many educa-
tors who feel like they’re doing
the right thing and doing the right
work for the right reasons, but they
have not yet done the deep internal
work of healing from the trauma of
their own experiences in schools.
He encourages young teach-
ers today to take the time to think
about what might have been bro-
ken in their own school experience
— and embrace the opportunity to
reimagine what they want school
to feel like for their students.
These two educators discussed
these crucial and thorny issues
during this year’s Children’s De-
fense Fund Freedom Schools
training dedicated to stopping
summer learning loss, creating a
love of reading and empowering
children to make a difference in
their schools and communities.
Dr. Strayhorn shared a personal
story. He always excelled at math
until his senior year in high school,
when a teacher’s ugly comment
on an exam changed everything:
“Miss Pitts gave me my test
back, and I had made a mistake .
. . She circled it and said ‘stupid
move.’ A teacher called me ‘stu-
pid’ in 12th grade. I went home
and told my mother. Long story
ers and college servant leaders
that teaching is a calling, “There
are young people in this country
who need you. Every single day,
you’ve got to wake up to that call,
and you’ve got to be present in the
moment about that call.”
Dr. Emdin stressed that one of
the highest parts of that calling is
to create joy — for both children
and teachers:
“You know, for me, it’s about
whatever it is that you can create
He encourages young teachers today
to take the time to think about what
might have been broken in their own
school experience — and embrace the
opportunity to reimagine what they want
school to feel like for their students.
short, before you know it — my
grades started slipping in math. Be-
fore you know it — I had always
planned to go to [the University of
Virginia] to major in math; I went
to UVA and majored in music and
religious studies. But it wasn’t until
I got in my doctoral program in a
stats class years later that I realized,
‘Oh, my gosh, I like math.’ And
then I said, ‘Well, wait a second. I
always liked math. When did I stop
liking math?’ It was when Miss
Pitts told me I was dumb at math.”
He warns that words really matter.
He reminded our young teach-
in a classroom to allow joy to be
present . . . I always tell classes
this too: I do hip-hop, hip-hop
science, hip-hop STEM not for
my students, but for me, because
I needed to heal and bring back up
who I wanted to be.” He added:
“It’s a battle for you to keep your
spirit alive every day . . . and once
you do that, they will learn, be-
cause joy is the key to learning.”
He emphasized that too often
students are penalized for their
behavior in settings that “are kill-
ing the joy before it can happen.
We blame them for not being able
to actively engage because of the
structure of the classroom, when in
reality, we are doing the violence
on them . . . Joy first. Anything else
second. That’s the work.”
These are messages many thou-
sands of excellent teachers around
the country already carry in their
hearts and implement in their ac-
tions every day. Let’s celebrate and
encourage all of them as they start
a new school year prepared to rec-
ognize and nurture the best in ev-
ery child, appreciate the gifts each
one brings to the classroom, and
cultivate the joy and love for learn-
ing that so many of our students
desperately need. And let us say to
those who see teaching as just a job
and who do not love and respect
every child and aren’t committed
to ensuring their success to please
go do something else.
You can have the best curric-
ulum in the world and as many
degrees as you can pay for from
the best schools but the founda-
tion for building strong children
is respecting and remembering the
specialness of every individual
child. Educating each of our chil-
dren is a sacred trust and a noble
undertaking. I am so grateful to all
those who go into school build-
ings across our nation every day
to build strong educated citizens
to ensure the competitiveness and
security of our nation.
Marian Wright Edelman is
president of the Children’s De-
fense Fund.
Help Young Men and Women with Careers
Vote yes on 98
to make school
g eorge W eatheroy
As Portland expe-
riences an economic
boom, large sections of
our city are on the brink
of a youth gang crisis—which is
directly linked to a lack of options
for employment, housing and sta-
Yet teachers, principals and law
enforcement professionals like me
are aware of what it takes to help
kids stay on or get on a path toward
a productive life and good-paying
employment. One of the best is in-
vesting in education in the form of
hands-on learning opportunities. In
particular, I’m talking about voca-
tional and career technical classes.
And there’s going to be some-
thing you can do that will start
bringing about this important
change: Vote “yes” this November
on a ballot measure that will make
these vocational and career
technical classes a reality
for more of our students.
Everyone in the Port-
land community should
support Measure 98. It
gives badly needed re-
sources to schools so they can
expand and create vocational and
career instruction. These opportu-
nities keep them off the streets, and
provide skills and work ethic so
they’ll succeed.
Before retiring from the Port-
land Police Bureau and since work-
ing in security for Portland Public
Schools, I’ve seen this issue from
all sides.
What I know is that students who
struggle academically in school,
especially our traditionally under-
served youth, often don’t see any-
thing positive in their future. That’s
when they get involved with crime.
Some join gangs. Others steal. They
spiral into a well of hopelessness,
too many end up in prison.
For years, in a “one-size-fits-all”
approach, our schools have steered
students toward college. But col-
lege isn’t for everyone, and the as-
sumption that everyone should go
to college has let a lot of kids fall
through big cracks.
Providing career and technical
education to high school students
not only can put young men and
women on a career path; it can also
show them a new way to engage in
school so they can take advantage
of everything high school has to of-
fer. Statistics also show a dramatic
link between career and technical
classes and graduation rates.
Hands-on learning that career
technical classes provide, whether
the more traditional courses like
metals and wood working or mod-
ern ones like biomedicine, ship
navigation and math for medical
professionals, connects students to
the real world.
They see the results of the
work – and they understand the
relevance. Often, we’ll see these
students putting in extra time on
their coursework instead of fleeing
school as fast as they can.
But schools simply don’t have
the funds to provide these essential
classes at the level that’s required
to engage enough of our students.
That’s where Measure 98 comes
in. As Oregon’s economy grows,
Measure 98 captures new state
revenues to be dedicated to pub-
lic high schools. The schools can
expand their career and technical
education curriculum so that every
student who wants access has it.
Schools also can spend the money
on college prep classes and dropout
What I think is really important
about the way Measure 98 is writ-
ten is that it gives local school dis-
tricts the ability to determine what
they need and gives them the funds
to accomplish it.
For instance, in Portland, we are
experiencing a shortage of police
officers due to a lack of qualified
applications. The district and the
community could come together to
start a career program that allows
our students in high school to build
the skills they need to become a po-
lice officer.
We can’t afford to lose a single
child to hopelessness, joblessness
or gang life. The cost to a family is
too much to bear. The cost to soci-
ety is intolerable.
We can’t wait any longer to start
saving our youth. Please join me in
supporting Measure 98!
George Weatheroy is director
of security for Portland Public
Schools and a retired sergeant with
the Portland Police Bureau.