Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Teaching Complex Math to Young Children

Take a look at this clip of the possible as demonstrated by Fear No Number Math and then read this blog entry.

Much of my time as a retired person is spent finding what works in getting African American childrne educated and excellent. I love applying influence, changing negative language and practices into ones that inspire and elevate.   I am much too young to be frail and too old to be foolish. I leverage this gift of time, and good health and well being to snatch away from those who do not have a kernel of interest in seeing African American children and their brown and poor peer groups educated for equity and excellence.

So I research, and I write and today this is what I researched and what inspires my writing.

What is sophisticated about Elementary Math?

This is a not so easy article to read unless you are a mathematician, curriculum specialist, educator, or someone who has not convinced themselves that learning the difficult is undesirable. I am going to digress as I sometimes do. When my husband was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, I was counseled by the wife of the late John Stanford. He was Seattle School Superintendent who had recently died of cancer. She told me I had to be the advocate, I had to learn difficult terminology, that I was to keep a journal and write down everything; the names of tests, the ingredients of the chemotherapy, the names of the many prescriptions.  She assured me that if the doctors could learn all of this so could I. It would keep me feeling in control.  It did and it did. And for us the outcome of my husbands illness was that the cancer went away and never came back.

But what I learned is that I could learn difficult things under difficult and stressful circumstances. African American children are intellectually ill, some are choking, others are comatose and on academic life support. When that happens you have to bring in a specialist, and parents have to learn difficult things. Failed education outcomes for African American children is an epidemic as dangerous and critical the public health as any flu or communicative disease. There are many specialists that are about the business of inoculating our children with complex solutions and parents are learning how to coach them through their therapies and how to discuss the situation with teachers, and most importantly how to keep them on good academic footing once they turn that corner and are able to stand up and be healthy.

Fear No Number Math is not like the snake oil that is being sold in the same abundance as any product on a late night infomercial.  And unfortunately, these gimmicks are being bought up with money that is go be used to elevate learning for African American children and other children who are now and for a very long time been underserved by public education.  I am in awe at the nonsensical solutions that abound for educating our children.  We need to do the difficult research and reading Professor Hung Hsi Wu is worth reading. Take your time, by the time you are through, you might be willing to help us get the children healed and up and working on a beneficial, and rigorous education pathway.

Another work that inspires greatness:

The book Radical Equations chronicles the work of Robert Moses the founder of the Algebra Project for African American brown and poor students.  This a review by Dr. Neal Kobitz, a UW Professor.  Early in his review he highlights this message by Moses:

"In today’s world, economic access and full citizenship depend crucially on math and science literacy. I believe that the absence of math literacy in urban and rural communities throughout this country is an issue as urgent as the lack of registered black voters in Mississippi was in 1961...[M]ath literacy—and algebra in particular—is the key to the future of disenfranchised communities. (p. 5)"

There are many elements of Mose's Algebra Project that is part of  Fear No Number Math which was created by Norman Alston a professional mathematician and gifted teacher.  Parents for Student Success has a close alignment in that we have helped to shape his thinking about the role that parents must play if his teaching is to be sustained.

Moses likewise saw parent and community involvement as important to his Algebra Project, and Kobitz highlights this;

"Moses comments that “the only ones who can really demand the kind of education they need and the kind of changes needed to get it are the students, their parents, and their community, which largely remains silent on issues like this” (p. 151). Thus, it is the job of a math literacy campaigner to organize these groups. And it is precisely in the South, where Moses and David Dennis had had the most experience tapping into the rich community structures, that the Algebra Project has had the most sustained impact."

We know this from 30 years of experience advocating for parents of children that those who overtook public education have catapulted to the bottom of the public education heap. A heap of expensive application of what does not work in the diverse society that the United States has become.

We figured out many things along the way to today. Yet, with all of what we know with all of our brilliance we act as if we do not know the answer to educating African American children. Well move over quacks, we are seeking and finding specialists who will do the radical surgeries and remove the disease of low self esteem, lack of purpose, and low expectations.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Family and Education Levy Funding Inequality.

This is a long one, but  then the trail to this level of arrogance demonstrated in these examples is long and consistent. Every week those who believe that we in South East Seattle and South King County are the colony of Downtown, North Seattle and East King County give me so much to write about and our young people to organize against.

This week I am both disgusted and inspired the inspiration comes from each day spending time with incredible people who are brilliant and unapologetic in their activism. They are those committed to keeping alive the flame of resistance to oppression.  I applaud Jessie Hagopian a Garfield H.S. teacher who said NO!!!.  There of course will be a price paid, but they will not kill him. I just watch the documentary on the Abolitionists, I went to see La Miserables those young people were killed, and I lived through the Civil Rights and Antiapartheid Movements our young people were murdered.
But, they never still the voices and commitment of all.  And we have new leadership in the White House and he tells us to organize where we are in our own communities. And that is where oppression will be stopped or at least diverted. My age and experience and continued activism makes me believe greed and inequality will always find a way to live among us. But likewise this same experience makes me know there will always arise a resistance to oppression.

I am using this blog to write of the ways that Mayor Mike McGinn and his Seattle Education Team is managing the Family and Education Levy Funds ($231, 500,00)  that Seattle property owners voted for. I know the goodness of the majority of the people in Seattle and I know they voted for to double the levy because they truly want African American children off the bottom of the Education meltdown. And they want the gap that is sinking the entire school district closed.  What I write about today, is not unique, it an insidious problem that has rendered South East Seattle and South King County "Colonies" of Downtown and North Seattle and East King County.

This is what they said:
  • 2011 Levy took lessons from 2004 Levy by proposing integrated funding from early learning through elementary, middle and high school allowing for investments that are adjusted for the needs and characteristics of individual schools and their students. 

This is what they are doing

I own three properties in Seattle and thus have as much right as any to be incensed by what I seeing and hearing from too many people.  Seattle is in its dealings with brown, black and poor people. Especially, African Americans is not living up to what they promised the voters.

These funds are suppose to close the achievement gap. African American K-12 students are at the bottom of the achievement outcomes as reported by OSPI. Here is the report for  math outcomes for 4th Grade Black Students in Washington 60 % did not meet standard and 40% were well below standard. Don't take my word for it was easy to just go to the online data that OSPI supplies. This is just one grade but an important one. When African American children do not meet grade standard by 4th grade researchers tell us those who fund for Department of Corrections starts preparing for their arrival in 10 years and before. We can beat them at their game but it takes paying attention and not getting too much sleep.


Math - Grade 4
Meeting Standard23436.3%
Level 4 (exceeds standard)7111.0%
Level 3 (met standard)15924.7%
Basic (met standard)40.6%
Not Meeting Standard41163.7%
Level 2 (below standard)11718.1%
Level 1 (well below standard)29045.0%
No Score40.6%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal10.2%
Meeting Standard excluding No Score

Outcomes for all Seattle 4th Graders is 33% below Standard

Please Take a look at these two short videos. A picture is worth a thousand words and we have thousands of feet of footage showing excellence in African American teacher and Teaching Assistants, African American children learning, and parents and community engaged.

It is important for you to see the excellence of the African American response to the above rate of failure after billions of dollars in the name of black, brown and poor children has been poured into bank accounts of those living outside of our reality.  African Americans have been kept on the perimeter of the education industry, school reform movement and management of education funding. Not pointing fingers, but we try really hard and have some excellent solutions. We have known but now we have proof that processes in place are used against us and there is no intent to give us our children's money that is appropriated for the elevation of their learning.

Fear No Number Math Trailer

Fear No Number Saturday Math Academy

Fear No Number Math conceived by an African American male base on the research of Dr. Robert Moses (Radical Equations) a proven method for elevating the math outcomes for African Americans and all thus all young children.

Mr. Alston received not one but three rejection letters; the original submission received a rejection letter that stated no experience, and insufficient data. Okay, so we appealed.  Another reject letter. And in case he thought that they did understand that No is No, they sent a reject letter for summer academic learning.  He is not the only one. In a recent meeting with SE Seattle Principals of schools with the highest numbers of low income students three likewise received reject letters. Hearing this and seeing what the collective impact of these rejections indicated, I decided we needed to do some research. At the end you will see where the outcome of my research and viewing a PBS documentary takes my thinking.

In nature there is always a Ying and Yang, and the rejection from Mayor McGinn got the attention of not one but two professional mathematicians, offers of support for fund raising, and we are going to have Elders in Residence call forth the children from the rejected and the accepted teachers to perform for the community what they have learned. We want our children performing math in the same way they are coached to perform sports and sing and dance know the channel of television shows, and other things they need to know to be well balanced.

I do not think that Pi Plus and Explorations in Math will be able to bring a team as well prepared to understand and solved complex algebraic problems. I bet they will not know how to explain or even know what the Unit Circle is. Our parents are being taught to be math coaches for their own children how else would you sustain and apply learning for  populations that are very transient. They rent, therefore they move from school to school. We have children whose uncles and grandfathers, and both parents who are divorced and not speaking to each other supporting their children in Fear No Number Math. This comes from intentionality that comes forth when others say you are not good enough. That is what I heard. We can not find a better mathematician able to teach young children to love math than Norman Alston. We brought him back from the Eastside where he was teaching the children of Microsoft, technology industry and professional sports families. He took a cut in pay to do this for children he thinks deserves excellence and a chance to compete.  And this is what the Mayor's process found lacking. Well the student always wins when the parents are in place and determined. And parents who never showed up at an organized parent meeting, sit with their children for two hours on Saturday Mornings and gets up an hour early to get their children for before school math.  A model told to us by Pres. Obama he says that when he was in elementary school his "single" mom would get him up early before she went to work to study and when he complained, she told him "this is no picnic for me either buddy."  Also when asked about poor families, he told the interviewer, a poor parent can turn off a television. It is this level of respect for poor parents we interject into Fear No Number Math.  

I always respect people's time so If this is too long please bookmark it and come back and finish reading to the end. The research and summary is important and revealing. We know that there is inequity, but these are two perfect programs one rejected and the other accepted to prove it.

I am trying hard to lead us right to what is  being done to our children money voted for black, brown and poor children and why they are failing.

The City of Seattle published the list of who did get funded in December 2012 for Family and Education Levy Funds. This organization located outside of African American community in Mulkiteo; Pi Tutors was approved.  Remember what you saw in the Fear No Number Math video with brown, black and poor parents and community engaged, involved and sitting right next to their children. Now see what this organization says about their experience with parents.

  1. "What are the challenges and barriers these students face and how do you address them? A few challenges and barriers for low-income and at-risk students are: Lack of family support and engagement, inconsistencies and frequent transitions, unstable home life, limited access to basic resources, difficulty focusing in school due to outside stressors, unreliable transportation, low self-esteem, as well as lower test scores or grades in class. Pi Plus Tutors has experience assisting students academically, serving as a family advocate to provide support and resources, and providing parent/guardian involvement opportunities and training."  (excerpt from PI Plus Tutors)

    Now let's look at what the say about who they serve and connect with and yet they hire only white women. The organizations used to get a accepted to receive Seattle Funds (though they are in Mukilteo) is stating a history of partnering with organizations serving primarily non white, non privileged children with high numbers of African and African Americans. We know these organizations well.

    Pi Plus Tutors has a strong history of community involvement and partnerships. The company has partnered with several local community organizations with the intention of working together to improve the education and lives of the students involved. Some past partners have included: The Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, Rainier Community Center, Yesler Community Center, Associated Recreation Council, Children of the Valley, and several low-income housing communities across the state. 

    Now look what they say about their staff. Remember they say they have a history of working in minority communities. This is the same answer that Mitt Romney gave in his "binders of woman" answer during the debates. Except they have white women so I guess this answer means they will compile binders filled with minorities. 
    "Section Four: Women and Minority Inclusion
    1. It is likely that Pi Plus will have to hire additional employees to support this program? Pi Plus Tutors is committed to diversity and hiring candidates who come from a variety of backgrounds, whether cultural, race, creed or gender. Pi Plus always encourages diverse candidates to apply for a position with the organization. The city of Seattle is very diverse already, so finding diverse candidates is not a huge challenge. Some ways that the company can build and sustain a diverse candidate pool is to say on the application “diverse candidates encouraged to apply” or post a job opening on diversity-specific websites. Most of the company’s employees (both tutors and management) are women, due to a higher number of female educators." (excerpt from Pi Plus Tutors application)  

    This is an insult to the children and families who Seattle Voters agreed to have their properties taxed to shrink the gap. They say they already have a history in the communities with large numbers of black, brown and poor children and families. Well from what we have seen in outcomes whatever they are doing has not made a significant difference. They have not inspired families in ways that makes their methods sustainable, and they have used their public funding in the past to hire only white women. All public funds assume diverse hiring. If they did not hire during their "history of being in our community" and it is "not a huge challenge."  Then why did they not meet this not huge challenge?  Why would we trust them with our money or our children?

    (To be continued)