Tag Archives: Taking Action

#KeepKidsLearning this Summer by Joining NSLA’s Thunderclap!

2 Jun


Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation’s youth at risk for falling behind – year after year – in core subjects like math and reading. The math and reading skills low-income students lose each summer are cumulative and contribute significantly to the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income kids.
By fifth grade, cumulative years of summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 1/2 to three years behind their peers.
Many kinds of high-quality learning opportunities during the summer can make a difference in stemming learning loss, and ultimately closing the country’s achievement gap.
On June 17th, we’ll create an online groundswell with a Thunderclap calling for communities across the nation to level the playing field by keeping ALL KIDS learning this summer.
Donate one Tweet or Facebook post to encourage everyone to #KeepKidsLearning!


Occupy our Schools: Maryland State Assessments and Education Reform

13 Mar
Standardized Test

Standardized Test (Photo credit: biologycorner)

 “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
Thomas Jefferson

With the first two weeks of testing (at least the testing that matters to the government… sorry science teachers) for the Maryland State Assessment complete, and our city students #2 pencil filled bubbles being graded as we speak, I want to take a moment to talk about how these weeks could have gone.

Picture the scene: Monday morning between 7:30-8:00am, students are filing into their schools. They’ve been prepped for weeks, months, years for these tests. They know their importance, what good scores can do for their schools and their future. If their schools even offer classes outside of Math and English, those lessons have been abandoned. History, Science, and Spanish teachers alike pass out worksheets about fractions and give lectures about negative integers. But instead of the many tests that have gone before it on March 12th the test booklets are passed out and no one opens it. Not a single Baltimore City student opens their test, fills out a bubble or writes one word. In a form of conscientious objection not a single students completes their MSA; more than that, no Baltimore City student answers a single question.

It’s been talked about, written about, and in some places it’s already happening, but why hasn’t it happened here in Baltimore?

Let me backtrack a bit to say two things:

  1. I am not a teacher, though I have worked in the Baltimore City School system for the past two years and have worked with young people for my entire life. I also live with and date a traditional route (that means no Teach for America or Baltimore City Teaching Residency in our house!) middle school teacher who teaches science at a non-charter K-8 school in West Baltimore.
  2. I do not consider myself to be part of the Occupy Baltimore (an offshoot and affiliate of Occupy Wallstreet) movement. However, I do believe in education reform and believe that something needs to be done about the state of our city’s schools and the sooner the better.

So again I ask: Why not Baltimore and why not now?

But before you answer that I want to take a minute to explain to you why I feel so strongly about standardized tests. Hold on tight! In order to support my call to action to boycott all standardized testing in Baltimore City I want to highlight how standardized tests are hurting our students and teachers.

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Three Lessons The Muppets taught me about Leadership, Community Building & Taking Action

27 Feb

During my term of service with Public Allies Maryland and to prepare for the 20th anniversary of Public Allies I’m participating in a blog project called “Ally Snapshots.” Here is my latest post!

Three Lessons The Muppets taught me about Leadership, Community Building & Taking Action

The Muppets (film)

Image via Wikipedia

This year The Muppets made a triumphant return to the big screen! I was more than happy to welcome them back as childhood memories of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show came rushing back to me full force. I love everything about The Muppets, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! I love their googly eyes, furry faces, big mouths, and colorful plumage! But my love for The Muppets isn’t just felt deep.

There’s something more that makes them so endearing and gives them a home so close to my heart, but what is it?! Then it struck me, many of the values I have today can be traced back to the lessons I learned from the beloved Muppets of my youth!

In honor of The Oscars, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the important lessons I’ve learned from The Muppets—it may not win them a coveted Oscar, but they’ll be remembered longer than who won best screenplay.


“You can be what you want to be, see what you want to see—believe in yourself. Some folks try to tell you there are things you shouldn’t do—you’re not strong enough or smart enough at all. But what seems right to them quite often might be wrong for you.”

What does this teach us about leadership? I believe that knowing yourself is one of the first steps towards being a better leader. You have to know what you stand for before you can stand for something or someone else. What Ray Charles and Elmo teach us here is that there may be people in your life and in your career that try to tell you what to think, how to act, and what to believe. By believing in yourself and understanding what you stand for, you will be able to hear what others are saying, and stay true to yourself and your values.

Community Building

“Cooperation makes it happen. Cooperation: working together.”

In this video (which I remember vividly from my childhood) The Muppets on Sesame Street sing about cooperation in a neighborhood and working together to build a community garden. It doesn’t get more grassroots than that! As more people become involved in the garden other community members begin to ask questions about how they can get involved and work together to build and maintain their community garden. What does this video teach us? That through collaboration and working together we can strengthen our communities. It also leads directly into my final lesson…

Taking Action

“If just one person believes in you, deep enough and strong enough believes in you, hard enough and long enough, before you know it someone else would think, if he can do it, I can do it.” The song goes on to add more and more people believing in “you” until “maybe even you can believe in you, too!”

This is one of my favorite videos from Jim Henson’s memorial service because, in rare form, you can see The Muppets and their “Muppeteers,” the “invisible” people who support them. While this video highlights the others before it: the importance of believing in yourself and using the assets of your community to make a change, it also adds something incredibly important: believing in others and taking action on your beliefs. If you support someone and believe in them you should tell them and show your support by taking action. After all, leadership is about an action many can take, not a position few can hold.

What lessons did you learn from The Muppets, Sesame Street, or other cartoons, movies, or books when you were a child? Share them with me in the comments!

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