All Articles Tagged "education"

How To Have “The Talk” With Your Black Students When They Return to School

August 25th, 2016 - By madamenoire
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By Abigail Henry

Eric Holder stated that in his version of “the talk,” which he hoped not to have to “[hand] down,” that “as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy.”

“The talk” is often defined as the dinner-table conversation that takes place between Black parents and their sons and/or daughters. It is the heartfelt and protective advice given by parents on what to do when encountering a police officer.

While “the talk” traditionally occurs in the homes and neighborhoods of Black families, it also, unintentionally or intentionally, occurs within educational settings. As an African-American history teacher, my responsibility is to give a very long-winded version of “the talk.” My job, my responsibility and the reason why I strive to serve well, is to provide students with the ability to be problem solvers and give back to their own communities despite ongoing oppression.

However, all teachers—not just those that teach African-American history—have the responsibility and can and should be held accountable, regardless of what curriculum he or she teaches, to at some point have a “talk” with students of color. The challenge is that for many educators this talk is given without possessing the necessary cultural competency to have a conversation that makes students feel safe and supported.

I’ve seen teachers give their mini-version of the talk. Most redirections we provide to Black students about behavior are our personalized adaptations of “the talk.” Every time a teacher addresses a Black student in the hallway about their uniform or in the classroom about the curse-word they just yelled, the teacher is adding to the story of this racially concerned conversation.

My concern is that when teachers ask a Black student “why are you late?” or to “take those headphones out of your ears!” they are unconsciously “talk”-ing at the student, without the required racial competency to have the conversation. These discussions require racial sensitivity, patience and preparation.

As I prepare for a new class of students in a few weeks, here is what I will do, and what I advise every other teacher to do to support positive racial identity development in our students.

You don’t have to be an African-American history teacher or one of the rare “minority” teachers to have your own racial “talk” tool-kit. You too can participate successfully in the conversation and help further protect and empower our students.


When re-directing Black students, provide the explanation. Our students might want to engage in some behaviors when we don’t want them to, and our students want to test the limits (a natural and healthy part of human growth and development). Explain to students the impact of their choices and the reasons why you are asking them to change their behavior. Students are more likely to cooperate when they have been “explained-to” not “talked-at.”

Growth Mindset is a must. Every time I get frustrated with a student, I check myself on a student’s pre-determined oppression circumstances. It’s not about just them. It’s also about me, and a particular institutionalized microcosm at that moment, and whether or not I can remain positive enough to get past my own frustration. There’s always another solution, another conversation, another intervention, that may help you be more successful with the student.

Develop a racial positive affirmation with your students that you say regularly. Cheesy I know, and yet in my classroom we say before each lesson, “I am my present, my past, my future.” You don’t have to teach African-American history to say those words or develop an affirmation that routinely brings students together and supports a positive racial identity.

Stop blaming the family all the time. This one is huge! And is more about that “talk” you have with yourself or another co-worker. Often times, as teachers, we say “well, she didn’t even get her cell phone taken away,” or “Can you believe he got suspended 2 days ago, and showed up to school with a new pair of sneakers this morning!” Remember, our families, our communities, quite often face oppressive circumstances. Many are truly looking to us as educators for guidance, support and meaningful partnerships, and most of all, solidarity in this struggle.

Beware of the elephant. Don’t avoid acknowledging your privilege. Recognize how you, as a teacher, have had advantages that your students did not. How are your students’ experiences different from your own in high school? What implicit bias do you have that is holding you back from truly having a “talk” with your students of value? Even as a Black teacher, I work on this one every day.

Ultimately, as educators, we do have the responsibility to participate in “the talk.” The question is: Are you doing so in a productive way that supports positive racial identity growth?

For Black students, “the talk” is a part of their education and if educators could also be co-parents in the “talk,” think how much further students of color would be uplifted.

Abigail Henry is a secondary African-American history teacher at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Should You Attend Graduate School?

August 12th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

There are many reasons one might want to go to graduate school. An advanced degree allows you to further specialize in the field of your choice. Earning a master’s or Ph.D. can equate to more money at work in the long term, depending on your chosen industry. But graduate school definitely comes with its own unique set of concerns and questions. An advanced degree isn’t exactly cheap, after all. Are you willing to take on the debt? Aside from loans, can you find other ways to fund your education? There was a time when people with certain advanced degrees were guaranteed employment, but in today’s ever-shifting economy, that is no longer the case. Are you comfortable applying for school knowing that going in? The questions (and seemingly the pros and cons) are endless, but if you’re contemplating whether or not you should apply to or attend graduate school, here are some things you should take into consideration.

Summer Brain Gain: 10 Ways To Keep Kids Learning This Summer

July 15th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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While students are enjoying their summer break, it is important to keep children active and engaged to prevent learning loss that accompanies long school breaks.

“Summer break is the perfect time to turn New York City into a classroom – there are many exciting ways to engage kids in learning outside of school,” said Lauren Barr, Senior Executive, School and Branch Based Programs K-12, YMCA of Greater New York. “At the Y, we’re working with families to identify and provide child care that is safe, educational and fun to ensure that kids continue learning and are active year round.”

Research spanning more than 100 years shows that students experience summer learning loss, or “brain drain,” when they are not actively engaged in school, camp or other educational programs during the summer. On average, students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills.

Fortunately, there are ways for families to combat summer learning loss. The YMCA Of Greater New York has 10 tips to help families keep children active and engaged this summer:

  1. Play Time is Gain Time: Play is crucial to healthy brain development. Prioritize play with your kids to keep their creative juices flowing and minds working.
  2. Bring the Olympics Home: The 2016 Summer Olympics are a great opportunity to learn about new sports and even try them out as a family. Handball, anyone?
  3. Create a “Boredom” Jar: At the start of the summer, brainstorm fun activities as a family and put them on individual pieces of paper into a jar. Every time your kids complain of boredom, have them pull an activity out of the jar!
  4. Pick a Pen Pal: It doesn’t matter whether it’s a family member or friend, near or far, writing letters and postcards will give kids a chance to rehash and share their summer adventures and practice their writing in the process.
  5. Explore Your Backyard: New York City is home to more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities including pools, tennis courts and historic homes. Use time during the summer to enjoy our City’s public spaces across the five boroughs.
  6. Volunteer: You’re never too young to give back! There are many volunteer options across the City, from community gardens to soup kitchens; this summer find a volunteer opportunity your whole family is interested in and show your kids what it means to be a New Yorker who cares.
  7. Become a Library “Regular”: Make regular visits to the library so your kids always have a fresh book to read. If you can, read aloud so you enjoy the stories together.
  8. Outdoor Adventures: Sunshine with sunscreen protects your health. Take time each day to be outside, whether it’s a whole day at the beach or a walk home from the museum.
  9. Make Chores Less of a Chore: Teach responsibility and have fun while doing it. Crank up the music and you and your kids can dance through chores like folding laundry, dusting and sweeping.
  10. Enroll in Y Camp!: YMCA summer camps provide children with a variety of positive and fun experiences that build confidence, new friendships, lifelong memories and a feeling of community that will last beyond the summer. The Y offers all types of camps – more than 21 day camps across New York City; specialty sports camps and sleep away camps all accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA). Learn more at

Black Women Are The Most Educated Group In The U.S.

June 3rd, 2016 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Ahem, Black Women Are The Most Educated Group In The U.S.


It’s official. Black women are now the most educated group in the United States.



According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there is a higher percentage of Black women enrolled in college — 9.7 percent, to be exact — than any other race or gender group. Asian women trail slightly behind with a whopping 8.7 percent and White women with 7.1 percent.



Between 2009 and 2010, Black women earned 68 percent of the associate’s degrees, 66 percent of the bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of the master’s degrees, and 65 percent of the doctorate degrees received by Black graduates in the United States.

Great job, ladies. Keep up the good work!



H/t Salon

What Rihanna’s College Scholarship Will Mean For Caribbean Families

May 13th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Rihanna's College Scholarship

Credit: Derrick Salters/

Earlier this month, Rihanna announced that her Clara Lionel Foundation will include a Global Scholarship Program. The program will help pay the tuition of natives or citizens of Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana or Jamaica who will be attending an undergraduate institution in the United States.

The scholarship awards range from $5,000- $50,000 and can be renewed for up to three academic school years or until the recipient receives his/her degree.

“Scholarship finalists are selected on the basis of academic performance, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities, work experience, a statement of educational goals and objectives, unusual personal or family circumstances and an outside appraisal,” the Clara Lionel Foundation website notes.

When I first learned about Rihanna’s charitable effort, I thought it was brilliant but not for obvious reasons. The program offers those who grew up in similar circumstances as Rihanna, the opportunity to fulfill educational goals that are often left untouched due to circumstances beyond their control. Despite education being of life or death importance in Caribbean and Latino cultures, it’s not always accessible in the United States because of family dynamics or systematic red tape.

Growing up, I observed the road blocks that kept my own relatives from pursuing their education. If they were of high school age, some of my cousins had to repeat grade-level work they already completed because it was assumed that immigrants were academically behind their American peers. Others were not able to attend college because their parents encouraged them to find a job to help with the household responsibilities (especially if other children in their family unit were already enrolled in college).

Although this may not be the narrative of all Caribbean and Latino immigrants, Rihanna’s scholarship adds to the list of opportunities for those who grasp the idea that finances should no longer defer the dreams children of immigrant families, as they embark on their own Manifest Destiny.

For more information on the Rihanna’s Global Scholarship Program, visit the ScholarshipAmerica.Org

Is This Petty? I Don’t Know If I Want To Give Him A Chance Because He Didn’t Go To College

April 22nd, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

I’ll start this week’s “Is This Petty?” with a quote about dating in the tech age from my dear Brande Victorian: “Pssh. It’s rough out here…”

From the outside looking in, I assumed that dating apps and sites had made meeting the opposite sex and going out on dates a lot more fun than it used to be. I mean, I was hearing about people going on two to three dates in a week (What is this? Sex and the City?!), so I believed that being exposed to so many options could give you a better shot at finding your right fit.

Not so.

A friend of one of my girlfriends from college was telling me about a guy she went out on a date with, from Germany, who she was really into after linking up on Her merriment was a big deal for her, especially since she had some not so great encounters with guys on the dating site. From creepy lads reaching out to noticing that many men on the site — Black, White, whatever — were looking for non-Black women, she just hadn’t had the best of luck.

But before Mr. Germany, there was a guy who seemed genuinely interested in getting to know her better, who didn’t fall in the creeptastic category, whom she matched with. However, after giving it some thought, she decided that she couldn’t give him the time of day because he didn’t have a college degree.

I know that sounds a little on the snooty booty, bourgeoise side, but to be fair, she is a lawyer who just recently graduated from law school after studying for years and has since secured a swanky job. Therefore, education is important to her, and rightfully so. She wants someone who she’s “equally yoked” with, as they say in the Bible. Or really, someone who at least is making moves in their field of choice and can continue to move up the career ladder thanks to experience and training. In her mind, a man without a college degree will be limited in his opportunities.

And it’s not just earning potential that worries women like our subject. It’s also the “educational discrepancy,” as one woman called it when asking for advice online about her relationship.

“I’m a graduate student getting my PhD in a science field, and he never completed his bachelor’s and is currently working in the service industry. He’s taking online classes and collaborating on a startup, but doesn’t plan to finish his degree.”

To her, conversations could feel a little limited, and she was wondering whether or not she was wasting her time after more than a year together.

But as one woman said about her own experiences dating men with and without degrees on a different thread from a few years back, as long as one has an interest in learning, degree or no degree, it could work:

The thing I appreciate most about dating somebody with a similar educational background is the fact that it’s another opportunity for common ground and being able to relate to one another, and can be an indication of similar priorities and values. But it’s also true that my SO and I had college experiences that are about as drastically different as the difference in experiences of somebody who went to school and didn’t go to school, so it’s no guarantee that you’d have a ton of common ground. Everyone’s experience is different.

However, whether I am dating somebody with a college degree or without one, I have a hard time relating to people who don’t prioritize learning and have no intellectual curiosity. And you’ll find that type with and without degrees, unfortunately.

It’s different strokes for different folks. So if you meet a guy who you just have that connection with, despite a lack of a degree, and you want to go for it, then go for it, sis. And honestly, many extraordinarily talented individuals never graduated from institutions of higher learning and are running the companies that make our phones and other innovative things. But the way I see it, if education is important to you, you shouldn’t sidestep your wants and needs because chances are, it will still be a problem down the line. And in all honesty, you shouldn’t lower your standards in an attempt not to seem like an uppity, judgmental chick, or, as people LOVE to say in horrid Instagram memes, a woman who won’t “build with” or “build up” a grown man. Women are often expected to bend and adjust for a decent man with potential rather than encouraged to stick to our guns and wait for a good man with a plan–and a hustle. We all have our preferences, and as for our subject, it’s not a man without a college degree. To each their own…

But as always, that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Is it petty to not give a guy a chance because he hasn’t obtained a college degree? 


No College Required? Six-Figure Jobs That Might Surprise You

April 13th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Looking for a new career that will bring in a bigger paycheck without costing you years upon years upon years in school? Doctors, lawyers, and engineers are the most coveted professions that earn people six-figure paychecks each year. But they’re not the only jobs helping people supersize their bank accounts.

These career choices may not be as famous, but they certainly bring in awfully nice paychecks. Do you know how much your local food truck vendor makes? What about the chef at your favorite restaurant? Before you walk on by these career choices, it pays to know the perks that come with them. We’ve done the research, and we’ve found that there are lots of jobs that bring in much bigger paychecks than we previously thought.

Whether you’re looking for a career change or just a way to make money without a four-year degree, one of these six-figure salary jobs is bound to be perfect for you. All you need is to gain experience and hustle hard.

10 Things You Should Never Do Before Sex

March 30th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Ever get in bed to do the do and think, “something just isn’t right?” Things are drier or moister or… smellier than they usually are? Don’t panic. You may have just accidentally done one of the things you should never do before sex. And you’re not alone.

Most of us are so focused on what we should be doing in the sack that we never take a moment to think about what we should be doing before we get there. But it pays to be in the know. Doing some of these things before sex can make you more prone to STDs, infections or burning sensations. And we haven’t even gotten to the uncontrollable gas yet.

Before you hop in to bed the next time, just take a look at this list and see if there’s anything you need to prune from your pre-sex routine.

5 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids Outside Of School

March 23rd, 2016 - By Chuck Creekmur
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Guess what? We need a total overhaul of the modern school system in America. This is a fact. the United States, which is supposed to be the bastion of modern civilization, ranks a mere number 14 in the global education rankings. We are number two in ignorance though. The kings and queens of education are South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. All Asian lands, they are kicking some serious global butt.

One of the reasons that those countries fare so well was that there is a “culture of accountability,” according to a report commissioned by education company Pearson. This means that teachers, parents and students all were equally responsible for the success of the child. They also believe that kids are able to become smart through hard work and dedication, but the folks here generally think that you are born smart or dumb.

So, now educators have been talking about how to usher children into the 21st Century with new learning techniques that will help kids compete in this global environment. I have some practical things parents should teach their kids that will pay dividends as they get older, wiser and eventually take over the world. We cannot afford to wait for America to make a change.

1. How To Manage Money

One of the main issues with Black people is we have all of this buying power, but we don’t generally learn the details of managing money. The most I learned coming up was “Save your money.” I had to tell my daughter recently that she needs to put away 10% of her money when she jumps into the workplace. From there I did the math from 20-years-old to 60-years-old. Not only did she get it, but I am going to continue to guide her on this matter into her 20’s so that she continues to understand that power of putting money away for retirement. Certainly, there are other investment opportunities and ways to make your kid’s money work for him or her, but that is an easy entry point. They can grasp the concept very easily.

2. About Their Heritage

Recently, Malcolm X “turned” 90. There were celebration all over social media. I personally went to the grave of the slain civil rights icon and his dear wife Dr. Betty Shabazz in upstate New York. Do you think Malcolm was celebrated on this day at all in my kid’s school? Not at all! I ended up sharing what I experienced with her via text and when I saw her I gave her a red, black and green flag. Obviously, Malcolm X is just one of many, but there is a huge book all African American parents should own, if they can get a copy. It is called Africana, the Black encyclopedia of encyclopedias!
This bad boy is rare, but I found one and we’ve been learning from it ever since! Kids get a sense of pride seeing all the history, legacy and heroes that they will likely never see in the walks of traditional school. They need to know that Black people were more than enslaved here in America.

3. To Develop Their Passion

My brother is a teacher and he introduced me to the concept of “multiple intelligences.” Before he brought it up, it never really occurred to me that such a thing existed. That was, until I thought about myself in third grade. I will never forget how the teachers wouldn’t let me partake in the talent show, because I could draw. “But, that’s my talent,” I recall saying pathetically. They wanted kids to sing and dance. I realized later on that the school system at that time was ill equipped to teach based on my “intelligence.” From there, I would cheerfully go through school doodling, day-dreaming and garnering average grades – unless it was art. As we ease into these new ways of teaching,parents must try to identify how their kids learn. Thankfully, my parents fostered that creative side of me and I do the same for my child even though her true passions lie elsewhere.

4. Learn Healthy Eating Habits

We talk about the obesity rate in kids all the time, but are we really teaching them about eating right? I don’t think we are. I will admit that early in my child’s education year, the school forbid certain food stuff, particularly those of a sugar variety. However, as she eases into the middle school years, they are easing up. The kids have more free will to pick what they want to eat. Now, I don’t even claim to know what they are serving, because I generally pack her healthy lunch when she is with me. This is directly related to her eating some greasy pizza at lunch one time. Let them know to stay away from processed foods and GMOs as much as they can. Lastly, teach them why they should stay physically active. The occasional double chocolate chip cookie serves as a great treat.

5. Good Ol’ Fashioned Etiquette (On All Sides)

My daughter and I were going into a convenience store to get me some coffee for a quick road trip recently. When we got to the door, she attempted to hold the door open for a brother coming out. He was about my age, maybe a bit younger. He said, “Don’t hold the door for a man – you’re daddy better tell you that!” We shared a laugh and I patted him on the back with a “Thanks, brother.” I laughed because I have taught my daughter all sorts of etiquette, particularly around how a man should treat a women. Most of our outings are like mini-Daddy/Daughter dates with me opening her doors, closing them and all that good stuff. This is for her to know exactly how somebody should be acting when she does start to date. The same applies to boys and they generally need such formal training more than girls. These skills will serve them well in life though.

These are just a few of the good things we can teach our kids outside of school. Do you have anything to add? Please contribute so we can get and keep these fantastic kids on the right track.

This Smart Video Shows Where The Women In Tech Problem Begins

March 8th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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Microsoft Make What's Next

Microsoft Make What’s Next

Can you name a woman inventor without Googling “women inventors”?

Don’t feel guilty, neither could we.

Martha Coston, Mary Anderson, and Sarah Mather? Those are the women who, respectively, invented the signal flare, windshield wipers, and the underwater telescope. Don’t feel guilty — we hadn’t heard of these female inventors either, before Microsoft brought them to our attention in a video launched today to promote its new “Make What’s Next”campaign.

In honor of International Women’s Day, the campaign highlights the main problem surrounding the gender gap in tech: education. We are all taught about famous male creators, but our knowledge of the women who have spearheaded the development of things such as the computer algorithm and satellite propulsion (Ada Lovelace and Yvonne Brill, for the record), is still so limited, to say the least.

Besides raising awareness about female inventors, the Make What’s Next campaign offers coding tools and tutorials, as well as a patent program to help female inventors file for patent pending status.

“When I look at how we get more women into tech, it’s about education and providing girls with access to people who can talk to them about what it’s like to be in the industry,” says Kiki Wolfkill, the executive producer of Microsoft’s Halo games.

Wolfkill says that initially, she wasn’t sure technology was something she’d be able to do. After minoring in fine art in college, the designer was hired by Microsoft to work on cinematic art for the company’s PC games. That job eventually led her to head up Halo 4 and 5, two of the most popular and hotly anticipated video games in recent years.

“When I came into Microsoft, there were two other women in my group, which I think was unusual at the time,” Wolfkill says. “That defined how I think about teams and has made it very natural for me to bring other women onto my teams.”

So how do we get more women to apply for those teams in the first place? By making sure they know that tech is something they can learn and excel at, whether they’re designing for games, writing code, or inventing an entirely new technology.

Go girls!