All Articles Tagged "education"

Latchkey Kids: How Young Is Too Young To Be On Your Own?

August 28th, 2015 - By Allyson Leak
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What do you do when the after school programs have closed their doors in your area and a babysitter isn’t in your budget? Well, according to a survey by America After 3PM, one in 25 kindergartners through fifth-graders care for themselves after school. The amount of self-supervised kids continues to jump each year. Latchkey kids let themselves in or out of empty houses and typically supervise themselves for a few hours each day.

Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about giving your kids the keys after-school…


How old should a child be?

The first thing you should do is find out the legal age that a child can be home alone, it should be listed on your states website. Once you find out the legal age, the next thing to take into consideration is how mature your child is. Just because someone is 11 or 12 doesn’t mean they are ready. Although, a 10-year-old is younger, they could be very mature for their age.


Are they comfortable?

Leaving your child alone should be something they are very comfortable with. They will be taking on a lot of responsibility and if they are afraid it could turn into a bad situation.


Consider a part-time sitter

If you can’t afford a full time after school sitter, can you budget in a part-time sitter. Instead of leaving them alone for four hours at a time, can you leave them for two and let a sitter come for two. This way, if they are a little scared at first at least they can look forward to a sitter coming soon after they get home.


Set up busy work

It’s important to make sure that your latchkey child has productive things to do while home alone. Have a family meeting and come up with some rules to follow when they first get home. Have them start and finish their homework and then do a few chores and let them have leisure time afterwards. Just the homework and a few chores should take up about an hour or two of their time. Just so you can stay on top of things have them check in with a phone call every hour.


The following these safety tips might come in handy, too:

  • Does he know his full name, address, and phone number? Does he know your full name as well, and the address and phone number of your workplace, or other ways to reach you at work? (You might call every day to be sure your child has arrived home safely and that nothing at home is out of the ordinary. Children appreciate the sense of security this form of supervision provides.)
  • When he returns home from school every day, does your child know how to lock the door behind him? Can he remember to call you and/or a neighbor as soon as he arrives home, and then check in again at designated times?
  • Have you instructed your child never to enter your home if a door is ajar, or if a window is open or broken?
  • Have you talked about what to do if someone knocks at the front door while he is home alone? (The best advice: he should not open the door and should tell the person knocking that you are home but are busy and unable to answer the door.)

“Help Us Help Your Child”: What Parents Need To Do To Help Their Child Succeed This School Year

August 24th, 2015 - By Cynthia L. Dorsey
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Summer break is winding down, and back-to-school commercials are in heavy rotation. In some cases, depending where you live, your children have already started the new school year. But for those institutions that are not yet in session, teachers are steadily preparing for the arrival of their incoming students. At the same time, parents are eagerly gathering all of the supplies their children need and want to have a successful school year. However, the most valuable asset for students is the relationship fostered between parent and teacher.

Caretha Henneghan, 29, and Renee Richardson, 26, are two passionate teachers who take pride in cultivating relationships with their students and families. Henneghan, a third-grade teacher at Paint Branch Elementary School in College Park, Md., has a love for serving children that originated from having a few great teachers of her own as a child. “I’ve always loved working with children, and I have had some really awesome teachers who set great examples. I want to follow in their footsteps.”

Richardson, a kindergarten teacher at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., also reflects on her love for serving children as a teacher. “We have the best intentions for all children,” Richardson said. “Managing a classroom of 20 or more students while attempting to balance our personal needs can get a bit hectic but we are here because we love teaching, and we love children.”

Caretha Henneghan

Caretha Henneghan

Both Richardson and Henneghan strongly believe that learning must happen both in the classroom and at home. Here are some tips from these two fantastic teachers on how to help your child have an enriching and successful school year by taking charge at home.

Technology Usage

We are living in a technology-dependent time where many of our young learners come out of the womb knowing how to use a cellphone. To keep up with the times, many schools utilize tablets and laptops in the classroom to assist with learning, doing so as early as prekindergarten. Parents have also purchased tablets and laptops for their children to use at home. But one can’t help but wonder if the use of technology is helping or hindering the development of very young students.

“We live in a modern age of technology, and it is a skill that all children will need in the classroom and the world,” Richardson said.

Henneghan agrees. “iPads and laptops at home are a great asset for homework and researching topics and ideas for projects if parents can afford them.” However, she warns that too much technology can be detrimental to a child. “Technology should aid instruction, not be the main form of instruction.”

Both Henneghan and Richardson feel that a time limit should be set when children are using technology at home. “For young children 5 to 6 years old, I would recommend no more than 45 minutes each day using technology, which includes phones, tablets, laptops and television,” Richardson said. “I would much rather see children playing old-school board games, assembling puzzles and participating in other critical-thinking activities.”

At-Home Strategies

When your child is using technology, know that there are great games and online activities to help strengthen their literacy, math, and cognitive-thinking skills. Henneghan recommends ABCya!, Starfall, Cool Math Games, ABCmouse, and PBS Kids.

Richardson suggests the apps TeachMe: Kindergarten, and the sites Splash Math and ABC Fast Phonics. “The common thread between these applications is that they are not intended to teach concepts but instead help reinforce learned skills through games,” Richardson said.

Reading and Math

Reading and mathematics are two subjects that are vital to a child’s evolution as a student. Many parents feel the pressure when their child isn’t quite mastering these two subjects. Don’t fret.

“I often have parents ask me, ‘Why isn’t my child reading yet?’ Reading happens on a developmental continuum, meaning not every child will read at the same age or pace,” Richardson explains.

At-Home Strategies

Richardson suggests starting a routine of reading with your child. “Parents can help children build their bank of sight words and reappearing words that can be phonetically hard for them to sound out. While reading ask your child specific questions that begin with ‘what.’ Such as, ‘What do you think the pig will do next?’ or ‘What happened when the wolf went to the house built with sticks?’ Asking these types of questions help children to develop comprehension of the text and make connections with the world around them.”

Richardson also suggests labeling items your child frequently uses around the house like a chair, toys, milk and their brush as they continue to practice reading at home.

Her suggestions for at-home math activities are very similar. Working on simple math concepts with your child can be integrated into everyday activities. That includes counting one by one the pieces of fruit in a bowl, the pairs of shoes they own and items of food on their plate at mealtime.

“Using real-life story problems helps children develop a concept of numbers as they start to practice addition and subtraction,” Richardson said.” For instance, after a fun afternoon of baking cookies parents could say, ‘We baked 10 cookies and ate four of them. How many cookies are left?’”

By the end of kindergarten, children are expected to count one to 100 and by 10s to 100. “I like to play a counting game where I start counting one to 100, then I pause, and the child has to pick up where I left off,” Richardson said. “As he continues to count, he pauses, and I have to pick up where he left off. This game helps with maintaining attention and strengthens counting skills.”

Henneghan pieces it all together by stating that parents should explore with their children. “Have them solve problems using information they have gathered themselves. Encourage their oratory skills by having them explain how they reached their solutions. Speak positively about reading and math to keep them motivated. And make reading and math a part of your child’s everyday routine.”

Behavior & Social Development Skills

The ultimate goal of both parents and teachers is to see their children and students grow up to be well-rounded individuals who are able to go into the world and become contributing members of society. In order for this to happen, listening skills and positive social interactions are crucial, beginning with the young learner. It’s important for children to be in an environment both at home and at school where mistakes can be made but structures are put in place so that they can learn from them and avoid repetition.

“Some of these structures include logical consequences. If you knock something over, pick it up,” Richardson said. “Allow children to explore the world around them. Mistakes will happen, but that is how young children learn.”

Renee Richardson

Renee Richardson

Henneghan strongly believes that just as logical consequences should be in place, so should a reward system be implemented to celebrate children when they make good choices. “It teaches the students a sense of responsibility as well as helps them to monitor their own behaviors, which will transfer into their behavior at school.”

Open conversations with your children are also encouraged as an alternative to physical discipline. “Allow them to use words to express their feelings, likes and dislikes,” Richardson said. “I personally do not believe in spanking young children, as children will exhibit the same behaviors done to them in class when conflicts arise with peers. Those children who are routinely spanked look to hitting as a way to resolve a behavior that is disliked, versus a child who is able to use words to de-escalate a situation.”

Henneghan feels the more interaction with other children your child has, the better he or she will be able to resolve disagreements and get along with peers. “Parents should introduce their children to peer interactions as early as possible. They can start with play dates with other children” Henneghan said. “Also, have the child participate in non-threatening social experiences such as extracurricular activities and classes, sports, volunteering, and other special interest group activities.”

As you are rushing to the store to make sure your daughter has her Monster High backpack and your son has his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lunchbox in preparation for their first day of school, make sure they are also getting a head start on learning. Teaching them about the world around them will help them in the classroom and out of it. But know that you are not alone. You and your child’s teachers are a team and your collaborative work together at home and at school will ensure that your kid excels in school this year.

“We can never take your place, but together we are your child’s support system,” Henneghan said. “Be present, be seen, and be heard this year. Help us help your child.”


The Pros And Cons Of Homeschooling

August 6th, 2015 - By Rich
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The number of homeschooled children is growing each year in the United States.  The National Center For Education Statistics conducted a mail survey for their latest report on homeschooling and these are the interesting facts about the report. When asked why they chose to home school, 91 percent of parents said it was because of a concern about the environment of other schools; 77 percent of parents said it was because of a desire to provide moral instruction; 74 percent of parents said they home school because of their dissatisfaction with academic instruction in other schools. When asked to select the single most important reason for homeschooling, 25 percent of parents said it was because of their concern about the environment of other schools.

To help parents who are on the fence about whether to home school or not, check out this list of pros and cons of homeschooling by Isabel Shaw from


– Educational Freedom. Most homeschooled students have the choice to study and learn what they want, when they want, for as long as they want. This is not to say that all the basics (and more!) aren’t covered. But those basics may be covered at age six for one child, and at age ten for another, depending on ability, maturity, and interest levels. (Unfortunately, a few states do have unnecessarily restrictive legal requirements; in those states, educational freedom may be limited.)

– Physical Freedom. After the initial shock of leaving the school system has passed, parents who home school say they experience a real sense of freedom. With their lives no longer revolving around school hours, homework, and the school calendar, these families plan off-season vacations, visit parks and museums during the week, and live their lives according to what works for them.

– Emotional Freedom. Sadly, peer pressure, competition, boredom, and bullies — are all part of a typical school day. This can be a particular problem for girls. According to studies, self-esteem plummets in middle-school girls. However, similar studies of homeschooled girls have shown that self-esteem remains intact and that these girls continue to thrive. (Read A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls by Susannah Sheffer.) Homeschooled kids can dress and act and think the way they want, without fear of ridicule or a need to “fit in.” They live in the real world, where lives aren’t dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation.

– Closer Family Relationships. Just about every family stressed the important role that homeschooling played in helping them find time to foster loving ties between all family members. Teens seem to benefit enormously from this interaction, and rebellious, destructive behavior often begins to diminish soon after homeschooling begins.


– Time Restraints. There’s no way around it: learning outside of a school environment can consume a lot of mom or dad’s time. Most folks visualize that time being spent at the kitchen table with textbooks and worksheets, but for most families, that’s not the case. My family has never gone that route, choosing hands-on experiences and interesting activities as learning tools, instead. However, planning, driving to, and participating in those activities (or waiting for them to be over) constitute the bulk of my day. And that can be very draining. As a single homeschooling mom, Mickey wrote to say that single parents who home school their kids face even greater time restraints: “We have to be very creative in our timing because I work and home school. Luckily, I work close to home and have a lot of time off, but it’s still a challenge.”

– Financial Restraints. For married parents, one partner often foregoes full-time employment out of the home in order to home school. This can be a big sacrifice for families who are struggling to balance their budget. Surprisingly, most homeschooling families believe that the brief loss of income is well worth the satisfaction of watching their kids grow and learn in freedom.

– Being with Your Kids 24/7. There’s no denying it — if you choose to home school, you’re going to be with your kids most of the time. If you don’t enjoy being together, then homeschooling is not for you. While it can sometimes be difficult, most home school parents view their daily interactions with their kids — the ups as well as the downs — as opportunities for personal and familial growth.

– Limited Team Sports. While community sports activities fill the void for younger kids, teens often find limited opportunities to join sports teams, especially competitive ones. Depending on where you live, homeschoolers may or may not be welcome to participate on teams with their public-schooled peers. Several parents did mention that a few families overcame this problem by creating their own teams.


100 Percent Of The Teens From This After School Program Go To College

July 17th, 2015 - By Rich
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Located on the front of a small building on a beat down corner in Jersey City reads a sign that says, ‘New City.’ Every time you pass it you make a mental note to inquire within, but like many things, that day never comes.


Your neighbor, a bright 8th grader who sometimes uses your computer to print out schoolwork, knocks on your door. “Can you help me write my resume?” she asks. Resume? What’s she applying for, President? Turns out though, she has enough accomplishments to make you feel like you’ve wasted your life, and suffice to say, she gets the job!

A few weeks later, her mom invites you and your kids to a barbeque being held by her future employers and whatdoyouknow? It’s in that building on that beat down corner. Finally you go inside.

The place is bursting with urban teens your neighbor’s age and older who are right in the middle of a festive program where they’re talking about issues like dating, peer pressure, and things that your five-year-old is too young to hear, so you go outside to leave, but get stopped by the smell of hamburgers on the grill. Might as well have a seat. Or two.

Next thing you know you find yourself talking to a tall, skinny white guy named Gabe who is the development director of New City Kids, a leadership program for at-risk teens. Basically, teens in grades 9-12 become interns who teach and tutor kids in grades 1-8 in an after school program. “There are lots of statistics about what happens when kids don’t have things to do afterschool,” says Gabe, “So there’s a real need for programs where they have a creative outlet and help with homework.”

They actually employed 70 teens last year, and will employ 78 this year, which is amazing when you think of it. Even more impressive is they’re investing in them academically by giving them one-on-one assistance filling out college applications, tutoring for their SAT’s, and college tours for sophomores and juniors where they visit 15 colleges over Spring Break.

The real humdinger is for seven years in a row, 100% of the teens they employ have gone on to college. Whoa.

Clearly, they’re doing something right. You end up talking to 23-year-old college grad and now production manager Greg Nelson and he tells you that being at New City made him want more for his life. “It’s more than punching a clock in and out, it’s a place where people actually care.” He says that when it came to applying for college they made sure he never missed a deadline, which is more than he could say for his high school counselors. Though he adds it’s not their fault. “Counselors at school have 200 students a day so it’s hard to give that kind of attention. It’s a broken system.”

Broken perhaps, but if anything, New City Kids may have a healing energy. After all, it was founded by Pastors Trevor and Linda Rubingh of Michigan. You speak to 20-year-old Kean University student Ashley Field and she gets emotional talking about the life-changing effect that New City Kids has had on her life. “Before New City, I didn’t know what college was about. But alumni would come back and New City would celebrate them and I wanted to be a part of that community.”


Ashley Field, Kean University Studen and New City Kids Alumni

Ashley Field, New City Kids Alum and Kean University Student

It was a stark contrast to what she had lived at home, where for years an aunt who was on drugs raised her and her younger sister. If anything, New City was a light to guide her to something greater. “When you go home and you’re crying because you don’t understand how to fill out financial aid papers and no one understands, New City does. They become your family.”

To say that she’s already giving back to the community is an understatement. Just recently, Ashley put on a charity hair show to benefit New City Kids, and Greg says that he’s always there if they need him. It’s this type of passion that keeps New City Kids alive. “Alumni participate in panel discussions, work as interns at our summer camp and visit the staff on their breaks from college,” says Gabe. Parents and other individuals from the community chip in as well.

It’s kind of amazing when you think about what this organization is doing. Not only because it’s keeping kids off the street at a time when they’re most vulnerable– according to The After School Alliance, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness around the importance of after school programs, the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime, experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex— New City Kids is also churning out the next generation of leaders!

So why doesn’t anyone know? Why aren’t people talking about this?

It makes you wonder if they were in a fancy neighborhood that boasted big donors if media would be shouting their accomplishments from the rooftops. As it stands, it took free barbecue to get someone to take notice. But if anything, once you know you can’t not know. Now it’s about seeing how you can help them transform this Jersey City community.

Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and creator of THE BREW, a social commentary blog. Before that she was a model/actress/MTV VJ. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


The Top 20 Graduate Schools That Will Leave Your Finances For Dead

July 12th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Applying and attending graduate school can be beneficial while simultaneously ripping your pocketbook to shreds. In order to share a new study by the Center for American Progress, we have learned via The Washington Post who the top 20 schools that are responsible for making their graduate students carry nearly half of all student debt. Interestingly enough, those schools only educate 12 percent of all graduate students.

These 20 schools also account for one-fifth of the federal student loan debt in the United States from the 2013-2014 academic year. Funny enough, these hefty loans are not for professional degrees such as law and medical but for journalism, fine arts and government—professions that usually do not lead to careers that will they will their earn alumni large salaries.

Elizabeth Baylor, who serves as the director of post-secondary education at the Center for American Progress, shared: “Policymakers should consider how much graduate lending is sustainable, and examine the value of graduate credentials. Degrees in medicine at traditional medical schools offer a clear path to a career with very positive economic outcomes. It’s an expensive education to deliver and the cost students bear makes some sense. However, an online master’s degree, which is cheap to deliver—from an institution with uncertain career outcomes—may not merit unlimited graduate loans.”

The schools who made the list are:

Center For American Progress

Center For American Progress

Although the Ivy League and top-tier schools on the list are not surprising, schools such as University of Phoenix and Capella University — the for-profits — definitely makes one question their marketing strategies versus what they actually deliver, an issue that has come to the forefront over past months.

15 Volunteer Abroad Programs For High School Students

May 29th, 2015 - By Rich
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Send your loved ones packing with these pretty awesome volunteer abroad programs for high school students!

Sources: Transitions Abroad, Go Overseas

All images courtesy of Google Images License Free

15 Volunteer Abroad Programs For High School Students

5 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids Outside Of School

May 25th, 2015 - By Rich
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Guess what? We need a total overhaul of the modern school system in America, people! This is all fact! the United States, which is supposed to be the bastion of modern civilization, ranks a mere #14 in the global education rankings! We are #2 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 though 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.

5 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids Outside Of School

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 pizzed at lunch one time. Teach – in deed – the importance of vegetables, reading labels for BS contents and caloric intake too. 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 will serve as a great treat when you get it.

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.

Facts: Lack Of Diversity In Independent Schools May Effect Economic Prosperity

April 14th, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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Low levels of cultural diversity at independent schools may have a long-term, negative effect on America’s future workforce and economic prosperity, according to insight from Resources In Independent School Education (RIISE), a lifestyle organization that bridges the gap between families of color and the culture of independent schools.

Culturally diverse school environments provide pupils with richer perspectives that will leave them more prepared to excel in the global workforce.  Yet, recent figures[1] show that students of color currently make up a low 27.5 % of the total number of students enrolled in America’s independent schools (inc. Asian American 8.3 %, multiracial American 6.8%, African American 6.1% and Hispanic American 4.2 %). On a global scale, America is one of only three advanced countries where the government spends more on schools in rich areas than in poor ones (the other two are Turkey and Israel)[2], adding further to the diversity divide.

To help tackle the diversity issue, RIISE will host its 4th annual Parent Power Conference 2015:Encouraging Diversity In Independent School Education, on April 25, 2015 in New York.  The conference is specifically aimed at families of color who want to learn about and better understand how to navigate the independent school system.

Gina Parker Collins, founder of RIISE, parent advocate and school advisor, comments: “The mission statements of independent schools often allude to their duty of care to create and maintain a diverse school environment. However, there is still work to be done before our independent schools truly reflect the diversity of American society. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it also makes economic sense. America’s business and academic leaders need access to the brightest, most innovative talent in order to compete globally and this only is possible when future leaders from all backgrounds have been invested in.”

Keynote speaker at the upcoming RIISE Parent Power Conference 2015 and founder of the White Privilege Conference, Dr. Eddie Moore Jr, comments: “The gap between rich and poor in America is bigger than anywhere else in the developed world. This is having a direct impact on independent schools which are now fully geared towards the wealthy. Families of color are disproportionately affected by America’s inequalities. We need to ensure families proactively equip themselves with the best knowledge and skills to ensure they are preparing their children with the best opportunities to deal with the huge societal challenges we are still tackling in relation to education, achievement gaps, diversity, power, privilege and leadership.”

RIISE’s 4th annual Parent Power Conference will take place on Saturday, April 25 2015, 10:00 am 2:00pm at The Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 W 138th St, Harlem, New York.

Registration is FREE. RSVP required:



Founded by Gina Parker Collins in 2009, RIISE is a lifestyle network set up to bridge the gap between families of color and the culture of independent schools. RIISE works closely with member families and member schools to help achieve goals for diversity in quality education. The network actively promotes awareness, access, application and retention of independent school education.

Please visit: for more detailed information about RIISE.

[1] The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS):  Facts at a glance:

[2] America’s new aristocracy: The  Economist, January 2015:

And Another One: Munira Khalif Accepted To All 8 Ivy League Schools

April 8th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the upcoming generation is hopeless. In addition to Kwasi Enin last year and Harold Ekeh, this year, Munira Khalif, a high school senior from Minnesota, has achieved the rare and distinct honor of being accepted to all eight Ivy League schools as well as several other prestigious colleges.

The 17-year-old with Somalian immigrant parents, who attends Mounds Park Academy, said that she was surprised to learn she’d been accepted to all the schools.

But she shouldn’t have been. With accomplishments on her resume that include founding a non profit organization, lobbying for legislation against child marriage, becoming a teen adviser for the United Nations’ Girl Up campaign and being a spoken word artist, Khalif had the skills and more importantly, the passion to be an asset to any college or university.

According to Minnesota’s Star Tribune, her teachers and peers describe her as a young woman who doesn’t just talk about it, she is about it. They say she exudes confidence and grace in ways people twice her age have yet to master. But in the midst of being amazing, she still makes time for sleepovers and cooking with her friends.

Her nonprofit organization, Lighting the Way, which she began as a freshman in high school, seeks to help the youth of East Africa buy making education accessible. The organization raised $30,000 for scholarships and to aid with sanitation problems.

As an adviser for the Girl Up campaign, she engaged her peers to send letters to Congress fighting against child marriage.

During her sophomore year, Khalif was invited to perform her spoken-word piece in honor of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who survived a Taliban attack to go on and fight for the rights of girls to be educated.

But of all the accolades she’s received, Khalif is most proud of being honored with the U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education’s Youth Courage Award. An distinction recognizes young people who are fighting for universal education. She was one of nine students chosen from around the world.

“That was the highlight of my entire high school career. I was just bewildered.”

So where did Khalif develop her passion for education?

It was her parents, who had to flea from Somali’s civil war in 1992.

“Having parents who fled from civil war changes your entire perspective. That makes you realize the opportunities you have in the United States and use those to its fullest extent.”

In Somalia, Khalif said her maternal grandfather was adamant that his daughters received an education when many girls did not have the same opportunities.

“Because my mom was able to receive this gift of education, I felt I had an obligation to give this gift back.”

In addition to her activism, Khalif spoke of being inspired by W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folks and the poetry of Saul Williams. She uses these mediums as a way to “find a place as a minority in the United States.”

While Khalif’s hard work over the years has afforded her with the luxury of many options, she’s not certain which school she will eventually attend. Right now, she is sure that she wants to continue her activism, her poetry and return to Somalia one day.

“I want to be a part of the dialogue back home. There’s a lot of peace-building happening in Somalia and I want to be a part of that when I get older.”

Khalif’s Spanish teacher Kari Kunze said, “A lot of people say they are going to change the world and they have the best intentions. But Munira is somebody who probably will change the world.”

Congratulations to this young lady! We’re sure this won’t be the last time we hear her name.

Affirmative Action Unfair?: What Mindy Kaling’s Brother Gets Wrong

April 8th, 2015 - By Rich
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Over the weekend, social media lit up with the news that Vijay Chokal-Ingam, brother of actress and writer Mindy Kaling, pretended to be Black to get into medical school. According to Chokal-Ingam, he couldn’t get into med school as an Indian-American man with a 3.1 GPA so he conducted a little experiment to see if he’d be accepted as a Black man.

Chokal-Ingam explains his “experiment” on his web site, AlmostBlack:

I got into medical school because I said I was black. The funny thing is I’m not.

In my junior year of college, I realized that I didn’t have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American.

Still, I was determined to become a doctor and I knew that admission standards for certain minorities under affirmative action were, let’s say… less stringent?

Chokal-Ingam claims assuming a Black identity immediately made him a top contender at several medical schools, and he was accepted—but later dropped out of—St. Louis University. While he mentioned being racially profiled and feared as a “Black” man, Chokal-Ingam concluded Affirmative Action is “discrimination” against whites and Asians and that it “perpetuates racial stereotypes.”

While Chokal-Ingam believes Affirmative Action is just another form of discrimination against whites and Asians, others view it as a necessary policy that helps underrepresented groups gain access to opportunities they would have missed out on otherwise.

President John F. Kennedy first mentioned Affirmative Action in an executive order in 1961. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued an executive order requiring the government to “take affirmative action” to “hire without regard to race, religion and national origin.” Since then, the policy has been under constant attack by those who view it as reverse racism, but its effect on minority groups has been clearly positive.

Still, as Chokal-Ingam asserts, many believe the policy is unnecessary and only deepens the racial divide. But he’s wrong. While some equate Affirmative Action with quotas, others know the truth.

So, let’s break it down.

#1 Affirmative Action doesn’t benefit unqualified people.

On his web site, Chokal-Ingam says the public is “lucky” he never became a doctor, presumably because of his mediocre test scores. By saying we’re “lucky,” he’s suggesting that he—and by extension other Black folks—gain access to universities and jobs, despite being unqualified. This isn’t true. While some universities may look at an applicat’s racial background, others consider their alumni ties, community service, and potential to succeed. However, these institutions don’t simply let people in solely because of their race or ethnicity. Had Chokal-Ingam had a 2.0 GPA and very low test scores he would not have gotten into medical school. Period. Affirmative Action doesn’t just benefit anyone; it benefits qualified candidates. Moreover, gaining access to a university or job is only the beginning. The person has to work hard to stay in school, or keep their job, in order to succeed, something Chokal-Ingam couldn’t do when he dropped out of medical school.

#2 Affirmative Action helps white women, too.

When it comes to the Affirmative Action debate the focus is usually on Black and Hispanic folks. However, studies have shown that white women are the biggest beneficiaries of anti-discrimination policies. As an “underrepresented group,” white women have significantly increased their numbers in the workforce due to many of the policies many say solely help racial minorities. In fact, a 1995 study found Affirmative Action opened the door for 6 million women, most of whom were white, to get jobs they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Though many have argued Affirmative Action hurts white people, it has has helped grow the white middle class by giving white women increased access to jobs.

#3 Affirmative Action doesn’t impede racial progress.

Like Chokal-Ingam, many opponents of Affirmative Action argue it impedes racial progress and advocate for a “color-blind” approach to achieving equality instead. The only problem? Color-blindness only leads to less opportunities for marginalized groups because they face greater initial challenges. As the group Understanding Prejudice explains, “Unless preexisting inequities are corrected or otherwise taken into account, color-blind policies do not correct racial injustice — they reinforce it.”


Where do you come down on the Affirmative Action debate?