All Articles Tagged "teachers"

Arizona Teacher Will Begin Teaching Again After Locking Children In Closet

November 19th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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From The Huffington Post

Arizona teacher Sheldon White has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the fall semester after locking three students in a closet as discipline.

The Williams High School art and woodshop teacher had warned students against repeatedly entering a classroom storage closet. When they failed to comply, White locked them in the closet for more than 30 minutes.

Read more at HuffingtonPost.com.

Madame On The Street: Have You Ever Had A Crazy Teacher?

August 21st, 2012 - By MN Editor
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Remember when Biggie Smalls dedicated his first single to the teachers that told him that he’d amount to nothing? Well, we didn’t get that deep with this week’s edition of Madame Of The Street but we sure got some funny stories about folks’ experience with crazy teachers. Check it out!

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Singled Out: Why Are Teachers Using Humiliation To Guide Black Kids?

June 6th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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If there’s one phrase almost any black child can recall being said to them during childhood, it’s you better quit doing x, y, or Z before I embarrass you. Nobody wants to be embarrassed, and when your parent gives you a warning like that, you know they’re going to make good on it. But for some reason that sentiment has seemed to tip-toe out of homes and into the classroom, with embarrassment tactics being the go-to solution for teachers, particularly when it comes to black students and it’s something I have a hard time accepting.

I should start out by mentioning I’m not a fan of negative reinforcement. I recognize for some people it works, but it’s an approach that has never sat well with me so I have an inherent bias toward some of the situations I’ve come across in the news lately. Two days ago, I wrote about Bria Persley and how she was told by a teacher to sit her nappy-headed self down. You can argue all you want that nappy was a descriptive adjective and one would only find it offensive if they had some sort of ill personal feelings toward having coarse hair but 99 percent of us know that no such phrases like sit your curly- or stringy-haired self down exist in the realm of English colloquialisms and that teacher said what she did to embarrass that girl. We’ve probably all heard someone tell another person to sit their black a** down and while the person referencing may have in fact been of that race, the word black was thrown in their not as a description but as a taunt. This is no different.

A few moments ago, I came across another story of ninth grader Dionne Evans who apparently forgot her binder for school recently. The teacher attempted to teach her a lesson by telling the student to come to the front of the class and she was asked if she’d ever seen “Bridesmaids,” after which the teacher reportedly began acting out one of the scenes from the film in which one of the characters tries to “knock some sense” into her friend by hitting her on the head. When the girl and her mother complained to the school, the teacher wrote a letter of apology, saying:

“I want to tell you how truly sorry I am. My intention was never to hurt you or embarrass you. Rather, I was trying to reach out to you and help you focus on your school work and motivate you.

“Even though I thought my intentions were honorable, they did not come out that way and for that I am so very sorry. Please know that I feel terrible about causing you pain and would like the opportunity to make it right.”

Teach needs more people. Though I can see her somewhat comically hitting the girl over the head, how she considers that reaching out and being motivational is beyond me. Where is the lesson in that? She knew it would be embarrassing despite backtracking and claiming that wasn’t her intent, and I’m sure she thought that the girl would never forget her binder again because she wouldn’t want to be shamed in front on another occasion.

From reading comments on each story, there seems to be two main responses—outrage over the teacher’s behavior or support for administrators because if these kids were somehow troublemakers they deserved whatever came to them. The latter I can’t get behind. Children most definitely should have consequences when they don’t handle their responsibilities in school. We called those demerits and detention when I was coming up. What bothers me is I’m not only finding these stories because I’m perusing black sites, I search MSN, Yahoo, and other mainstream outlets and I’m not finding instances of white children being berated like this to learn some sort of lesson. And though I’m willing to lend some of that tipped scale to the fact that black people can have a tendency to look for racism in things that might not really be an instance of such, I get the feeling when these stories hit that our children are being treated like this in class because they’re already thought to be throw-away kids. This theory supported by studies that already show minority students are given less feedback than others.

I may be a tad sensitive to these things, but in my opinion grade school and even high school are tough years and not periods where liberties should be taken to belittle student’s self-esteem. The hair comment in particular is wrought with all sorts of confidence-damaging implications that even most grown women can’t get past today. No one should be allowed to demean someone’s physical appearance because of any transgression they committed. The point of school is to prepare children for the “real-world” but no company in the world could get away with an executive speaking to an employee like that and it shouldn’t fly in school either.

I’m not saying that children don’t need to be taught lessons but the subtle and sometimes overtly prejudice ways our children are being disciplined is not acceptable. For Brea to be dismissed from the school because her mother complained about the teacher is baffling to me. Had her response warranted police intervention or something of the sort, I could see the expulsion being necessary but how could you not expect this mother to be irate at the teacher’s actions and the principle’s response about mean kids needing to be taught a lesson. If parents don’t stand up and advocate for their kids who will?

It doesn’t matter if kids used to be spanked, paddled, or put over one’s knee in front of the class to teach them a lesson. Those days are gone and the embarrassment tactics previously used shouldn’t be replaced with the one’s discussed here. I can’t imagine the stresses teachers are facing in with unruly students in overcrowded classrooms but at the end of the day, we are still talking about children. If these teachers can’t handle the pressures like an adult without resorting to demeaning tactics they are the ones who should be embarrassed.

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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My Name is My Name: Why We Need to Do Better in Naming Our Children

February 6th, 2012 - By The Manifesto
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A few years ago, when I was in the basement of a barbershop waiting to get a chop, I waited with a young 20-something black woman who had a 3-year old running about the shop. My barber Janet asked her of her boy’s name, and this is what she had to say:

“Q’Kavarimantis.”

Another older sista waiting – doing what older sistas do – asked the mother: “Well, does he even know how to spell his own name???”

“He’s working on it,” she said sweetly. “He’s got about half of it down.”

As of late, it seems like I’ve been having many conversations related to the tendency of black parents – especially of humble background – to come up with grammatical manglings of names masquerading as creative expression. I’ve heard a small band of defenders explain that it’s a display of our cultural eccentricities and creativity that reveal names like the monstrosities above. Q’Kavarimantis. Really???

Being creative is cool, but I think we’ve come to a point–black folks and all folks really (yes, you too celebrities)–where the names we’re choosing for our children are going a bit too far. Here are why these damn names can be a big problem:

 

  1. Pointless creativity: Coming up with names that run in the family or stand for something deep is one thing; subverting them as a result of trying to be “unique” is dead wrong. Changing a perfectly classic name like “Alexander” to “Alezandear” and keeping the same pronunciation is not the righteous way to go. Making “Alexia” to “Alexuscia” will only make your child hate you for having to explain to people how that name came about countless times by the age of 35.

 

  1. They need to be employed someday: I’m a schoolteacher of young black boys and girls. So it should go without saying that I see and hear more over-the-top names than I care to share. Every now and again, I come across a doozy; what person in their free-thinking mind’s eye would come up with the name “Chandelier,” make it legal for the courts and send your child off with the expectation that it wont be an obstacle in the future? While we would love to assume that individuals aren’t shallow enough to judge a person by their name off the top, I’m sure no one reading this was born last night. It obviously happens.

 

  1. Phonetic mess: As an English teacher, I cant deal with the silent “j” and “s” that populate these names. I can’t deal with “L-ia” being pronounced “Ladashia” or the -leigh taking place of the -ley and having your child get mad at me for saying it wrong. Can’t do it. And you shouldn’t do it either.

 

  1. You don’t want your kids angry with you: You don’t want them to feel the need to run and get their name changed the minute they turn 18 do you? I have a unique-yet-common-enough first name, and I’ve been dealing with the blow back from it since I was in short pants. But the random jokes that come from my real name are nothing compared to the ridicule names that no other human on earth have outside of your child get. What’s wrong with “Andrew”? Is there a problem with “Tracy”? Hell, if you wanna go cultural, run with Malik! But there’s no accounting for “Dejalatasia” or some such name that will take your kids through hell on the playground. Some kids can be truly harsh (damn near evil) by nature, and those names are like giving them a handful of rocks aimed directly at your child.

 

  1. Don’t put absurd expectations on your child through their name: “Diamond.” “Essence.” “Precious.” “Heaven.” “Princess.” Not made-up names, but your daughter could be the second coming of Halle Berry in her prime and this would still make her look like a narcissist. And if she doesn’t end up looking like a “Diamond,” then you have got a lot of explaining to do. Plus, it’s hard to have a name like “Joy” if this young lady has an attitude more suited for a name like “Vicious.” Just keep these things in mind…

 

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Why You Should Keep Your Kids Away From Trashy Talk Shows

October 25th, 2011 - By The Manifesto
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I’m a high-school educator by day.

In the teacher’s lounge, where I spend the menial amount of time I’m allowed for lunch, the Maury Povich Show is almost always playing. Before two months ago, I was not at all familiar with his signature “You are NOT the father!” refrain; now, it’s a running gag among the teachers. Though Maury, along with Jerry Springer and talk show hosts of their ilk have been around since I was my students’ age, the subject matter has apparently not changed very much: the show still champions the cultural detritus of the lower-middle class. Even when I was 14, I never understood the type of person who would allow themselves to be scrutinized in such backwards ways. It’s as if there’s a whole cross-section of America who has no problem letting the world know just how trifling their families really are. Today, the issue takes on a more sobering perspective: I look at my students and worry that many of them are itching to be a part of that cross-section.

Yes, I teach underserved, underprivileged black kids in the big city. My students are good kids, by and large, but I definitely see a number of them on the path to The Jerry Springer Show if no intervention is put into place. These are students who experience a dearth of positive male role models and are not taught the importance of education outside of school. I had my first parent-teacher conferences a couple days ago, and it was made crystalline to me why some of my students are who they are: their parents ain’t about a dollar.

So, for all you mothers out there, a simple request from a humble educator: Do everything in your power to keep your child away from daytime talk shows. Raise them to understand what most reasonable people do: that Maury, Jerry, Jenny, Ricki, Montel (the last three have come and gone) and all the others bereft of soul don’t have your best interests at heart when they exploit you and your problems. Teach your spawn that dirt is best kept under the family rug. Problems will exist, as they do in every family, but dammit…appearing on a talk show is the best way to make oneself incapable of being taken seriously, and of getting good employment.

Well, maybe second to getting a Mike Tyson face tattoo, but you understand what I’m trying to say.

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Obama Pours Millions into Teacher Training

October 1st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Wall Street Journal) — The Obama administration announced a new $185 million competition Friday that would reward colleges for producing teachers whose students perform well on standardized tests.  The competition would require states to provide data linking collegiate teaching programs inside their borders to the test scores of their graduates’ students. Under the proposal, to be eligible for the money, states would have to ratchet up teacher-licensing exams and close persistently low-performing teacher-training programs. The competition is part of the administration’s planned broad overhaul of teachers’ colleges of education, which have come under attack recently for failing to properly train teachers.

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Is Chicago Targeting Black Teachers for Layoffs?

September 24th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Tribune) — After another round of cuts at Chicago Public Schools, the teachers union contends African-American teachers in some of the city’s most impoverished schools have been unfairly targeted.  The Chicago Teachers Union says that while fewer than 30 percent of teachers in CPS are African-American, they represent more than 40 percent of those getting pink slips this year, either for budgetary reasons or because of enrollment declines. Latino teachers, who represent 15 percent of teachers in CPS, make up about 12 percent of layoffs, union officials said.

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CPS Teachers Sue Board Over Pension Fund Contribution

September 1st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Sun Times) — The pension and retirement fund for Chicago teachers hit the Chicago Board of Education with a lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the district fell short of this year’s $198 million contribution.

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Fight Between CPS, Teachers Union Echoes Talk Leading up to 1987 Strike

August 29th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Tribune) — Tension was high in Chicago all summer. The teachers union had quarreled with school district leaders over pay raises, the length of the school year and other details in an expiring contract.  When talks broke down on the eve of the first day of school, the union had had enough. Feeling disrespected and marginalized, the teachers walked out, forcing the abrupt cancellation of classes and putting their careers on the line in a high-stakes and intensely public battle.  The year was 1987, and over the next 19 days — the longest teachers strike in the city’s history — the two sides would bicker while Chicago’s schoolchildren remained home. When school and union leaders finally came together on a new contract, teachers got a pay raise and smaller classes, but the deal seemed to drive a wedge between union members, some of whom accused others of “selling out.”

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Federation Backs CPS Tax Hike, Changes to Teachers’ Pension Needed

August 22nd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Sun Times) — The Civic Federation on Monday will support Chicago Public Schools’ $150 million tax increase because the school system has shown good faith in significantly cutting its budget, but it will call for dramatic changes in the teachers’ pension system to deal with expected future budget crises.  If teachers are to keep what Civic Federation officials and budget experts consider their unaffordable retirement benefits, the teachers’ contributions to their pension funds would have to skyrocket from 2 percent to as high as 60 percent, for example.

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